South Africa Safari Part 5

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Hi again! If you missed the previous parts, please click on the following links:

Yesterday, Dad and I went on an excursion to St. Lucia. It is an island-ish place (it can only be accessed by one bridge in and out) that is in a large lake that used to be an estuary. Due to a decade of drought, the (former) estuary no longer reaches the Indian Ocean.  Still, there are a ton of hippos in this lake, and a huge number of crocodiles too. We ended up taking a 2 hour boat ride up and down the lake, then had lunch in St. Lucia and shopped a little bit. Then we went to the beach there. It is a Unesco World Heritage site, and it was gorgeous (and massive).  The sand was soft and silky, and there are tiny molecules of titanium mixed in so when you stand in the ocean and your feet sink down, it created these beautiful black and tan patterns.  I was enjoying myself too much to bother with a picture, sorry folks.

Anyway, here are a couple of the critters we saw on the boat ride:

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We didn’t end up seeing very many crocs, but oh my goodness the hippos.

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Baby croc sticking its head above the water

The hippos like to congregate in pods. The adults rest in the water with their tummies touching the bottom of the river, and the babies rest their heads on the adults.

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We also saw a large number of hippos out of the water up along the shoreline.

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As we were watching, a big male named Pumba (see below) pushed two female hippos (in the foreground above) out of the water because a younger male came close by that Pumba had previously kicked out of the herd.

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Pumba is the dominant male in his pod, but the young male wanted to challenge Pumba for control of the herd. As we watched, the young male used his tail to fling his poo around nearby, basically throwing down the gauntlet to Pumba. We didn’t see them fight, but to be honest, my money is on Pumba.

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The Interloper

Also, some of the hippos out of the water looked pinker than other hippos. The pink color means they are sunburned. Hippos will get in the water to prevent/mitigate sunburn.

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Lastly, we saw an African Fish Eagle, which looks a lot like the American Bald Eagle, but much smaller.

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Dad and I are now half-way through our last safari day. We leave South Africa tomorrow to head toward Paris. While I am sad to say goodbye to the animals, I am super excited for Paris. I might not be able to post tomorrow since I will be travelling all day and internet is so limited here. I might be able to post tomorrow morning before we leave or once we get to Durban and wait for our flight (or possibly during our layover in Johannesburg). Don’t count on it though, because it might not happen, in which case my next post won’t be until 6/2.


Note from my Dad: We saw plus or minus 20 hippos laying on a mud bed. They ranged in size from babies at 3 tons (6,000 pounds) to adults weighing 5 tons (10,000 pounds). Katy and I walked along the beach, putting our toes in the Indian Ocean.

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South Africa Safari Part 4

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(Pic above is of the Phinda reserve, where the lions are. The reserve is privately owned by one dude who has a giant house on the reserve and flies in on his plane, landing on his private air strip.)

Hi again everyone! Please select the appropriate following links for:

just in case you missed them. Anywho, as promised, today I have pictures of kitties! Let’s start off with the morning game drive in our usual park.

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This is the only cheetah on the reserve. He is also basically the only predator. There is one leopard as well, but we pretty much have no chance of seeing him. The cheetah used to have a female mate, but she was killed by a venomous snake awhile back, and as he is 12 years old and near the end of his lifetime, they reserve has no plans to transplant another cheetah in. Every morning he goes to the fence at the far end of the property to meet and greet with 2 cheetahs who live on the adjoining reserve.

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Alas they did not come to say hello this particular morning. The cheetahs apparently have a love/hate relationship. They like to greet each other at the fence, but if the other two cheetahs ever got onto this reserve, they wouldn’t hesitate to kill the cheetah here since he is old and they would want to take over his territory.  Law of the jungle I guess.

We also saw some water buffalo fighting. It was neat because you could hear their horns and head plates clacking together.

