BOOK TAG – Get To Know Me Tag

I’ve been sitting on this tag for a while. Several bloggers that I visit daily have done this tag and while none of them have actually tagged me, I thought it looked like a fun one to do.


  • Vital Stats
    • Name – Valerie
    • Nickname(s): 
      • Val,
      • Aunt Val,
      • Babe (only one person can get away with this one),
      • Rainstar (my online nickname for a long time),
      • Pandy (only one person can get away with this one too).


    • Birthday – January 7th
    • Star sign – Capricorn 
    • Occupation – Librarian
    • Living in – Ann Arbor, Michigan (well, just outside of it technically)

Zodiac symbols in watercolor

  • Appearance
    • Hair color – Currently purple and brown as the purple’s starting to wear out.
    • Hair length – Shoulder length – You won’t see it much shorter than this as it becomes more curly and frizzy the shorter it is.
    • Eye color – Blue
    • Best feature – Eyes and Hair
    • Braces – Nope
    • Piercings – Nope – I used to have my ears pierced but I grew allergic to even the hypoallergenic earrings so they’ve closed up now. 
    • Tattoos – Nope. I’ve never found any that I really felt worth getting but I do admire other people’s ink.
    • Right or Left – Right tho’ I can write legibly with my left. It just looks like a preschooler wrote it. 
    • Picture: I took this picture after I got my hair chopped up to my shoulders at the end of June. You can’t see the purple real well, but that’s the current length at least. 🙂 



  • Firsts
    • Real holiday – I’m going to guess this is the British meaning of holiday as in “vacation”? I’m guessing. That would be Upper Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula when I was about 10 or 11.
    • Best friend – Michelle was my childhood best friend, Carlo in my teenage years and Jen is my current best friend. I’m still friends with Michelle and Carlo, we’re just not quite as close. 
    • Award – I’m sure I got ones before then but the first one I truly remember receiving was an award for scoring 100% correct on the Michigan standardized test we took in 4th grade.
    • Sports – T-ball when I was about 6 or 7.
    • Concerts – John Denver. I was 3. And yes, I do remember some of it. 🙂
© Graphic Garden
  • Favorites
    • TV shows – The West Wing – always. I also enjoy White Collar, NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, and Designated Survivor.
    • Color – Purple! Mostly darker shades, but even if it’s a lighter shade, I’ll choose it over other colors.
    • Songs – Ummm… how much time do you have? Just kidding. I’ll list just 5 with links to YouTube.
      • It’s Gonna Be Okay” by the Piano Guys – I love all The Piano Guys music but this one has extra special meaning
      • O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – I love all of TSO, but this was the first song to make me fall in love with them.
      • On My Own” from Les Miserables – This specific version is sung by Lea Salonga whose voice I absolutely love.
      • El Salvador” by Peter, Paul, and Mary – This song is just so haunting.
      • On the Threshold of a Dream” by Moody Blues – I’m cheating on this last one because I cannot choose just one song from this album. It’s one of the few albums where I love every single song.
    • Restaurant – Amy’s Cafe in Buffalo, NY and Evergreen Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Shops – Target, Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael’s, and Enchanted Forest in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
    • Books – Again, I’ll just name 5 because there’s way too many.
    • Shoes – umm… I’m not really a shoe person. Whatever is comfortable, slip-ons generally.
    • Book genres – Cozy mysteries, Romance, Fantasy, Time Travel, LGBT, Middle Grade Fiction, Nature and History Non-fiction, and Steamy Romance/Erotica when I’m in the right mood.
line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden
  • Currently
    • Feeling – COLD! The air-conditioning is on a little high at work today and I even have the sweater that I keep here on and I’m still cold. 
    • Eating – Nothing but I’m about to have some cheese and crackers and a yogurt.
    • Thinking about – All the many things I need to do.
    • Watching – Nothing.
    • Wearing – Black knit pants, a blue and white plaid blouse, black sweater
    • Have kids – Nope. At this point in my life I probably won’t have any either. But I have an adorable niece and sweet nephew whom I love to the moon and back.
    • Want to travel – I wish but I’m not so good at saving for that kind of thing.


  • Do you believe?
    • In yourself? – Sometimes. I’m doing better at it.
    • God – I believe God exists. I don’t really believe that he cares tho’. 
    • Miracles – Not really, I’m pretty skeptical about things.
    • Love at first sight – Nope. True love takes time to develop
    • Ghosts – Ghosts, I’m not sure – Spirits, yes. 
    • Aliens – Yes. 
    • Soul Mates – Yes and I don’t believe they have to be romantic. I think you can find your soul mate in your best friend or a co-worker or a significant other.
    • Heaven and Hell – I believe an afterlife exists, but I don’t know that I believe these two places themselves exist.


