Tomorrow, over a billion Chinese citizens all over the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year. February 12, 2021 will be the official commencement the Year of the Metal Ox, according to the 12-year cycle Chinese zodiac. To celebrate the start of the Year of the Metal Ox, it is but timely to do a lunar new year-themed book tag. I’ve done this tag last year and I am more than excited to redo this tag which I first came across through fellow book blogger, Madame Writer. She has quite an insightful and interesting book blog; do check it out. Lunar New Year Book Tag was created by Mostly YA Lit. Without further ado, here’s my version of the book tag.

Rooster (honest, ambitious, punctual): Your most anticipated 2020 book

Cherie Jones’ How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is part of my 2021 Books I Look Forward To List. It was one of the books that has piqued my interest because of its inclusion in numerous 2021 most anticipated lists. It was the title that first piqued my interest but the the premise intrigued me as well. I do look forward to this book.

Dog (independent, sincere, loyal): A comfort book you always go back to

Swedish writer Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove was one of my favorite reads of 2020. It was my first venture into his works after holding back for several years. It is a poignant and heartwarming exploration of the life of a man that has long intimated many an outside spectator. It reminded me that not everyone we meet is what they seem. Each of us possess a deeper story that makes us the person we are.

Pig (a symbol of affluence and wealth): A book or book-related thing you spent too much on

I think David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue was my most expensive book purchase in the past year.

Rat (delicate, witty, & flexible): A book or author that has flown under the radar

In 2004, Susanna Clarke made a huge splash with her behemoth of a debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It was critically received by both the reading public and the literary pundits. However, it took 16 years before she published her next novel, Piranesi. In the time in between, Clarke has published several short stories in various publications.

Ox (diligent, persistent, honest): A character who has strong morals or ideals

I’ll go with Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s literary masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird. He is bold and noble and his influence still reverberates in the contemporary. He has long since been regarded as the quintessence of integrity for lawyers.

Tiger (powerful, confident, brave): A book that boldly addresses an issue

Global warming is a subject that has been discussed over and over again in several media. Despite its repetition, it remains a seminal subject as it is causing several species to face extinction. In her latest novel, Charlotte McConaghy addresses this growing concern. Yes, the story is predictable but it concerns us even more for it portrays what is going to be inevitable.

Rabbit (tender, graceful, sensitive): A book with a sweet romance

Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel is a rather unconventional choice. Touted as the Japanese Wuthering Heights, it is a bittersweet story but its slow-developing romance was its focal point, and also its strongest facets.

Dragon (authority, dignity, luck): A book with royalty in it

Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid charts the rise of Empress Dowager Cixi, the last Chinese monarch to hold residence in Beijing’s grandiose Forbidden City. Orchid Yehonala was born in a royal line but was disgraced after her father failed to temper the Taiping Revolution. This, however, didn’t stop her from aiming to be the Emperor’s royal wife, or one of his royal consorts. Min regaled with her depiction of life in the Forbidden City during the twilight years of the Qing Dynasty.

Snake (wise, cunning, & sly): A book with a manipulative character

Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate is easily one of the most recognized titles in popular culture. It relates the story of Tita de la Garza, the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, a domineering woman and ranch owner. According to tradition, the youngest daughter cannot marry because it is her duty to take care of the mother. Mama Elena used this archaic tradition to hold Tita at bay, at the expense of Tita’s true love.

Horse (enthusiastic, independent, zealous): A standalone book

As a reader, I prefer standalone books because I cannot bear the tenterhook of book series. As I was born during the year of the horse, I am featuring a book I really loved. Colum McCann’s Apeirogon was something that I didn’t expect. It was my first McCann novel but it riveted me with the powerful story it had in store.

Sheep (tender, sensitive to art & beauty): Your favorite book cover or design

Even though I ended up being disappointed in the end, I can’t help but fall in love with the colorful and vivacious cover of TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea. Together with the books’ title, it was one of the things that stood out about the book at first glance.

Monkey (clever, lively, quick-witted): Your favorite comic relief character

Fermin, Daniel’s reliable sidekick in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, was witty and really grew on me. His growth throughout the story was also riveting. He was literally the life of the party and his friendship with Daniel was one of the novel’s most heartwarming facets.