Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag

Welcome back to what might be the second-to-last book tag of the year! This one came from Kristin Kraves Books, but was created by Falling Down the Book Hole (where she first wrote it in 2017!). I haven’t done many book tags this year (I blame the stress of wedding planning and the creativity-crushing existence of the pandemic), but I feel like one large book tag to try and wrap it all up might give me something more to write about!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The Partridge Stood Alone In The Pear Tree? What is Your Favorite Stand Alone of 2020?

It’s hard, because a lot of the books I’ve read this year have been the first book in a series or part of a series, but I think I’ll have to go with Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It started off normal enough, but quickly dived into something much more…sinister. It was interesting to see how my original guesses about the cause of the hallucinations in the house ended up being both wrong and right at the same time (you’ll see what I mean if you read the book), and it was much creepier than I assumed it would be when I picked it up. (Or, rather, when it was sent to me by my Fantastic Stranglings book club.)

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Two Turtle Doves

Love Is In The Air, Who Is Your OTP?

I’m looking back at my bookshelf this year to see what books I read that could have possibly had romantic subplots (because I never read romance books, where they’d be the main plot), and I realized that every book I read this year, I disliked the romantic subplots between the characters.

If we were to stray from the books I read this year and think about books overall, I think I would have to say _____.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Three French Hens

In The Spirit Of Threes, What Is The Best Trilogy You Have Read?

I have only read one trilogy this year, the Winternight Trilogy, containing The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch. Luckily for you, the Winternight Trilogy is also one of my favorite things I’ve read this year. It got me out of my reading slump (at least a little bit – I read all three books in just four days, and it would’ve been a shorter time but I actually had to do work that week) and it reinvented the tale of Baba Yaga/Vasilisa (Russian folk tale villains/heroes), which isn’t something I’ve had the pleasure of reading about before.

I’ve also read the first book in a few trilogies (The Bone Shard Daughter, Children of Blood & Bone, A Deadly Education). Unfortunately, only one of those (A Deadly Education) so far shows promise and it’s the only one I preordered the second book for. I’ve bought Children of Virtue and Vengeance, but I did that before reading Children of Blood and Bone, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever read it because COBAB was just the tired YA trope again, but with different characters.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Four Calling Birds

Since Series Usually Consist of Four or More Books What Is Your Favorite Series?

I actually haven’t read any series this year, unless you count manga (I read almost the entirety of the Twilight Princess manga back in January – or was it February? – and I’ve been waiting on additional books to come out). I’ve started re-reading the Percy Jackson series, but I haven’t finished that yet. (I may before the end of the year, though – they’re not that long.)

One of my favorite series would be the Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi. Originally, it was a trilogy, but people pestered him for more in the world so much that he wrote three more books (one being a retelling of the third book in the series, but from a different point of view). You can tell that those were afterthoughts, as it’s really only the first three books that I love.

There’s also Lord of the Rings, which includes The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and Children of Hurin, along with the other Tolkien works that I can’t think of at this point in time. I’ve put these on my list to re-read for 2021, because I want to start off the year with something fun and familiar. It’s also been several years since I read them, so I want to revisit them!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Five Golden Rings

One Ring To Rule Them All! Who is Your Favorite Villain/Antagonist?

Just going by the books I’ve read in 2020, I think this one would have to go to the villain of Mexican Gothic. As I mentioned above, it was incredibly creepy and was absolutely not what I was expecting. Probably not a Christmasy read, but definitely something to read when you want a good scare.

The villain in Crossings was also incredible – someone who would stop at nothing to make sure that they did not lose, murdering anyone who got in their path, desperately trying to stop the protagonist (if you can call them that – read the book to see what I mean!) from accomplishing their goal at any and all costs. It’s a bit of a complicated story, and I suggest reading it from start to finish first, then taking a break before attempting to read it in the Baroness sequence. (I still haven’t read it in the Baroness sequence. Maybe I’ll get to it next year.)

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Six Geese a Laying

Creation Is A Beautiful Thing! What is Your Favorite World/World-Building?

I absolutely loved the world-building in A Deadly Education. While it was a little overwhelming in the beginning, the more the author pulled back the curtain on what the world contained, the more intrigued I was. We’ve all read Harry Potter and other magical boarding school books, but this one has them all beat. More than half of the graduating class doesn’t even make it to graduation (due to the monsters – “mals” – that make their home in the school), and then half of what’s left doesn’t make it out of graduation (again, due to the mals they have to fight through in order to get out). The description of the school and its history, the description of how magic works – it’s all way more interesting and way different than anything I’d ever read before, and I can’t wait until the second book comes out (next summer!!).

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Seven Swans a Swimming

Who Needs Seven Swans When All It Takes Is One Good Animal Sidekick To Make A Hero Rock! Who Is Your Favorite Animal Sidekick?

