Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

Review
0 Stars
Packaged Thoughts Christmas 2018: More Books Lined Up In A Row!
Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier Scandal - Amanda Quick Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton, Scott Brick Not My Father's Son: A Memoir - Alan Cumming The Light Fantastic  - Terry Pratchett Chasing Fire - Pamela Clare How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sophie Jordan, Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, Joanna Shupe Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets - John Woolf, Nick Baker, Stephen Fry

It's that time of year again!  Happy Holidays to everyone!  Or rather, a belated Merry Christmas, as this review came out a few days later than I'd planned.  Of course, it also gave me a chance to include my 100th read book this year, Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets.

This is a feature I've been hoping to keep up since 2016, with two posts a year, once at mid-year on the first day of June (my birthday!), and one at the end of the year for Christmas!  Whether you like it or not, you're getting a packaged review post!

Meanwhile, in other news, I've been out of touch online, and I hope to get back into more interaction with the holidays winding down.  I'll also have a couple more updates about how the rest of the year has gone, and how my new year will start... maybe.  I'm also needing to post an update on my progress with 24 Festive Tasks--that'll probably get posted this weekend!

 

~*~*~*~

 

 

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1)
by Juliet Marillier
Rating:  3.5 Stars

The only thing I recall describing this book as, when I was talking to my BFF, was how heavy the content matter turned out.  I suppose I was more familiar with Marillier's YA books (Shadowfell, Wildwood...).  It's not that I didn't know what to expect--I'd read some telltale hints here and there about what happens in Daughter of the Forest--trigger warnings, if you will.

Those moments are fleeting, but still a bit surprising.

Anyway, overall, Daughter of the Forest was a good read, even if there were moments that I wished the story would get on with itself.  But Marillier's penchant for whimsical, magical lore and atmosphere more than makes up for those few moments of drag.

 

 

Scandal
by Amanda Quick
Rating:  2.0 Stars

Definitely not one of Amanda Quick's best books, but still had a bit of the same charm I've come to appreciate from her.  Unfortunately, the frustration I had with both of our main characters overshadowed that charm.  Emily was a walking doormat and Simon was just a typical, broody, Grade A jackass.  How this romance is even supposed to work in the long-term will definitely be a miracle.

Meanwhile, I actually found the constant references to the "exotic tastes of the East" a bit distasteful.  It reeks of misrepresentation and false ideals.  And the repetitive descriptions of the metaphysical plane or transcendental communication or some such bullshit got annoying after a while.

But this is Amanda Quick, and I love Amanda Quick.

I just didn't love this book.

 

 

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)
by Michael Crichton
audio book narrated by Scott Brick
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This book was a "reread," which quite rarely happens, because I'm always worried that reading an old favorite will come back and bite me in the butt.  Especially an old favorite from my younger, teen days.  My tastes have change a lot since then.

But as we can see, I still ended up really enjoying the heck out of myself with this extremely long audio book.  The beginning took a while to start up, but I started getting into the story once the park started getting out of control... though I'd forgotten how bloody and gory this book was.  Considering this is about dinosaurs, it's surprising that I was so startled by some of the blood and guts.

Meanwhile, obviously there were some glaring foibles about Jurassic Park that my high school self managed to overlook.  At present, I'm still going to overlook them in favor of my enjoyment of this book, but I will still acknowledge said foibles.

A wonderful narration by Scott Brick though, and makes me want to jump on into the next book, The Lost World, if he's narrating that one, too!

 

 

Not My Father's Son
written and narrated by Alan Cumming
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This was a wonderful narration and telling by Alan Cumming, detailing a terrible and dark childhood, involving his abusive father and how he has questioned his self-worth his entire life.  Aside from that, it's also a very thought-provoking story, as Alan brings a lot of modern issues to light: child abuse, women's rights, LGBTQ rights...

Alan Cumming is truly an inspirational, and wonderful man, and I'm glad he shares so much of his life with us.  I also love those little tidbits that shine through the bleakness of his telling, that show the sweetness of his love for his mother, Mary Darling, his brother, Tommy, and his husband, Grant.  He doesn't showcase a whole lot of laugh-out-loud humor, but his presentation is more of a "smile warmly to yourself" kind, and I loved it!

 

 

The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)
by Terry Pratchett
Rating:  4.0 Stars

I'm not sure if it was simply the fact that I'm more familiar with the writing style now, or maybe the characters, but The Light Fantastic was certainly more enjoyable than The Colour of Magic had been.  While there were still some instances where I found the humor a little odd, there were many points in the book I highlighted because I thought it either chuckle-worthy, or simply a ingeniously inserted one-liner.

Pratchett proves that he can easily reel you into the world of Discworld, and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the series now.

In fact, the ending of this book kind of gave me a little pang of sadness, in a weird way.  I'm going to miss some of these characters... sort of.

 

 

Chasing Fire (Colorado High Country #7 / I-Team crossover)
by Pamela Clare
Rating:  4.5 Stars

Pamela Clare never fails to bring out the heart in all of her books.  As schmaltzy as some of her dialogue sometimes comes out, she's as equally meticulous about detail and good characterization.  One cannot help but to fall in love with the world she's created, surrounding the beautiful characters from both the I-Team world and the Colorado High Country series.

This is a crossover (not the first) between her Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance series, but this time she utilizes more characters from both than simply a guest appearance.  From a story plot standpoint, however, this was more a Colorado High Country book than I-Team, as Erik Hawke, chief of the small Scarlet Springs fire department, pretty much takes center stage in fighting for his life as well as the lives of his townspeople to battle a raging forest fire before it burns down his town.

I've always loved the attention to detail that Pamela puts into the goings-on of the Scarlet Springs Search and Rescue team's every tone out.  And I am especially appreciative of how well she outlines the way in which the fire fighting team battles the forest fire.

This book is less about character development, but more a story being told of how a community bands together to help each other when something this disastrous unfolds.  Man versus nature is a hard battle to fight, really, and I love how she handled this issue.

The truth is, I loved this book enough to give it a full out five star rating.  Of course, her tendency towards schmaltz, and her habit of making all of her characters an exposition fairy every couple chapters can really take away from the telling of the story sometimes.

 

 

How the Dukes Stole Christmas (anthology)
authors include: Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe
Rating: 3.8 Stars

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I had a bias going into this book.  I love Tessa Dare, no matter that her heroines are typically not historically accurate in terms of mannerisms and roles.  But that's what's delightful about them.  And the fact that this is a holiday book helps as well.

The truth is, though, aside from the magical shortbread cookies and the typical Happily Ever After, I don't really have much to say about this book.  I enjoyed each story, and that seems to be about it.

Sarah MacLean's The Duke of Christmas Present was probably the most thought-provoking, in-depth romance, but a bit too angst-ridden for my liking.  I don't remember much about Dare's Meet Me in Mayfair, sadly, considering it was her name that drew me to this anthology in the first place.  I couldn't quite get into Heiress Alone by Sophie Jordan, and thought it was a little hard(er) to suspend disbelief for--as well as having a pretty loosely wrapped up ending.  Christmas in Central Park was by far my favorite, if only because of how fiery the heroine was and how lovely her friendships are presented.

There's also a nod to making of shortbread cookies, which my mother and I discovered first-hand this year what "cream the butter and sugar together" actually meant.  It was the first time we'd ever made cookies, period.  We succeeded after the second batch, and lovely chocolate shortbread cookies were borne!

 

 

Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets
an Audible Studios Original
written by John Woolf & Nick Baker
narrated by Stephen Fry
Rating:  3.5 Stars

I'm not sure I know how I felt about this one.  It felt like a strange documentary you'd expect to see (or hear) at a theme park, or a random television presentation.  It was entertaining, but I don't know if I'd call it enjoyable since I DID somehow zone out several times.

The book itself was outlined in a rather scattered way, and I found myself realizing that we were talking about a new, different historical instance than what was being narrated five minutes ago, without a very clear transition.

Still, I think I'd give 3 Stars just for Stephen Fry's presentation alone.  Another 0.5 Stars is for the actual book itself because it was entertaining, and also I might have learned a few new things about Victorians, even if the rest were more open secrets than actual secrets.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/packaged-thoughts-christmas-2018-more.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 22: New Year's Eve

 

 

(December 31)

 

 

Updates


12/27/2018:  Last update for the night... or rather, early morning.  I need to be up in a few hours to get ready for work and probably should have stopped about an hour ago (or maybe two), but I was on a roll.  Two more doors to go!

Completed the first three tasks, skipping the fourth task, and had the Book Task finished since early November.  Four points total!

 

 

Task 1


Your 2019 Book Goals: what are they?
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

I considered posting a separate 2018/2018 - Year in Review - Looking Forward to Next Year thing... but at the rate that I'm going with the blogging right now, I doubt that post will ever see the light of day.  In fact, I haven't even started planning said post yet, so here we go just responding to this task.

