The Indecisive Christmas Tag

I’ve been really bad with any blogging or videos recently, but I really wanted to revisit my Christmas tag from last year – feel free to join in if you want!

Blankets. Christmas means the start of winter and snuggling up with blankets and jumpers and hot drinks to keep warm. What book feels like the definition of a warm hug?

I joined the masses that read The House in the Cerulean Sea last month and I really enjoyed it. It was such a soft, non-stressful read.

Mistletoe. According to movies, it means a sneaky kiss in the doorway… What’s your favourite romance?

My favourite romance (although not a romance book was the relationship between Paige and Arcturus in The Mask Falling. It just felt so genuine and important.

Christmas lights. Christmas usually means you go all out and decorate the whole house with flashing lights, or you keep it lowkey and just have a tree in the window. What’s the shiniest book on your shelf?

My Fairyloot copy of Gilded turned up last week and goodness is it shiny.

Christmas dinner. Perhaps the most disliked item on your plate at dinner are brussel sprouts. What book can you really not stand?

I am Number Four has been on my shelf for SO LONG – I finally picked it up this year and god, do I regret the decision. The audiobook made it worse, but it was such a male-saviour pathetic-and-weak-female book. It felt very dated.

Carols and hymns. Carol singing on doorsteps and outside busy shops. What’s your favourite book from this year – what book do you keep singing the praises of?

I really enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes, bingeing all four books in a matter of months. There was something about the characters and the story and just… everything.

Ice skating. It looks beautiful in my head when I imagine couples skating around, but I know I’d end up on my bum if I tried. What fictional world do you like in concept but would hate in reality?

The Starless Sea had a really lovely concept, where stories are real, but I’m not sure. Just something about it makes me feel like I wouldn’t like it entirely in reality.

Family. For a lot of us, Christmas means spending time with people that we love. Which fictional group of characters would you like to spend Christmas with?

I think the cast of Little Thieves were fantastic and could make a really entertaining group to spend time with. Plus, I feel like thieves would give good presents.

Tradition. Christmas has a lot of traditions in individual families and society, things that we keep repeating year after year. What book do you reread?

I don’t know how many times I read this when I was younger, but I have reread Magyk at least twice since I’ve started blogging. And, if I’m being honest, I’m kind of thinking about a reread again next year.

New Years Party. The New Year means a new start. What book will you read first next year?

I had started The Song Rising the other day (started: read five pages) but want to finish my “end of year books’ first.

Gifts. And a Christmas Present for me. Recommend me a Christmas book. 

I’m sure I won’t be alone in recommending Midnight in Everwood this year. It’s just so beautiful and magic.

So that’s the Indecisive Christmas Tag. Santa’s out delivering presents already but, if you want something to do whilst you’re stuck digesting Christmas dinner tomorrow, you can always have a go at this.

The Indecisive Christmas Tag – Sam’s Answers

Bryony put in the effort to come up with a Christmas tag on the channel, because have I said recently how she does all the heavy lifting with this blog? I mean, she really does. I can at least put forth the effort to answer the questions she came up with. So without further ado, here:

Blankets. Christmas means the start of winter and snuggling up with blankets and jumpers and hot drinks to keep warm. What book feels like the definition of a warm hug?

I know I’m going to use The Flatshare further down this post, which is a shame as I’d like to use it here also, but there is another answer I could give. Before The Flatshare came along my book hug was The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Mistletoe. According to movies, it means a sneaky kiss in the doorway… What’s your favourite romance?

Well, it’s not my all time favourite, but Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall has become a comfort listen of late, and the thing I put on to fall asleep to. A temporary favourite, at the very least.

Christmas lights. Christmas usually means you go all out and decorate the whole house with flashing lights, or you keep it lowkey and just have a tree in the window. What’s the shiniest book on your shelf?

I have fourteen of the Morganville Vampires books, and when spine on that’s a wall of shine. I don’t know about other versions, but the UK editions have fancy metallic foil for the titles.

Christmas dinner. Perhaps the most disliked item on your plate at dinner are brussel sprouts. What book can you really not stand?

