When I looked at my blog schedule and realised that a post would need to go live on Boxing Day, it seemed sensible to plan in advance and get a nice festive tag prepared before I enter into a turkey and stuffing sandwich induced fog for the foreseeable future. I spotted this tag over on AndOnSheReads‘s blog and it looked like festive fun so, without further ado, let’s take a wander through the 12 Days of Christmas, bookish-style!
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 favourite stand alone?
The majority of my reading is probably made up of stand alone novels – I’m a terrible series reader. It’s hard to pick just one book as my ‘favourite’ reads change regularly. So instead I’m going to pick a favourite from this year and go with Piranesi by Susanna Clarke which is a quietly beautiful novel about the aforementioned Piranesi and his life in the labyrinthine House. Combining magical realism, fairy-tale/fable, and an immensely human character study, it has to be one of my novels of the year for 2021.
ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: TWO TURTLE DOVES.
Love is in the air! Who is your one true pairing?
Aziraphale and Crowley from Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The fandom is divided over whether they are a couple in the romantic sense but, as Neil Gaiman himself has said, “whatever Aziraphale and Crowley are, it’s a love story”. For me, I love that their love story encompasses more than just the romantic and/or erotic love we usually see depicted on the page. Instead, they have a love for one another that includes a deep and abiding friendship between equals, a protective familial love, hospitality, kindness, passion, and so much more. One thing I know from reading the book (and watching the marvellous TV adaptation) is that wherever Aziraphale is, you’ll find Crowley not far away – and vice versa. They are two sides of the same coin and couldn’t be without each other. Which makes them my ultimate OTP.
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?
It’s well-known that one of my favourite books in The Lord of the Rings which is, of course, a trilogy. But I’ve used that in tag answers before so, in the spirit of novelty, I’m going to pick a more recent trilogy and go with Hilary Mantel’s blisteringly brilliant Wolf Hall trilogy. Comprising of Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror and the Light, the trilogy tells of the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, Secretary of State to the temperamental Henry VIII. The final book, The Mirror and the Light, is still on my TBR simply because I can’t bear to read the end of Cromwell’s journey however, based on the first two novels, I know I’ll be in for an emotive and brilliantly realised journey into the political machinations of Tudor England.
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 favourite series?
As I said at the start of this post, I’m a terrible series reader. Between the PhD and the blog, I don’t get a lot of time to re-read which makes keeping up with series – especially those where there may be a lengthy wait between books – quite tricky. One series I have LOVED however, is Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories novels. The latest, Demon, has just been published in ebook format and I’m reading it in preparation for the blog tour in January. It’s just as creepy and thrilling as its five predecessors and is written with Wesolowski’s usual flair and pace. Each novel is told as a podcast over six episodes – hence Six Stories – and investigates a true crime that, usually, has supernatural or folkloric connections. They’re utterly compelling novels and its a series I highly recommend.
ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: FIVE GOLDEN RINGS.
One ring to rule them all! Who is your favourite Villain/Antagonist?
I hesitate to call him an antagonist but I’m going to go with Loki. Appropriately enough for Loki, there are many variations and versions of him – the most prominent at present being Tom Hiddleston’s take on the character within the Marvel cinematic universe. For an introduction to the mythological Loki, I can recommend Neil Gaiman’s lively retellings in Norse Mythology. My favourite Loki, meanwhile, is the witty, chaotic trickster-god found in Joanne M. Harris’ The Gospel of Loki and its sequel, The Testament of Loki.
ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: SIX GEESE A LAYING.
Creation is a beautiful thing. What is your favourite world/world-building?
We usually think of world-building as being a fantasy/science fiction thing but I don’t read a lot of either genre. I do, however, read A LOT of historical fiction and I think the creation of an immersive historical world is just as important as the creation of a fantastical or imagined one. Lauren Groff’s Matrix catapulted me straight into twelfth-century England and the life of the indomitable Marie de France. By the end of the novel, I felt as if I had lived, breathed, worked, prayed, grieved, and celebrated alongside Marie and her abbey community – a true feat of world-building from a novelist at the height of her powers.
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? Who’s your favourite animal sidekick?
I haven’t read a lot of books with animal sidekicks so I’m going to cheat a bit on this one. Jess Kidd’s fabulous Things in Jars features a recently deceased. heavily tattooed, and annoyingly handsome boxer as a sidekick to the brilliant (and brilliantly complex) heroine Bridie Divine. Rudy Doyle is a fantastic creation and his evolving relationship with Bridie one of the highlights of this superb novel.
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?
Never has a book made me so hungry as Joanne Harris’s Chocolat! The descriptions of delicious treats in Vianne’s chocolate shop made me so hungry that I had to go out and buy some really nice, really posh handmade chocolates. They didn’t have the magical abilities of Vianne’s chocolates, but they were really nice!
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 favourite kickass female lead?
Out of recent reads, I have to say that I really admire Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë from Bella Ellis’s Brontë Mysteries series! One of my favourite things about this particular series is the way Ellis has captured the spirit of the three Brontë sisters. From Charlotte’s carefully considered determination and Emily’s wild ferocity, to Anne’s more gentle but no less courageous personality. All three had to fight for their voices to be heard in a world that frequently dismissed young, unmarried women – and Ellis’s novels, which begin with The Vanished Bride, show that admirably.
ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: TEN LORDS A LEAPING.
How about your favourite leading lad?
Hercule Poirot might not be everyone’s choice of leading man – he’s fussy, somewhat arrogant, and annoyingly clever and, for many years, I greatly preferred the company of Miss Marple. Thanks to the the wonderful gang at The Write Reads and, in particular, Fiona from Fi’s Bibliofiles who organised our Poirot readalong, I’ve discovered the delights of Mr Hercule Poirot’s company. In addition to being the sleuth solving Christie’s deliciously concocted mysteries, I’ve come to love Poirot for his quiet care and attention. Beneath the fussiness is an observant and deeply philosophical man who frequently uses his outward eccentricities to get to the bottom of things. In addition to Christie’s own Poirot novels, Sophie Hannah has written four excellent continuations which start with The Monogram Murders and which perfectly capture Poirot’s voice and mannerisms.
ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: ELEVEN PIPES PIPING.
What is your favourite book or bookish thing with musical influence? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)
Oh gosh, this is a tricky one! I don’t really have any musical recommendations so I’m cheating on this one again and going to recommend some stories about things that go bump in the night! Yes, I do love a good ghost story and one of my favourite ghost story writers is the masterful M R James. James’s stories are packed to brimming with strange noises and ghostly apparitions but, for my money, what makes his work truly genius is his ability to challenge the senses and create a real sense of the uncanny. There may even be some stories featuring ghostly music in his Collected Ghost Stories but, even if there aren’t, read it for the otherworldly delights contained within!
ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: 12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING.
Drum roll please… what is your favourite read of this year?
I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint and refuse to answer this one…yet. I’ll be putting a Best Books of the Year post up around the New Year so I’ll be holding you in anticipation until then!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this festive book tag. I’m not going to tag anyone in particular but, if you’d like to have a go at this tag, consider yourself tagged!!
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you have a peaceful, happy, restful, and bookish festive season and would like to thank you for following my little blog and for sharing and commenting on my posts this year.
Much love and well wishes
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