Top 10 Best Books of 2016

This is my first ever Top Ten Tuesday post. I don’t usually participate, but it just so happened that the idea I had for my next blog post corresponded with their theme, so I decided to participate.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Brook and the Bookish. Read the original version of this topic here.

These are my top ten favorite books I read this year in no particular order.

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The first two books in the Broken Earth Series by N.K. Jemisin are phenomenal. The world-building is some of the best I’ve seen. I liked the first book more than the second, but the second is still good enough to make this list.

I read the first book in the middle of a massive reading slump and with a lot happening in my life, but it managed to get through to me all the same. That’s impressive.

I wouldn’t recommend this to the younger readers of this blog because this is definitely an adult book, but for everyone else reading this who likes fantasy I highly recommend picking these books up.

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I loved the first book of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crow’s Duology, and the sequel was just as good. I loved the way the cast meshed so well with one another. One perspective never overwhelmed the others. I loved reading from each and every character. The anti-human trafficking message is great as well.

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This book surprised me. I expected it to be terrible, but this prequel is better than the main series. I love the complexity of Darkstalker’s character: how I’m never sure if he is the hero or the villain. It’s something I don’t see a lot of in middle grade novel, but I do wish the author had chosen a name other than Darkstalker.

Darkstalker is a prequel to the Wings of Fire Series, but can be read as a standalone.

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And Then There Were None is my first Agatha Christie novel, and I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. This book is a classic for a reason. Agatha Christie knows how to tell a mystery. My only qualms are that I had trouble connecting with the characters because of the distant narration, and I’m quite glad to have read the modified version as opposed to the original . . .

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These two books are very different but technically part of the same series, so I’m lumping them together.

The Bands of Mourning is the sixth book in the Mistborn Series, and you definitely need to have read from at least the first book in the spinoff, The Alloy of Law,  and preferably the original trilogy too to understand what is happening.

The Bands of Mourning has a different tone from the previous books in the series with more focus on discovery, but was still excellent.

Mistborn: Secret History is a novella that it’s impossible to say anything about without spoilers except that “There is always another secret,” and you need to have read at least the first three Mistborn books before this one, and preferably most of the books in Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere universe too. I highly recommend Mistborn: Secret History to fans of Sanderson’s Cosmere, but no one else because you will be too confused.

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This Savage Song kept me up late into the night, and I read it twice: once in physical form and once in audio because I liked it so much. The sequel is one of my most anticipated reads of next year.

I love August’s internal struggle as a monster who wanted to be human, and can’t wait to see what happens next in this fascinating world.

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Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not asked to put it on this list. Opinions are my own. 

The Diabolic had great timing for me. It’s the book that marked an end to the reading slump I mentioned earlier. It also contains some of my favorite tropes. I love space operas and characters from one social group masquerading as a character from another social group.

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I love Morning Star for similar reasons to the book above as it contains similar reasons to the book I mentioned above as it is also sci-fi and contains a character from one group masquerading as a person from another group.

This is the only book on this list I went to the book store to buy because I couldn’t wait the amount of time it would take for shipping to get this book. I was not disappointed.

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Pastry Book Tag

I’d like to thank Windie @ Geek Apprentice for tagging me! This tag was created by @Writing on a Vintage Typewriter.

CROISSANT: Name a popular book or series that everyone (including you) loves.

The Lunar Chronicles

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I don’t love this one as much as I used too, and I wouldn’t say that everyone loves it. However a lot of people do.

Macarons: Name a book that was hard to get through but worth it in the end.

Carry On

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I had a little trouble getting into this book as the beginning was so slow, but I ended up reading it very quickly as it picks up after that.

VOL-AU-VENT: Name a book that you thought would be amazing but fell flat.

The Maze Runner

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I had really high expectations for this book, but I just felt too distant from the characters to connect to the story properly.

PAIN-AU-CHOCOLAT: Name a book that you though would be one thing but turned out to be something else.