Speaking as a bookseller, psychological thrillers. Like YA paranormal romance or dystopias ten years ago, when I get a new psychological thriller in stock and can barely tell the difference between it and the other ten in the chart I just roll my eyes and think another bloody one.

Carols and hymns. Carol singing on doorsteps and outside busy shops. What’s your favourite book from this year – what book do you keep singing the praises of?

The Flatshare, obviously.

Ice skating. It looks beautiful in my head when I imagine couples skating around, but I know I’d end up on my bum if I tried. What fictional world do you like in concept but would hate in reality?

Most of the fictional worlds I read, tbh. I’m into my grimdark fantasy, and war torn futures. That said, I’m going to go OG on this one. Panem. I love the setting of The Hunger Games, but to live it would be dreadful. Scion England (The Bone Season books, by Samantha Shannon) runs it a close second though.

Family. For a lot of us, Christmas means spending time with people that we love. Which fictional group of characters would you like to spend Christmas with?

Now B didn’t specify written there, so Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe, because I’d feel functional and well adjusted in comparison. But if we’re sticking to books then the crew of the Wayfarer (The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers.)

Tradition. Christmas has a lot of traditions in individual families and society, things that we keep repeating year after year. What book do you reread?

There are so many, and even more where I don’t reread the whole thing, but I have comfort passages. But I think the book I’ve reread the most is Tomorrow The Killing by Daniel Polanski. It’s the second book in his Low Town trilogy, and for my money it’s the best. And it’s just so. Well. Written.

New Years Party. The New Year means a new start. What book will you read first next year?

Impossible to say, man, because I am not at all organised. Maybe I’ll start the year of with Priory?

Gifts. And a Christmas Present for me. Recommend me a Christmas book.

The thing you need to know about me, oh my dear readers, is that I detest Christmas. I mean, not the day itself. The day spent with family is lovely. But the run up to it I fucking hate. The pageantry, the rampant unfettered capitalistic orgy that is December in retail. Nah, mate. So what I’m trying to say is I’ve never read a Christmas book. Soz.

So that’s the Indecisive Christmas Tag. I tag everyone who reads this! Go forth and answer questions!

The Spooky Books Tag

Created by: Shelby Masako

Seen on: Pretty Purple Polka Dots

What goes bump in the night?: Name a book that has legitimately scared you while reading it.

Okay, so I’m not a horror fan, so I usually steer clear of anything creepy, which is why Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff kind of freaked me out. I won’t say what it was for spoiler reasons, but I was reading it late at night, on my own, and I ended up putting it down and walking away.

Anything remotely zombie-esque freaks me out.

Jack O’ Lanterns and Classic Costumes: A book you always reach for during Halloween time.

I don’t usually go for seasonal books, but I’ve picked up something in the The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon now for two years in a row around Halloween.

Black Cats and Magic Mirrors: A book you love that is laced with superstition and/or magic.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson is based on Irish folklore and superstition. It’s easy to read, but you can see the beliefs creeping into every part of their lives.

Witch’s Brew: Favorite witch character in any book/series.

Witch is a very niche label and, although I read a lot of books with magic, a lot fewer actually have witches in them. I’m twisting the question slightly to answer with The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon because most of the magic wielders are “mages”, but Kalyba proudly takes on the label of witch. It’s not to say that she’s a good character or one that I particularly like, but I think her character and the discussion around the word witch is fascinating.

Ghouls and Ghosts: A book that still haunts you to this day (good or bad).

I don’t think about it a lot, but The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is a book I only got through by laughing at how bad it was and yet I see people recommend to it all the time which…confuses me. Like, did I just read a different book? Because the premise does sound good, even when I think back to it, but the moments I remember are not good.

Haunted Graveyard: You’re all alone in a haunted graveyard, you get ONE book to give you comfort, which is it?

I mean, obviously Magyk by Angie Sage (or the whole Septimus Heap series if I can cheat and say that). It’s my comfort blanket book, one I can hear the audiobook being read aloud for.

