So, last week I saw this book tag going around Twitter. Nobody tagged me because, you know, I’m SUPER underground (i.e., nobody knows who I am) and also because I don’t have a book blog so much as a Movie, TV, and Miscellaneous Stuff Blog . . . but I still thought it was an awesome idea and would be a lot of fun to complete.
So. Here we go.
For the most part, I tried to keep the spoilers light, but there were a few times when that just wasn’t possible. So beware, for a few SERIOUS SPOILERS lie ahead. (And yes, that means you, Mek. You have to skip “Stupefy” entirely, or I will be very cross with you and put a swift and inglorious end to your entire birthday week.)
ACCIO – SUMMONING CHARM
An upcoming release you need to get your hands on right now
Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
I just read Six of Crows last month and absolutely LOVED IT. I adored the characters, the team dynamics, the awesome moral ambiguity. It’s this fantastically entertaining blend of heist novel and fantasy epic, and I would have been desperate to read the next book even if the first one hadn’t ended on a cliffhanger . . . which of course it did because the Story Gods are laughing at me. Why isn’t it September yet?
ALOHOMORA – UNLOCKING CHARM
Your favorite series starter
The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Seriously, I’m starting to think that the fantasy-heist is my new favorite sub-genre. I read this book maybe three or four years ago on my friend’s recommendation and adored almost everything about it. I don’t know if it’s my favorite series starter of all time (I don’t usually have favorites like that) but it’s definitely one of them. Lies is both dark and hilarious, like laugh-out-loud hilarious, and while I haven’t fully made up my mind about the direction the series seems to be taking, this particular book, at least, will always be one of my favorites.
A book that gave you all the fuzzy/warm feels
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy – Noelle Stevenson
Figured I’d include some graphic novels in here because Lumberjanes is just adorable and basically everything I want from a girl friendship story. All the girls have different personalities, skills, backgrounds, body types, and I really like each and every one of them. The comic’s optimism is refreshing, and I look forward to picking up the second issue, especially if it’s anywhere near as funny as the first. (Seriously, I know it loses something out of context, but I laughed so hard at “I AM GOING TO CATCH A FISH BY WRESTLING IT AWAY FROM A BEAR.” I cracked up for hours just thinking about it.)
AGUAMENTI – WATER MAKING SPELL
A book that made you ugly cry
Passage – Connie Willis
This book, I swear to God. Just relentless sobbing all over the place. Buckets and buckets. I cried enough that it hurt.
Damn you, Connie Willis. You may be an excellent writer and teacher, but you’re also evil.
EXPECTO PATRONUM – PATRONUS CHARM
A hero/heroine you’d want to protect you in real life
Breq – the Imperial Radch trilogy – Ann Leckie
Breq is a badass. Breq does not quit. Breq eats the impossible for breakfast. That’s the person I want in charge of saving my ass, someone smart and resilient and doesn’t give up, ever.
Besides, it’d be cool to have an AI friend. (Or at least an AI guardian who pops in and out whenever I need help.)
LUMOS – LIGHT MAKING SPELL
A book you intentionally spoiled for yourself
Breaking Dawn – Stephanie Meyer
I accidentally spoil myself all the damn time, but I rarely do it on purpose. Still, I didn’t care for Twilight (book or movie) enough to continue with the series, so I just asked a friend who Bella ended up with to satisfy my curiosity, and then went about my day.
IMPERIO – IMPERIUS CURSE
A book you wish you could make everyone read
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente
I actually get very nervous about recommending stuff to people, so the whole idea of pushing one book on anyone (let alone everyone) just makes me anxious, like, what if they hate it? What if they now think I have terrible taste? What if they’re resentful for having to spend all that time reading something I recommended and never take my opinions seriously again? So, I probably wouldn’t use Imperio to make people read anything specific. (To fetch me food, on the other hand? Absolutely. My God, I wish we had better delivery options around here.)
Still, I did so fall in love with this middle grade fantasy. If I were an elementary school teacher, I’d definitely assign it to my class; it strikes me as this generation’s Alice in Wonderland, and I adore it.
ENGORGIO – ENGORGEMENT CHARM
A book/series you wish never ended
The Belgariad – David & Leigh Eddings
This is sort of an odd choice, considering this series of fantasy novels actually has its own follow-up series. (Which has enjoyable moments, but is definitely not as good as the original.) But the blasphemous truth is that it’s pretty rare for me to read a book or book series and think, “Man, I don’t want this to ever end.” Partially because no matter how much I’m enjoying a book, there are always at least five other books I want to read and can’t get to until I finish the one I’m working on. It’s also partially because, unfortunately, it’s rare when a book series gets better and better for me, rather than the other way around, and sometimes they just go on longer than I think they should. (Anita Blake fans who would have been happy if the series had ended at, say, Obsidian Butterfly? Raise your hands.)
But I still remember reading The Belgariad at age 11 and being kind of depressed during the last fifty pages of Enchanter’s End Game, wanting to hold on to the story forever. The series was a big deal to me in what was not, like, the best time during my life, and I just wanted the adventures of Garion and Ce’Nedra and Belgarath and Polgara and Barak and Silk (SILK!!!!!) and everyone else to just go on forever. It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling, but I wouldn’t mind being that invested in a book series again.
WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA – LEVITATING OBJECTS
A book with an uplifting message and/or ending
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Sure, it’s a funny book about the apocalypse. It’s also a book about thwarting destiny, where the prophesied Antichrist child is like, “Actually, I think this whole ‘destroying the world to save the world’ idea is a bunch of nonsense, and I don’t think I’d like to participate.” Anything where people shake off the chains of Fate tends to be an upper for me.
OBLIVIATE – MEMORY CHARM
A book you’d like to forget
Raylan – Elmore Leonard
Oh, I hate to say this, I do. I’ve enjoyed some Elmore Leonard books, and I really admire the deceptive simplicity of his prose . . . but I picked up Raylan maybe four seasons into Justified, and other than the fact that I just didn’t particularly enjoy the book’s structure, I was horrified by Leonard’s version of Boyd Crowder, who was nothing like the character I’d fallen in love with. Walton Goggins’s Boyd is easily one of my favorite television characters of all time, but this guy? I just wanted to forget this guy ever existed.
ANAPNEO – CLEARS A BLOCKED THROAT
A book or series that gets you out of a reading slump
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom – Christopher Healey
I find myself falling into reading slumps a lot more frequently than I’d like, and usually the best cure is to not beat myself up about it but just shift around until I found the right book I can focus on, usually something light and funny and enjoyable. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was definitely that book for me, just what I needed at the time. It’s fun and cute and just the kind of thing I could imagine reading with my someday-potential-future kids.
JELLY LEGS JINX
A swoon worthy hero or heroine
Poe Dameron – Star Wars: Before the Awakening – Greg Rucka
Yes, fine, I’m totally cheating because this pick is based both on the book itself and the obvious fact that Oscar Isaac is one charming motherfucker. But I really did love Poe’s section of Before the Awakening. I really need to read more stories about suave and funny space pirates. If you have a recommendation on that score, for the love of God, TELL ME.
ARESTO MOMENTUM – SLOW OR STOP SPELL
A book where you dropped everything to finish reading it
A Storm of Swords – George R.R. Martin
Well before Game of Thrones came to HBO, a young unit assistant had a dilemma: she had a forty-five minute walk home from work after having been awake literally all night long, but she also had a book to finish, a novel where people were being brutally and shockingly murdered left and right. Could she wait till she got home to see what happened next?
The answer, obviously, is hell no. But I sure as shit didn’t want to stay at the hospital any longer than possible, either, so I finished the book while walking home, turning the last page literally as I walked up the driveway. Great timing like that always makes me happy.
CRUCIO – PAIN CURSE
A book that was painful to read or that broke you
Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
To date, this is the only book I can think of that I had to stop reading for some Cheer the Hell Up breaks because I was so godamn depressed about a couple of characters dying. Devastating. Yeah, that would be a good adjective for this book.
RICTUSEMPTRA – TICKLING CHARM
A book that made you laugh out loud
Ms. Marvel: Volume 2: Generation Why – G. Willow Wilson
I’ve already mentioned a few books so far that made me laugh out loud, but the team-up between Ms. Marvel and Wolverine? Oh, it had me in stitches. They are the best dynamic duo of all time. Especially the bit about fanfiction. I. was. DYING.
EXPELLIARMUS – DISARMING CHARM
A book you wanted to make fly (i.e., throw)
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
I’ve written enough about this story that I won’t go into too much detail here. Just . . . ugh, that moment when our unnamed narrator realizes her husband murdered his first wife, and she’s cool with it because that means he was never in love with Rebecca? NOPE. Big world of nope.
PORTUS – PORTKEY
A fictional world you wish you could visit
The Night Circus – The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
I figured I’d pick a second-world fantasy for this one, like my own personal Narnia that I could magic-hop my way into. But while there are absolutely some fictional worlds I’d love to see, I’m not sure that I’ve ever wanted to go anywhere as much as the night circus in, well, The Night Circus. Morgenstern’s description of the tents there are just breathtaking. All I want for Christmas is a portkey and a red scarf.
STUPEFY – STUNNING SPELL
A shocking plot twist or ending you were not expecting
Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch
Lesley is working with the bad guys? NOOOOOOOO. This was definitely a holy shit moment, like I said it out loud and everything. It’s fair to say that I was not expecting that particular plot development at all. (I haven’t read the fifth book yet, so I don’t know how it all plays out. I suppose I’ll find out later this year.)
AVADA KEDAVRA – THE KILLING CURSE
A character death that destroyed you
Fred – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
It doesn’t matter that I knew it was coming, had known, actually, since the beginning of the book when George was injured. I still wept buckets when Fred, my favorite character in the entire HP universe, was murdered. Damn you, J.K. Rowling.
FINITE INCANTATEM – TERMINATES ALL SPELL EFFECTS
Best book conclusion
Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge
I don’t know that I really have One Best Book Conclusion to beat All Book Conclusions, but I recently read Cuckoo Song and really loved how it ended. (Well. I loved pretty much everything about it, but especially the ending.) It didn’t go to some of the cliche places that I’d worried about, and wrapped up with Trista and Violet going off together, which was awesome because they make a great found family. I think maybe my favorite kind of book conclusions are the ones that leave you feeling like the story is complete and satisfying and doesn’t require a sequel . . . but could have one, if ever the author was inclined. Cuckoo Song absolutely doesn’t need a follow-up, but if Frances Hardinge ever wanted to write more about the adventures of Trista and Violet? I would absolutely be on board to read them.
Okay, that’s about all for today. I’d happily read some of your own picks in the comments!