Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

Review
2 Stars
Very Brief Thoughts: Snowbound with the Notorious Rake
Snowbound with the Notorious Rake - Sarah Mallory

Snowbound with the Notorious Rake
by Sarah Mallory

 

 

One wicked Christmas night…

Trapped by a blizzard, the sight of notorious rogue Sir Lawrence Daunton almost makes schoolteacher Rose Westerhill turn back into the snow!  When it becomes apparent she has nowhere else to go Rose accepts his offer of shelter, vowing to remain indifferent to his practiced charm.

But as the temperature outside drops, she finds the wicked rake's sizzling seduction impossible to resist.  For one stolen night Rose abandons her principles—and her body!—to his expert ministrations.  Christmas with the rakish Lawrence promises to be a thoroughly improper yuletide celebration….



This historical romance by Sarah Mallory was written really well, but the actual story and the characters were quite frustrating.  On top of that, I was a little disappointed that the entire "snowbound" scenario really only lasted a couple chapters, then the rest of the book was just a typical romance with a reformed rake and the prudish schoolteacher.  I may or may not have started drifting off, or setting the book aside due to boredom.

As for our couple, they were pretty standard.  I didn't find Sir Lawrence to stand out much, but he was a neutral, good man.  Rose was more likable during the snowbound duration, but afterwards, I feel like she was a bit over-extreme in her prejudice against Sir Lawrence.  I understand that she has a history and can see why she's so cautious, but she went to the point of simply wanting to always believe the worst of Sir Lawrence no matter that he'd been nothing but honorable towards her from the beginning.

In contrast, I found it kind of hard to believe that she would take the word of her fiance, Magnus, and her future sister-in-law, Althea, without really giving it more thought.  She's been around Magnus and Althea enough that you'd think she wouldn't place so much credence in their words or actions.  So it came across as her trying to find any reason possible to discredit Sir Lawrence, even if it hadn't been warranted.

The romance was super frustrating, and I'm not sure there were even any characters I liked.

The background mystery about the sunken ship, and the investigation of it seemed kind of blah.

I may try another Sarah Mallory book, but I DO hope that this one was just a fluke.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/very-brief-thoughts-snowbound-with.html
Review
3 Stars
Thoughts: Touch of Red
Touch of Red (Tracers) - Laura Griffin

Touch of Red
by Laura Griffin
Book 12 of Tracers


This is a Laura Griffin Tracers novel, so it is dark and gritty and real where you need it to be.  The premise was typical of most crime thrillers, and I'm always in love with how crime scene investigation and forensic science is incorporated.

Unfortunately, I'm not much enamored with TSTL characters.  I can't say that I've come across too many of them in the Tracers installments previously, but I also can't say that they didn't exist.

In Touch of Red, she certainly did exist.


The Story:
At the scene of a gruesome murder, Brooke Porter discovers evidence that a witness might have escaped after the fact.  What ends up being more surprising is who this witness may be, and the fact that said witness is probably in a lot of danger.  Without hesitation, Brooke is determined to find this witness and keep him safe.

Detective Sean Byrne is in charge of this homicide case, and realizes that he may have to keep an eye on Brooke when the Delphi Center trace evidence expert decides to play at being detective.  While he's more than happy to get a chance to spend more time with Brooke, it doesn't escape his notice that the murder has become just as sinister as the carnage at the crime scene suggests.


My Thoughts:
There's very little to say about this book without getting into a rant.

Don't get me wrong--I really enjoyed Touch of Red, much as I've enjoyed all the Tracers novels.  It's intriguing, it's fast-paced, and it involves one of my favorite subjects.  I also love how Laura Griffin incorporates more than just the current criminal case, showing us a scene where Brooke has caught up with two days worth of work, just analyzing fingerprints from different cases on her workload.  She's not just narrowly focused on the "case of the week," but because crime labs have more than one case going at a time, they've got backlog, and they've got piles of work yet to be finished.

So I love how the focus of the "case of the week" is balanced enough to be realistic.

The romance was sweet, and probably could have been better if I had liked Brooke a bit more.  In fact, I absolutely loved her character from the previous book, and was set to enjoy her from the beginning of this book.  But at some point, she became so narrow-sighted and focused on "her witness" that she seemed to be teetering on reckless obsession.  I get that she was worried for the safety of the witness she discovered; I get that she felt it might have been her fault for bringing this particular person to the killer's attention.

What I don't get is how a level-headed trace evidence expert, who is supposed to also understand how the law works, as a medico-legal specialist, throws all of her common sense out the window for the last half of the book.  She also ended up kind of irrationally screechy...  Okay, well, she didn't really screech or anything, but she might as well have been.  Because she just started making all sorts of general, blanket assumptions that made it seem like she was the only one concerned about the witness's safety and finding the killer and blah, blah, blah...

She was basically telling all of her colleagues that they weren't doing their job.

It got a bit old.  Especially when she started imagining slights from Sean based on her own history with men.  I don't really think it was fair to him.

On the bright side, we have a not-broody alpha male this time around, who didn't feel the need to tell the heroine what to do all the time.  I'm not saying that he didn't try once or twice, but when he realized it was not the way to Brooke Porter's heart, he let it go, even if grudgingly.  And he never really went as far as caveman-styling his way into her life.

Anyway, the book was enjoyable on a certain level, and we do get to see more of some past characters as well as an introductory to what seems like the next couple in the Tracers installment--once again, somehow managing to seamlessly being part of this book without sticking out awkwardly.  And I approve.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/thoughts-touch-of-red.html
Read-a-thon: 24 in 48! January 2018 | Ani's Plans!


So here is the basic gist of this read-a-thon as copied from the 24 in 48 Readathon site:

 

Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period.  You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

 

*~*~*~*~*


So January 2018's 24in48 will be the weekend of the 27th and 28th!  I'm super pumped, and hopefully I won't be disturbed.  I don't work that weekend, so I'm going to comb my reading lists and see what I can get lined up for the thon.  Maybe, it'll include some of the following books:

 


I'm not sure what I want to read yet, but these are some that I'm wanting to get to at some point this year.  These are also books I own that have been awaiting my attention, so I hope I can get to them some time, if not during the read-a-thon!

Happy reading everyone!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/read-thon-24-in-48-january-2018-anis.html
Ani's 2018 Reading Challenges | With a short 2017 reflection



For the most part, 2017 was actually a pretty productive year for my reading challenges, save for the snafu's of a couple of months at the beginning and end of the year.  For some summaries, progress, and updates, you can check out all the challenges I participated in at my 2017 Reading Challenges summary page.

It's honestly really hard to do, making myself not spend so much time obsessing over my reading challenge goals.  For 2017, I kept having to tell myself to take a more laid back approach, don't participate in too many challenges, follow my own reading moods... and so on.  But then another new reading challenge would catch my attention, and the next thing I know, I'm lost.

So... for 2018, I really think my best bet is just... to make some goals, and see where they all go.  I failed my Reading Assignment challenge for the first time since I started participating, and it didn't feel like the end of the world.  So maybe I can truly start to take a more laid back approach towards my reading challenges for 2018.

Just make the goals.  Then see where the year takes me.


Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goal:  150 books
GR shelf:  2018 Reading Challenge


2018 Reading Assignment Challenge

hosted by Michelle and Berls @ Because Reading is better than real life
Spring Semester Goal:  Reading Level 1 // 12 books (1 books/month)
Fall Semester Goal:  TBR
GR shelf:  2018 Reading Assignment Challenge
My 2018 Reading Assignment Challenge Summary Page


2018 Mount TBR Challenge

hosted by My Reader's Block
My Goal:  Mount Vancouver -- Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
GR shelf:  2018 Mt TBR Pile Challenge


2018 Personal Series Challenge

My tentative book list and challenge announcement
Goal #1:  Finish/Catch Up With 10 series, already started
Goal #2:  Read/Catch Up With 10 series, new to me
Goal #3:  Read 10 1st in a series books


2018 Author Love Challenge

hosted by Michelle and Berls @ Because Reading is better than real life
Author Chosen:  Jayne Ann Krentz
Goal:  Read 12 Books


***

Wish me luck!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/anis-2018-reading-challenges-with-short.html
16 Festive Tasks | Wrap Up!
game play hosted @ Booklikes

 


I'm being super lazy about this wrap up post and just listing stuff... and pretty much duplicating my summarized tracking page (link above).  For the most part, aside from reading and the occasional review, I sort of fell of the face of the blogging world for a while.  I'm still kind of adjusting to a new lifestyle, which apparently includes more socialization with family now that my work and sleep hours are no long that of the third shift variety.

Anyway, I'm really, really (for the third or fourth time) hoping that I'll start becoming more active on the blogging and socializing front once again.  Holidays were busy, and while I had planned (and drafted!) a lot of potential posts to share... well, some of those fell through.

Still... I managed to get a lot more books read in the last month of 2017 than I had expected, so that's always good.  Of course, I really just fell into a historical romance marathon, with Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan keeping me entertained with their wonderful work!

Now onward to the lazy wrap up... I say lazy, because I had fully intended to include some book covers and maybe a photo or two.  I got lazy--that's all.