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It started out as play but became serious, and their horns got locked together a couple of times but they always managed to separate. Our guide, Michaela, said that she once saw two buffalo die of starvation because they couldn’t get their horns to unlock.

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Also, have a wildebeest:

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And a trio of giraffes:

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Granted, the middle large male in the above pic was being a total asshole to the baby giraffe (only 2 months old) and was kicking it to assert dominance…I think because he was feeling insecure and maybe losing his dominance fight with the other large male in the pic. Total dick move though.

Oh, and here is a kudu:

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They look similar to nyala, but they have that hump on their backs and are related to camels.

In the afternoon, a bunch of people, Dad and me included, in our group headed to the Phinda reserve to (hopefully) see lions. They have a 95% success rate for finding lions. We started off a little rocky. Apparently the guide at that reserve, Walter, forgot he would be taking us out and showed up at the gate 20 mins late. But his game truck was really nice and he got us all blankets so we started off cheerful enough. Then it got later, and later, and later, and suddenly the sun was almost set even though we had yet to see a lion. I was all prepared to accept that I was going to be part of the 5% not to see a lion, when suddenly Walter’s radio got a transmission, lions spotted! We hightailed it to the location and lo and behold, 2 female lions! Woo!

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It got dark while we were watching, so I had to resort to using flash. The lionesses didn’t seem to mind though.

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OMG, such cat. My friend Sarah always says that she is pretty sure the only difference between big cats and house cats is size. I agree.


Tomorrow is our last day here on safari (sadness!) and then Dad and I are off to Paris. Tomorrow I will also be posting about today’s excursion to St. Lucia. Get ready for hungry hungry hippos.

South Africa Safari Part 3

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Hi again all! The above pic is the sunrise over the Zulu Nyala park. Click on the links for Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them. I am posting a bit later today than usual because Dad and I moved to the other lodge so I didn’t have time to post in the middle of the day. So, I have actually been on three game drives since my last post, though I will only be posting pictures from one game drive (the afternoon drive of 5/28/19 since so much happened on it).

Up until today Dad and I had been staying at the Game Lodge, which is on the actual reserve. However, they are getting prepared to shut down for renovations (they are building a spa and gym) so we moved to the Heritage Lodge. It is much bigger at the Heritage Lodge, way more people are staying here, and we have a suite which is about 3 times the size of our old room.

Anyway, a lot happened on the afternoon game drive on 5/28. Dad and I actually went with a different guide (our usual one, Michaela, took the rest of the people in our group to a half day tour at the national park that Dad and I opted out of because we hadn’t heard great reviews…plus it cost extra money, and why spend money on something you are not really excited about?) Anyway, we ended up going out with a guide named Musa, who is a more senior guide, and really knew where to take us to see the good stuff:

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Great success!

We stumbled upon the black variety of “r” completely unexpectedly, and he was even willing to pose for us! (Again, not saying the species name because poachers.) I was so bummed two days ago when my camera died and I missed out getting a good picture of this species. This game drive more than made up for it!

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Hippo mostly out of water!!

I was super excited to see this guy, though I was kinda bummed that he wasn’t facing the camera for the above shot.

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He is a young male who is outcast (he has been moving from watering hole to watering hole) and desperately wants to make friends with the mama white “r” (see below pic).

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We spent a lot of time at this watering hole since a lot of drama was going down. While the mama “r” was giving herself a mud bath, her 4 year old baby girl was making worried noises because 2 other “r” came to the pond.

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The 2 are sisters, and there was a sweet meeting between the baby “r” and the sisters. (The “baby” is on the left, and one sister is on the right and the second sister is in the background.)

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The mother is (most likely) pregnant, and when the new baby is born, she will drive her 4 year old away (well, maybe 5 year old at that point….”r”s are preggers for 16 months) and the hope is that the 4 year old will be able to join the sisters.

A couple of new critter sightings include:

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Bateleur Eagle

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Ibis

We also saw a very brave male nyala who strolled right by our game viewing vehicle, and we briefly saw the elephants again.