The Undead: Favorite supernatural creatures to read about (i.e. vamps, zombies, werewolves, etc).

Mermaids aren’t really supernatural, are they? I don’t know if I’ve read about any other supernatural creatures (other than the Rephaim in TBS, but I’ve already mentioned those books), apart from jokingly reading Twilight and not enjoying The Beautiful.

In the dead of night: Pick a book with a black cover.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. A black cover, but also an autumnal story.

Trick or treat?

Treat, right? I mean, even in my reading, I always tend to go for books I know I’ll like.

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag (2020)

I know we’re moving into the end of the year at this point, so we’re slightly late in posting this, but hey. It seems to be a bookish rite of passage to annually do this tag, so here we are starting that habit.

Questions from Earl Grey Books.

1. What is the best book that you’ve read so far?

B: I’ve actually read a lot of fantastic books this year because I’m generally good at predicting what books I like. One of the best books I have read is The Five by Hallie Rubenhold: the first non-fiction I’ve read and loved, and on an incredibly interesting and heartbreaking subject.

S: QUEENIE! Pretty sure it came out last year, but I read it this year, so it counts, lads. It was an incredible book, and not the kind of thing I’d usually pick up. So glad I did.

2. What has been your favourite sequel of the first half of the year?

B: Without question, How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne. I should have read this years ago and I don’t know why I didn’t, but it lived up to and surpassed expectations.

S: Can I count The Dawn Chorus here? Like, it’s a novella, and also not in the first half of the year, but I really want to say that… Fiiiiine. I’ll try harder. I would say The Deck of Omens, but I’ve not actually finished it yet because I needed to skip forwards because of how invested I was in one particular story line. I mean…. bollocks to it, I’m sticking with The Dawn Chorus. I am here for Paige and Warden and the world that Samantha Shannon has woven so beautifully and skilfully.

3. Is there a new release that you haven’t read yet but you’re really excited to?

B: Definitely The Empire of Gold by SA Chakraborty. I actually got an e-ARC from NetGalley and the physical book about two days before the release date, but it was in the middle of June and I was already reading so many books, so I just never got round to it. I really want to savour it too, so I’m just saving it.


4. What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

B: There are so many (you can find them all here), but I’m really looking forward to Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. A Black retelling of Arthurian legend? Yes please.

S: If I say Midnight Sun here then I have to hand back my Book Critic Club membership card, don’t I? Okay, I won’t say that then. But, real talk, I’m so unplugged from the book community right now that I don’t have much of a clue what’s coming out when. Some bookseller I am, right?

5. What is your biggest disappointment so far?

B: Ten Things My Cat Hates About You by Lottie Lucas. Let’s not talk about it.

S: Aurora Motherf*****g Burning. I refer you back to my review of it.

6. What is your biggest surprise so far?

B: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite was a real surprise to me. I was expecting it to just be an LGBTQ+ romance I didn’t feel too attached to, but I loved the feminist commentary it had on the time period.

S: Only Mostly Devastated by by Sophie Gonzales. In one respect it wasn’t a surprise because I went in expecting a cute queer romance, and that’s what I got, but I was surprised by how much I liked it.

7. Who is your favourite new to you or debut author?

B: Juno Dawson, author of Meat Market. I thought the book was so interesting and she’s the first trans author I’m aware of having read from. I’ll definitely be picking up a lot more of her books in the future.

S: William Hussey. I’ve not finished his book yet, Hideous Beauty, but I’m really digging it. He also, based solely on his Twitter account, seems like a really nice dude.

8. Who is your favourite fictional crush from this year?

B: *laughs in demisexual*

Having said that, we’ve both started an unofficial Zila fan club. I wouldn’t call that a crush, but we both believe she needs some more love.

S: Paige Mahoney. I know she wasn’t specifically from this year, but she had a novella this year, and I’m currently elbow deep in a reread of the Bone Season books. She’s just so fucking competent and badass and brave as anything. Competent badassery is my kink.