The Name of the Wind

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I wasn’t expecting this book’s plot to go the way it did. Probably going to get some hate for this, but the whole book I felt like I was waiting for a climax that never really came. So in that way the story was not what I expected.

PROFITEROLE: Name a book or series that doesn’t get enough attention.

Unwind

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I have to agree with the one who tagged me on this one. The Unwind series does not get enough love.

CROQUEMBOUCHE: Name a book or series that’s completely complex.

The Stormlight Archive

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The fictional world where this series is set is one of the most — if not the most– complex I have ever read about.

NAPOLEON: Name a movie or TV show based off a book that you liked better than the book itself.

The Maze Runner

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Didn’t really like the second movie, but I enjoyed the first one more than I did the book which, as I’ve mentioned, did not live up to my expectations.

EMPANADA: Name a book that was bittersweet.

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3)

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That ending . . . This is all I can say without spoilers. Anyone who has read this book will know what I mean.

KOLOMPEH: Name a book or series that takes place somewhere other than your own country.

The House of the Scorpion

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This book takes place in a combination of a fictional country located on what is now the border between the US and Mexico and a somewhat futuristic version of Mexico though it is called something else in the book.

PATE-A-CHOUX: Name a food from a book or series that you would like to try.

The Stormlight Archive

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I would like to try some of the foods Lift from the Stormlight Archives steals from the tables of the wealthy.

Spread The Love (of Food)

I tag Kat @book box by Kat and Chelsie @Chelsie’s Book Addiction.

10 Most Anticipated 2016 Book Releases

I’m anticipating far more books than will make it on this list, but these are the ten I am most looking forward to. This list is in order of my very most anticipated of the ten to least anticipated of the ten. Though if the book has made this list at all it still means that I really want to read it.

Before I begin I would like to give an honorable mention to book three in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. If this book is somehow released this year than it is absolutely my most anticipated.

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)

1. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Release Date: Febuary 9, 2016

After the end of the second book, Golden Son, I am eagerly awaiting the third book in the Red Rising trilogy.

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6)

2. The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6/Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Few who follow this blog are likely to be surprised in my choice of a Brandon Sanderson novel. Even if Stormlight #3 does not release this year I’ll still be satisfied by a combination of this book and Calamity.

Flamecaster (Shattered Realms, #1)

3. Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1)

Release Date: April 5, 2016

This is the spin-off series of Seven Realms taking place a number of years later. I really enjoyed the world of Seven Realms, and the way the series ended left a few left ends in terms of this fictional world as a whole so I am curious to see what has changed in the time between the two series.

4. The Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: September 22, 2016

I really enjoyed the first book in Six of Crows, and I’m curious about the direction the second book will take.

A Gathering of Shadows  (A Darker Shade of Magic, #2)

5. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Release Date: February 23, 2016

The first book was addictive and fun. I’m curious to see which direction the second book takes.

6. Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release Date: Fall 2016

I really enjoyed the first book, and hope that it means more YA novels set in space will gain popularity in the future as I would like to read more of them. I’m also very curious to see the direction the second book takes.

Beyond the Red

7. Beyond The Red by Ava Jae

Release Date: March 1, 2016

I follow this author’s blog, and find the writing advice she gives to be very useful. The setting of an alien planet in a YA novel also interests me greatly.

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
Not the final cover.

8. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Release Date: September 27, 2016

I really enjoy this author’s writing style, and suspect that this will have continued to grow in her newest series. This book sounds like it has the potential to be very good.

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

9. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Release Date: February 16, 2016

The summary of this book sounds very interesting to me. Time travel interests me, and I figured this list needed more novels from debut authors.

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1)

10. The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Rick Riordan’s books always have a tendency to put me in a very good mood. It was hard to choose the final book in this list, but in the end I chose this one for that reason.

Favorite Books of 2015

I was planning to make a top ten list, but was having too much trouble narrowing it down in a way that didn’t make just about every book fall into a particular category written by a particular author. Instead I will be listing my favorite in each category.

Note that this is a list of favorite books I read in 2015. Not all were published in 2015.

