I’m back today with another book tag! I actually quite like coming up with these, and it’s fun to see other people do them. So I thought I’d pull another one together for a break between the many reviews I’m posting!
I’ve talked about roleplay a few times before, but DnD and tabletop gaming isn’t something I’ve tried yet. But I enjoyed the podcast Spellcheck DnD enough that I’ve tried checking out some other groups playing it. Critical Role is one of the biggest of these fandoms, if not the biggest. I’d always struggled to get into their games in the past until I got to campaign 3 and Bells Hells. Something about this group and their story has grabbed me, and now I’m more than a little obsessed.
With today’s tag, I’m going to be listing all the members so far of the chaotic Hells Bells and giving you prompts relating to them!
Ashton – A non-binary protagonist
Starting with the simplest of the prompts because I couldn’t resist the chance to get more people talking about enby books. I’m going for a fantasy book with this as it’s one of my favourites, and I think Sal and Ashton would probably get along.
Mask of Shadows by Lindsey Miller might not be by a non-binary author, but she has done her research and listened to readers. This fun YA fantasy follows Sal, a thief who applies for the chance to be the Queen’s assassin so they can murder those who killed their people. It’s an action-packed fantasy that, as a genderfluid person, I related to a lot. This features an enby/girl romance and also has other queer characters.
I love this book so much and will never stop recommending it. If you don’t have the money to buy it and your library doesn’t have it, both the first and sequel of this duology are available for free to listen to on Spotify.
Dorian – A book featuring complicated family dynamics
A family complication is why Dorian left the group in the game world, so this prompt had to be done. Dorian remains one of my favourites, so I had to choose something good to represent my blue boy. This book was a recent favourite of mine, and I cannot wait to delve further into the series.
Castles in their Bones is another YA fantasy, this one by Laura Sebastian. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this one. You can read my review here if you’re interested. This book follows three sisters. All of who have been raised to marry into other royal families and kill their new husbands. Their mother wants war and the opportunity to rule the world, and she’s using them to do it. Though they seem somewhat close, these plans have meant there has always been a level of rivalry and tension between the girls, so when they’re separated and start learning more about themselves, complications arise.
I really did love this book. I wasn’t expecting that painful ending at all. I cannot wait to see where this book goes and how those relationships change after the tragedy.
Laudna – A spin-off book or one where characters from another book or series have popped in to say hi
I wanted to have a little fun with this prompt. Laudna obviously wasn’t in another campaign, not like a bunch of the characters this time. But she was connected with campaign one. Laudna was a victim of the Briarwoods and the dead girl they made look like Vex and hung from the tree. She has connections with the long-dead Deliah, and I’m very interested to see where this is going to go. Her back story feels like it could have a closer connection to another campaign than any of the others have, and I like that sort of fun in books too.
Funnily enough, I’m going to have to go for a chick-lit book for this prompt. Lindsey Kelk is the Queen of having characters from her series and standalones pop up in each other’s books, even if they aren’t connected officially. For this one, I’m going to go with The Single Girls To-Do List. In the original novel, Rachel meets Jenny from the I Heart series and she similarly helps Rachel as she did Angela. However, Kelk has taken this even further in a recent short story addition for the reprint. I hadn’t remembered that one of my favourite books by her, Always a Bridesmaid follows the sister of the love interest from The Single Girl’s To-Do List. So Maddie from that book also pops up in an edition of the novel. These little cameos are pretty common for Kelk, and I always love them.
Imogen – A book that’s related to sleep somehow
An important aspect of Imogen’s backstory is the dreams she’s having. She saw Bertrand die, and they’re only getting worse. She’s spending a lot of her time trying to figure out what’s wrong, so that felt like the best path to go down for a prompt. Dream is a pretty common word for use in titles which definitely makes this a little easier.
For this prompt, I’m going with the book Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans. Unsurprisingly from the title, this book does have connections with Sleeping Beauty, but not in the way of a traditional retelling. Laura grew very sick in the 80s, and the only treatment they could offer was to put her in a cryosleep until they could find a cure. Her parents agreed, and now she’s awoken far in the future with the whole world knowing who she is.
I loved this sci-fi thriller a lot. I didn’t know what to expect from it, but it was a definite page-turner. It made me want to check out Evans’s other work, and it’s one I’m definitely planning on rereading at some point.
Orym – A book with moons on the cover
The halfling with moons tattooed on his arm in remembrance of his dead husband. Yeah, I couldn’t really choose any other prompt for him. Orym is a character that I don’t have strong feelings about either way but does make for a good prompt. I’m curious to see where his story is going to go, but I don’t have any opinions on what that could be.