Once again, I'd like to thank our lovely 16 Festive Tasks hosts, Murder by Death and Themis-Athena for putting together this wonderful, holiday special!  I know I wasn't very active and I feel like I didn't participate, but I still had a lot of fun trying to come up with ways to earn those points, even though I didn't make it far.

 

 

All finished tasks will be listed under each category as they are completed.
(last updated 12/31/2017)

 

 

My Progress


Points Earned:  18
Books Read:  15
Tasks Completed:  3

 

 

The Tasks

 

Square 1: November 1st:
All Saints Day is a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown.  Día de Muertos focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey, while Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales.


Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.



Book themes for Calan Gaeaf:  Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft –OR– read a book with ivy or roses on the cover, or a character’s name/title of book is/has Rose or Ivy in it.


Tasks for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  Create a short poem, or an epitaph for your most hated book ever.

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf:  If you’re superstition-proof, inscribe your name on a rock, toss it in a fire and take a picture to post –OR– Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.

 

Square 2: November 5th:
Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) is an annual holiday, primarily in Great Britain, commemorating the events of November 5th, 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords.  Bon Om Touk (the Cambodian Water Festival), marks a reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River.


Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night:  Any book about the English monarchy (any genre), political treason, political thrillers, or where fire is a major theme, or fire is on the cover.

Book themes for Bon Om Touk:  Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.



Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night:  Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers. Or: Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read. Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.



Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you're living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.

 

Square 3: November 11th:
St. Martin’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Martin, Martinstag or Martinmas, as well as Old Halloween and Old Hallowmas Eve, is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours (Martin le Miséricordieux).  Veterans’ Day, or Armistice Day, marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.  In the United States, Veteran’s Day is expanded to include all military veterans from any military action.


Book themes for St. Martin’s Day:  Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).



Book themes for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction). –OR– Read a book with poppies on the cover.

Tasks for St. Martin’s Day:  Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better. –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background. –OR– Bake a Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live.  Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.

Tasks for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Make, or draw a red poppy and show us a pic of your red poppy or other symbol of remembrance –OR– post a quote or a piece of poetry about the ravages of war.

 

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd:
Penance Day, or Buß- und Bettag (November 22nd), is a Protestant holiday and a public holiday in the state of Saxony and is an occasion for Protestant Christians to pray or reflect on quiet thoughts, and while Thanksgiving (November 23rd) started out as a purely US holiday (and Canadian! on October 9th), it’s now well-known around the world for its feasts, family togetherness, and a holiday that strikes fear in the hearts of turkeys everywhere.


Book themes for Penance Day:  Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

Book themes for Thanksgiving Day:  Books with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need. –OR– Books with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

Tasks for Penance Day:  Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think? –OR– What was a big turning point in your life? –OR– Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year. Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging!  What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day:  List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe. –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book - post a picture of it.



Bonus task:  Share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.

 

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays:
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.


Book themes for Advent:  Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover –OR– Read the 4th book from a favorite series, or a book featuring 4 siblings.

  • Read:  Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill Shalvis // pine trees on the cover // +1 point
  • Read:  The Scandalous, Dissolute, No Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare // features four sisters // +1 point

 


Tasks for Advent:  Post a pic of your advent calendar.  (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.) –OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to?  (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)



Bonus task:  Make your own advent calendar and post it.

 

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th:
Sinterklaas, also known as St. Nicholas Day, celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas on 6th of December.  The feast is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on St. Nicholas' Eve (5th of December) or on the morning of 6th of December, Saint Nicholas Day.  Krampusnacht (December 5th) is the day when Krampus, a companion of St. Nicholas, arrives to punish the children who have been naughty during the year, and in Asia, the 8th of December is Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment.


Book themes for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  A story involving children or a young adult book, or a book with oranges on the cover, or whose cover is primarily orange (for the Dutch House of Orange) –OR– with tangerines, walnuts, chocolates, or cookies on the cover.

Book themes for Bodhi Day:  Read a book set in Nepal, India or Tibet, –OR– which involves animal rescue.  (Buddhism calls for a vegetarian lifestyle.)

Tasks for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  Write a witty or humorous poem to St. Nicholas –OR– If you have kids, leave coins or treats, like tangerines, walnuts, chocolate(s) and cookies [more common in Germany] in their shoes to find the next morning and then post about their reactions/bewilderment. ;)  If you don’t have kids, do the same for another family member / loved one or a friend.

Tasks for Bodhi Day:  Perform a random act of kindness.  Feed the birds, adopt a pet, hold the door open for someone with a smile, or stop to pet a dog (that you know to be friendly); cull your books and donate them to a charity, etc.  (And, in a complete break with the Buddha’s teachings, tell us about it.) –OR– Post a picture of your pet, your garden, or your favourite, most peaceful place in the world.

 

Square 7: December 10th & 13th:
International Human Rights Day (December 10th) commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  St. Lucia’s Day (December 13th) is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, with their long dark winters, where it is a major feast day, and in Italy, with each emphasizing a different aspect of Saint Lucia's story.


Book themes for International Human Rights Day:  Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused. –OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the U.N. and U.N. World Court respectively).

Book themes for Saint Lucia's Day:  Read a book set in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden - and Finland for the purposes of this game) or a book where ice and snow are an important feature.

Tasks for International Human Rights Day:  Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights.  (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.) –OR– Cook a dish from a foreign culture or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (The Netherlands); post recipe and pics.

Tasks for Saint Lucia's Day:  Get your Hygge on -- light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your coziest reading place.

Bonus task:  Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk

 

Square 8: December 12th - 24th:
Hanukkah (begins 12th, ends 20th) is the Jewish Festival of Lights.  It commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy temple in Jerusalem and the miracle that a one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days.  Las Posadas (begins 16th, ends 24th) is a novenario (nine days of religious observance) celebrated chiefly in Mexico and by Mexican-Americans in the United States.  The novena represents the nine-month pregnancy of Mary, the mother of Jesus celebrated by Christian traditions.


Book themes for Hanukkah:  Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the stories plot.

Book themes for Las Posadas:  Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a 'no room at the Inn’ situation.

Tasks for Hanukkah:  Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

  • נ (Nun)
  • ג (Gimel)
  • ה (He)
  • ש (Shin)

Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm –- then tell us which book the dreidel picked. –OR– Make your own dreidel: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel, –OR– Play the game at home, or play online: http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm and tell us about the experience.–OR– Give some Gelt: Continue a Hanukkah tradition and purchase some chocolate coins, or gelt. Post a picture of your chocolate coins, and then pass them out amongst friends and family!

Tasks for Las Posadas:  Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever?  Tell us all about it! –OR– If you went caroling as a kid: Which are your best / worst / most unforgettable caroling memories?

Bonus task:  Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it.

 

Square 9: December 21st:
Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, also known as Yaldā Night in Iran.  The same day is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, giving them the longest day of the year. / Mōdraniht is "Night of the Mothers" or "Mothers' Night” in old English and was an event held at what is now Christmas Eve by the Anglo-Saxon Pagans.  Yuletide is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples.  Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.


Book themes for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  Read a book of poetry, or a book where the events all take place during the course of one night, or where the cover is a night-time scene.

  • Read:  Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare // majority of events take place in the course of one night // +1 point

 


Book themes for Mōdraniht:  Read any book where the MC is actively raising young children or teens.

 


Book themes for Yuletide:  Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter, –OR– set in the Arctic or Antartica.

 


Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  Read a book in one night - in the S. Hemisphere, read a book in a day. –OR– Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf.  Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page.  Post your results. –OR– Eat a watermelon or pomegranate for good luck and health in the coming year, but post a pic first!.

Bonus task:  Read a book in one night.

Tasks for Mōdraniht:  Tell us your favourite memory about your mom, grandma, or the woman who had the greatest impact on your childhood. –OR– Post a picture of you and your mom, or if comfortable, you and your kids.

Bonus task:  Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

Tasks for Yuletide:  Make a Yule log cake - post a pic and the recipe for us to drool over.

 

Square 10: December 21st:
World Peace Day is the day the United Nations General Assembly has declared as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.  Pancha Ganapati, is a modern five-day Hindu festival in honor of Ganesha that comes to an end on the 25th.  The festival was created in 1985 as a Hindu alternative to December holidays like Christmas by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (born Robert Hansen), a Westerner who embraced Hinduism.


Book themes for World Peace Day:  Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker.

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati:  Read anything involving a need for forgiveness in the story line; a story about redemption –OR– Read a book whose cover has one of the 5 colors of the holiday: red, blue, green, orange, or yellow –OR– Read a book involving elephants.



Tasks for World Peace Day:  Cook something involving olives or olive oil.  Share the results and/or recipe with us. –OR– Tell us: If you had wings (like a dove), where would you want to fly?

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati:  Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

Square 11: December 21st-22nd:
Soyal (December 21st) is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and the Hopi (Hopitu Shinumu), The Peaceful Ones, also known as the Hopi Indians.  It is held on the shortest day of the year to ceremonially bring the sun back from its long winter slumber.  The Dōngzhì Festival (December 22nd) also celebrates the winter solstice and is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians.


Book themes for Soyal:  Read a book set in the American Southwest / the Four Corners States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), –OR– a book that has a Native American protagonist.