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These three ladies ended up chasing some of the other game trucks while we watched. The drivers had to back up real quick and some of the guests were a little emotionally rattled after the ordeal, but from our perspective it was kinda funny. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

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That’s it for today! Tomorrow Dad and I are going on a day trip to St. Lucia. Provided I find some time tomorrow, I will post my pictures I took today of the big kitties.

South Africa Safari Part 2

Hello all! I am back again with more pictures. Go here if you missed Part 1. Yesterday evening’s game drive was awesome. We finally saw elephants!! The small one in the pictures below is a teenager and, typical teenager, was being sassy so the older ladies were having “words” with her. (Apparently elephants speak through physical contact and tummy rumbles.)

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Apparently, elephants also like to chase other animals for fun (they are bored).

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Dirt bath to keep cool

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Chasing the zebras

Also, got a picture of a warthog family.  The male has large protuberances (warts) on his face by his eyes to protect the eyes from tusks during battle with other males.

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I managed to get a couple shots of hippos surfacing…though nothing beyond the top of their head and back (thank goodness).  Hippos are the most dangerous animal in Africa (besides mosquitoes) and kill more humans per year than all of the other most dangerous species combined (again, except mosquitoes).

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Baby hippo resting on his mama’s back

Every game ride we come across tons of impala. As you can see in the following pic, they have what looks like an “M” on their bums (as our guide says, M for McDonald’s….since they are a main source of food for predators).

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Lastly, on my good camera, I got a shot of a crocodile, apparently the largest one they have on the reserve. Then, my good camera died from battery loss (I forgot to charge it in the middle of the day when we had down time) and ended up taking the rest of the photos on my phone (so, quality isn’t nearly as good).

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Again, sorry for the rubbish quality on the remaining pictures. My cell phone just doesn’t have nearly the zooming range or picture quality that my good camera has.

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Zebra (giraffe for scale)

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The zebras in this reserve are kinda yellowish because they like to roll in the dirt, which on this reserve is very colorful. The species of zebra on this reserve also have an extra stripe (the light colored grey-ish stripe in between the black stripes).

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It gutted me that I couldn’t get a decent picture of this guy, an “r” of the black variety (again don’t wanna say the animal name because poachers). Apparently he likes to hide in the thicket, so to see him out in the open is very rare. My good camera had died by the time we came upon him tough, so I was stuck trying to use my cell phone to get pics.

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This cheeky fellow is a nyala, and his species can only be found in a tiny pocket of South Africa. It is where the reserve I am at gets its name. Dad and I found him at our lodge, determined to eat all the shrubbery.  They are known for their orange socks which you can see in the picture above.

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That’s all for today. I will try to post more tomorrow if time allows.

South Africa Safari Part 1

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Hi everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted lately, I was super busy preparing for my big trip. As you may have guessed from the title, today’s post is not about books (well, not for the most part anyway). On May 24th, my dad and I left America for Durban, South Africa to start our safari adventure!

First, lemme tell ya, it is no easy feat getting to South Africa. It is really freaking far away from America. My dad had to go from Arizona to Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania to London, and then London to South Africa. I only had to go from Pennsylvania to London, London to South Africa. (He and I met up in London.) Dad’s first flight was about 4 hours, then he had a 5 hour layover in PA (different city than the one I flew out of), the second flight was 7.5 hours for both of us, and we both had a 6 hour layover in London. I checked out the book store to see if I could find any books ninja signed by Neil Gaiman, but no dice. I just missed him, since he and his wife are going to England on Tuesday (I think?) for the Good Omens premier. Even so, I did pick up a copy of Good Omens. I want to read it before I watch Good Omens after I get back from my trip. Alas I will not be able to see it when it drops on Amazon Prime on the 31st (there is internet only in one common area of the Lodge we are staying in) but I definitely intend to watch it when I get home. I also saw there was a Harry Potter store at Heathrow airport, because I ended up walking by it, but since I was searching for my dad in the airport at the time, I never ended up sticking my head in. Alas. Even so, I eventually managed to find my dad at the British Airways South Lounge where we rested up for our really long upcoming flight.