9. Who is your new favourite character?

B: Whilst I could say Zila, she’s definitely not my new favourite, just someone who deserved more attention and time on the page. I really loved Luna (and the whole cast) from The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

S: I’ve been thinking about this for five minutes, and honestly, I’m coming up blank.

10. A book that made you cry?

B: I’m not a big book crier (or film crier), but Postscript by Cecilia Ahern.

S: Aurora Burning made me cry manly tears of incandescent f*****g rage! Oh wait, is that not what we meant? Sadness, not murderous bloodlust? Hmm. Okay. Date Me Bryson Keller. Definitely sad cried at that.

11. A book that made you happy?

B: Physik by Angie Sage made me laugh a lot when I was reading it. That whole series has really. And returning to a familiar series just makes me feel warm inside anyway.

S: Date Me Bryson Keller. It made me feel all the things!

12. What is the most beautiful book that you have bought or received this year?

B: The most beautiful one I bought has to be On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. It’s my favourite graphic novel I’ve ever read by far. The most beautiful one I received was The Dictionary of Mythology, which Sam bought for me when I was feeling down.

*whispers* Kal is on the front of Aurora Burning and all the authors seemed to do was say how stunning/attractive/pants-dropping-handsome the Syldrathi are, so if you don’t answer this question with this book, you obviously didn’t pay attention enough to the book…

S: The clothbound version of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

B: I’m sure there are many, but Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau (I started it in January and need to work out at least if I’m officially DNFing it) and The History of the World with the Women Put Back in by Kerstin Lucker and Ute Daenschel (it’s a really interesting non-fiction book, I just put it down when I had more books I had to read that month).

S: All of them. All of the books.

14. Favourite book community member?

B: The whole of Myth Take. They continue to be a lovely, supportive group of people, and they arranged the most amazing readathon last month.

S: Bryony!

The Hunger Games Book Tag

Technically we came up with this tag together, but the division of labour was far from even, so all the good and interesting questions in here, feel free to attribute to B. Everyone knows she’s the better indecisive reader, anyway. Also, she’s got a video of this going live right here:

Anyway, here goes.

District 1 specialises in producing luxury items. Choose a book with a beautiful cover.

The first book cover I ever fell in love with (and in fact the first review I ever published that got a response from the author) was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The pastel colours, and the photography, it’s just a beautiful cover that perfectly captures the story.

See, ain’t it pretty?

District 2 has one of the highest numbers of Hunger Games winners because of the Careers: children that illegally train for the Games from a young age. Name a character you always expected to win.

Cassel Sharpe, protagonist of the Curse Workers books by Holly Black. Perpetual underdog, yet the kind of character you can never count out. He’s always got a way out. Also, as a side note, excellent books. Noir tinged YA, magical criminals. Top notch stuff.

District 3 creates technology and electronics for Panem. Choose a sci-fi book.

So many! Not necessarily my favourite, but the ones I read the most are the Lost Fleet books, and the books set in that universe. Military Sci Fi with just the right amount of hardness. The characters are all very two dimensional, and the plot is nothing special, but the action slaps. They’re great popcorn reads, you know?

One of District 4’s most famous victors is Finnick Odair. Name a character you instantly fell in love with.

Simon from Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Funny, charismatic guy. I’d be happy spending time with him.

District 5’s surprisingly good tribute in the 74th Hunger Games was Foxface, a sneaky, clever person. Choose a book with a sneaky plot twist.

Illuminae has a very clever plot twist, and I enjoyed it greatly first time I read it. Got whiplash it hit me so hard. It is somewhat diminished by the fact they repeat it in the second and third books though.

Incidentally the Illuminae books were the first ones that sprang to mind for Sci Fi books, also, but I knew I was going to be using them here, and didn’t want to repeat myself.

District 6 is the hub of transport for Panem. Choose a book that features a journey.

So many! Can I be lazy and say the Lord of the Rings books? Oh, no, how about the Magnus Chase books by Rick Riordan? Because for everything those three books have going for them (they’re great by the way) they’re always one f*****g fetch quest after another. Travel here to get this magical mcguffin, then there to get the next one.