Book themes for Dōngzhì Festival:  Read a book set in China or written by a Chinese author / an author of Chinese origin; or read a book that has a pink or white cover.

Tasks for Soyal:  Like many Native American festivities, Soyal involves rituals such as dances.  What local / religious / folk traditions or customs exist where you live?  Tell us about one of them.  (If you can, post pictures for illustration.) –OR– Share a picture you’ve taken of a harvest setting or autumnal leaf color.

Tasks for Dōngzhì Festival:  If you like Chinese food, tell us your favorite dish – otherwise, tell us your favorite desert.  (Recipes, as always, welcome.)

 

Square 12: December 23rd
Festivus is “The Festivus for the rest of us!”; originally a family tradition of scriptwriter Dan O’Keefe, who worked on the US sitcom Seinfeld, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the theme of a Seinfeld episode.  Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, begins on December 17th and comes to an end on December 23rd.


Book themes for Festivus:  Read anything comedic; a parody, satire, etc.  Books with hilariously dysfunctional families (must be funny dysfunctional, not tragic dysfunctional).  Anything that makes you laugh (or hope it does).

Book themes for Saturnalia:  The god Saturn has a planet named after him; read any work of science fiction that takes place in space. –OR– Read a book celebrating free speech. –OR– A book revolving around a very large party, or ball, or festival, –OR– a book with a mask or masks on the cover. –OR– a story where roles are reversed.

  • Read: The Lost Night by Jayne Castle // sci-fi book that takes place in space // +1 point


Tasks for Festivus:  Post your personal list of 3 Festivus Miracles –OR– post a picture of your Festivus pole (NOTHING pornographic, please!), –OR– Perform the Airing of Grievances: name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you - tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.

Tasks for Saturnalia:  Wear a mask, take a picture and post it.  Leave a small gift for someone you know anonymously - a small bit of chocolate or apple, a funny poem or joke.  Tell us about it in a post. –OR– Tell us: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?

 

Square 13: December 25th
Christmas -- we really don’t think anyone needs an explanation of this one, but Hogswatch Night is the festival celebrating the winter solstice and the New Year across much of the Main continent and some other areas of Discworld.  It falls on the 36th of December, the new year beginning on the 1st of Ick.  If this all sounds like nonsense, you’ve not yet read Terry Pratchett.  What better time to give his books a try?


Book themes for Christmas:  Read a book whose protagonist is called Mary, Joseph (or Jesus, if that’s a commonly used name in your culture) or any variations of those names (e.g., Maria or Pepe).

Book themes for Hogswatch Night:  Of course - read Hogfather!  Or any Discworld book (or anything by Terry Pratchett)

Tasks for Christmas:  So. many. options.  Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit.  Did you write letters to Santa as a kid (and if so, did he write back, as J.R.R. Tolkien did “as Santa Claus” to his kids)?  If so, what did you wish for?  A teddy bear or a doll?  Other toys – or practical things?  And did Santa always bring what you asked for?

Tasks for Hogswatch Night:  Make your favourite sausage dish (if you’re vegan or vegetarian, use your favorite sausage or meat substitute), post and share recipe.

 

Square 14: December 25th
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (‘birthday of the unconquered sun’) - Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers.  Quaid-e-Azam (‘Great Leader’) Day is the Pakistan holiday celebrating their founder’s - Muhammad Ali Jinnah - birthday.


Book themes for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:  Celebrate the sun and read a book that has a beach or seaside setting. –OR– a book set during summertime. –OR– set in the Southern Hemisphere.


Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam:  Pakistan became an independent nation when the British Raj ended on August 14, 1947.  Read a book set in Pakistan or in any other country that attained sovereign statehood between August 14, 1947 and today (regardless in what part of the world).

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:  Find the sunniest spot in your home, that’s warm and comfy and read your book. –OR– Take a picture of your garden, or a local garden/green space in the sun (even if the ground is under snow).  If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, take a picture of your local scenic spot, park, or beach, on a sunny day. –OR– The Romans believed that the sun god rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.  Have you ever been horseback riding, or did you otherwise have significant encounters with horses?  As a child, which were your favorite books involving horses?

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam:  Pakistan’s first leader – Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was a man, but both Pakistan and neighboring India were governed by women (Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi respectively) before many of the major Western countries.  Tell us: Who are the present-day or historic women that you most respect, and why?  (These can be any women of great achievement, not just political leaders.)

 

Square 15: December 25th-26th:
Newtonmas, on the 25th of December is the celebration of Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday.  St. Stephen's Day, or the Feast of Saint Stephen, is a Christian saint's day commemorating Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  Anyone who reads any British historical fiction will be familiar with Boxing Day, but there are competing theories for the origins of the term, none definitive.  When in doubt, fall back on the OED, which defines it as “[…] a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box”.


Book themes for Newtonmas:  Any science book.  Any book about alchemy.  Any book where science, astronomy, or chemistry play a significant part in the plot.  (For members of the Flat Book Society: The “Forensics” November group read counts.)

 


Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:  Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

 


Tasks for Newtonmas:  Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion.  If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family. –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar / tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.).  Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day:  Show us your boxes of books! –OR– If you have a cat, post a picture of your cat in a box. (your dog in a box works too, if your dog likes boxes -- we're looking at you WhiskeyintheJar) -- or any pet good-natured enough to pose in a box long enough for you to snap a picture.

BONUS task:  Box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it.

 

Square 16: December 26th-31st:
Kwanzaa honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1.  Is there any place in the world that doesn’t celebrate New Year’s Eve?  But Hogmanay is the unique Scottish take on New Years Eve and Day and might be new to many of us, as might be St. Sylvester’s Day, the feast day of Pope Sylvester I, and Watchnight, a late-night Christian church service that starts late on New Year's Eve, and ends after midnight.


Book themes for Kwanzaa:  Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black.

Book themes for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Read a book about starting over, rebuilding, new beginnings, etc. –OR– Read anything set in medieval times. –OR– A book about the papacy –OR– where miracles of any sort are performed (the unexplainable - but good - kind).



Tasks for Kwanzaa:  Create a stack of books in the Kwanzaa color scheme using red, black and green and post your creation and post a photo (or post a photo of a shelfie where black, red and green predominate).

BONUS task:  Create something with your stack of books: a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.

Tasks for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Make a batch of shortbread for yourself, family or friends.  Post pics and recipe. –OR– Light some sparklers (if legal) and take a picture - or have a friend take a picture of your “writing” in the sky with the sparkler. –OR– Get yourself a steak pie (any veggie/vegan substitutions are fine) and read yourself a story - but take a pic of both before you start, and post it.–OR– make whatever New Year's Eve / Day good luck dish there is in your family or in the area where you live or where you grew up; tell us about it, and if it's not a secret recipe, we hope you'll share it with us.

MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash. (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

 

 

Surprise Tasks / Bonus Tasks

 


(I will update this section with a brief summary of the above four cards at a later date.  But the first one is a Surprise, Surprise Bonus Task that our hosts will be revealing as the game progresses.)


Surprise, Surprise Bonus #1 - Melbourne Cup Day, the Race that Stops a Nation!
11/05/2017:  Pick three of the ponies listed for this task to bet on, then wait and see what the outcome is.  Host, Murder by Death will announce the results and award points for any winners!