The last flight was 12 hours. Dad got a business class ticket for himself for the 12 hour flight, but I was stuck back in coach. Neither of us got much sleep though. Plus when we arrived in South Africa, we had a 3 hour wait in the airport for our shuttle to arrive, then a 3 hour drive out to the Zulu Nyala Reserve. We arrived severely sleep deprived, but rather than go to bed and throw ourselves off schedule, we ended up having lunch then went for our first game drive! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from that first drive:

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Impala (I call him Chevy)

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Baby Giraffe

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Dead or dormant tree (giraffe for scale)

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Water buffalo with bird on its face

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Mother and son of the white variety (don’t want to say the “r” word because poachers)

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Warthog at the watering hole

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Jackal

Alas there aren’t any predators at this reserve, apart from one Cheetah that I have yet to see. Dad and I are going to take an excursion to another park (hopefully) to see lions. The reserve we are on also only has 3 elephants (again, which I have yet to see), so we are going to do an excursion to another nearby larger park that has herds of elephants.

Anyway, once we finished our game drive, we had a couple of hours to kill before dinner, so Dad and I each had a shower, which was heavenly after all that travelling, and both of us ended up falling asleep waiting for the other to finish their shower. We were ready to pass out. However, we made it to dinner, which was a pretty good buffet (there was “venison” which we think was probably Impala meat. It was yummy!). There was also so traditional dancers and drummers/singers that performed for all of us at dinner.

After all that we finally went to bed at 8:30 and passed out until 5:30am…which is when we had to get up for our 6am morning game drive. The drive this morning was similar to the one yesterday, though we saw much fewer animals overall. Here are a few of my favorite pics from this morning:

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Secretary Bird

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Mother and son, reprised

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Reflecting on the Yellow Billed Stork

After the morning drive we returned to the lodge and had a yummy breakfast. Now I have a chunk of time until lunch and the afternoon drive.


I am going to try and post every day about the trip, but with the lack of internet in the guest rooms and potential excursions, it might not be possible.

TMI Book Tag

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Holy guacamole this is a monster of a book tag my friend Emily @Embuhleeliest tagged me in. Thanks Emily! ( ⚆ _ ⚆ )

1) Which book character’s clothes style do you like?

I like the styles of Leetah (in the foreground) and Winnowill (in the background with the long black hair) from the Elfquest series by Wendy & Richard Pini. I would never wear the styles myself (well, except for cosplay maybe) but I do like most of the clothing in the series.

2) Your book boyfriend/girlfriend/ fictional crush?

ART from Artificial Condition by Martha Wells. Or Murderbot…but I love ART more and wish it was in more than one book in the series.

3) Ever loved a character but then started hating them?

I wouldn’t say hate, but the older I get, the more issues I have with Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I agree with Emily that he is kind of a butt.

4) Biggest/Longest book on your shelf?

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is not the longest book I own…though in fact it might be the longest single book I own that is not a compilation or anthology. It certainly has the most monstrously wide spine out of any of the books I own.

5) Heaviest book on your shelf?

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikubu…maybe? Granted, my copy is a two hardcover book box set. Otherwise, probably one of my old coding textbooks is no doubt the heaviest book I own.

6) Do you have any book posters?

No, I don’t think I do. I should remedy that.

7) Do you have any book themed jewelry?

book themed jewelry

I collect Alice in Wonderland themed necklaces, but I also have a Tinker Bell necklace and, my favorite, an actual tiny read leather bound book my friend Sarah gave me. She also wrote a story/poem in it for me!

8) Book OTP?