Book Tag – The Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Thank you to Birdie Bookworm for tagging me on this one! You should check out her blog. I love reading every post and was thrilled to find out that she’s from SE Michigan like me! The covers are either linked to my review of the item OR the Amazon/Goodreads page for the item depending on what it is.


1) The Best Book You Read in 2017

Wish by Barbara O'Connor, Author of How to Steal a Dog - tagline: With a little luck you can get what you wish for. - Sunset background, young girl with long brown hair and short-sleeved green shirt kneeling in the grass with a beagle dog - fireflies flying in the background

Wish by Barbara O’Connor is the best book I’ve read so far this year. It’s poignant, realistic, and absolutely wonderful! It’s meant for the middle grades (ages 8-12), but honestly, I think this book is wonderful enough to recommend to all ages.

2) Your Favorite Sequel in 2017

Book Cover: Once Upon a Spine: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - background is the front window of a bookshop - in the foreground are a wrought iron table and chair with a teapot & cups/saucers on the table along with a cat. On the chair is a copy of "Alice in Wonderland"

Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle is definitely my favorite sequel so far this year. I really enjoyed this book. Now, I love the Bibliophile Mystery series anyway, but this is one of the best in the series! It actually has eclipsed Ripped from the Pages as my favorite book in the series! Make sure you check it out!

3) New Release You Really Want to Read but Haven’t Yet


I have been wanting to read The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden since before it came out. However, other blog tour books, other commitments and various other life happenings have gotten in the way. I’m thrilled that next week, Jay (from this-is-my-truth-now) and I are going to start this book as a buddy read. I cannot wait to actually get started on it!

4) Most anticipated release for the 2nd half of the year


Lynn Kurland is one of my all-time favorite authors.  The Nine Kingdoms series is my favorite series of hers so each release is highly anticipated for me! They’re only released once a year, so I have to content myself with re-reading the other books in the series in between new releases. Check out Star of the Morning, which is the first full book in the series. There are two other short stories in the series, but that’s the first full novel.

5) Biggest disappointment of the year

Masked to Death Book Cover - green background on top and aqua background on bottom; drawn "photo" of one man standing behind one man sitting with a Mardi Gras mask

Masked to Death was definitely the biggest disappointment. From reading the description of the book, I really thought it would be fun. Unfortunately, there were only about two scenes in the whole book that I actually enjoyed. 😦

6) Biggest surprise of the year

Book Cover: A Made Marian Novel - Borrowing Blue by Lucy Lennox. Green background with photo of a grapevine at bottom and two men standing together, one shirtless and the other with a shirt on but unbuttoned.

Borrowing Blue by Lucy Lennox was my biggest surprise, only because it was the first M/M romance I’ve ever read so I wasn’t sure how if I’d like it at all, much less just how much I would really end up loving it! It’s such a sweet story and I absolutely adore it and the rest of the Marian brothers!

7) Favorite new-to-you or debut author

Book Cover - Kale to the Queen: A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery by Nell Hampton - a largish kitchen with windows over looking the grounds and an island full of produce, meats and a butcher's knife.

I absolutely loved this book. To my knowledge this is the author’s first published cozy mystery, but even if it’s not, she’s definitely new-to-me. 🙂 This was a fun little mystery set in London and dealing with the royal family.

8) New fictional crush


I don’t really have a new fictional crush this year, so I’m sharing my all-time top fictional crush, Archmage and eventually King of Neroche, Mochriadhemiach (affectionately known as Miach by most). I absolutely adore Miach. I wish I could find a man like Miach. He’s certainly not perfect, but he’s incredibly sweet, humble (even tho’ he’s one of the most powerful mages of the realm), and completely besotted with Morgan. The Mage’s Daughter is the book that really shows just how much he loves her and I cry almost every time I read it!

** I have not reviewed this one yet, but doing this tag made me realize that I need to review each of the Nine Kingdoms books or at the very least do mini reviews for them! **

9) New favorite character

Book Cover: Taming Teddy: A Made Marian novel by Lucy Lennox; Blue background with a snowy woods scene at the bottom, two men without shirts on the top.
Made Marian #2

Teddy, from Taming Teddy, is my newest favorite character. I just love him. He and Jamie’s story is so heart-warming and wonderful. I love seeing them interact in the other books in the Made Marian series as well. 🙂

10) Book that made you cry


My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder is a great middle-grade book. There were parts that made me cry tho’ because there were times when the main character was talking about how much she missed her grandmother. It made me think of my grandparents on my mother’s side, whom I was very close to, and both of whom are gone now. I shed a few tears thinking of them.