My Picks:  1) Wall of Flame // 2) Nakeeta // 3) Ventura Storm
Winners:  1) Rekindling // 2) Johannes Vermeer // 3) Max Dynamite
Points Earned:  0

~~~~~~

Surprise, Surprise Bonus Joker #2: The Cuckoo Egg
11/28/2017:  Figure out which of the 32 holidays present doesn't actually occur in December!

Me:  Did not guess.
The Answer:  World Peace Day -- actually takes place on September 21 of each year.
Points Earned:  0

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/16-festive-tasks-wrap-up.html
Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- November 2017

November was definitely the slowest month for me in reading and blogging all year.  I barely posted anything, and read a total of 6 books.  I had ambitions for this month, I promise, but things just didn't work out and now I've got a lot more books on my TBR that I'd been hoping to finish before the end of the year... all crammed into December.

It looks like I'm either going to have to get more ambitious... or just call it a day and screw my reading list!  I'll read what I want!

 

 

November Reads

 

 

 

Books Dropped/Put On Hold

 

None this month!  Yay!

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

November Reading Stats

 

Total works read:  6

  • 5 print/e-book novels
  • 1 novella


Average rating: 3.36 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare // 4.5 Stars
  • Lowest Rated:  5 books // 3.0 Stars
    • (1) Close to Heaven by Pamela Clare
    • (2) It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis
    • (3) Frost Line by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
    • (4) A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
    • (5) Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

 


Series I started reading:

  • Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare
  • Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie

 

Series I completed:

  • None

 

Series I have made progress on:

  • Colorado High Country by Pamela Clare
  • Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
  • Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare

 


Favorite reads:  Really, Tessa Dare made my month great, what with everything being so slow in November.  My most favorite read was, obviously, Any Duchess Will Do, with the other Tessa Dare books following very closely behind.

Disappointing reads:  I wouldn't necessarily say that I was disappointed in any books, really... except maybe the one book took me a while to finish... which took some motivation to finish that last chapter...  more on that later...

 

 

Reviews & Notable Posts

 

Reviews Written

 

Memes

 

Other Posts

 

 

Coming Up In December

 

Tentative TBR

 

 

Other Stuff

The above tentative list of books I want to read in December isn't as ambitious as I thought it would be, but at the rate that I'm going (and if history is to show a pattern), I'll probably be lucky to finish most of them at all.  Especially since I've still got three books currently being read.

Nonetheless, my main goal is to get those books read, and become more active on my blog for this last month of 2017, at least.  And hopefully I can stick to that, but it almost seems easier just to go into a slump and stay there for the first three months of the next year... much like I did this year.  Very tempting...

I think I'll just take it day-by-day at this point.

 

 

2017 Wrap-Ups 

 

Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups
See Also: 2015 Reading Wrap-Up posts (scroll to bottom of page)

(updated as year progresses by month)
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/monthly-reading-wrap-up-november-2017.html
16 Festive Tasks -- Ani's Tracking Post
game play hosted @ Booklikes

 

Ani's 16 Festive Tasks Summary Page

 

 

 

It's still kind of slow going for this game for me, but I'm slowly getting back into it.  I've got a few other tasks planned (if only just in my head for now), and am making my way through possible book selections.  I've finally finished reading Val McDermid's Forensics book, and will have a review out for it soon.

 

I'm not restricting myself to just books that could count towards the 16 Tasks, but I surely would like to find more just to rack up a few more points.  But I've been marathon-ing Tessa Dare novels, and I'm not entirely sure I can find a suitable square to fit all of them in.

 

Nonetheless, onward into December and the second half of this lovely game!

 

 

 

My Progress


Points Earned:  9
Books Read:  6
Tasks Completed:  3

Currently Reading:

  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater


Upcoming Tasks:

  • Square 3 | St. Martin's Day -- Wine and a book!!
  • Square 8 | Hannukuh -- The Dreidel game and the next read!

 

 

The Tasks

 

Square 1: November 1st: (Día de Muertos / All Saint’s Day / Calan Gaeaf)

Book for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  

  • Read:  Frost Line by Linda Howard and Linda Jones // ROYGBIV cover // review pending // +1 point


Book for Calan Gaeaf:  

  • Current Read:  All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater // roses on the cover


Task for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  Undecided


Task for Calan Gaeaf:  Undecided

 


 

Square 2: November 5th: (Guy Fawkes Night / Bon Om Touk)

Book for Guy Fawkes Night:  Undecided


Book for Bon Om Touk:  Undecided


Task for Guy Fawkes Night:  Tea and Books! // +1 point


Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Undecided

 


 

Square 3: November 11th: (St. Martin’s Day / Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day)

Book for St. Martin’s Day:


Book for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Undecided

Task for St. Martin’s Day:  Wine and a book!! // post pending


Task for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Undecided

 


 

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd: (Penance Day / Thanksgiving Day)

Book for Penance Day:  Undecided

Book for Thanksgiving Day:  Undecided


Tasks for Penance Day:  Undecided


Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: I am thankful for... and a new book! // +1 point



Bonus task:  Share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.  -- Skipping this one --

 


 

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays: (Advent)

Book for Advent:

Planned Read:  Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill Shalvis // pine trees on the cover


Tasks for Advent:  My youngest brother and a Master's degree!! // +1 point



Bonus task:  Make your own advent calendar and post it.  - Undecided

 


 

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th: (Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht / Bodhi Day)

Book for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  Undecided

Book for Bodhi Day:  Undecided

Task for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  To be determined

Task for Bodhi Day:  To be determined // post pending

 


 

Square 7: December 10th & 13th: (International Human Rights Day / Saint Lucia's Day)

Book for International Human Rights Day:  Undecided

Book for Saint Lucia's Day:  Undecided

Task for International Human Rights Day:  Undecided



Task for Saint Lucia's Day:  Gettin' my Hygge on!  With chocolate! // post pending



Bonus task:  Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk -- Going to try this one at some point!

 


 

Square 8: December 12th - 24th: (Hanukkah / Las Posadas)

Book for Hanukkah:  Undecided

Book for Las Posadas:  Undecided


Task for Hanukkah:  Spin the Dreidel book selection! // post pending

Tasks for Las Posadas:  Undecided



Bonus task:  Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it. -- Probably not going to do this one.

 


 

Square 9: December 21st: (Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night / Mōdraniht / Yuletide)

Book for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  To Be Determined


Book for Mōdraniht:  Undecided


Book for Yuletide: 


Task for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  (Something planned) // post pending



Bonus task:  Read a book in one night. -- Totally going to attempt this one!

 


Task for Mōdraniht:  Undecided



Bonus task:  Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

 


Task for Yuletide:  Undecided

 


 

Square 10: December 21st: (World Peace Day / Pancha Ganapati)

Book themes for World Peace Day:  Undecided

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati:  Undecided

Task for World Peace Day:  Not sure yet

Task for Pancha Ganapati:  Thinking about it

 


 

Square 11: December 21st-22nd: (Soyal / Dōngzhì Festival)

Book for Soyal:  Undecided

Book for Dōngzhì Festival:  

  • Possible Read: The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin // Chinese author
  • Possible Read: My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin // Chinese author

    Task for Soyal:  Undecided

    Task for Dōngzhì Festival:  (something planned) // post pending

 


  

Square 12: December 23rd: (Festivus / Saturnalia)

Book for Festivus:  Undecided

Book for Saturnalia:

  • Planned read: The Lost Night by Jayne Castle // sci-fi book that takes place in space


Task for Festivus:  Undecided

Task for Saturnalia:  ???

 


 

Square 13: December 25th: (Christmas / Hogswatch Night)

Book for Christmas:  Undecided

Book for Hogswatch Night:  

  • Possible read:  The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

    Task for Christmas:  Undecided

    Task for Hogswatch Night:  Undecided

 


 

Square 14: December 25th: (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti / Quaid-e-Azam / Dies Natalis Solis Invicti)

Book for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:

  • Planned Read:  He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis // beach AND seaside setting


Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam:  Undecided

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:  Undecided

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam:  Undecided

 


 

Square 15: December 25th-26th: (Newtonmas / Boxing Day / St. Stephen’s Day)

Book themes for Newtonmas:

  • Read:  Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid // Flat Book Society November group read // review pending // +1 point


Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:


Tasks for Newtonmas:  (something planned) // post pending

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day:  Baby in a box? // possible post pending

BONUS task:  Box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it.

 


 

Square 16: December 26th-31st:

Book themes for Kwanzaa:  Undecided

Book themes for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Undecided

Tasks for Kwanzaa:  Undecided



BONUS task:  Create something with your stack of books: a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.

 


Tasks for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Undecided



MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash. (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

-- Baby dressed as a pig on a leash??  =D

 

 

Surprise Tasks / Bonus Tasks

 
Surprise, Surprise Bonus #1 - Melbourne Cup Day, the Race that Stops a Nation!
11/05/2017:  Pick three of the ponies listed for this task to bet on, then wait and see what the outcome is.  Host, Murder by Death will announce the results and award points for any winners!

My Picks:  1) Wall of Flame // 2) Nakeeta // 3) Ventura Storm
Winners:  1) Rekindling // 2) Johannes Vermeer // 3) Max Dynamite
Points Earned:  0

 


 

Surprise, Surprise Bonus Joker #2: The Cuckoo Egg
11/28/2017:  Figure out which of the 32 holidays present doesn't actually occur in December!

Me:  Did not guess.
The Answer:  World Peace Day -- actually takes place on September 21 of each year.
Points Earned:  0

 


 

16 Festive Tasks | Square 5 - Advent (Task 1) - My youngest brother and a Master's Degree!
16 Festive Tasks



Square 5 | Advent: (Task 1)
Post a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.) –OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)


This will be one of the few task posts that I won't really have a photo for, but if I DO find a suitable one, I will most definitely update and edit this post to fit.  In fact, after the event has passed, I may return with a follow-up post.