Since 2017, I've been trying really hard to maintain a "Year of the Laid Back Reading."  This was basically my way of curbing how many reading challenges I signed up for and how many reading goals I made throughout the year, because I tend to sign up for a million challenges, and then stress myself silly over completing everything like my life depended on it.

In 2019, I would direly love to continue on with being more lax about my reading, but I'm feeling that I need some direction.

Already, I've been looking at some reading challenges, and have chosen a few that I think would continue to help me meet my goals.  I will probably have a post after the new year starts to announce any challenges I'm participating in, but for now, I know for sure I will be joining:

- 2019 Reading Assignment Challenge hosted by Michelle and Berls @ Because Reading // a lot of new changes for this one I'm looking forward to

- Both 24in48 readathons -- first of which will be January 26 - 27 // Sign-ups are now open!

- My own Personal Series Challenge (here's the link to 2018's announcement)

- The 2019 Halloween Bingo at BookLikes, if it gets hosted again!

- The 2019 Festive Tasks games -- looking forward to any new twists and challenges!

And as per usual, one of my biggest goals is to try to knock out more books on my already owned shelves, both digital and physical.

And finally, I know I keep saying this, but it's so hard to do since I have a hard time just giving up on any book, I need to learn to pull that DNF trigger when I just can't take it anymore.  This is... surprisingly a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I keep hoping that the crap book I'm reading will get better, or I'm reading it for reasons of some book challenge... or I feel the need to finish said book just so I can rant about it in a review...

 

 

Task 2


2018 Reading Year in Review.  Tell us about your year in books:  happy?  disappointed?
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

This year I had the most universally worst reading slump I've had since I was in college.  But at least then I had reasons--studying and going to school and working and homework... y'know piddly stuff like that to keep me from reading for leisure.

I always start my years and end my years with a bit of a slump.  My reading years are usually pretty parabolic (I think that's the right word), with my best reading months more towards the summer time (because I don't like outside when it gets too hot).  But this year I started with a slump, thought I was seeing some improvement by March, let it drag out for a few more months, tried to read something, finally picked up a nice burst of "I'm just going to read everything by Jayne Ann Krentz" wherein I crawled out of my slump for about a month, started reading other books, then dropped back into a slump, managed a short, impressive burst in October to celebrate Halloween Bingo... and am pretty much now just tapering off to my usual end of year slump.

HOWEVER, I still managed to read 100 books, as of today, 12/27/2018.  In big part, I'm grateful to all things Jayne Ann Krentz, whose books managed to yank me out of my slump as the mid-year rolled around.  Halloween Bingo also played a pretty big part, even if only for one month.

As far as quality of books, I've found a good number of new series and authors I'm interested in continuing to follow, but looking at my list of book rankings, it was a pretty mediocre year.  Unfortunately, it also felt like a less than mediocre year with a lot of books I just could not find it in me to like, much less love.

 


Highest ranking book this year up to this point is Deanna Raybourn's A Treacherous Curse.  Lowest ranking book was Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh.  Favorite new series includes Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series, which I'm extremely looking forward to continuing.  Most read author this year is, obviously, Jayne Ann Krentz.

 


I read thirteen 2018 new releases.  I finished at least eight completed series, and caught up with five ongoing ones.  I've read nineteen new-to-me authors, and... started a bunch of new series that I'm not even going to bother counting.

All-in-all, despite what felt like the Mother of all Reading Slumps, I did surprisingly well this year.  Probably just not what I'd been expecting, but we can't be too greedy now, can we?

 

 

Task 3


New Year’s Book Lottery: Write the names of the first 5 books you’re planning to read in 2019 onto identical pieces of paper, fold them, place them in a bowl (or bucket, jar, box, etc.), and draw one to determine the very first book you’re going to start in the new year.
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

Alrighty!  Since part of my 2019 Reading Assignment Challenge goals (of which I have yet to list) will involve reading more Historical Fiction (of any subgenre including mystery, romance, general, etc.), I chose five specific books, all of them the first in a series, to place in this lottery.

 


On five monkey post-its, I wrote down five historical fiction books (three historical romances, two historical mysteries).


Then I folded each monkey post-it in half... and realized that maybe I shouldn't have written in blue marker, because the writing bled through and I can see the titles clearly.

 


So I folded them all once more and pulled out my pretty box for shaking it all up!

 


And here is Penni watching supervising the lottery to make sure there is no cheating!

The lucky draw is...

 

 


I have totally been looking forward to this book!  Yay!  Looks like I will be jumping right into this one, first of the year!

 

 

Task 4


Find a bakery that sells Krapfen (German deep-fried sweet dough dumplings) or make them yourself (recipe here: https://germangirlinamerica.com/rheinische-ol-krapfen-new-year/) and enjoy with a glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly drink – but first, take and post a photo of them!
-- WILL JUST SKIP --

I've got the points I need.  I'm good for now.

 

 

Book Task


Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM!
-- COMPLETED 11/06/2018 --

 


This seems like a fitting book for new beginnings endings... stuff like that.  This book is also the November read for The Flat Book Society.

I sort of read and skim-read parts of the book and here's my review.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-22-new-years-eve.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 21: Kwanzaa

 

 

(December 26 - January 1)

 

 

Updates


12/27/2018:  Completed Tasks 1, 2, 3.

 

 

Task 1


“Africa” was originally the name of the Roman province originating from the North African empire of Carthage, which was mythologically founded by Queen Dido and blossomed into Ancient Rome’s only lasting opponent and nemesis (until it was finally conquered by Rome in the Punic Wars).  So: who are your five favorite book heroes and their respective nemeses?
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

1.  Carswell Thorne vs Queen Levana / The Lunar Chronicles series -- I don't know if he would be considered a hero in other people's eyes, and obviously he wasn't the only hero in this series, but I see him as a hero, helping to fight against the evil Queen Levana.  He was my favorite hero in this series!

2.  Verity Price vs The Covenant / InCryptid series -- Okay, I know that The Covenant is this big, faceless enemy with an organization of members.  But I still think this one is apt.  Especially in the second book, as Verity fights for her life as well as the lives of all her cryptid friends and family.

3.  Ella vs The Gift of Obedience / Ella Enchanted -- I think this was a pretty significant opponent for our young heroine of the infamous Ella Enchanted.  She fights and she fights hard to find loopholes around her gift/curse that makes her obey every command given to her.  Even without her willful breaking of the curse on her own at the end, every little rebellious act she does against the gift of obedience was great!

4.  Dashti vs Lord Khasar / Book of a Thousand Days -- I'm actually not sure who to put down as the actual nemesis for Dashit, as she spent a good part of the book fighting against a lot of things: her lady's stubborn slothfulness, the outside world's status quo...  But Lord Khasar indeed looms as a physical enemy who endangers both her and her lady's livelihoods, so I figure it's fitting.

5.  Nobody Owens vs the man Jack / The Graveyard Book -- The man Jack wasn't much of a presence in this book, but he was the ultimate enemy of Bod, the only obstacle keeping him from leaving the Graveyard and living a normal life as he should, no matter that Bod seemed to love his life the way it is with all his family of the Graveyard.

 

 

Task 2


In Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, the “Finis Africae” is the hidden center of the labyrinth which constitutes the monastery’s library, protected by a number of intricate, misdirecting devices.  Tell us: Where have you recently encountered clever misdirection or a labyrinthine plot in a book?
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

 


To be honest, I don't know if this book would count as clever misdirection, but the entire plot of the story and the conclusion certainly had me flabbergasted.  I never really saw any of that coming.  O.O  And while I'm still totally conflicted about how I felt about that ending... well, in a way, I'm rather impressed with it.

Especially while listening to the audio book... Hugh Fraser handled that transition very, very well.

 

 

Task 3


Tell us: If you could travel to Africa (for those living on the African continent: to a part of Africa that you don’t know yet): Where would you want to go?
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

I thought about saying Egypt, for the obvious reason of being interested in Egyptian culture, pyramids, the like.  But I recently watched a Chinese travel show that took the hosts to Morocco, and it was an extremely interesting presentation, so now I'm interested in Morocco as well.  The shopping districts and a lot of the Moroccan architecture looked like it would be wonderful to see in person.  There were even a lot of sights that were breathtakingly beautiful.

 

 

Task 4


Have a meal involving vegetables (= crops) and / or corn, or another form of traditional Kwanzaa dinner.  Recipe suggestions here: https://kwanzaaculinarians.com/
-- SKIPPING --

No reason.  Just skipping.

 

 

Book Task


Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean; OR by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author; OR a book with a green, red, or black cover.
-- SEARCHING --

Don't know yet...

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-21-kwanzaa.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 20: Christmas

 

 

(December 25)

 

 

Updates


12/27/2018:  Finished Task 1 and 2.  Completed Book Task.  3 points altogether.  I'm hoping to get one more point out of this door by watching a Christmas movie, but I'm not sure that will actually happen.