Young Adult Fantasy

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Picking a book for this category was hard. It was a close call between this book and several others especially the Seven Realms series and later too books in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

In the end I chose Six of Crows because it has so many different elements that were well executed as discussed in my review.

Adult Fantasy

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Words of Radiance is the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series which is part of the Cosmere, which is the larger fictional universe in which Sanderson’s adult fantasy novels take place.

I read just about all of Sanderson’s currently published Cosmere works this year, and I am now a huge fan. It was hard to chose only one, but this is my favorite Cosmere book so far.

I would not, however, recommend readers start with Words of Radiance, not just because its the second book in a series, but also because it’s hard to get through books in the Stormlight Archive for readers not used to long books. Starting with Mistborn: The Final Empire or Warbreaker might make Sanderson’s work easier to get into.

I have not yet reviewed Words of Radiance, but I have reviewed the first book, The Way of Kings.

Middle Grade Fantasy

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I have always loved books about dragons, and look for novels with nonhuman narrators. For these reasons, this book written from the perspective of a young dragon was almost exactly what I was looking for.

If I had read this book while I was part of the intended age group it would probably have become one of my favorite books ever. As it was, I still enjoyed it enough to make it my favorite for this category, and I plan to continue with this series.

Young Adult Sci-Fi

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Choosing a favorite for this category was hard. In the end I chose Illuminae in spite of the fact that I had a little trouble getting used to the formatting at the beginning because the second half makes up for the first. I have not yet written a review, but hope to soon.

Adult Sci-Fi

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Really enjoyed this book. Have read it around three times now. Golden Son is the second book in the Red Rising Trilogy. I have reviewed both Golden Son and Red Rising in which I express my enjoyment.

Middle Grade Sci-Fi

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This book is in the hazy area between YA and MG, but for the purpose of this list I will consider it middle grade. This book was very thought provoking, and I think it would be a great novel for discussion in a book club or classroom. It’s also the only book I’ve read set in Mexico, even if it is called something else in this novel.

Contemporary

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This book is unlike anything else I’ve read. So different that I haven’t been able to compose my thoughts into a review. It’s hard to adjust to the disjointed way the story is told at first, but once I adjusted this book was heartbreaking and thought provoking.

Classic

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I’ll admit that I don’t enjoy classics as much as some people seem to, but I really enjoyed reading and learning about the symbolism involved in this one. The fact that a large canvas painting/picture of myself I’d forgotten about arrived soon after I’d finished was a coincidence that finalized making this one of my favorite classics.

Non-Fiction

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This book was shocking for me because I had no idea any of what it discussed was taking place in the medical community. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks explores the ethical questions of who owns body parts after they have been removed for medical reasons though the true story of Henrietta Lacks and her decedents.

The Hunger Games: Random Characters Edition

So today I decided I would have a little fun in (well, fun for me, not for them), type some of my favorite characters names into a Hunger Games simulator, and see what happens in honor of the recent release of the Mockingjay Part 2 movie. This post is the result.

The simulator I used was: http://ripred.net/gamessim.php, but if you search for “Hunger Games simulators” on the web you’ll find there are many more out there.

*Disclaimer: This post simulates the deaths of some beloved fictional characters. It’s just for fun and not to be taken seriously. I did not create the random generator nor am I affiliated with it, and The Hunger Games is a book series by Susanne Collins which I am also unaffiliated with.

While listing contestants the cover of the books the characters are from will appear before the characters from that book are named. My comments on the random generator’s outcomes will appear in blue. The generator’s original text will appear in black.