As I had stated in my Thanksgiving Day task post, a lot of events and activities have been going on this year of 2017.  There was a wedding, and if this task had been part of another game prior to that, I would have named my little brother's wedding as an event I'm very much looking forward to--but that event has come and gone, and all was wonderful!

Instead, my family and I will be looking forward to a graduation in the very, very near future:  My youngest brother will be graduating with a Master's degree in Computer Science and Computer Engineering!  The ceremony will be taking place in exactly two weeks on December 17, so today is the perfect time to boast and brag about it.

For this generation in our family, including cousins, he will be the first with a Master's degree, and we're all very excited.  Of course, this is not disregarding the fact that one of my cousins is a Doctor of Pharmacy... but she already had her day to shine, and today (as well as two weeks from today) will be all about my baby brother.

Obviously there is a lot of boasting going around the family and lots of people are happy.  Coming from a family of immigrants, myself, my brothers, and most of our cousins are the first generation of the family born in America.  And while we aren't the first generation given the opportunity to go to college (my youngest uncle on my mother's side of the family also has a Master's degree), there's no denying that the elder generation are all very proud of this accomplishment.

And now, as my brother reaches the end of his higher education years, it is time for him to figure out what he's going to do for a job.  Definitely, his life is about to change a lot as he officially enters the working world.  Of course, he has been working as a paid intern with NIAR (National Institute for Aviation Research)--a job he loves.

But still, a bright new future for him, hopefully, as he begins his search for his ideal career!!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/16-festive-tasks-square-5-advent-task-1.html
Review
3 Stars
Spindle Cove Series Thoughts: A Lady by Midnight / Beauty and the Blacksmith / Any Duchess Will Do
A Lady by Midnight  - Tessa Dare Beauty and the Blacksmith - Tessa Dare Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare

Spindle Cove
by Tessa Dare
Book #3:  A Lady by Midnight | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3.5:  Beauty and the Blacksmith | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #4:  Any Duchess Will Do | Rating:  4.5 Stars


Apparently it was a nice Tessa Dare marathon for me as I devoured one book after another (and continue to do so).  These books are wonderfully written and so much fun, even if a bit hard to believe based on the time frame and setting.

But what do I care about any of that when all I want is a good time, an enjoyable book, and lots of steamy romance with witty characters, amusing dialogue, and heart-warming moments?

 

 

 

A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love.  The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne.  The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome.  But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiancé.  He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness.  He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him.  To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.



A Lady by Midnight is my least favorite of the Spindle Cove books, thus far, but for whatever reason, I'm not sure I can pinpoint, exactly.  I only recall thinking that while I did like our main couple, Kate and Thorne, I also found them extremely frustrating in their actions, especially towards the ending.  And something about their relationship never did sit well with me, especially with Thorne coming off so intense and dangerous all the time.

Meanwhile, the long lost family who has come to claim Kate were amusing, and while I had the same misgivings about them at first as Thorne did, I later came to find that maybe Thorne was being too much of a possessive, paranoid jerk than was necessary.

Nonetheless, this was still an enjoyable and charming book.

 


 

 

At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman.  At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords.  The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes.  By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?



I hadn't really known what to expect of Diana's turn at being the main heroine, even as this is a novella.  In fact, with her situation, I would have almost expected her to get a full length novel instead, but Beauty and the Blacksmith proved to be quite cute, sweet, and charming... even while I had no idea what our main couple were doing with each other.

I mean, I know what they were doing with each other, but there were a lot of actions that spoke to the contrary of what I thought they wanted with each other.  I'm suspecting that might have been intentionally added angst, just for the sake of having romantic angst.

 


 

 

What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence.  Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever.  He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes.  All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop.  That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment.  Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training"... and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure.  She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul.  Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy.  Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?



I'm supposing that this Spindle Cove installment was supposed to be some sort of fairy tale meets 'My Fair Lady' crossover, which was wonderful and amusing, and so many things I enjoyed all rolled into one.  "The practical girl's fairy tale," as Duke Halford puts it.  The premise is promising, and the characters were all individually awesome by their own merit.

The character interaction could have been better, and somehow, the romance rang a little false to me, but I enjoyed a few of the exchanges here and there, and loved Pauline's randomly muttered, "Dukes and their problems."  I found I absolutely adored the dowager duchess of Halford before she even reveals the little knitting atrocities to Pauline--after that, I fell in love with her.

And the dialogue was terrific, especially when the duchess was trying to teach Pauline proper diction, among all of her other "duchess training" lessons.

The only quibble I have about this book would probably be the ending.  Somehow, it felt rushed and kind of trampled over the emotional build-up that I thought it was going for.  I'm not sure I know how to describe my conflicting feelings about it, but while I enjoyed how Griff handles the situation, I still felt like there could have been something... more.

Otherwise, this was a lovely read and I can honestly say that I absolutely loved it!


***

I'm trying to decide which 16 Festive Tasks squares to mark these as and have come up with at least two for A Lady by Midnight, and one for Any Duchess Will Do.

 

 


Square 2 | Book themes for Bon Om Touk:
Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.

Square 3 | Book themes for St. Martin’s Day:
Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

I think A Lady by Midnight will fit in either of the above two squares (the bolded book theme options), as Spindle Cove takes place on a setting near the sea, and I'm quite sure Spindle Cove would be considered quite rural.  The setting is Regency... which is before the age of electricity, no?  I haven't quite decided which square to choose... and just as well, there were a couple other squares that would work, too.

 

 


Square 15 | Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:
Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

I mainly bolded the first part of this book theme if only because I'm certain about the Duke and his family employing paid servants in his household.  The second part of this book theme would probably fit as well, but probably on a stretch, since Pauline is a serving girl/barmaid, who gets paid to pretend to take duchess training lessons from the dowager duchess--I'm not sure that actually qualifies her for a paid servant, though, but since the first part of the book theme fits, I'm definitely using this book for this square.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/spindle-cove-series-thoughts-lady-by.html
16 Festive Tasks -- Ani's Tracking Post
game play hosted @ Booklikes

 

 

I'm going to hijack some ideas, and just going to keep a simple track of my tasks and points and whatnot here.  With so many things going on, I haven't had a lot of time to really think about how I would present update posts for the 16 Festive Tasks, but I DID start a tracking summary page at my Blogspot, if anyone is interested.

 

Chances are, I will just copy and paste and repost whenever I make an update, with an updated news bite at the beginning of each update.

 

I'm glad to be back among the living here at BL, and will hopefully be more active for this last half of the game!

 

 

My Progress


Points Earned:  6
Books Read:  4
Tasks Completed:  2

Currently Reading:

  • Forensics by Val McDermid


Upcoming Tasks:

  • Square 3 | St. Martin's Day -- Wine and a book!!
  • Square 5 | Advent -- My youngest brother and a Master's degree!!
  • Square 8 | Hannukuh -- The Dreidel game and the next read!

 

 

The Tasks

 

Square 1: November 1st: (Día de Muertos / All Saint’s Day / Calan Gaeaf)

Book for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  

  • Read:  Frost Line by Linda Howard and Linda Jones // ROYGBIV cover // review pending // +1 point


Book for Calan Gaeaf:  

Planned Read:  All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater // roses on the cover


Task for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  Undecided


Task for Calan Gaeaf:  Undecided

 


 

Square 2: November 5th: (Guy Fawkes Night / Bon Om Touk)

Book for Guy Fawkes Night:  Undecided


Book for Bon Om Touk:  

  • Possibile Read:  A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare // Spindle cove setting near the sea // possible choice for this square // review pending // ?? point


Task for Guy Fawkes Night:  Tea and Books! // +1 point


Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Undecided

 


 

Square 3: November 11th: (St. Martin’s Day / Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day)

Book for St. Martin’s Day:  Undecided


Book for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Undecided

Task for St. Martin’s Day:  Wine and a book!! // post pending


Task for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Undecided

 


 

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd: (Penance Day / Thanksgiving Day)

Book for Penance Day:  Undecided

Book for Thanksgiving Day:  Undecided


Tasks for Penance Day:  Undecided


Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: I am thankful for... and a new book! // +1 point



Bonus task:  Share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.  -- Skipping this one --

 


 

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays: (Advent)

Book for Advent:  Undecided


Tasks for Advent:  My youngest brother and a Master's degree!! // post pending



Bonus task:  Make your own advent calendar and post it.  - Undecided

 


 

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th: (Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht / Bodhi Day)

Book for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  Undecided

Book for Bodhi Day:  Undecided

Task for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  To be determined

Task for Bodhi Day:  To be determined // post pending

 


 

Square 7: December 10th & 13th: (International Human Rights Day / Saint Lucia's Day)

Book for International Human Rights Day:  Undecided

Book for Saint Lucia's Day:  Undecided

Task for International Human Rights Day:  Undecided



Task for Saint Lucia's Day:  Gettin' my Hygge on!  With chocolate! // post pending