 

 

Task 1


Post a picture of your Christmas decorations.
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

I had to dig these out.  We haven't done Christmas decorations in our household since I was in high school and my elder brother put up a Christmas tree.  Afterwards, no one wanted to take it down, so it sat for another month before my parents finally got fed up with telling my brother to clean up the Christmas decorations and put it away.

 


Meanwhile, that didn't keep me from starting a collection of some Christmas decorations for a tree... now I just need a tree.  =P

Also, here's a dog cork decoration a coworker gave me this year to add to my collection.  It is currently hanging on my work locker for a little bit of holiday cheer!

 

 

 

Task 2


Tell us: If you could share Christmas dinner with any author (dead or alive), who would it be?
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

I think I'd love to share Christmas dinner with either J.K. Rowling or Susanna Kearsley.  Somehow I think they would have wonderful dinnertime conversation!  I'd love to ask them about their insights on their work, and I'd love to pick their brains about their naturally humorous character dialogues and interactions.

 

Task 3


Watch a favorite Christmas movie.
-- WORK IN PROGRESS --

Hmm... I haven't watched Love Actually in a very long time.  I think I might have to break it out.  Fun tidbit, I used to watch this movie every year during the holidays.  For some reason, I stopped at some point some years ago and I can't even pinpoint when exactly, nor why.

 

 

Task 4


Create or recreate a short text relating to Christmas (poem, carol, wish list, season’s greetings, etc.) from the titles of books on your bookshelves.
-- GONNA SKIP --

No reason.  Just skip.

 

 

Book Task


Read any Christmas book.
-- COMPLETED 12/24/2018 --

 


I managed to finish reading this one right before Christmas Day and had fun with it!  A review will be posted soon.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-20-christmas.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 13: Advent

 

 

(December 1 this year - Four Sundays before Christmas)

 

 

Updates


12/27/2018:  Completed Task 3!  3 points total!


12/06/2018:  It is 2:00 A.M. my time and I really should be getting to sleep right now.  But I also really wanted to do one more 24 Festive Tasks update.  I'm really bad about general delegation of sleep and time in my life.

But hey!  I completed Tasks 1 and 2.  And there's a Book Task update for a planned read!  Yay?

 

 

Task 1


Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade.
-- COMPLETED 12/06/2018 --

I've never really thought of advent calendars and have never actually bought one before.  HOWEVER, if I were to buy an advent calendar, it would probably be this one:

 


It's a 12 Days of Wine Advent Calendar.  I'd seen those infamous wine advent calendars on Pinterest a few years back and always thought it was a great idea... if you lived with a big family, or planned to have 25 parties until Christmas Day.  While I love myself a nice glass of wine, I'm also not sure I can handle a full bottle of wine daily, for 25 days straight.  And given how quickly wine can start going bad, obviously you don't want to open a bottle of wine, drink a glass or two one day, then open another bottle the next day before finishing the first.

While 12 bottles of wine might still be a bit much, it's a bit more realistic for me, if I want to be honest.

Barring that, I also came across some wine advent calendars that apparently have smaller bottles of wine rather than full 750 mL bottles.  They look super cute as well!

 

 

Task 2


The holidays season is in full swing – tell us: What’s your favorite tradition?
-- COMPLETED 12/06/2018 --

Truth is, I get asked this question a lot--not in those words, but more of as a general, "What kind of holiday traditions do you have?"  Of course, this question is usually following on the tail end of, "I don't know if your family celebrates Christmas or anything in your culture."  I don't know why I find that lead-in so amusing--probably because I know people try so hard to be politically correct and inoffensive.  And it gets asked almost every year by the same people.  Understandable, though, since it IS true that Christmas isn't a traditional Asian holiday.

So even while our family DOES like to celebrate holidays indiscriminately, we don't really have any actual traditions.  Unless you count the one where we simply find any holiday (Christmas or otherwise) as a great excuse to go out to a nice restaurant.  It really IS as simple as that.  There isn't any decorating of tree or house, no going to see Christmas lights around town, nor do we even really exchange gifts.

My parents don't believe in randomly giving people things that they won't be able to use.  Surprise gifts are definitely out of the question.  So for Christmas every year, Mom and Dad just give my brothers and me a holiday themed envelope with a certain amount of money--I suppose this could be counted as a tradition--and we can use said money however we wish.  In return, we treat them to dinner at a nice, fancy restaurant.  We may take my parents shopping if they so desired, and typically Dad ends up with some fun new technology to fawn over.  Mom never wants anything, though I might buy her a cute new scarf, or pay for the pretty shirt she's picked up and put down a dozen times with the excuse that she doesn't need any new shirts.

 

 

Task 3


The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing).  Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit.  Post a picture and enjoy!
-- COMPLETED 12/22/2018 --

The family had a nice dinner celebration over the weekend prior to Christmas with my youngest brother coming home for a visit.  Also, being the Chinese holiday of Dong Zhi, my mom made a few things, including a large pot of seafood soup... which I spent more time eating than actually thinking about taking photos of.  I'm sorry about that, guys.

Meanwhile, I DID manage one or two pictures because I had my mind on cookies, spice wine, and wassailing.

So, I present to everyone, the Wassail... pot.  Yeah.  For reasons, the spice wine didn't make it into a bowl, even though I enjoyed it very much.

 

 


I went shopping for spices and stuff to put into my Wassail Pot, including cinnamon, cloves, star anise, an orange, and a bottle of apple cider.  And not to forget our most important ingredient, the wine!  Of course, I cheated a little bit and went straight for the spiced wine, simply adding a bit more spices to it to add to the flavor.

And yes, I also bought two other bottles of wine.  These were all bought from a local wine seller who stocks wine from a local winery called Wyldewood Cellars.  The winery itself is only about fifteen minutes away, and I'm sad to say I've never visited--something I plan to rectify soon!

 

 

Book Task


Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title.
-- PLANNED READ --


I'm a little peeved at myself that I haven't gotten to this book yet.  I've been really slacking in reads these last two months of the year, but I DO want to finish the Nichelle Clarke series.  If I'd already read this in November, I could have retroactively claimed it already.  As it stands, I will definitely do what I can to work it into my reading schedule.

Devil in the Deadline is the fourth book in the Nichelle Clarke series by LynDee Walker.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-13-advent.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 7: Mawlid

 

 

(November 20)

 

 

Updates


12/27/2018:  Completed Book Task!  Finished listening to Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets audible production.  5 points total for this door!

11/20/18:  Whelp!  Four tasks down in one go!  Book task still in the works, but more than likely selected!

 

 

Task 1


Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life.
-- COMPLETED 11/20/2018 --

Hmm... this is a hard one.  The truth is, the easiest "prophesy" I can make is certainly predicting that I will read at least 100 books next year, since I've been able to do so each year for the past few years.  But that would feel like a cop-out.  Even prophesying that I will participate in Halloween Bingo 2019 or the next Festive Tasks is a given.

So...


1.  My first prophesy is a personal one:  I will finally clean out my closet (work in progress since 2010) and get rid of anything I don't need anymore, and creating a more clutter free environment... in which I will probably promptly start adding more clutter to given enough time.  Much like my bookshelves, that will also go through a purging of books I've read and don't want to keep, which will get donated to the nearest library, so that I can make more room for the new bag of books I will undoubtedly end up buying from a library book sale a la "Stuff a tote full of books for $5."

2.  My second prophesy is a reading one...  which was actually unintentionally mentioned in the previous prophesy, in the line of cleaning out my shelves of books I don't wish to keep.  Truthfully, I should really be prophesying that I will manage to read more of the books I already own on my digital and physical shelves rather than purchasing more... but we know that's not going to happen.

 

 

Task 2


The Five Pillars of Islam include almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka. Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed?  Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you?
-- COMPLETED 11/20/2018 --

In line with the above prophesy task, I try to do a purge of my physical book shelves every few months when they start getting too full to hold any more books.  The books that get removed end up in a tote bag, as part of a pile of books to donate, either to the local library, Goodwill stores, or any other place that may accept old, used books.  I've done this a couple times in the past, donated once to the library and once to a Goodwill store.  There are also some other used book stores around town that will take donated books, but the library is usually my go to for donating books I don't want to keep.

 

 

Task 3


Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)?
-- COMPLETED 11/20/2018 --

 


The truth is, even before looking through my shelves, the first book character I thought of as a messenger was Hedwig, Harry Potter's snowy white messenger owl.  The second messenger I thought of was the red enveloped exploding Howlers... but I'm not sure if those count, cause they're the actual messages.  So I'm probably just going to stick with Hedwig, as well as the rest of the message carrying owls of the Harry Potter world.