Contestants

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District 1 Male: Darrow
District 1 Female: Virginia “Mustang”

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District 2 Male: Vasher
District 2 Female: Vivienna

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District 3 Male: Elend Venture
District 3 Female: Vin

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District 4 Male: Kell
District 4 Female: Lila

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District 5 Male: Khalid
District 5 Female: Shahrzad

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District 6 Male: Kaladin
District 6 Female: Shallan Davar

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District 7 Male: Tamlin
District 7 Female: Fayre

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District 8 Male: Raffe
District 8 Female: Penryn

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District 9 Male: Akiva
District 9 Female: Karou

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District 10 Male: Kai
District 10 Female: Cinder

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District 11 Male: Connor Lasiter
District 11 Female: Risa Ward

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District 12 Male: Chaol
District 12 Female: Celaena Sardothien

Day 1

Chaol killed by Vivienna

If this happens before the events of Warbreaker then I am shocked, but if it happened afterwords this makes perfect sense due to spoilers. 

Connor Lasiter killed by Lila

It was only a matter of time before Connor died. Connor is a survivor, but he’s also one of the only people here lacking both magical powers and combat training. 

Lila killed by Khalid

Well Lila only kind of has magical powers in a complicated spoilery way and only very informal combat training whereas Khalid has no doubt been trained to fight with the best of the best for most of his life even if he lacks magical abilities. 

Vin killed by Celaena Sardothien

Guess Vin must have been throne into the arena without her metals because if she was using allomancy not even a trained assassin like Celaena would have been able to take her out. 

Kaladin killed by Shahrzad

Now this is really shocking considering that Shahrzad can’t seem bring herself to kill anyone and Kaladin is not only a surgebinder, but a trained solider. Must have been an accident. 

Penryn killed by Celaena Sardothien

Well this makes sense, I guess. Penryn is awesome and can survive a lot, but she doesn’t have magical powers and is no match for an assassin like Celaena. 

Kai killed by Akiva

Prince Kai lacks both magical abilities and combat training so it makes sense a warrior angel like Akiva would end up killing him. Sorry Kai, but it’s true. 

Day 2

Risa Ward killed by Karou

Risa is yet another person without magic or combat training so this makes sense. 

Akiva killed by Celaena Sardothien

It was a close match I am sure, though I suppose Celaena could have sneaked up on him on him. That would make it a lot easier for her. 

Shallan Davar killed by Tamlin

Well, Shallan never was never trained to be a fighter though she certainly has the potential to become a very dangerous fighter. She probably spent most of this camouflaged like Peeta. Ironically Tamlin probably spent most of his time camouflaged too as some sort of animal. Must have run into one another while trying to hide out. 

Day 3

Elend Venture killed by Virginia “Mustang”

If this is before the end of The Well of Ascension this makes sense. If not then it’s a lot harder to believe for spoilery reasons. 

Karou killed by Cinder

I guess Cinder must have used the fact that she is a cyborg to her advantage. Karou wouldn’t have expected that. 

Day 4

Darrow killed by Celaena Sardothien

Darrow might be Gold now (Golds’ bodies can withstand more than most and they’re generally extremely strong) and have an uncanny ability to survive impossible things, but he’s still no match for Celaena. 

Kell killed by muttation attack

I think the capital must be hiding the fact that Kell left the game and transported himself to a parallel world with this attack. Otherwise Kell’s magic would keep the mutts from getting to him. 

Virginia “Mustang” killed by Khalid

Oh, I see. Khalid has killed two girls now. In The Wrath and the Dawn Khalid marries one girl a day to have her killed at the next dawn. Is he trying to keep up the practice? Still surprised he managed to kill Mustang though, she’s good at outsmarting people. 

Day 5

Celaena Sardothien killed by Fayre

This is surprising unless Fayre got a hold of some arrows and got Celaena while she wasn’t looking. 

Raffe killed by Khalid

This is surprising. Guess Raffe must not have his wings or sword, because that’s the only way Khalid could defeat an angel warrior. Also Raffe isn’t a girl so killing him doesn’t upkeep his wife killing ways. 

Vivienna killed by Vasher

But the two of them were starting to get along so well! I can’t see Vasher doing it unless he is under Nightblood’s influence. Nightblood seems to like Vivienna so I’m not sure even that would do it. 

Tamlin killed by muttation attack

Wild animal attacked by wild animals. I guess the mutts just need to be bigger. 