District 7 specialises in lumber and paper. Which book uses the most trees on your TBR?

Easy peasy. Priory of the Orange Tree.

District 8 specialises in textiles. Choose a book that weaves new stories into old

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. Jayne Eyre in space. Also pretty good.

Grain is such a vital part of life and that is what District 9 produces. Choose a book you can’t live without.

I’m picking the easy option here. Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne, because it’s the reason B and I met.

District 10 produces livestock. Choose a character that’s down to earth.

It took me a while to think of this one, I resorted to scrolling through my kindle library. I came across my first novel before getting to the answer I eventually choose. I also debated for a while whether or not it would be cheating to use a character from my novel, because she very much is, but I decided it was cheating. This is all to the good, because my actual answer is Sunny from Nikesh Shukla’s infinitely better book, The Boxer. He’s incredibly down to earth, and incredibly working class, which is one of the things I like about the book itself, it tells a working class story. I mean, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about racism, and I’m not trying to steal the story and say it’s about very very white me. But I identified with Sunny so much because he was so very down to earth and so very working class.

District 11: home of the beautiful Rue. Which character death affected you the most?

Dumbledore, probably because it was the first one that really hit me. I know Sirius happened first, but that was spoiled for me. Dumbledore’s death threw me, especially because back then I didn’t clock that he was a raging dick head.

District 12 only had two victors before the 74th Hunger Games. Name a character you never expected to win.

Aiden Waits from his trilogy by Joseph Knox. It’s Noir, Noir protagonists never win.

District 13 existed before rebellion destroyed it. Name a book the world tried to destroy, but still came back fighting.

Erm, I’m unsure of a good answer for this question. I guess Looking For Alaska? I don’t think the world tried to destroy it, but several schools tried their best.

The Capitol is full of many crazy people. Name the most extra character.

Kizzy from The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. She’s batshit crazy, but also wonderful.

The last part is to tag other people, and I tag everyone who reads this. Just do us a solid and when you post your questions, link back to us, eh? Thanks a million.

And that’s that, that’s the tag. Take care, y’all. Stay safe in these crazy times. And whatever the Umpaloompa In Chief says, don’t drink bleach, for fuck sake.

Bookternet All Star Charity Challenge

Second in my series of blog posts about popular books is a bonus one created by Rachel (you can find her on Twitter and YouTube) that I thought would be perfect here. This challenge is called the Bookternet All Star Charity Challenge and it’s Rachel’s way of allowing the BookTube community to support the Covid-19 effort; whilst all the books on this list weren’t on mine, there’s enough of an overlap for me to do it and count it in the same series of posts.

This challenge encourages anyone to do it, even if you haven’t read the books (like me) – just say why you haven’t read the books or why you won’t. If you do the challenge, by video or blog post, submit it in the survey. Rachel will donate €1 for every entry, up to €75, and you can donate too if you want. The challenge is running until May 31st. Tag Rachel wherever you post your entry and use the hashtag #BookternetGivesBack.

*I’m going to cover these books in a series of posts, and I will link them all here when I’ve published them all: popular books I know nothing about; popular books I want to read; popular books I don’t want to read; popular books I’ve got no interest in reading but probably will anyway; popular books I’ve read already. I also posted a bonus video in this series where I guessed the plots to the popular books/series I was given because I quickly realised I knew nothing about any of the books, but could just tell you what the covers look like.

  1. Angie Thomas

I haven’t read either of her books yet, but I would really like to. She’s definitely on my list. I would also like to watch the film of the book because the topics covered are something I haven’t read about before, but know I should.

  1. The Shatter Me series

I’m not sure about this series. I think I might find the story interesting, but it’s a long series, so you kind of have to dedicate a lot of time to reading it. If I read it, I’d borrow the books from the library or buy them secondhand – that’s another problem with a multibook series, the cost of buying them all.

  1. Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is Six of Crows and Grishaverse, right? And Ninth House. I think you can tell from that that I haven’t read her books before. I feel like I’ll read these books (or at least watch the Netflix show), but I’m not entirely sure I’ll like the books. I’ve read “similar” books with groups of morally grey people and I’ve always rated them average, so I think I’ll find them okay, but not great. Then again, Six of Crows is a duology, so it would be short to read.