 


A second place would be the Ponies featured in The Others who deliver mail to the resident Others of the Lakeside Community after Meg sorts mail into their baskets.  They don't play that big of a part as messengers, and in fact, the Crowgard are probably more in line with messengers, delivering news to all the Others quickly and readily.  But I liked the Ponies more than the Crowgard.

 


Finally, as a featured Honorable Mention--mainly because I don't know if she actually counts as a messenger, but she gives guidance to you as a player via intercom messages, I'm listing GLaDOS, from the video game Portal.  And yes, Portal is a video game, not a book, but I figured that as the Honorable Mention in my list, I can have some leeway, having already listed two other sets of book characters who serve as messengers... sort of.

As is noted by Wiki, "GLaDOS serves solely as the narrator, guiding players through the test chambers."  So... that's sort of like a messenger of sorts, giving the main game character prompts and messages on how to get through each level... even if GLaDOS's ultimate goal is really to lead you to your death.  *shrugs*

Meanwhile, here's a bit of a reminiscing... originally, in my other post, there was an embedded video here, but since I can't figure out how to embed videos here at BLs, I'm just going to leave the link...  Enjoy

 

Portal - 'Still Alive'

 

 

 

Task 4


Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader. List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change.
-- COMPLETED 11/20/2018 --

1.
  Written in Red by Anne Bishop / Meg Corbin -- blood prophet to mail sorter?
2.  The Girl Who Knew Too Much / Irene Glasson -- secretary/personal assistant to reporter
3.  Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare / Paula Simms -- bar maid to duchess in training
4.  The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey / Elena Klovis -- would be Cinderella to Fairy Godmother
5.  Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder / Yelena -- prisoner on death row to royal food taster

 

 

Book Task


If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover.
-- COMPLETED 12/27/2018 --

So I chose to just finish listening to Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets because I figured I'd have a better chance of finishing it over the other books I'd thought to read.

 


Green cover--check!  And interesting presentation, this certainly was, though I'm not quite sure how to take it.  A review will be coming soon.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-7-mawlid.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 2: Guy Fawkes Night

 

 

(November 5)

 

 

Updates

 

12/23/2018:  I'm going to go ahead a call Task 4 a skip.  Meanwhile, I finished reading Chasing Fire by Pamela Clare a couple days ago, but haven't had a chance to update anything.  With that, this will be a total of 4 points for this door!

11/05/2018:  Three tasks down in one go!  This is definitely a first for me.  In past years, I believe all I did was slack off and try to finish reading books.  hehe

 

 

Task 1


Burn a book in effigy. Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?
-- COMPLETED 11/05/2018 --

If I had to choose one I'd sacrifice, I've read a lot of books that probably should never have existed, but there are at least two books in my recollection that I had felt the need to toss across the room during the reading of it, or pound against my own forehead due to sheer frustration.

But I will choose this one:

 


This was not a terrible series, but it definitely could have done without this second book, and erased all the stupid, stupid, stupid things that the main heroine ends up doing to completely screw all the development she'd almost had at the end of the first book.

 

 

Task 2


List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books. Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.
-- COMPLETED 11/05/2018 --

I'm sure I can come up with a lot more crimes against books than three, but here are the ones that stand out most to me at this point.  And apparently, they're pretty in line with almost everyone else's I happened to glimpse already.

1) Burning books, because, WTF?

2) Defacing or damaging book in any purposeful way.  I especially do not, DO NOT like it when people take perfectly good books to create book art with--it's one of my biggest pet peeves, no matter HOW creative it looks.

3) Borrowing a book and either returning it damaged, or not returning it at all.  It also makes me tick when someone borrows a book, but sets it aside and keeps telling me that they haven't had time to get to it yet--it's not a big, big crime, but it DOES make me side-eye you every other time you want to borrow a book, and yet you haven't read the one I've already lent out.

 

 

Task 3


Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe for food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off).
-- COMPLETED 11/05/2018 --

So I don't know if this would be stretching the BBQ task, so if it is, I can always find something else to post.  But technically it's still grilling meat over a gas grill...

My family and I love going to Korean BBQ!  When our city first got a Korean barbecue restaurant, I was quite ecstatic, because my brothers had tried it before on a trip to Dallas (yes, without me because I couldn't go).  I went with my parents first and we really enjoyed the experience.  It was fun, and everything tastes delicious--what more can you ask for?

So, in a way, it's become one of our family's go-to places... even though my dad always complains about the pricing.

 

 


I love everything about it:  Tasty meats marinated in yummy spicy bean paste, or Korean BBQ sauces; side dishes of kimcheed veggies to wet the appetite as you wait for things to cook; and savory sauces to accompany your meats or rice for an extra oomph of taste!  There's even an alternate menu of other pretty awesome dishes if tons of meat isn't your thing that night.

 


Isn't it all so pretty?

 

 

Task 4


Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea).
-- GONNA SKIP --

This one may require some research and consideration...

 

 

Book Task


Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.
-- COMPLETED 12/21/2018 --

 


Pamela Clare book releases always sneak up on me, because, admittedly, I don't always pay attention to when authors release books unless I know one is being planned.  And since she'd already released two books this year, I wasn't aware that there'd be a third.  But she's an auto-buy author for me, so I was quite excited--it also helps that she's also an author whose books I can usually devour within a twenty-four hour period... sometimes much less.

Anyway, Chasing Fire involves a team of small town firefighters fighting a deadly forest fire that could potentially devour their town of Scarlet Springs.  As is typical of Pamela Clare, it's full of heart and very thought-provoking.  I figure that this would fit in with the "related to burning" part of the book task.

Possible review to come if real life permits.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-2-guy-fawkes-night.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 12: St. Andrew's Day

 

 

(November 30)

 

 

Updates


12/18/2018:  Finished reading Not My Father's Son for Book Task!

12/06/2018:  Honestly, I had a hard time with the tasks for this door.   They're not easy ones.  But I've got a completion for Task 2, and a book chosen for the Book Task.  The rest are still being considered.

 

 

Task 1


Nominate someone for sainthood.  Who?  Why?
-- GONNA SKIP --

This one will require some thought.  Decided just to skip this one.

 

 

Task 2


St Andrew is revered in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, where he worked as a Christian missionary, long before his relics were brought to Scotland centuries later. – Tell us: Is there a book (regardless whether fiction or nonfiction) for which you would basically walk up to strangers and tell them: “Read this!”?  What would you say and do to get people to read that particular book?
-- COMPLETED 12/06/2018 --

I'd hate to copy Broken Tune's response to this task, but this is exactly the same way I feel about recommending books to people.  I'm usually hesitant, if only because I don't like to push recommendations without knowing what someone else likes to read.  There are really only two people in my non-cyber life whom I truly feel comfortable recommending books, because we have discussed books with each other so thoroughly that I know what kind of tastes they have, based on what they've read, and what they've enjoyed.

Without this knowledge, I feel presumptuous just randomly walking up to a stranger and marketing a book to them.

In a different approach to this task, however, I can turn around and say that, if a stranger (or even an acquaintance) asked me for a book recommendation... I do tend to ask them a bunch of questions about their preferences.  What books have they read recently?  What books have they liked?  What kinds of stories do they prefer?  Do they like romance?  Mystery?  Action thrillers?

After establishing some sort of background, I will proceed to let them know what books they might like, such as how "so-and-so author has a lot of witty dialogue," or how "there's an excellent mystery twist in this cozy," or "this book doesn't have a whole lot of romance in it," or "this romance doesn't have any graphic sex scenes."  I like to appeal to their interests.

Yeah... I give them a freakin' survey just to get a feel for what kind of reader they are.  Call it paranoia, or overthinking, or whatever, but the last thing I want to do is recommend someone a book that they'll end up hating.

 

 

Task 3


Legend has it that the saltire or St. Andrew’s cross (white on an azure background) – which constitutes the national flag of Scotland – originated as a cloud formation, symbolizing St. Andrew’s being crucified on an X-shaped cross rather than an upright one.  Do you have any pictures of unusual cloud formations?  If so, share them with us!
-- POSSIBLE SKIP --

I'm sure I don't have any pictures of unusual cloud formations, at least none that have caught my interest.  If I decide to do a Google search for kicks, I may come back and update.

 

 

Task 4


The town of St. Andrews, where the saint’s bones ended up in the course of the spread of Christianity to Scotland, is also famous for its golf course and tournament.   List your 3 favorite books where golf is key to the plot.
-- SKIPPING --

You know, off the top of my head, I'm not sure I've ever actually read a book that involved golf... except maybe as an aside to some rich, side character's favorite past time, which usually had little to do with the central plot.