Moony and Padfoot

Moony (Remus Lupin) and Padfoot (Sirius Black) from Harry Potter. Tonks can go fuck herself.

(The picture above is taken from my absolute favorite fanfic, Shoebox Project by dorkorific and ladyjaida, and follows the Marauders during their Hogwarts days. In particular, the art was done by dorkorific.)

9) Favorite book series?

Currently? The Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft.

10) Favorite book-to-movie soundtrack?

I’m gonna have to agree with Emily on this one and go with Lord of the Rings. Game of Thrones is a close second though. And if we are talking book-to-video game? Witcher III hands down.

11) A book story you miss/ wish would continue?

Circe by Madeline Miller. It had a perfect ending, but I wish I could have lived longer in that world.

12) Favorite stand-alone?

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.

13) Since when do you read books?

Uh…since I can remember?

14) Which Hogwarts house are you in?

Hufflepuff

15) Quality you look for in a book?

Character development

16) Favorite book quote?

From Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard:

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”

17) Favorite author?

Anne Bishop

18) Favorite book cover?

Either this particular edition of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, or the H. P. Lovecraft Tales of Horror compilation.

19) Action or Romance?

Romance…depending on the romance

20) Where do you go when a sad moment happens?

Like, to a safe space?? WTF does this question even mean?

21) How long do you need to finish a book?

Depends on the book. Could be anywhere from a day to 10 years. Typically 2-3 days though.

22) How long is your mourning period?

Uh, like, for character deaths? Depends on the character. **SPOILERS AHEAD** I am still not over Sirius Black from Harry Potter or Estraven in The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. But I got over Tain Hu from The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson in like a day.

23) Least favorite book?

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

24) Turn on in a character?

Brilliant deviousness (think Light from Death Note or Mad Mikkleson’s portrayal of Hannibal Lecter)

25) Turn off in a character?

Superiority complex

26) Reason I joined the online book community?

I blame Emily.

27) Name a scary book

Just…name one? Ok. I have heard that The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is scary. Neil Gaiman said so. I don’t really read much horror (cuz I like to, you know, sleep), so yinz are just gonna have to go with Neil on this one.

Though, now that I have thought about it a little more, The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is probably one of the scariest things I have ever read.

28) Last book that made you cry?

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon.

29) Last book that you gave 5 stars?

The Devourers by Indra Das.

30) Any favorite book titles?

Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Genius and Mysterious Life of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery.

31) Last book you read?

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by various.

32) Book you’re currently reading?

The Makioka Sisters by Tanizaki Junichiro.

33) Last book adaptation you watched?

Technically I am re-watching this. The first season of Dexter was adapted from the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.  If we are talking new-to-me adaptations then probably the anime adaptation of the manga Made in Abyss.

34) A book character you always wanted to talk to?

Basically any of the characters in The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop, but if I had to pick only one…Saetan.

35) An author you always wanted to talk to?

William Shakespeare or J.K. Rowling.

36) Favorite book snack?

Tea and Biscoff cookies.

37) Book world you want to live in most?

Either The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis or Discworld by Terry Pratchett.

38) Book world you least want to live in?

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.

39) Last time you smelled a book?

I dunno, couple of days ago maybe?

40) Weird insults used in books?

If by “weird” you mean “hilarious and brilliant” then, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien:

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

41) Favorite romance book?

Tournament of Losers by Megan Derr.

42) Do you write?

A poem or two every ten years or so. And blog posts.

43) Favorite magical item?

My favorite magical items are theoretical items my friend Sarah and I came up with, so they aren’t from any book as far as I know. The first one is the All Book. This one might actually have a chance of happening what with technology (ebooks, smart paper, etc.) going the way it is. Essentially, it is a book that can be any book you want. Now, I know that with technology this can be tricky…since not all books are the same length. But even so, you could have a nice, leather-bound book with smart paper pages that you could load any ebook into, and if it is longer than the number of pages, when you get to the last available page, you press “continue” or something and the book reloads with the remaining pages and you “start” again from the beginning.