  1. The Cruel Prince

I have this on my kindle and have heard enough good things about it that I’ll probably try it but, again, I don’t know I’ll like it. From the cover I guessed it was a Sleeping Beauty retelling, but I think it’s actually a fae romance with an evil ruler who has a tail?

  1. The Bone Witch

I hadn’t actually heard of this one until this challenge started going around, so I have no hype that is making me feel like I should read this. Even after looking at the summary, I’m still not convinced I want to read it just because it doesn’t sound like my kind of story. That said, I believe the author is a POC, so I wouldn’t say no to reading some of their work in the future.

  1. V.E. Schwab

I’m hoping to read A Darker Shade of Magic (potentially buddy reading it with Sam) soon. I don’t really know a lot about the book specifically, but enough people love the books for me to want to try them. I’ll be starting with this book because why not? I also feel like it might be hiding in the house somewhere.

  1. The Lunar Chronicles

I don’t know loads about this series, but I like the sound of it. Fairy tales set in space? Sounds perfect. I made a guess in my video about this series and, whilst I don’t think it was entirely accurate, I am looking forward to reading them at some point.

  1. Adam Silvera

I’ve got no idea what Adam Silvera writes other than he wrote Infinity Son. I got a copy of it with an Illumicrate box, but gave it to Sam because it’s not something that really interests me; I’ve also not heard great things about it, so meh. Not for me, I think.

  1. Cassandra Clare

So, it turns out The Shadowhunter books and The Mortal Instruments are the same books – it’s The Infernal Devices are the ones set in the past, right? If I was to read any of these, it would be The Infernal Devices but I don’t think I’m interested enough any more to read them. I might try them, but I don’t really want to read them.

  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

I’ve read this and Daisy Jones and the Six and, whilst I think they were well written, I just didn’t like them. They were effectively done in the way that I felt like the characters were real, but I’m just not interested in the lives of celebrities. The LGBT+ discussion in The Seven Husbands was really interesting, though.

  1. Laini Taylor

I got Laini Taylor’s and Leigh Bardugo’s books mixed up in my video and I still don’t really know what her books are about, but I own the first books in each of her series, so I am sure I will read them soon.

  1. The Illuminae Files

Finally, one I’ve read AND liked. I have finished all the books in this series and enjoyed every one. I love the format they’re written in so much so that I wrote an essay on their format for university.

  1. Scythe

I don’t really know what this series is about, so I’m not in a hurry to read the books. It’s not to say I won’t, but I won’t be buying them full price at least, especially not because I feel like not everyone liked the final book.

  1. Sarah J Maas

I really want to read Sarah J Maas’ books because I feel like I might love the books, but I just have to get over the fact that the romance is as big a part in the series as the fantasy. Fortunately, I managed to overcome the FOMO of Crescent City, so now I can try them out for the first time from the library.

  1. Ember in the Ashes series

I thought I had this one on my kindle shelf, but I’ve looked and don’t think I do, so I don’t know about this one. I’ve never heard of it before, so I’m in no rush to read it if I’m going to read it at all because, even after reading the blurb, I’m no clearer what the book is about.

  1. Seanan McGuire

Another I don’t really know anything about, other than that she wrote (I think) the Wayward Children series. I might read something of hers at some point, but I haven’t heard the hype around her that usually makes me want to read books.

  1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I watched the first film recently and will surely watch the second soon. I don’t own the books and probably won’t buy them, but, if I need something a bit lighthearted to read and they’re available, I may borrow them from the library at some point.

  1. The Poppy War series

I’ve just finished the first book in the series and will definitely be reading the second (potentially next month so I can carry on whilst my momentum is still going) and undoubtedly the third. Admittedly the worldbuilding is good and the characters are interesting, but it just hasn’t caught my attention yet.

If you’ve done this challenge or can recommend any of those on this list, let me know!