** I have not reviewed this one yet but it is on the list to review. I’m waiting until I read the latest in the series and then review all three at once. **

11) Book that made you happy

There really isn’t one specific book that really made me happy so far this year. There are several books I enjoyed, but not a specific one that stands out above the rest for making me happy.

12) Favorite book to movie adaptation you saw this year


I know it’s old, but I just recently watched it, so I’m counting it. Beaches is one of my favorite book to movie adaptations and one of the few where I actually enjoy the movie more than the book.  It reminds me a lot of me and my childhood best friend, Michelle. We’re always there for each other even if we’re not necessarily as close as we were as children/teens. 🙂

13) Favorite book post you’ve published this year

I think my Happy Valentine’s Day post, with my favorite book couples and my favorite fictional crushes is my favorite so far this year.


14) Most beautiful book you’ve bought/received this year


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is my favorite book of all time. I absolutely love this book and have read it more times than I can count. The photo of this cover doesn’t do it justice at all. It’s a forest green imitation leather with the words imprinted in the cover. It’s absolutely gorgeous. 🙂 This is one of just many “special” copies of the book I own. I have one separate copy that I actually read. The rest is just for display.

15) Some books you need to read by the end of the year

brightwood   The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees by Robert Penn book cover - beige background with items made from trees such as an axe, slingshot, wooden spoon, baseball bat, boat oar, etc.   Print   theothereinstein

These are all books I’ve had from NetGalley for at least six months to a year. I really need to finish them and get my reviews up! I’m working on reading The Edge of the Empire in between other books right now. It takes a little bit of reading and then putting it down and letting it sink in a bit. It’s good tho’!


Thanks for hanging in there and reading it all! Thanks to Birdie again for tagging me. I’m not tagging anyone and yet I’m tagging all of you. If you haven’t done this tag, I highly recommend it. 🙂 It’s a good reflection on the first part of the year and a nice look forward to the 2nd half.

BOOK TAG – This or That

Today I’m bringing you another book tag. I wanted to be bringing you another review today, but while my migraine has died down a bit since the heat died down a bit, the ability to concentrate and think has not really come back. Consequently, I haven’t been able to concentrate much on reading or writing.

Since I didn’t want to go too long in between blog posts, I figured a book tag post would be a good way to post without having to worry about too much concentration!

“This Or That”

The Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks).
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you!
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!


I wasn’t particularly tagged, but I know that Jay over at this-is-my-truth-now has done this tag in the past and said for anyone who wants to do it to do it.


1) Reading on the couch or on the bed?

Usually on the couch. I’m not as young as I used to be and my back doesn’t like it when I’m lying down and reading. Plus my bed isn’t that comfortable for sitting on, even when propped up with pillows.


2) Male or female main character?

Either is fine with me. Many of the books I read seem to have female characters, but I have nothing against male characters.

3) Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?

Salty – most definitely salty. Usually popcorn or Chex mix.

4) Trilogies or Quartets?

Ummm. I’ve read more trilogies so I’m going to say trilogies. The few quartets that I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed, I just haven’t read very many. On the other hand, I’ve read many, many trilogies and I enjoy them a lot.

5) First or Third person POV?

I actually prefer third person POV. When it’s a first person POV, half the time I forget the character’s name and then when someone calls their name, I have no idea who they’re talking about!

6) Reading at night or in the morning?

Umm… all of the above and everywhere in between. I’m almost always reading. It’s my number one hobby. Yes, I paint ceramics, take nature photography, have a water garden, and make other art, but reading is my number one hobby so I’m almost always reading, no matter what time of day it is.

7) Libraries or bookstores?

Both. I know, I’m supposed to choose between them, but for me, each has its uses and value to me. I no longer buy books unless I know I’m going to read them more than once or use them frequently. If it’s a favorite author, I’ll pre-order the new book from one of my favorite independent bookstores in town.

If it’s not a book that I’m going to read over and over again or use frequently, I make good use of the library that I work for and the inter-library loan services that are available to me.

8) Books that make you laugh or make you cry?

Books that make me laugh. I think that’s why I like cozy mysteries so much. They usually make me laugh instead of cry. I don’t mind a good book that makes me cry, but I will generally choose books that make me laugh.

9) Black or white covers?

Neither. I prefer colorful covers. 🙂 If it’s too monochrome, I’m not as drawn to it.

10) Character or plot driven stories?

Character driven. I prefer those much more. I can handle a not-so-great plot as long as the characters are great, but if the characters are bad, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is, I’m still not going to enjoy the book.


I’m not tagging anyone in particular. If you want to tag yourself – go for it. 🙂 It’s always fun getting to know other bloggers!

