It’s Thursday! That means it’s time for a book tag! Even though I haven’t done one for months!
MUST-HAVE: A book you *have* to have with you while quarantined?
Oh, I know it’s cliché at this point, but this one has got to be Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. You could read Tolkien’s books multiple times over and still find new and exciting things on each and every page! I took a class on Tolkien a few years ago and I still have my copy of the book from that class (yes, I bought a separate copy so that I wouldn’t have to write in my own precious copies) with all of my annotations in it. In fact, I may just use that copy as the annotation copy and highlight, annotate, etc. in that one from now on.
I just finished making my bouquet for my wedding, and half of the flowers came from Lord of the Rings and half of the flowers came from The Hobbit. We also have four LOTR centerpieces (one from Fellowship, Tower, and King and one from The Hobbit). We’re Tolkien nerds and I don’t care.
ISOLATION: A book where the MC spends most of their time in a book alone?
This one is easy: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. Island of the Blue Dolphins is one of the oldest books that I have on my shelf. I purchased it when I was 7 or 8 years old, in a used bookstore in Harve de Grace, Maryland. I can’t tell you what the name of that bookstore is, but I can tell you how it smelled and I can you tell you how this book smells. This book is ancient (or it was to 8-year-old me) and it is literally falling apart at the seams. It once fell apart in my hands when I was in eighth grade and I took it to the school librarian to see if she had some tape or some glue to fix it, and she took one look at the book and went, “Oh, sweetie, let’s throw that one away. Ask your parents to buy you a new one.” And I, rightly horrified, grabbed my book back and took it home and repaired it myself with some scotch tape (not the greatest choice, but it’s what I have).
Anyway, now that the backstory is over, Island of the Blue Dolphins is about a girl who gets left behind on her island for eighteen years after her entire tribe is taken away by missionaries, because she went back to save her younger brother. She learns to hunt (despite it being forbidden for women of their tribe), and waits patiently for year after year for the boat to come back to save her. I loved the strong survival story that it offered, and I remember pretending to be lost on an island by myself when I was younger. I even wrote a story called Island Girls, which was like a mashup of all the clichés: British orphans, plane crashes, evil medicine women – it was bad, haha.
BINGE READ: A long book series you’d recommend to someone who has a lot more time on their hands?
The Expanse series by James SA Corey. I picked up Leviathan’s Wake years ago, and read it after I’d exhausted everything else on my bookshelf just to discover that it was…amazing?? And then I proceeded to collect all the rest of them that were currently out in paperback, just to discover that the series wasn’t over and I was now waiting on hardbacks to become paperbacks. Oh, and somewhere throughout the series, they swapped the location of the author’s name and the book title on the spines, so the series looks stupid on my bookshelf now.
The Expanse tells the story of a group of former ice-runners who become entangled in a galaxy-spanning plot to…well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself. Suffice to say, there are explosions, there are Earthling vs Belter tensions (Belters are those who currently live in the Asteroid Belt/around Mars and are descended from those on Earth, but growing up in low gravity changes their skeletal structure a bit), there are spooky ghost-but-maybe-just-fungus-hallucinations, and the discovery of fast space travel. In The Expanse world, people have not been able to migrate outside our solar system, nor have they discovered alien life. It’s absolutely fascinating to read. Humanity is just finding its place among the stars, but that time may be cut much shorter than they are expecting.
TOILET ROLL: All the TP is gone! What are you using?
As unfortunate as it sounds, the Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal. I managed to read the majority of them last year, and then I bought the last two and I can’t bring myself to put another word into my brain. They’re okay books, and they’re pretty fun and campy if you’re looking for something to just veg out and read mindlessly, but if you actually start paying attention to what’s happening – yikes.
Maggie Hope is a young woman with blazing red hair that matches her fiery temper (yes, yes, that old cliché) and “isn’t like other girls,” and becomes Mr. Churchill’s personal secretary during World War II. In later books, her connections with Churchill end up with her becoming a super secret spy while watching the Royal Children or sneaking into Paris to fight Nazis, all while trying to figure out how to love someone who may or may not be dead and then move on from that same someone by having sex with multiple other men (which is fine if that’s what you’re into – it’s not fine for the time period). The historical stuff falls apart when looked at super closely, which is a shame. It had the potential to be such a good series, but by the third book I was reading it for the incredible things Maggie was doing (having become one of the top British spies in under a year!) instead of for enjoyment. It was outrageous. And now I own all of them but I should probably just give them to my mom’s library.
ANTI-VIRAL: A book that went Viral that you have avoided or not read … yet?
If you’d asked me this at the beginning of quarantine, I would have said Children of Blood and Bone but I actually read that book around a month into quarantine so it’s no longer on the list. I also can’t count Six of Crows because I’ve actually read half of it (but haven’t finished it).
Oh, what about A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman? I picked up My Grandmother Would Like Me To Tell You She’s Sorry sometime last year or the year before (I can’t keep track of time anymore), and I loved it so much that I wanted to read more of Backman’s books, so I picked up this book in the bookstore and decided to read just the first chapter so that I could get a feel for it. I regret it. I hated everything about that chapter and put the book down and walked away from it, knowing I would never buy it. Now, I know that the whole thing is supposed to be he gets better as you go through the book, but I don’t think I could stomach going through most of the book with a character like that. Nope, sorry.
Then there are all the books that went viral when I was in high school – the ones about drugs like Crank, then there was The Lovely Bones, and My Sister’s Keeper, and all of the Nicholas Sparks books (I’m not a romance person at all). Sorry, not going to happen.
Well! That was fun! (And longer than I intended – I guess you can tell that I’ve been away from writing for fun for a bit!) If you stumble across this book tag and decide to do it, please tag me, as I’m very interested in reading your responses. It’s always fun to see what other people come up with! Or, just let me know in the comments!
And as always, keep reading.