Bonus task:  Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk -- Going to try this one at some point!

 


 

Square 8: December 12th - 24th: (Hanukkah / Las Posadas)

Book for Hanukkah:  Undecided

Book for Las Posadas:  Undecided


Task for Hanukkah:  Spin the Dreidel book selection! // post pending

Tasks for Las Posadas:  Undecided



Bonus task:  Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it. -- Probably not going to do this one.

 


 

Square 9: December 21st: (Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night / Mōdraniht / Yuletide)

Book for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  To Be Determined


Book for Mōdraniht:  Undecided


Book for Yuletide: 


Task for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  (Something planned) // post pending



Bonus task:  Read a book in one night. -- Totally going to attempt this one!

 


Task for Mōdraniht:  Undecided



Bonus task:  Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

 


Task for Yuletide:  Undecided

 


 

Square 10: December 21st: (World Peace Day / Pancha Ganapati)

Book themes for World Peace Day:  Undecided

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati:  Undecided

Task for World Peace Day:  Not sure yet

Task for Pancha Ganapati:  Thinking about it

 


 

Square 11: December 21st-22nd: (Soyal / Dōngzhì Festival)

Book for Soyal:  Undecided

Book for Dōngzhì Festival:  

  • Possible Read: The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin // Chinese author
  • Possible Read: My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin // Chinese author

    Task for Soyal:  Undecided

    Task for Dōngzhì Festival:  (something planned) // post pending

 


  

Square 12: December 23rd: (Festivus / Saturnalia)

Book for Festivus:  Undecided

Book for Saturnalia:

  • Planned read: The Lost Night by Jayne Castle // sci-fi book that takes place in space


Task for Festivus:  Undecided

Task for Saturnalia:  ???

 


 

Square 13: December 25th: (Christmas / Hogswatch Night)

Book for Christmas:  Undecided

Book for Hogswatch Night:  

  • Possible read:  The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

    Task for Christmas:  Undecided

    Task for Hogswatch Night:  Undecided

 


 

Square 14: December 25th: (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti / Quaid-e-Azam / Dies Natalis Solis Invicti)

Book for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:  


Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam:  Undecided

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:  Undecided

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam:  Undecided

 


 

Square 15: December 25th-26th: (Newtonmas / Boxing Day / St. Stephen’s Day)

Book themes for Newtonmas:

  • Current Read:  Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid // Flat Book Society November group read


Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:

  • Read:  Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare // duke employs paid servants in his household // review pending // +1 point


Tasks for Newtonmas:  (something planned) // post pending

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day:  Baby in a box? // possible post pending

BONUS task:  Box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it.

 


 

Square 16: December 26th-31st:

Book themes for Kwanzaa:  Undecided

Book themes for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Undecided

Tasks for Kwanzaa:  Undecided



BONUS task:  Create something with your stack of books: a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.

 


Tasks for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Undecided



MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash. (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

-- Baby dressed as a pig on a leash??  =D

 

 

Surprise Tasks / Bonus Tasks

 
Surprise, Surprise Bonus #1 - Melbourne Cup Day, the Race that Stops a Nation!
11/05/2017:  Pick three of the ponies listed for this task to bet on, then wait and see what the outcome is.  Host, Murder by Death will announce the results and award points for any winners!

My Picks:  1) Wall of Flame // 2) Nakeeta // 3) Ventura Storm
Winners:  1) Rekindling // 2) Johannes Vermeer // 3) Max Dynamite
Points Earned:  0

 


 

16 Festive Tasks | Square 2 - Guy Fawkes Night Task - Tea and books!
16 Festive Tasks - Guy Fawkes



Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night:  Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers.  Or: Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read.  Which kind of tea is your favorite?  Tell us why.


By popular request, here is a nice photo of my pewter dragon design tea pot... of which I have never used.  So let's pretend I did use it to steep the tea I'm currently enjoying.  It's just so pretty, all I want to do is stare at it and not blemish it with any kind of use.

 

 

 


.......................

Though, obviously I used a tea bag for my tea, but that's because I haven't actually used loose leaf tea in a long time.  Truth be told, tea bags are definitely much more efficient for when you just want a nice mug of tea... like, RIGHT NOW.

 


Here is a nice little mid-morning snack with my cup of tea as well--a glutinous rice cake, sliced and toasted.  It doesn't come that way, but our family like to eat glutinous rice cake in this fashion.  You may also steam it, as well as eat it with some sugar.

The glutinous rice cake is made of sticky rice as the outermost layer, with mung bean and choice other filling items.  This particular one just has roasted fatty pork.  The glutinous rice and mung bean are soaked for a time, and then everything is wrapped up in banana leaves, tied tightly, then steamed for a very long time until everything is cooked.

Our family typically do not make these from scratch because they take a tedious amount of work and time.  So it's much easier to buy from the store and reheat.  My grandmother used to make them for special occasions, and she especially loved to stuff them full of random ingredients ranging from aromatic Chinese sausages, to shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, boiled peanuts... just all sorts of things.  And the truth of it is, I really prefer less and like the store bought kind with just the fatty pork.

But let's get back to point of this post, shall we?

 

Yes, I am still reading this book.


Hot tea is one of those pleasures I absolutely enjoy, and I don't know if this is because I'm Chinese and tea is such a significant part of our culture... or if I just plain like it because you can get so many wonderful subtle aromas from a vast variety of different kinds of tea leaves.

For as long as I can remember, I've always preferred my tea hot over cold.  And, for some time, I'd always rejected any kind of sweetening of tea, as I had always felt that any kind of sweetener (be it sugar, honey, or fruit flavored add-ins) would mask the actual taste of the tea itself.  But some years ago recently, I'd realized that my tastes can change, and with it, an appreciation of certain kinds of iced teas, and certain kinds of sweet teas.

 


Our household will usually keep an assortment of tea bags, from Jasmine tea, to Herbal tea, Oolong tea, and so on.  We also have a few loose leaf varieties, some of which I'm not sure how to translate into English.  Dad has taken to drinking a Bitter Melon Tea, mainly in his attempts to lower his blood sugar (which really isn't that high to begin with)--and since he grows his own bitter melon, he has also started roasting his own bitter melon leaves for tea steeping.  My Mom likes to keep a supply of dried Chrysanthemum flowers, for the lovely and refreshing Chrysanthemum tea, also known as Flower Tea, with just a small spoonful of rock sugar--this is not pictured above as I cannot find her stash.

And, like mother, like daughter, Chrysanthemum tea is also a personal favorite of mine, sweetened or unsweetened.

I like teas of all sorts of varieties, so it's hard to pinpoint which ones are my favorites, to be honest.  While I love Chrysanthemum tea, I also love the more understated Oolong tea, or the lovely smelling Jasmine tea.  The Herbal tea (what I made for myself in the previous photos) is something more recent I'd been introduced to, which has a very subtle sweetness to it without even adding sugar or honey--it's a mixture of chrysanthemum, and other assorted medicinal herbs, which is good for the throat, and wonderful when you're out with a cold.

And that's just one more thing about tea:  It's a wonderful, warm and soothing drink when you're sick.  I like to spike my tea with crushed raw ginger root, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dallop of honey--works wonders!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/16-festive-tasks-square-2-guy-fawkes.html
16 Festive Tasks | Square 4 - Thanksgiving Day! - I am thankful for... and a new book!
The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season



Square 4 | Thanksgiving Day Tasks:
List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe. –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book - post a picture of it.


Last year around this same time, I made use of a Top Ten Tuesday meme to post a list of things I am grateful for.  I went back to reread that list and found that not much has changed over a year.  I am, and continue to be, grateful for many of the items I listed in 2016: family, friends, books, food...

So coming up with a brand new list seems a bit repetitive.  But that doesn't diminish the fact that I am still thankful for all of those same things.

Instead of listing all of those lifelong "thanks," I mainly wanted to give a short ramble about some of the things I feel strongly about being thankful for, specifically related to this year, 2017.  In failing to actually come up with a list of 5 items, I am also going to post a picture of a new book I treated myself to, a la "Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book," at the end of this post.


There have been a lot of changes this past year, ranging from my younger brother getting married, to my father retiring, to my youngest brother soon-to-be graduating with a Master's degree status...  My cousin also graduated from Pharmacy school.  More cousins are getting engaged.  And my cousin's little boy turned one year old a couple months ago.

I will forever be thankful for family, and all the joy and activity that family brings to my life.  There are so many things to be proud of this year!


In my own personal life, I have made changes that will hopefully benefit me in the long run.  A new job, a new lifestyle, a new chance to get myself and my life on a new journey.  A new set of coworkers who are wonderfully nice people.

I am certainly thankful for opportunities, and the freedom to have opportunities and choices.

 

 

Some recent events make you think about life and how fragile life can be.  We've had a lot of natural disasters reported about this past year, ranging from tropical storm and hurricanes to fires.  We've had some not so natural tragedies as well.  And while not on the same global level of devastation, my own personal life came upon an event that was quite jarring, in itself.

I am grateful for life, for the little things that life affords you, for the small bits of luck, or even any greater power that may or may not keep us in good health.  I will continue to thank each day that passes, and not take the little things for granted.


Along with changes and events, the people in my life have always been wonderful about being supportive.

I'm thankful for my friends and coworkers, former coworkers, for being understanding and supporting of my most recent job change.  I'm thankful for my family for being there to get me through any and all scary events.  I'm thankful for wonderful relationships, online and off, when you really just need words of encouragement in order to move forward.  I am thankful for all the great listeners and the sincere advice I get from everyone when I'm feeling a little lost or trapped.