Book Tag: Why am I a Reader?

This is a slightly different type of post. Today I’m participating in a Book Tag. Book tags are fun ways to learn more about the blogger and to tag other bloggers. They each come with questions to answer and then you get to tag other bloggers and get them to answer the questions. Honestly, they’re sort of like chain mail, but they’re fun and I enjoy learning about other bloggers and the person behind the blogs I’m reading, so many bloggers participate in them. 🙂

This Book Tag is called Why Am I A Reader? I’ve seen this book tag done on a couple of blogs (including this-is-my-truth-now). The farthest back I’ve been able to trace the tag is to Thrice Read.

1) Choose one word that would describe you as a reader.

Hmm… tough one. I’m going to go with eccentric. I’m not a conventional reader. You don’t find me reading a lot of the literary bestsellers. I read what I want, when I want to. I don’t care too much about whether it’s “high-brow” literature or not. If it holds my attention and is written decently, I’m good.  Also, while I read a lot of different genres, I am somewhat picky in what I read. There are certain topics that I generally won’t read about (graphic descriptions of abusive relationships, zombies, vampires, etc.). I’m typically very loyal to authors that I enjoy, while finding it harder to pick up new authors (sometimes – sometimes I’m excited about picking up new authors. I’m an enigma).

2) What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

I think it was more a series than one book. Little House on the Prairie series. I learned to read at an early age (3 1/2) and I don’t necessarily remember the very first books I read, but I remember being excited when my reading skills were finally good enough that I could borrow the Little House books from my grandma. 🙂 I was so excited to be reading them! I think that was in first grade.

3) Hardcover or Paperback?

It depends on the book for me. There are some books where I own hardcover copies that I want to keep looking nice while I have paperback copies that are cheaper/easier to replace for my actual reading copies. Yet, there are some books I buy the hardcover right off the bat as my reading copy because I don’t want to wait for the paperback version to come out.  I’ve also grown to enjoy eBooks more. While nothing will ever beat holding that paperback (or hardcover) in my hand, the convenience of having my eBooks available on my phone does come in handy. Plus, most of the books that I read through NetGalley come as eBooks, so I’ve had to get used to them.

4) How has reading shaped your identity?

Reading has been mostly how I’ve learned things in my life. As a child, I was a voracious reader (I am to an extent today as well, but let’s face it, children don’t have to worry about work and bills and housework too much). I know a lot of random facts because I’ve read them somewhere. It’s my way of staying connected to a world without having to be “in” it and social all the time.

5) What book do you read when you want to be comforted?

It depends on why I need the comfort. If I’m anxious, re-reading favorite books is the way to go (depending on my mood it could be re-reading romance, a cozy mystery, fantasy, whatever sounds good). If I’m sad, I tend to choose picture books that will make me laugh, like “Press Here” by Herve Tullet (it’s one that you must read out loud and follow the directions, otherwise it loses its “magic”). 🙂

6) Who influenced you to be a reader?

My entire family. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts & uncles, cousins, etc. My mom has always been a reader along with my maternal grandma and grandpa and my paternal grandma. My dad has become more of a reader as I’ve gotten older. They all encouraged me to read. I didn’t really need much encouragement tho’!

7) Describe your dream reading lounge.

A room with floor to ceiling bookshelves (with ladders) arranged in an organized fashion (one of the few areas that I’m picky about things being in order). A comfy bay window seat for days I wish to read in the sun. Comfortable sofas and footstools or recliners. A small refrigerator for holding flavored waters (still) and iced tea. Blankets for cuddling up with when it’s cold. Basically think of the library in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and then add some really comfortable sofas/chairs to sit in and carpeting to help soften noise.

8) What book changed the way you saw the world?

I think I have to say Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It’s one thing to read about discrimination and Jim Crow laws in a history book. It’s another thing entirely to read about it as it’s happening to specific characters. That brings it home more than a history book ever could.

9) What defines your life as a reader?

Two words. Freedom and feast. I have the freedom to read what I want, when I want for the most part. Then there’s the fact that there is a feast of literature out there just waiting to be fed upon. No matter what genre(s) one prefers, there’s a host of new choices being produced each year and I’m thankful that I have the freedom to pick which ones I want to devour out of that feast.

10) What are your favorite quotes?

I have many, many quotes that have meant different things to me at different times. I’m including five (5) here that I prize above the rest.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J.K. Rowling,  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts, Tears of the Moon

She looked at him gravely. “You cannot call back the river that has already flowed past you, Ruith. All you can do is be grateful for where you are in it.” – Lynn Kurland, Spellweaver

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
― Arthur O’Shaughnessy, Poems of Arthur O’Shaughnessy (also used in the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”)