The book I chose for this prompt is one that I do have a lot of feelings on, and that’s Dread the Harvest Moon by Sarah Glenn Marsh. I bet you all saw that one coming. This book has a moon in the title and a picture of one on the cover. Two moons like in Exandria. I love it. Essentially this book follows Liss, a young woman living on the Isle of Mann around the time of the First World War. When Liss accidentally interferes with the fairy queen, she’s pulled into their realm and given three tasks to complete before the harvest moon. If she doesn’t, there will be grave consequences. She goes about trying to complete them with the help of the old witch in her village and her older sister’s best friend, who she is slowly falling for. The tasks are difficult though, and Liss has to do her best to get through them.
This is a sapphic historical fantasy and one that I really enjoyed. I don’t know much about the Isle of Mann, so I had a lot of fun learning about the folklore featured in this book and its predecessor too. If you’re looking for good fae books, this is definitely one I’d recommend.
Fearne – A book featuring an animal companion
Fearne is a lot of fun as a character, but my favourite thing is actually Mister, her fire spirit companion who takes the form of a monkey. I’d love to give him a big hug and lots of food to snack on. There were plenty of prompts I could have used for Fearne, but this was the one that excited me most.
I mentioned in a review recently that I love books that feature animal companions. But I definitely have a favourite, and that’s the Chronicles of Ixia by Maria V Snyder. In all but the first of Yelena’s books, she has a horse called Kiki. Yelena is a soul finder, and that power means that she has formed an interesting bond with her horse. Kiki often interacts with her on the road and passes on messages from other horses. She’s completely adorable and definitely one of my favourite characters. If I was to ever own a horse – which is unlikely – I think I’d want to name them Kiki after her.
Chetney – A book that surprised you
Chetney was the final addition to the group and Travis’ second character in this campaign. This was done on purpose, and we didn’t know Chetney’s real skillset or class until a few episodes in. A grouchy old toy-making gnome isn’t necessarily the type of character you’d expect to be a werewolf, but he is.
For this prompt, I’m going with Hide by Kiersten White. I haven’t had much luck with Kiersten White’s novels in the past, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Hide. This was a horror book that followed Mack, the only survivor of her family’s murder who was an expert at hiding. Her skill set should have meant that she could win this week-long hide and seek competition easily. But when the other competitors start turning up dead, Mack and the others realise that something a lot more dangerous is going on, and they have to find their way to freedom.
Like Chetney, this book is super short, and it surprised me in all the best ways. I definitely recommend it to horror fans.
F.C.G – A book you have a complicated relationship with
Let me explain this prompt as I’m sure some of y’all will disagree. When we’re introduced to F.C.G he seems smiley and sweet. He definitely has a complicated relationship with his own past, so that’s one reason. But as the game has gone on, he’s become a little pushy. A little insistent on sticking his nose in other people’s businesses and forcing them to take his help. That can get a little uncomfortable. I’m starting to not really like his character, even if he does have some hilarious moments.
I found this prompt pretty easy to fill as I’m going with House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas. Before you guys all come for my throat, let me explain why. I don’t think this book was bad. I read it all, and it was a solid 3 stars. I liked it and some of the characters, but I’ve read better urban fantasy. Nothing about it really stuck out to me. And I planned on reading book 2. But all the hype and spoilers about the end of book 2…I don’t think I care about Sarah J, Maas and her books to want to read on in the series. There’s some stuff going on that I’m not sure I like, and I’m going to leave it at that.
But at the same time, I am curious. I really liked Ruhn, so I want to see what was going on with him, and there really was some interesting world-building. But my feelings are definitely complicated.
Bertrand -A book with a death that hit you hard
This prompt might be a little difficult to do without getting spoilery so I’m not going to go into too much detail. But Bertrand was Travis’s first character in the campaign. He was bought in to die but I don’t think anyone realised what an effect his character’s death would have. No one likes seeing characters they’re enjoying die in media, so this is your chance to talk about that.
For me, the death I want to reference briefly is from the Serpent and Dove series by Shelby Mahurin. The character’s death was sad when it happened, and seeing the grief linger after just made it worse. And then you finish the final book and get an epilogue in this dead character’s POV as they view this happy ending. Yeah. That hurt a lot. I outright sobbed my heart out. I cry easily at books anyway, but that was a death that definitely hurt me.
And that’s it for the tag! If you do it, then make sure you tag me so I can see your answers!