And finally, I'm thankful for the fur babies, the little ones who don't ask questions and accept you for who you are, and who will always just want to love you and cuddle and play, and all-in-all, just make a long, stressful day worth it when you come home and see them waiting for you, always happy to see you, always ready to bring joy.

Silly Baby is silly.

 

Tired Baby is tired.


Well, look at that!  I DID come up with five things after all.


Nonetheless, on a less sentimental and less serious note:

Being thankful for myself, I went and bought a book!  Obviously!

 


Using some of that e-book settlement money everyone was granted a while back (mine totaled somewhere in ~$5!), I went to the bookstore and bought Laura Griffin's newest Tracers release!  I probably could have bought more books, but I usually try not to go on book buying sprees anymore... unless they involve such niceties as "Fill a bag for $5.00!"

I had been planning on buying this book anyway after it's release, to add to my collection of Laura Griffin paperbacks.  So it's money well spent!

And yes, I may be popping open a bottle of wine this week for the holidays... or just because.  And also, please ignore the little liquor bar our family has going on in the background there...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Hope you all have a great holiday!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/16-festive-tasks-square-4-thanksgiving.html
It's Monday! And I'm Back! I hope... | 11/20/2017
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

 



I really do hope to start blogging more actively now that my work schedule is coming back to a more normal routine--and I don't just mean switching to a day shift position, which is technically more of a midday shift position.  But with this transition, and all the fiasco about my car running into a deer, things have certainly been chaotic.

The last two week at my former job was a big headache, because someone accidentally entered my last day incorrectly, so I got booted out of the system for three nights.  Dealing with all of that was annoying, and I almost just wanted to say F-it! and just call in sick for those last few days.  But I persevered, and now I've started my new job in a new set of hours, and things have been quite nice so far.

The transition has been a little tougher than I'd expected, but I hope everything will normalize soon.

I've been reading, but not really blogging, so I'm a little behind in my reviews.  In order to make myself a happier person, I've just been indulging in the rest of Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series, and will be finishing it up, hopefully by the end of the year.  It's been a rather enjoyable Tessa Dare marathon for me, and I'm quite satisfied with myself.  Because of my strange anal need to read all things in the order they were published, I will also be starting Tessa Dare's Castles Ever After series, if only because it shares a last book with Spindle Cove, apparently--Do You Want to Start a Scandal?

Don't ask.

Meanwhile, I'm finishing up the Flat Book Society Read, Forensics by Val McDermid, which hasn't exactly been what I was expecting, but still enjoyable to an extent.

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 

 

 

What I'm Hoping to Read Next

 

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog


I had stated in a previous post that I have a few 16 Festive Tasks posts planned--for the actual activity tasks, and not the reading tasks.  Hopefully I will be able to get those written and fleshed out, then posted at some point.  I especially want to get the Thanksgiving task posted this week, preferably the day before Thanksgiving, or maybe even on Thanksgiving Day.

While I'm still training at my new job, I will have every weekend off until they deem me ready to work by myself, so hopefully I will be able to prioritize my weekends to include some blogging, and plan a few more 16 Tasks posts!

Meanwhile, I will probably be flooding everyone with the backlogged reviews I've yet to finalize.

Hope everyone else is having a good month!  I've been missing the updates, but have been skimming the Booklikes dashboard and seeing all the 16 Festive Tasks activity!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/its-monday-and-im-back-i-hope-11202017.html
Review
3 Stars
Thoughts: It's in His Kiss
It's in His Kiss - Jill Shalvis

It's in His Kiss
by Jill Shalvis
Book 10 of Lucky Harbor


'Sexy Grumpy Surfer' are three words combined together that aren't as smoothly read as you would think.  I tried it a few times, so if we must, we shall refer to Sam as the 'SGS'... if I feel like lending him an endearing nickname or something.  Sam's nickname for Becca is just slightly cuter, as he calls her 'Peeper' since he's caught her staring at him from her apartment window many times.

At some point, I almost forgot that these characters had real names anyway.

As for the actual story, itself... well, let's just say that Jill Shalvis, while excellent at creating character interaction and lovely humor, definitely isn't all that great at addressing issues that are a bit more serious in nature.  She will use them to help create a backstory for her characters... but by conclusion, those issues seem glossed over in favor of simply solving all the problems with the "One True Love" formula.

And while it's not entirely a deal-breaker for me continuing to read a Jill Shalvis book, I can certainly understand why this would be a reason for many others to be upset or frustrated.


The Story:
Becca Thorpe arrived in Lucky Harbor to get away from the stress of recent events involving her family, specifically her little brother.  To Becca, Lucky Harbor was only supposed to be a pit-stop until she could figure out what to do with herself, how to move on and get her life back together.  But as she continues to explore and get to know Lucky Harbor, she finds herself drawn to the small town of eccentric residents, and slowly creating a home for herself, even if she doesn't realize it yet.

Add onto that the Sexy Grumpy Surfer guy, Sam Brody, and Becca has every reason to continue hanging around... even if this is just a pit-stop.

Meanwhile, while trying to avoid his own complications, Sam can't help but be drawn to Becca when he notices that she has secrets that have hurt her in the past.  He's intent on finding out what her mystery is, even as he has some unresolved issues of his own that need addressing.


My Thoughts:
Sometimes I wonder if some authors just like to create characters with tragic or crappy backgrounds just so that they can become soul mates in their love story.

Sam and Becca both suffer from disappointing, pretty terrible, childhoods.  Sam's father had always been unreliable, which had always ended with Sam in the foster care system.  In present day, Sam does nothing but give his father anything the old man asks for, even if it's unreasonable and only manages to further cause a rift between father and son.  Becca's parents had always left her younger brother to Becca's care, expecting her to do whatever it takes for her brother, even at the expense and detriment of Becca's well-being and mental health.  In present day, this expectation is still floating in the air, and recent events are what caused Becca to uproot and move away from her family, hoping to find comfort and solace for herself.

Once again, to be honest, Jill Shalvis writes lovely characters and stories, with a lot of cute dialogue and tangential side stories.  These are all fine and dandy, but then she brings in some serious issues, such as Sam's relationship with his father, or Becca's relationship with her parents and her brother, or Becca's stage fright, or even the alluded to tragic event that had brought Becca all the way across the country to Lucky Harbor, Washington.

There is always so much potential for these issues to be addressed in a thoughtful way.  In the meantime, there's no reason why we can't have a sweet romance at the same time.

But the book is slightly imbalanced in that the romance overshadows every other issue brought to surface, and then in the end, apparently it's back to "love conquers all," and then Happily Ever After.

The resolution of both Becca's and Sam's conflicts with their respective parents felt abrupt and too easily managed.  The resolution with Becca and her brother might have been a little more believable.  But the issue about Becca's recent tragic event... I'm not sure I really like how that one was handled.

Meanwhile, the romance had it's moments, but the fact that our couple lives in a perpetual state of keeping secrets from each other, but also expecting the other to answer all questions posed to the other was a bit frustrating.  I loved how Sam tried to take care of Becca; I love how Becca got under Sam's skin and makes a place for herself in his life.

What I don't like is how Sam will push for personal, private information that Becca wants to keep to herself, but then shut down the minute she turns around and starts asking him about his own problems.  Then vice versa.

On the other hand, Becca and Olivia actually make a better starting out friendship--neither pushes the other to reveal secrets that she doesn't want to tell.  It's called respect, and the girls seem to be able to keep to those boundaries.  I mean, maybe over time when they get to know each other better, they can start sharing family histories... but for right now, they had just met barely a handful of days ago.  So I find this a refreshing friendship.

Meanwhile Sam and Becca just kept getting irritated when the other wouldn't talk or share stories with the class.

Anyway, enough of my issues.

It's In His Kiss wasn't exactly a Jill Shalvis book that was completely terrible.  I'd say it was in the mediocre 'meh' level, if only because it had it's moments, and it didn't really frustrate me too much.  I will say, however, that I DO miss the close camaraderie of each trio of friends found in each sub-trilogy of the Lucky Harbor series.  Sam, Cole, and Tanner were fun, but they were also kind of boring.  Becca had Olivia... but where's the third point of the trio?  Not to say that Becca and Olivia's new friendship wasn't great--the drunken by two bottles of wine scene was pretty cute.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

 

16 Festive Tasks - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti


I'd been meaning to read the rest of Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor books anyway, and it just so happens that this book can fit a couple squares for the 16 Festive Tasks.  And so I've marked it for Square 14 -- Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Read a book that has a beach or seaside setting.  Sam and his two best friends are surfers as well as run a charter company, and Becca rents a warehouse turned apartment near where they work and live; so the majority of this book DOES indeed take place with the beach as a main part of the setting.

Other Possible Squares:

  • Square 2 | Bon Om Touk:  Water on the cover.
  • Square 3 | St. Martin's Day:  Becca spends the first part of the book looking for a job--her one night waitressing stint was hilarious.
  • Square 10 | Pancha Ganapati:  Book cover has blue, green, orange, and yellow.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-its-in-his-kiss.html
Review
3 Stars
Thoughts: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

Close to Heaven
by Pamela Clare
Book 5 of Colorado High Country


A few days prior to publishing this book, Pamela had written a blog post about how Close to Heaven was supposed to have been a Christmas novella, but that it ended up being long enough to be novel-length.  So rather than being a Christmas novella special for the Colorado High Country series, it is now the fifth installment of the series.

As I finished the second half of the book, I couldn't help but wonder whether, maybe, this story would have worked out better as a shorter, novella-length work.

This isn't to say that the book was terrible, but I certainly felt like it dragged on the last half of the story.  I easily saw Pamela's vision and direction for Close to Heaven, but I'm not sure it was necessarily a smoothly executed one.