 

 

Book Task


Andrew was the first apostle; read the first book in a series. OR: Andrew and Peter were brothers; read a book about brothers.  OR: Read books about or set in Scotland or by a Scottish author, or set in Charleston, South Carolina (which is where the celebrations as we know them today began – by a group of Scottish expats – according to scotland.org).
-- COMPLETED 12/18/2018 --


Finished listening to this wonderful memoir by Alan Cumming.  Aside from getting a look at the dark, abusive childhood that Alan lived through, this is also an extremely thought-provoking book.  But between the bleakness of his relationship with his father, I love that we get to see some sweet moments when he lovingly tells about his mother Mary Darling, his brother Tommy, and his husband Grant.

I hadn't known what to expect going into this book, but I'm absolutely happy with what I got.  I've been looking out for books narrated by Alan Cumming ever since listening to his portrayal of Dr. Seward in the full-cast audio of Dracula.

I may or may not come back with a review.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-12-st-andrews-day.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 5: Armistice / Veterans' Day

 

 

(November 11)

 

 

Updates


12/18/2018:  Updated Book Task as completed; claimed The Woman Left Behind retroactively.


11/13/2018:  Completed Tasks 1 and 3.  Updated Book Task for possible books to read.

 

 

Task 1


Using book covers (real or virtual), create a close approximation of your country’s flag (either of residence or birth), OR a close approximation of a poppy.  Take a pic of your efforts and post.
-- COMPLETED 11/13/2018 --

 

"Hi!  I'm the Penni Book Cover Poppy!"


I think I got it right...  And Monkey's trying to help as well... somehow...

 

 

Task 2


Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.
-- SKIPPING this one --

 

 

Task 3


Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by which author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)?
-- COMPLETED 11/13/2018 --

 

 


I don't know if I'd consider myself a veteran of any author's books, but according to my reading lists and shelves, it seems like Jayne Ann Krentz (including her historical and futuristic alter egos, Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, respectively) is the author of whom I've read the most works.  I give a lot of this accomplishment to the previous two years when my main mission was to finish reading the Arcane Society and Harmony series, which both series together have a total of 23 books combined.  On the side, I've been happily inhaling Amanda Quick books.  And this year, I had made a goal to read at least 12 Jayne Ann Krentz books--a number I actually ended up doubling during that time frame when I was trying to climb out of my reading slump.

A close second (though not all that close) is Jill Shalvis--according to my lists, I've read about 32 of her works, including novellas and short stories as well.

I'm also going to give a quick shout out to Laura Griffin and Cindy Gerard, both of whom I've been devouring books by since I first discovered them.  I've probably read all of Cindy Gerard's romantic suspense books, and I've read all but a couple of Laura Griffin's work.

 

 

Task 4


Treat yourself to a slice of poppy seed cake and post a photo. If you want to make it yourself, try out this recipe: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/poppy-seed-cake/ … or this one: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1629633/lemon-and-poppy-seed-cake
-- Also SKIPPING this one --

I'm not feeling up for poppy seed cake.

 

 

Book Task


Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover.
-- COMPLETED 12/17/2018 --

 


Well, after some thought I decided to go ahead and claim The Woman Left Behind for this door.  I finished reading this book on 11/11/18.  I'd been wanting to read some more books before making my decision, but that's probably not going to happen.  The characters in this book are part of a special ops, paramilitary unit, so I figure it counts.

My review is linked above, via the book title.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-5-armistice.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 19: Festivus

 

 

(December 23)

 

 

Updates


12/18/2018:  Completed Tasks 1 and 4.  Skipping Task 2.  Working on Task 3.  I may not read anything for this door either.

 

 

Task 1


It’s the annual airing of grievances!  Time to list the top 5 books that disappointed you the most this year and let us know why!
-- COMPLETED 12/18/2018 --

*The book's title will link to my review if I wrote one.

 

Midnight Sacrifice (Midnight #2)
by Melinda Leigh
-- As it stands so far, this is the lowest rated book I have read this year in 2018.  The truth is that it wasn't entirely as horrible as I probably made it out to seem, but a TSTL heroine and a TSTL community, was probably the last straw in a year where I've been through on-and-off-again reading slumps, as well as a lot of pretty bad books.

 

 

This Wicked Gift (Carhart #0.5 - novella)
by Courtney Milan
-- After reading so many great books by Courtney Milan, I suppose I was a little dumbstruck by the way the story and romance in this novella was handled.  I just couldn't with this one.  I also used this book as a part of another Festive Task: International Day for Tolerance, Task 1.

 

 

Get Well Soon
by Jennifer Wright
-- I guess I was really very disappointed with this book because I'd hyped it up so much prior to the start of our Flat Book Society read.  It's not like I'd studied a lot about plagues, but I DO have a passing knowledge in medicine and science, and it was a huge disappointment that this book was more sensational anecdotes than medical or scientific knowledge of the plagues it purports to be about.  Also the supposed witticisms and the pop culture references actually turned me off more than related the book to me.

 

 

The Splendour Falls
by Susanna Kearsley / narrated by Barbara Rosenblat
-- I guess the more you find you love an author (for whatever reason) the easier it is to be super disappointed when a book doesn't hold up to the standards you've placed that author on.  I really shouldn't be feeling this way with Kearsley, especially not after only reading two other of her books.  She has excellent writing style (even in this book), but I couldn't quite help it.  It was like a feeling of knowing she has better work out there, but this particular one slipped through somehow.

The book was just so, so boring.  And the heroine just HAD to be a speshul snowflake.  Yikes!

 

 

Secret Admirer
by Cynthia Eden
-- Honestly, I still don't understand why this book was such a big disappointment to me, because ever since the Deadly trilogy by Cynthia Eden, I have yet to be able to find another book by hers I've enjoyed as much.  At some point, you stop trying to find another good book by a once-liked author.  I guess the creepy cover and the potential from the summary made me hope that this would be the one.

As I state in my review, Secret Admirer was just a sad, rehashing of another book Eden had already written years ago that didn't need to be written.

 

 

Task 2


Take a picture of your Festivus Pole (and remember this is a family site).
-- PROBABLY GONNA SKIP --

No reason.  I just don't have a Festivus Pole.

 

 

Task 3


Have your household scales perform a feat of strength: Place 10 of your heaviest books in a stack on your scales and tell us what their total weight comes to.
-- WORK IN PROGRESS --

I'm going to come back to this one later.  This requires some shuffling through my shelves.

 

 

Task 4


Google the word “Festivus” and tell us or take a screenshot of what you see at the left border of the results page.
-- COMPLETED 12/18/2018--

Hah!  This task is like, a free point, right?  =D

 


I probably could have cropped my screenshots a little better, as that middle one is a little out off, but whatevs!  This looks great!

 

 

Book Task


Read any comedy, parody, or satire
-- UNDER CONSIDERATION --

No book chosen yet.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-19-festivus.html
24 Festive Tasks | Update #5

 

 

I do believe that since my last update (which feels like a very, very long time ago), I've completed A LOT of new tasks!

I finally finished reading Jurassic Park and Midnight Sacrifice, (for Dia de los Muertos and Thanksgiving, respectively) thus adding to my completed Book Tasks.  On top of that, I decided to go ahead and claim two other books for two more doors--I kind of have a feeling that, at the rate I'm reading, I will probably not get to all of the books I very much want to read for this game.  So, the books I've already read since November, I'm going to go ahead and insert them into whatever Book Task they will fit.

Dim Sum of All Fears has been claimed for Human Rights Day Book Task, and The Woman Left Behind has been claimed for Armistice Day.

Meanwhile, I discovered that I'd been counting all of my Melbourne Cup Day Non-book Tasks as complete, when I had yet to complete all of them.  I had the task marked complete on my tracking board, but in fact, I never actually updated the original post to reflect that--this has been rectified, and a new update has been posted to the main door post.  Task 3 is officially completed.

I've updated the Thanksgiving post to also reflect another completed non-book task, Task 3.

New door completions include:  Sinterklass (Tasks 1 & 4); Human Rights Day (Tasks 1, 2, 3, as well as book task mentioned above); St. Lucia's Day (Task 4); and Yuletide (Tasks 1, 2, 3).

With the revealing of the last seven door's non-book tasks, I will probably have a lot more posts rolling out this week, and possibly one last update before wrapping up as the end of the month draws near!