So, that one is no longer my top magical item since it has a decent chance of actually happening. Therefore my top magical item would be the self-refilling teapot. It is a teapot that never runs out of tea, and any time you pour (for yourself or someone else) it always pours out tea prepared exactly as the person wants (sugar/no sugar, milk/no milk, etc.).

44) Your quidditch position?

Beater (probably)

45) Name a song you connect to a book

I always have connected The Game by Disturbed to Daemon from The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop.

46) Favorite book related chat up line?

???? What makes you think I wanna chat someone up?

47) Have you ever used it?

No

48) Favorite book fandom?

Harry Potter

49) How many books do you own?

Ebooks? 1540 (ish. I know there are a few not counted in that Kindle total). Print books? No idea, but maybe about half that.

50) Who do you tag?

Anyone who wants to do this tag, have at it. And good luck (it’s a long one).


Phew that was long. Why didn’t you warn me Emily!? ;~;

The 80’s Movie Book Tag

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I saw this book tag over on Jenna @Bookmark Your Thoughts‘ blog, though it was originally created by Ashley from Infinite Library. Thank you Ashley for creating this fun tag, and thank you Jenna for doing the tag and brining it to my attention! I am an 80’s baby, though I was born late in the decade and don’t really remember much about it. Even so, I love many movies that were made in the 80’s, so couldn’t help tagging myself.


A book that kept you up all night

NoX by Adrienne Wilder – I don’t really read scary books. This was the last book I stayed up way too late reading, not because it was scary but because I wanted to know what happened next. This book had a very interesting take on “werewolves” and I definitely plan to read the next book in the series to hopefully find out more about what the heck is going on.

A WONDERFULLY quotable book

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare – So, this is a play and not really a book, but I did read it in book form so I am counting it. It really does have some of the best lines ever such as:

  • “Et tu, Brute?”
  • “It was Greek to me”
  • “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once”
  • “Friends, Romans, countrymen, led me your ears”
  • “Beware the ides of March”
  • “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”

And my favorite, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones”.

A character who loves breaking the rules

Nahri from City of Brass by S.A. Charaborty – I am not sure that I would necessarily say that Nahri loves to break the rules, for her it is more of a habit/survival mechanism/condition of her being who she is. However, there is a part of her that thrills at the challenge of taking down a mark.

A couple that took an eternity to get together

Jaenelle and Daemon in Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop – So, it is actually a good thing that Jaenelle and Daemon don’t get together until this book, the third book in the trilogy, especially considering Jaenelle was a child in the first book. Still, definitely was a very slow burn relationship with tons of trauma on both sides to work through first.

A book involving time travel

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – It’s been at least 2 decades since I read this book but I am fairly certain time travel was involved somehow

A character with a unique style

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – Pretty much all the kids and adults in this series have unique styles, but I think my favorite will always be Nancy

Favorite book involving the training/mentoring trope

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I mean, basically the entire book is about training Ender to kill the aliens…it’s almost like an extended montage. Even so, it is a wonderful book, one of my all time favorites in fact.

A book with a trip that doesn’t go as planned

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin – It has less of a “trip” and more of a “fleeing for your life into the cold, desolate wilderness”, but either way, doesn’t go to plan

A book with the central character’s name in the title

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft – This is a book about Thomas Senlin, a mild mannered professor who looses his wife in the Tower of Babel and then attempts to find her. I love this series so much. So. Much.

A female character who comes out of her shell

Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I really love how Agnieszka grows into herself and her power over the course of this book

A death that took you by surprise

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling – I still don’t believe that Sirius Black is dead. It’s a dirty conspiracy, filthy lies.

An ending that left you both happy and sad

Circe by Madeline Miller – Holy crap I loved everything about this book, I was just so sad to see it end!


Tag! You’re it Emily @Embuhleeliest!