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.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Small heart with teddy bear face and paws peeking over top Happy Valentine’s Day! Small heart with teddy bear face and paws peeking over top

I’ve never been a huge Valentine’s Day fan. None of my family is really. We all maintain that we tell each other and show each other how much we love each other enough throughout the year that we don’t really need a commercialized holiday to prove it. And yes, I am single, but that’s mostly by choice. I like being single. I like not having the complications a relationship brings, so that doesn’t really have any bearing on whether or not I like Valentine’s Day.

However, I spotted a few other blogs doing things like Favorite book couples and Favorite book boyfriends/girlfriends, so I thought I’d do the same to help celebrate this day of love!

Red line with heart towards the left end (about an inch from the end)

Favorite Book Couples

These are not in any specific order, just the order in which they popped into my head!

Brooklyn & Derek – Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile Series – Derek & Brooklyn ROCK! I have loved them from the very first moment. They compliment each other well. Derek helps keep Brooklyn from being too impulsive and she helps provide laughter and joy in his life, which when you’re the owner of a private security firm, it’s hard to find those moments. Plus, Derek is obviously completely besotted with Brooklyn, so that makes it even more fun to read!

Alexander & Clara – Geneva Lee’s Royals Saga – Alexander and Clara are such a wonderful couple. What starts out as just pure lustful attraction turns into a love for a lifetime. Alexander has always kept women at a distance, not allowing them to see/feel his scars. Clara’s the first woman to get through those barriers. They work so hard to overcome the obstacles in their path and they seem so realistic. So relatable. Those are just a few of the many reasons why I love them.

Morgan & Miach – Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdom Series – If I had to pick just one couple, Morgan & Miach would be it. I absolutely love them. Morgan is headstrong, oblivious to her past at first, and a great swords-woman. Miach, though he is the archmage of the realm and one of the most powerful men in all of Neroche, is humble, unassuming, and completely besotted with Morgan. I love them both and have read their story at least a half a dozen times since the first book came out in 2006.

Ashton & Lila – Nora Roberts, The Collector – Something about this book and this couple just has gotten under my skin and into my heart. I’ve read their story many, many times and the book was just published in 2014. I love the story line in general, but Ash & Lila’s relationship is a big part of that story line. Lila never thought she’d needed anyone in her life romantically, but Ashton completely takes her by storm and sweeps her off her feet, though she doesn’t recognize it at first.

Eve & Roarke – J.D. Robb’s In Death series – Seriously, how can you not like Eve & Roarke? They’ve both made themselves into their own person after growing up in abusive families. Eve’s a cop and Roarke’s a reformed criminal (his words). She’s used to having nothing and he’s used to having everything. Sometimes that comes between them, but they always figure out a way to work it out. (Though as a side note, I love them as a couple, but Roarke’s not really my type so not really my idea of a good fictional boyfriend.)

Continue reading “Happy Valentine’s Day!”