 

 

The Festive Card:

 

 

Peek-a-Boo Penni Claus = Completed Book Task
Magnetic "Elfin" Monkey = Completed Non-Book Tasks

 

 

My Progress:


Overall Total Points Earned:  55
Books Read:  7
Tasks Completed:  48

Previous Update Posts:
24 Festive Tasks | Ani's Tracking Post Randomness
24 Festive Tasks | Update #1
24 Festive Tasks | It's Monday! Style - Random Book Update #1
24 Festive Tasks | Update #2
24 Festive Tasks | Update #3
24 Festive Tasks | It's Monday! Style - Random Book Update #2
24 Festive Tasks | Update #4


Current Tasks:

  • Door 14 | Hanukkah Task 2 -- Looking for more candles...
  • Door 23 | Hogswatch Book Task -- Reading The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
  • Door 12 | St. Andrew's Day Book Task -- Reading Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming


**For my own sanity purposes, I will link the main post for each door at the top of each table.  All tasks listed under 'My Activity' will more than likely be found at the main post; otherwise, the link will be included for that particular task if a separate post is published outside of the main post, such as book reviews.  Thanks!**

 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico. Read:
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
12/10/2018
Task 1 Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice. -- SKIP-- I don't poem... XX
Task 2 Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one). Posted Activity:
Two epitaphs found - one with Kay's fudge recipe
11/04/2018
Task 3 Create an altar (either digital or physical) for your favorite book, series, or book character, and post a picture of it. Inclusion of book cover encouraged. -- SKIP -- No ideas for this one XX
Task 4 If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it. Posted Activity:
Tamales at home for lunch!
11/10/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning. Possible Reads:
-- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
-- Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
TBA
Task 1 Burn a book in effigy. Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)? Posted:
Chose book: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
11/05/2018
Task 2 List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books. Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst. Posted:
1) Burning; 2) Defacing; 3) Borrowing and not returning, or returning damaged
11/05/2018
Task 3 Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe for food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off). Posted:
Korean BBQ for the wins!
11/05/2018
Task 4 Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea). -- Will probably SKIP this one -- XX

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book About horses or a horse on the cover. Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia. Possible Reads:
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
TBA
Task 1 Pick your ponies! MbD will post the horses scheduled to race as soon as they’re released; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order). Finished Activity:
Horses chosen / Winners announced / no bonus points
11/06/2018
Task 2 Cup day is all about the hats. Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not. Posted:
My cadet hat and my 'This is my happy face' hat!
11/06/2018
Task 3 The coloring of the “horse of a different color” in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was created by rubbing the horse’s fur with jello. What’s the weirdest use of jello you’ve ever come across? Posted:
Jello as hair dye.  A short memory from high school
12/17/2018
Task 4 Have you ever been to or participated in a competition involving horses (racing, jumping, dressage, whatever)? Tell us about it. Photos welcome, too! Posted Activity:
My first horse track racing experience in Dallas!
11/06/2018

 


 

Door 4:  Diwali (November 7)
Total Points Earned:  2

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title; OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series) Possible Read:
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
TBA
Task 1 Share a picture of your favorite light display. -- Gonna just SKIP -- XX
Task 2 Cleaning is a big part of this holiday; choose one of your shelves, real or virtual, and tidy / organise it.  Give us the before and after photos. OR Tidy up 5 of the books on your BookLikes shelves by adding the CORRECT cover, and/or any other missing information.  (If in doubt, see here: State of the Database: BookLikes database, Halloween Bingo, and a mini-rant - with pictures.). -- Probably going to SKIP this one -- XX
Task 3 Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali. Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us. Posted Activity:
So many sweet soups!
11/25/2018
Task 4 During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower.  Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images. Posted Activity:
Five books with young women holding flower; found with some difficulty, but successful!
11/08/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover. Read on 11/11/18 / retroactively claimed:
The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard
12/17/2018
Task 1 Using book covers (real or virtual), create a close approximation of your country’s flag (either of residence or birth), OR a close approximation of a poppy. Take a pic of your efforts and post. Posted Activitiy:
The Penni Book Cover Poppy!!  With Monkey, too!
11/13/2018
Task 2 Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year. -- SKIPPING this one -- XX
Task 3 Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by which author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)? Posted:
Jayne Ann Krentz / Honorable Mention goes to Jill Shalvis
11/13/2018
Task 4 Treat yourself to a slice of poppy seedcake and post a photo. If you want to make it yourself, try out this recipe:
Poppy Seed Cake @ tastesbetterfromscratch.com
… or this one:
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake @ bbcgoodfood.com
-- SKIPPING this one too -- XX

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone. (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.) OR Read a book set in Paris. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it. Posted Activity:
Chose book, This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
11/19/2018
Task 2 Tell us: What are the tropes (up to 5) that you are not willing to live with in any book (i.e., which are absolutely beyond your capacity for tolerance) and which make that book an automatic DNF for you? (Insta-love? Love triangles? First person present narrative voice? Talking animals? The dog dies? What else?) Posted Activity:
Long-winded talk about 5 tropes -- see main post
11/19/2018
Task 3 The International Day for Tolerance is a holiday declared by an international organization (UNESCO). Create a charter (humorous, serious, whatever strikes your fancy) for an international organization of readers. -- Going to SKIP this one -- XX
Task 4 UNESCO is based in Paris. Paris is known for its pastries and its breads: Either find a baker that specializes in pastries and bring home an assortment for your family, or make your own pastries using real butter and share a photo with us. Posted Activity:
French Macaroons!!
11/19/2018

 


 

Door 7:  Mawlid (November 20)
Total Points Earned:  4

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover. Possible Reads:
Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
TBA
Task 1 Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life. Posted:
Prophesies for cleaning and purging!
11/20/2018
Task 2 The Five Pillars of Islam include almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka. Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed? Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you? Posted:
I have donated books to the library and Goodwill!
11/20/2018
Task 3 Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)? Posted:
Messengers chosen: 1) Hedwig / 2) Ponies / 3) GLaDOS... Oh My!
11/20/2018
Task 4 Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader. List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change. Posted:
5 characters listed -- see main door post above
11/20/2018

 


 

Door 8:  Penance Day (November 21)
Total Points Earned:  3

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 “Confess” your book habits. Dog-earring? Laying books face down? Bending back the spines? Skimming? OR: Confess your guilty reading pleasure, or comfort reads. Posted:
Habits confessed!  And also, comfort reads are obviously Romantic Suspense, right?
11/24/2018
Task 2 It’s “Pennants” day according to MbD’s husband: post a picture of your favorite team’s logo / mascot and the last time they’ve won a championship (or not). -- SKIPPING -- COMPLETED
I don't sports... but...
Per our lovely game host, I get to count my 'Team Book Nerd' pennant!
11/24/2018
Task 3 In centuries gone by, penance would often end up in what might be described as a very extended bad hair day (complete with sackcloth and ashes). Tell us: What’s a bad hair day to you – and what (if anything) do you do about it? Posted:
Everyday is a bad hair day.
11/24/2018
Task 4 Early Christian spiritualists would sometimes do penance by spending time in the desert. If you’ve ever visited a desert region (or even live there), post a picture and tell us about it. Alternatively, post a picture of sand dunes (NOT with water in the background!). -- Probably SKIP -- XX

 


 

Door 9:  Thanksgiving (November 22)
Total Points Earned:  5

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story. Read:
Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh
12/09/2018
Task 1 List the 3 books you’ve read this year you’re most “thankful” for (your favs) or the one book you’ve ever read that changed your life for the better. Posted:
Listed books!  Four total instead of three.
11/25/2018
Task 2 Describe your perfect meal. What would you cook for the perfect celebration, or, what would you have your imaginary personal chef cook for you? Posted:
Chinese seafood banquet feast!
11/25/2018
Task 3 Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”. Posted:
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright // Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts
12/13/2018
Task 4 Show us your 2018 book “harvest” – the books you newly acquired this year, regardless whether bought, received as gift or in whichever other way. Posted:
About 20+ books listed
11/25/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Make a paper boat and post a picture of it. Instructions, if needed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiAWx8odStA Posted Activity:
Fleet of ships!
And a Supplementary Post!
11/26/2018
Task 2 If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it. -- SKIP! --
I've never attended one of these.
XX
Task 3 Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season. Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading? Photos welcome! Posted:
Any books! But especially Rom-Suspense. With hot tea and sweets.
11/26/2018
Task 4 Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”? Posted:
Characters/books chosen - see main post.
11/26/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book set in Russia, or involving a story within a story / play within a play (like the Russian matryoshka dolls stuck inside each other), or where a key character (not necessarily the protagonist) is a mother. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Tell us: What is the mother of all writerly sins in your book (tropes, grammar mistakes, telling instead of showing, etc.)? Posted:
The sin: Not respecting the craft.
12/01/2018
Task 2 Do you have a favorite Mothers’ Day memory that you are happy to share? Photos welcome but optional. Posted:
A random Mothers' Day memory.
12/01/2018
Task 3 Perhaps the best-known scene in the James Bond novel and film From Russia With Love is 007 being poisoned by Russian agent Rosa Klebb with a venom-laced blade hidden in her shoe. Tell us: Have you ever owned any particular / outrageous / funny / best-beloved or otherwise special pair of shoes?  Post a photo if you should still own them. Posted:
Oh my, shoes!  I love shoes!  I have a lot of shoes!
12/01/2018
Task 4 Make a traditional Russian dish like borscht, blintzes, pirogi or solyanka soup, and share a picture with us. Find recipe suggestions here: https://www.expatica.com/ru/about/Top-10-Russian-foods-and-recipes_108678.html In Progress:
Going to try this one.
TBA