Nonetheless, even with my misgivings and conflicts about how this novel was presented, I can't deny that, as usual, Pamela always creates a great story, story premise, and characters, with a lot of heart.


The Story:
It is about a month before Christmas and Scarlet Springs is expecting a wintry snow storm in the next few days.  Rain Minear has been feeling lonely ever since her daughter left for college, and she hasn't been able to catch the eye of her boss, Joe Moffat, whom she has been in love with for the past twenty years.  During the night, she starts to wonder if maybe it's time to move on with her life, and maybe start over in another place away from her childhood home of Scarlet Springs.

What she doesn't expect is that her roof would collapse because of the heavy snow, and she would be left without a home, all too suddenly.  Fortunately for her, Joe is generous and caring, and offers to house her at his home until the snow clears and she can find a place to stay.  Unknown to Rain, though, is that Joe has also harbored the same feelings for her these past twenty years, but has never felt right acting on them due to his own rules for not messing around with his own employees.  On top of that, a sordid family history has also influenced Joe's outlook for his own future.

This Christmas, however, it seems that life has some other plans for the both of them.


My Thoughts:
The first thing that came to mind, surprisingly, was the fact that I had thought Rain was younger--the way she'd been described from the first book, I had had the impression that Rain was in her early twenties, or something.  Apparently, I was a little off, or just didn't really pay attention, even though she was one of the side characters I'd hoped to see a story for.

So when the summary came out that this was Joe's and Rain's love story, I was intrigued.  Throughout the series' first few installments, Joe is clearly an older man--which, at least I didn't mistaken his age.  I wondered how this relationship would play out, my mind thinking that Joe Moffat, in his forties, had at least twenty years on Rain, whom I'd thought was in her twenties.

Then Rain was introduced in this book as thirty-seven years old.  Okay, not as young as I'd thought, but still ten years younger than Joe, according to the narration.  It's still a bit of an age gap, so we can still play on that age gap thing.  Or at least, for a while, it was one of the reasons Joe gave for not making a move on Rain.

Even though that particular reason seemed to NOT be a reason, left behind and forgotten.  It was still a significant factor, of course--Rain had gotten pregnant twenty years ago, with a man ten years her senior, who then proceeded to abandon her.  So Joe didn't want to come off like that jackass.

Then, reason after reason came out for why Joe never made a move on Rain for the past twenty years...  TWENTY YEARS.  And we'll come back to these reasons, but, really, I know Rain has her own misgivings, but twenty years is quite the time for two adults to be lusting after each other NOT to notice.  And twenty years is also a long time for Rain to hold a crush on a guy and not do anything about it--she seems like the straight-forward type, and certainly she held no misgivings about making any moves during the course of this story.

I guess that's why we have a story.  And maybe all it took was for her to have a random opportunity.  Like, say, maybe being stuck living in Joe's home while she awaited her insurance claim, and for the snow to melt off her crumpled property.  And maybe for Joe to get a few hard-ons while she's around so she could finally conclude that maybe Joe was interested in her as much as she was interested in him.

I don't know.  It just seems overly convenient a plot.

Anyway, as for Joe's own issues:  He pretty much refuses to make a move on Rain for so many reasons.  His ancestor was a terrible, terrible man who had taken from people, murdered, and forced sex on his own female employees.  And Joe was of the notion that he didn't want to be anything like his ancestor, Silas Moffat.  In fact, Joe's guilt and shame, brought on by all the horrible things that ancestor Silas had done when the man first settled in Scarlet Springs about a century ago, has even made Joe feel like the Moffat name should die with him.  After all, according to him, his grandfather was also a horrible person, and so was his own father.

Somehow, Joe came out the decent man in the Moffat line.  And he's worried that he'd end up starting a family, giving birth to a son, who ends up inheriting previous Moffat male characteristics for evil-doing.  Apparently with all the knowledge and smarts that Joe has, he hasn't figured out the concept of "Nature versus Nurture."  Nor has he stopped to wonder that he was able to become different from his previous male relations.

So Joe refuses to make a move on Rain because she's his employee and he's ten years her senior; he doesn't want to abuse his authority over her.

It just seems like a lot of wasted time, you know.  Twenty years goes by, and even while the two of them are good friends and colleagues, working well together to run the bar, restaurant, and brewery, known as Knockers... well, it just seems like a lot of wasted time where someone could have made a move, or someone could have recognized feelings, whether lust or deeper.


Close to Heaven is up to Pamela Clare standards as far as characters, writing, and heart are concerned.  The schmaltz factor is more subtle in this book.  However, the ending half felt a little dragged out, even after our couple finally acknowledge feelings.  Because then we're just spending time slowly ambling towards that Happily Ever After as the days move forward towards Christmas.  Like, that maybe Christmas was the ultimate end location for this story, and everything from the mid-mark where Rain and Joe finally reciprocate feelings, moving forward, was just filler until the time was right.

I'm not saying it was terrible or anything.  It was sweet and enjoyable and heart-warming--probably what our lovely author was aiming for.  But I just felt like maybe that section of the book could, maybe, have been shortened a little bit.  Because I couldn't help but get the feeling that that latter half of the book went on forever.  And it makes me feel bad, because I DO love a great Pamela Clare romance novel, and Close to Heaven was, once again, very sweet, even if a bit frustrating on Joe's part since he was being so stubborn about Rain.

I mean, for crying out loud, she practically jumped him, and then paraded around naked in front of him, and he STILL thought he'd be the one in the wrong if he made a move.  Even after Rain tells him that she wants him.

And so, props to rain for not letting herself get stuck on this relationship.  After a couple of rejections, she finally just moves herself on and stops her own advances.

But enough of that.  The Happily Ever After happens, feelings are reciprocated, and the book was enjoyable on certain levels.  I'm satisfied enough.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

 

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-close-to-heaven.html
It's Really Wednesday... And I'm Hijacking This Meme Again. | 11/08/2017
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

 


 


It's been a while since I last posted anything, so I thought I'd give a quick news update on my reading life, and a little tidbit of my non-bookish life.

The weekend had been busy with my preparations in moving to my new job/position/shift.  My brother was also in town to visit, so my dad took the opportunity to recruit his muscle to help move some furniture and purchase a brand new couch.  I spent one morning with a bunch of coworkers, having breakfast together to celebrate my new position.  So, overall, the weekend was busy but relaxing.

Then... on Monday evening, while driving home from a day trip with a friend, we had a little bit of trouble in the form of one lone deer darting in front of my car (an SUV) across a country highway.  The results were disastrous, but my friend thinks we got lucky because I'd been keeping slow anyway because of the dark nighttime, low visibility, and the twisty-turny-curvy route, and the big semis flying past at random.

It was a two lane country highway, with traffic going in both directions.  The deer was sitting in the other lane, and my friend saw it first.  She yelled, "Deer!" and I saw it as soon as she yelled, and started going for my brakes.  Then the darn thing gets up and leaps across my lane like it has lives to spare, and we make contact.  All the while, my foot is pressed down on my brakes like my life depended on it.  All I remember is my hood popping up, and me, somehow getting us off to the shoulder of the highway, out of traffic.  When the hood of my car came back down, I could see the deer, sitting some distance off, and then suddenly just getting up and leaping off into the nearby fields away from the highway.

Then I'm a mess of, "Oh, shit!  Oh, shit!  What do I do now?"  Rinse, and repeat.

That was definitely an experience I hope never to go through again.  The police officer who came out to assist when we called them went in search of the deer and found no trace.  He mentioned a high fence and said that it might have leaped the fence and continued on, though we don't know the extent of its injuries.  We were speculating that it might have already been hit previously, maybe by another, larger vehicle that didn't sustain as much damage as mine; which would explain why the deer was just sitting in the middle of the highway in the dark.

Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the night having a melt down after my parents picked us up (we were still about an hour outside of our home town), because I'm guessing the adrenaline caught up with me or something.  I was a nice blubbering mess and couldn't even pinpoint why I was crying.  Then we spent the next morning dealing with insurance and other details.

Now we wait to see if my car is totaled or still fixable.  The front end is smashed--all the lights are broken, and so is the bumper and grill; and there was a lot of fluid leaking, that the officer said might have been anti-freeze and washer fluid; maybe radiator fluid.  The rest of the car is fine, and I think the windshield was only scratched, though it was hard to tell in the dark.

Needless to say, I haven't exactly been in a mood to do anything at all the past couple days, and even today.

I'm behind on reading and blogging, but with everything starting to settle now, I'm hoping to have my two current reads finished soon.  I have two written reviews I'd planned on posting on Monday, but that plan obviously went out the window.  I just need to finalize them, and hopefully will have two reviews posted within the next couple days... depending on my mood.

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 

 

 

What I'm Planning to Read Next

 


I haven't actually been thinking about what I want to read next, but I DO have Maggie Stiefvater's newest book release borrowed from the library that I probably need to get to as soon as I can.  It's got a rose on the cover, so I will be reading it for one of the squares/holidays in the 16 Festive Tasks game being played at BL right now.

Then I'll figure out what I'm in the mood for after that.

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog


I have actually been spending a little bit of time since the beginning of the month drafting some posts for the 16 Festive Tasks, which I'm hoping to get posted in the near future.  I've got at least three non-book tasks I'm planning to post about--two being drafted, and one still being planned--and so am hoping to find time to get those activities done at some point, with pictures and all, so I can share with the rest of the BL community.

Meanwhile, since I haven't really been reading much the past few days, there's really little else going on.

But, again, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things, and maybe I'll become more active the rest of the month, when life finally decides to settle down.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/its-really-wednesday-and-im-hijacking.html

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