Day 6

Shahrzad killed by Vasher

It’s shocking she survived so long. Vasher’s Awakening is more than capable of taking her and most of the others out. 

Cinder killed by muttation attack

Possible, must have caused her cyborg body to short circuit or something. 

Fayre killed by amoebic dysentery

Possible, Fayre has gotten close to starving to death before and the faeries are always reminding her what a fragile human she is compared to them even though for a human she is really quite strong and able. 

Day 7

Vasher killed by Khalid

This is very unlikely unless Vasher is out of Breath. He wouldn’t even need to be the one to kill Khalid. His Lifeless army or even an Awakened rope would be more than capable. 

The victor is: Khalid

Khalid is one of the most unlikely victors out of the characters listed here. Also probably the one I wanted to win the least due to his wife killing despite the fact that I actually like him as a character and like him much more than the other person involved in The Wrath and the Dawn’s love triangle. 

Book Pumpkins

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For Halloween I carved pumpkins based on the Mockingjay symbol from The Hunger Games by Suzane Collins, the wolf from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan, and the symbol for pewter from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series.

The instructions for the Magnus Chase pumpkin can be found here.

The Summer Reader Book Tag

Since the official end of summer is fast approaching here in the northern hemisphere on the 23, I figured I’d better do this tag fast or wait another eight months for it to be relevant again. Even if where I live it’s going to remain almost unbearably hot for another month or two.

The Summer Reader Book Tag was created by islandOFbooks over on Youtube and I was tagged by Parneet @ The Enchanted Book.

Lemonade: pick a book that started off bitter but got better.

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The beginning of Keeper of the Lost City is very fast paced and I can see why it would appeal very well to the middle grade audience it was meant for, but the way everything was introduced felt cliched to me so I almost gave up on it to read something else. The second half of the book, which involves a mystery, was much more interesting to me than the first.
Golden Sun: pick a book that made you smile beyond compare.

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For some reason Rick Riordan’s books’ have a way of making me really happy. A few years back whenever I wanted to be in a good mood I used to reread one of his books.

Tropical Flowers: pick a book set in a different country.

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The characters in Daughter of Smoke and Bone travel to many different places, but they spend a significant amount of the book in Prague.
Tree Shade: pick a book in which a mysterious or shady character was first introduced.

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Crow from The Seven Realms series is first introduced in book two, The Exiled Queen. There isn’t much I can say about Crow without spoilers, but sufficient to say he has a lot of secrets.
Beach Sand: pick a book that was grainy, and the plot barely developed.

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This is one of my least favorite books of all time. I will say that I did enjoy the first couple books in this series, but in this one there were huge plot holes and for that reason I feel like the plot never really developed. If I had read this more recently I probably wouldn’t have made it nearly this far in the series, but back when I read this book I used to make an effort to finish every books/series I’d started.
Green Grass: pick a character that was full of life, making you smile.

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I pick Iko from The Lunar Chronicles which is kind of ironic because she is technically a robot and therefore not alive, but she just has such a fun personality and always makes me smile. I’m using “full of life” in terms of the phrases meaning and not literally here.
Watermelon: pick a book that had some juicy secrets.

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Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere books I read. Like his other books there are a lot of plot twists, but I chose this one because one of the characters likes to say the phrase, “There’s always another secret.”
Sun Hat: pick a book that had a vast, big universe/setting.

7235533Roshar, where The Stormlight Archives takes place, is an incredibly vast world. Brandon Sanderson has gone so far as to create his own plants and animals who have been forced to adapt to Roshar’s unique weather patterns.
BBQ: pick a book in which a character was portrayed as a hunk.

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I just finished Queen of Shadows, and in it Rowan is described as matching this description very well to say the least.
Summer Fun: pass the tag on.

Since summer is coming to a close I’m not going to tag anyone lest they have to wait until next summer to avoid doing the tag in fall, but anyone who wants to do this tag and hasn’t yet should feel free.