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Andrew was the first apostle; read the first book in a series.  OR: Andrew and Peter were brothers; read a book about brothers.  OR: Read books about or set in Scotland or by a Scottish author, or set in Charleston, South Carolina (which is where the celebrations as we know them today began – by a group of Scottish expats – according to scotland.org). Current Read:
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
TBA
Task 1 Nominate someone for sainthood.  Who?  Why? -- SKIP -- XX
Task 2 St Andrew is revered in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, where he worked as a Christian missionary, long before his relics were brought to Scotland centuries later. – Tell us: Is there a book (regardless whether fiction or nonfiction) for which you would basically walk up to strangers and tell them: “Read this!”? What would you say and do to get people to read that particular book? Posted Thoughts:
I'm not likely to recommend books, to be honest.
12/06/2018
Task 3 Legend has it that the saltire or St. Andrew’s cross (white on an azure background) – which constitutes the national flag of Scotland – originated as a cloud formation, symbolizing St. Andrew’s being crucified on an X-shaped cross rather than an upright one.  Do you have any pictures of unusual cloud formations?  If so, share them with us! -- Gonna SKIP -- XX
Task 4 The town of St. Andrews, where the saint’s bones ended up in the course of the spread of Christianity to Scotland, is also famous for its golf course and tournament.  List your 3 favorite books where golf is key to the plot. -- SKIP, most likely -- XX

 


 

Door 13:  Advent (December 1)
Total Points Earned:  2

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title. Possible Reads:
Devil in the Deadline by LynDee Walker
TBA
Task 1 Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade. Posted:
It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere!
12/06/2018
Task 2 The holidays season is in full swing – tell us: What’s your favorite tradition? Posted:
No real traditions...
12/06/2018
Task 3 The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing). Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy! Possible Activities:
I might try this one at some point.  =D
TBA
Task 4 Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it. Instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw83CCa2cg -- SKIP, SKIP, SKIP! --
Nope, nope, nope...
XX

 


 

Door 14:  Hanukkah (December 2 - 10)
Total Points Earned:  4

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book about light, miracles, characters who are Jewish or books set in Israel. OR: Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in the second century; read the second book in a series or a book with the word “second” or “two” in the title. Read on 11/10/18 / retroactively claimed:
Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire
12/01/2018
Task 1 Have you had any miracles in your life?  (Kids are a given.)  Just enough change for tolls?  Just enough gas to get you to the station?  Been tragically late for a flight only to find the flight was even more tragically delayed?  Nothing is too small - share your miracles with us! Posted:
Lots of miracles.
12/07/2018
Task 2 Light 9 candles each representing something you’re thankful for (share a picture with us; sharing anything else is optional). In Progress:
Need more candles...
TBA
Task 3 Have a donut – and let us share it via a photo. Homemade donuts and shared recipes encouraged … but any donut will do just fine. Posted:
Had a donut!  It was chocolate!
12/07/2018
Task 4 A miracle crucial to Hanukkah is the Miracle of the cruse of oil, which concerns a jug of oil that (ostensibly) only contained enough oil for a single day, but miraculously turned out to last all of eight days. – Miracles aside, tell us: Have you ever experienced that something you had bought or you owned lasted a lot longer than anticipated … or where you expected a shortage which then fortuitously didn’t occur after all? Posted:
Work place supplies... and at home everlasting conditioner.
12/07/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book with an orange or red cover or with nuts, chocolate or coins on the cover, set in The Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with canals or beer on the cover. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Write a book wish list to St. Nick. Posted:
One big list, coming right up!
12/11/2018
Task 2 You are King / Queen for the day and can have 3 ‘wishes’: one for yourself, one for your community (however you define it), and one for the world: What are they? -- Possible SKIP -- XX
Task 3 If your holiday family traditions should include bowls or plates filled with gingerbread, cookies, oranges / tangerines, chocolate, nuts and the like, share a photo with us! -- Possible SKIP -- XX
Task 4 List your 3 favorite books involving children being rescued from serious peril. Posted:
Including: 'The Graveyard Book', 'Ghost Bride' & 'Seraphina'
12/11/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book with strong female characters, or written by an author from any minority group; any story about a minority overcoming their oppressors either individually or as a group. OR: A book set in New York City. Read on 11/27/18 / retroactively claimed:
Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien
12/17/2018
Task 1 Book hunt for human rights: Search your shelves for books with titles containing human rights words such as (but not limited to): hope, friendship, equality, justice, love, liberty, etc. Put them in a stack and take a picture for posting. (5 book minimum). Posted:
The shelf of 'Love' posted!
12/18/2018
Task 2 This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Find 3 books on your shelves with protagonists or other key characters who are -- or can reasonably be assumed to be -- 70 years or older. Posted:
Books include: 'Jurassic Park', 'Harry Potter', and 'The Shadowy Horses'
12/12/2018
Task 3 The symbol of Human Rights Day is the dove, which in its incarnation as a homing pigeon is also renowned for its navigational skills. – Tell us: Did you ever get so thoroughly lost (either in the days before GPS or because GPS, for whatever reason, was of no use to you) that you wished you had a homing pigeon to guide you? Posted:
Lost in Kansas City... but not really... in which the GPS gets us lost.
12/12/2018
Task 4 Human Rights Day was declared by the U.N. General Assembly, whose seat is in New York City. Treat yourself to a Manhattan (classic recipe: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/manhattan-2/; virgin [non-alcoholic] recipes: https://www.anallievent.com/virgin-manhattan/, http://www.1001cocktails.com/recipes/mixed-drinks/800238/cocktail-virgin-manhattan.html, and https://www.liquor.com/recipes/not-manhattan/) or to a bagel or pastrami sandwich and share a photo with us. Planned Activity:
Maybe a bagel or a non-alcoholic Manhattan.
TBA

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, or by a Northern European / Nordic author, or a book newly released in November or December of this year. Planned Read:
Cold Dark Places by Kylie Brant
TBA
Task 1 In honor of the Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið / Yule Book Flood tradition, create a (virtual or physical) “book flood” and post a picture of it. Possible Activities:
Work in progress
TBA
Task 2 Bake a Swedish lussebulle (saffron bun – instructions and recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWSs-vQX0AI) or prepare some other dish containing saffron. -- Possible SKIP -- XX
Task 3 Create a “crown of light” from book covers prominently featuring a lighted candle. Possible Activities:
Work in progress
TBA
Task 4 Guess (scout’s honor, NO GOOGLING!): Did the Gävle Goat survive this year?  For background: The Gävle Goat is a straw effigy erected in Gävle, Sweden, every year at the beginning of Advent.  It is infamous for being burned down ahead of time, which as of Advent 2017 has happened in 37 of the 51 years of the tradition’s existence. – The Yule goat lore in turn goes back all the way to the Norse myths, where the god Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats, and to ancient Indo-European and proto-Slavic beliefs according to which the harvest god appeared in the shape of a goat.  Possibly, it is also linked with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven sled. Posted:
My guess is that it did not survive (I didn't Google anything!), based on the odds that it seems to have been burned down more times than not.
TBA

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book that takes place in December; OR with ice or snow on the cover; OR that revolves around the (summer or winter) equinox; OR a collection of poetry by Hafez Read:
Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh
11/17/2018
Task 1 Bibliomancy: Grab one of your larger books and flip to the indicated page and line number to answer the following questions - then post those answers for us:
(See the questions in the main post linked above.)
Posted:
See Main Door Post for questions and answers.
Used The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.
12/17/2018
Task 2 Tell us: What book did you read this year that felt like it was never going to end? Posted:
The book I thought would never end: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
12/17/2018
Task 3 Round up a herd of reindeer on book covers and in book illustrations. Posted:
Reindeer herded!
12/17/2018
Task 4 Treat yourself to a bûche de Noel (French Yule log cake) – if you want to try and make it yourself, see recipe here: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/buche-de-noel-recipe. -- SKIP -- XX

 


 