I have only read one book with an animal sidekick in it this year: the Nausicaä graphic novel by Hayao Miyazaki. Steven got it the duology collection for me for my birthday (it’s HEAVY!) and I read it in just two days. (You have to go slower with graphic novels like this, so you can see everything in the panels.)

I absolutely love the Nausicaä movie, and it’s in the top three of my favorite Ghibli films. Therefore, I assumed that the graphic novel would be the exact same story. I could not have been more wrong. The graphic novel that I have is composed of two huge books, each more than 500 pages long. The movie covers maybe the first 150 pages of the first book, and then it goes into something much, much darker than the film, which is saying something because the film is already super dark. If you haven’t watched it, go and watch it. It’s absolutely worth it.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Eight Maids a Milking

Milk Is So 18th Century! Which Book or Series Takes Beverages/Food To A Whole New Level?

Does the Binging with Babish cookbook I read this year count? (We even met Andrea Rea back in January when he came for the book signing! We’ve got pictures with him!)

If it doesn’t, then I’m sorry to report that I read nothing this year that contained super interesting food. I mean, there was the cafeteria food in A Deadly Education, which you had to watch out for in case it tried to eat you before you ate it (remember: only half of all classes make it to graduation for a reason), but I don’t think that really counts.

Overall, I think Redwall has the best food descriptions of any series, ever. (Sorry, Lord of the Rings.) I read the series as an adult but my husband, who read it as a kid, says that he was always in love with the food that Brian Jacques described in the books. I’ve tried to get him the Redwall Cookbook for Christmas at various times, but I always forget about it until the next Christmas comes around.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Nine Ladies Dancing

Dancing is Just One Skill of a Lady! Who is Your Favorite Kickass Female Lead?

So far this year, it’s been either Noemi Taboada from Mexican Gothic or El from A Deadly Education, but neither is without their flaws. Noemi is a spoiled rich girl who isn’t used to people telling her no, and El is an absolute nightmare of an angsty teen (at least in the beginning). Both of them have a great character arc (but I would take El over Noemi any day of the week, because she can use magic!), and both of them learn a lot during their respective novels. I am glad to say that by the end of their books, I actually started to like them! (I started off hating El because of her attitude, but I guess that means that I don’t have a lot of teenagers in my life anymore because it’s exactly how I felt when I was a teenager.)

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Ten Lords a Leaping

Leaping Lords? How About Who is Your Favorite Leading Lad?

The only male-led book I read this year would have to be Percy Jackson, of Percy Jackson and the Olympians fame. I spent the longest time looking back over my books that I’ve read this year, and, if you take away the non-fiction books I’ve read, Percy Jackson is the only male-centered book that I’ve read this year. (Look at me go! That’s a first!)

Wait – that’s not quite right. There’s the guy from The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but I guess I ignored him because he spends the book being multiple genders and it’s only at the end that we discover who he really is.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Eleven Pipers Piping

Where Would We Be Without Music? What Is Your Favorite Book or Bookish Thing That Deals With Music? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)

Not a single book I read this year had anything to do with music. Sure, musical instruments are mentioned in A Deadly Education, but they’re not a main point of the plot. I’m trying to stretch and think about what books I have read in the past that have anything to do with music, and I can’t think of a single one. (I mean, there’s Phantom of the Opera, but I never finished that because the free translation version I got on my kindle was terrible.)

I’m also trying to think of a bookish thing that deals with music, and the only thing I can possibly think of would be my actual piano music books that I’ve got sitting on my keyboard? Yeah, let’s go with those.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: 12 Drummers Drumming

Drum Roll Please…………………….What Is Your Favorite Read of This Year?

I think I’d have to put the Winternight Trilogy on the top of this, even if I didn’t agree with everything that went on in the final book (it could have been SO MUCH BETTER IF…well, I’ll leave you to read the books and then tell me what you think).

A Deadly Education probably comes in as number two, because it is far and beyond better than any of the other magical boarding school books I’ve ever read.

And heck, let’s throw The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle on there as number three.

Honorable mentions include Ella Minnow Pea (seriously – it’s super short, pick up a used copy and read it!), The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home (the backstory of one of my favorite Welcome to Night Vale characters, and is supremely well-written), and Woman World (which I’ve actually read twice this year because it’s short and like reading a bit of comfort food).

(Can you tell I’ve only read a few books this year? As of right now, I’m sitting at 41 on my GoodReads account, which is honestly embarrassing for me. I’ve never read this few books in a year. Especially in a year where I’ve got nothing left to do BUT to read!)

That was incredible! And a lot longer than I expected it to be.

Have you read any of these books? Have any opinions on my opinions? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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