Door 19:  Festivus (December 23)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any comedy, parody, or satire Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 It’s the annual airing of grievances! Time to list the top 5 books that disappointed you the most this year and let us know why! Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 Take a picture of your Festivus Pole (and remember this is a family site). Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 Have your household scales perform a feat of strength: Place 10 of your heaviest books in a stack on your scales and tell us what their total weight comes to. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 Google the word “Festivus” and tell us or take a screenshot of what you see at the left border of the results page. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 20:  Christmas (December 25)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any Christmas book. Planned Read:
'How the Dukes Stole Christmas' anthology
TBA
Task 1 Post a picture of your Christmas decorations. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 Tell us: If you could share Christmas dinner with any author (dead or alive), who would it be? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 Watch a favorite Christmas movie. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 Create or recreate a short text relating to Christmas (poem, carol, wish list, season’s greetings, etc.) from the titles of books on your bookshelves. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 21:  Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean; OR by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author; OR a book with a green, red, or black cover. Possible Reads:
-- 'Tower of Thorns' by Juliet Marillier
-- 'Den of Wolves' by Juliet Marillier
TBA
Task 1 “Africa” was originally the name of the Roman province originating from the North African empire of Carthage, which was mythologically founded by Queen Dido and blossomed into Ancient Rome’s only lasting opponent and nemesis (until it was finally conquered by Rome in the Punic Wars). So: who are your five favorite book heroes and their respective nemeses? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 In Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, the “Finis Africae” is the hidden center of the labyrinth which constitutes the monastery’s library, protected by a number of intricate, misdirecting devices. Tell us: Where have you recently encountered clever misdirection or a labyrinthine plot in a book? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 Tell us: If you could travel to Africa (for those living on the African continent: to a part of Africa that you don’t know yet): Where would you want to go? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 Have a meal involving vegetables (= crops) and / or corn, or another form of traditional Kwanzaa dinner. Recipe suggestions here: https://kwanzaaculinarians.com/ Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 22:  New Year's Eve (December 31)
Total Points Earned:  1

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM! Read:
'The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs' by Steve Brusatte
11/06/2018
Task 1 Your 2019 Book Goals: what are they? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 2018 Reading Year in Review. Tell us about your year in books: happy? disappointed? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 New Year’s Book Lottery: Write the names of the first 5 books you’re planning to read in 2019 onto identical pieces of paper, fold them, place them in a bowl (or bucket, jar, box, etc.), and draw one to determine the very first book you’re going to start in the new year. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 Find a bakery that sells Krapfen (German deep-fried sweet dough dumplings) or make them yourself (recipe here: https://germangirlinamerica.com/rheinische-ol-krapfen-new-year/) and enjoy with a glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly drink – but first, take and post a photo of them! Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 23:  Hogswatch (December 32)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read anything by Terry Pratchett Planned Read:
'The Light Fantastic' by Terry Pratchett
TBA
Task 1 glingleglingleglingle – if you could wish any kind of god(dess) into existence, what would they be in charge of? Dusting? Weeding? We’re not aiming high here… tell us! Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 Tell us: Did you or any kids you know ever have a funny or weird (the good sort of weird) encounter with a department store Santa, um, Hogfather? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 Which children’s myth / mythical character (Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc.) did you never believe in even when you were little? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 Discworld features a number of inventions that mirror our world’s technology but work according to Discworld’s very own specifications; e.g., Hex, the ant-powered sapient thinking machine (computer) and a demon-powered picture box (camera). What other invention from our world would you have liked to see appearing in Discworld and how might it have worked there? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 24:  Epiphany (January 6)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book with three main characters; OR a book about traveling on a journey to a faraway place; OR a book that's part of a trilogy; OR with a star on the cover; OR with the word "twelve" or "night" in the title; OR concerning kings or spices Possible Read:
'Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
TBA
Task 1 Tell us: What’s your favorite trilogy? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 Chalking the door is an Epiphany tradition in some places, to bless a home for the coming year. Different patterns exist, with different meanings. If you could create your own pattern to bless your house next year, what would it look like? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 Compile a post containing one image for every gift mentioned / added in each new verse of The Twelve Days of Christmas (lyrics here: https://www.41051.com/xmaslyrics/twelvedays.html). Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 Prepare your favorite spicy dish or holiday drink containing spices and share a photo. Also sharing the recipe is optional but welcome! Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-update-5.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 16: Human Rights Day

 

 

(December 10)

 

 

Updates


12/18/2018:  Updated with completion of Task 1, and retroactive claiming of Dim Sum of All Fears for the Book Task.  (+ 2 more points!)

12/12/2018:  Completed Tasks 2 & 3, with a Book Task being chosen pending my mood and the last door reveal.

 

 

Task 1


Book hunt for human rights: Search your shelves for books with titles containing human rights words such as (but not limited to): hope, friendship, equality, justice, love, liberty, etc.  Put them in a stack and take a picture for posting.  (5 book minimum).
-- COMPLETED 12/18/2018 --

Apparently this task was a little harder than I thought it would be.  Most of my physical bookshelf books are all Romantic Suspense with some random YA or fairy tale retellings.  And somehow none of these books have even the example words listed above.  We're either looking at words like dead or dark or a lot of other stuff.

I found three books with the word love, but that's it.  I might go through my digital shelves for a look see and maybe update later.

Updated 12/18/18:

Alright!  Here are my shelves of love... and some other books!

 

 

 

Task 2


This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Find 3 books on your shelves with protagonists or other key characters who are -- or can reasonably be assumed to be -- 70 years or older.
-- COMPLETED 12/11/2018 --

This was not an easy task, but I was determined that I had read at least one or two books wherein a key character is surely 70+ years old--I was sure none of my books had a main protagonist who is even 70 years old.  Upon further searching, I found out that at least one book I've read had a protagonist who is 70+ years, but the book switches back and forth through time wherein we see the main protagonist as a young girl (Kate Morton's House at Riverton)... so I wasn't sure how well this one counted.

Fortunately, I DID come up with at least two books off the top of my head.  Being that I read mostly YA for a long time, there weren't a whole lot of main protagonists over the age of twenty.  Even the romance novels I read only have protagonists in the 20 to 40 age range.  So I'm lucky to have found a third book to list.

Unless of course, I decided to go with those eternally youthful looking, yet obviously hundreds of years old characters like vampires, fairies, or demons, oh my!  My second pick might be stretching it a little bit.

 


1.  Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
 -- Recently listening this book, there was a monologue by our powerful, foolish, rich multi-millionaire, John Hammond, stating that he is 76 years old.  He's a pretty essential key character in this book, as the man who created Jurassic Park.

2.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling -- I Googled "how old is Dumbledore" and got the response "about 150 years old" (though other sources mention that he was truly 115 years old when he died).  Either way, this book (as well as the rest of the Harry Potter books) will do, because I figured that he's pretty old anyway... so it counts, right?

3.  The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsely -- Not a main character, but a key character, Peter Quinnell is the old archaeologist who offers the main heroine, Verity, a position on his dig in Scotland.  He's present throughout the book and is quite adamant that there is something to find.

 

 

Task 3


The symbol of Human Rights Day is the dove, which in its incarnation as a homing pigeon is also renowned for its navigational skills. – Tell us: Did you ever get so thoroughly lost (either in the days before GPS or because GPS, for whatever reason, was of no use to you) that you wished you had a homing pigeon to guide you?
-- COMPLETED 12/11/2018 --

I don't think that I actually wished for a homing pigeon as much as just for somewhere I could stop and ask for directions.  My friends and I were driving around on a weekend vacation one time in Kansas City, at least ten or so years ago, and realized after the second pass through a familiar highway that we didn't know where we were going.  This was a time before Google maps was a thing, and your few options in GPS included the infamous, yet quite useless (IMO) Garmin.

Unless you update Garmin for a pretty expensive fee, you don't get a lot of in date information on highways or any roads or new businesses.  And of course, the Garmin my friend had in her car didn't have those nifty little "there is heavy traffic coming up, here is an alternate route."  I'm sure Garmin has become more advanced and user friendly, but I don't know that, since I've just stuck with Google maps at present.

And so there was one particular morning, while trying to find a certain mall where we could do some window shopping, we couldn't find the right exit.  There were a couple times where the GPS would tell us to turn off at a certain exit that wasn't actually there, or was closed off due to construction.  We ended up outside of the main city and had to try programming the hotel's address again in order to get back.

The truth is, yes we were a bunch of ignorant young kids who had no sense of direction.  And I hadn't gotten a chance to print off a bunch of maps and directions to other possible locations to go to.  We were completely reliant and dependent on my friend's Garmin GPS system.  And it wasn't taking us where we'd intended to go in the first place.  I think we even started joking that my friend had ignored enough of the Garmin's directions in the past that it finally got fed up with her and decided to just take her out into the middle of nowhere and leave us all for dead.

On the other hand, as my brother has recently told me, Kansas City randomly adds and takes away freeway lanes and exits.  He hadn't really lived there for very long, but he said it took him a long time to even figure out how to get around town because there was always construction somewhere as another entrance or exit or highway was added to one route or another.

In a way, the constantly updated Google maps might have been a bit more useful to us.


Though in contrast, there was that one time that my best friend and I were in danger of getting lost if I hadn't just turned back around and tried to back track.  We were in Colorado and had just left the Cliff Dwellings where I stupidly didn't realize that my Google maps would not work in the mountains.  It took me a while to realize that, well duh, cell service wasn't going to be available, ergo, no data and no Google maps.  Surprisingly, this was one time that the old Garmin I'd had in my car at the time actually came in useful since it didn't run on cell service data, but actually picked up satellite.

 

 

Task 4


Human Rights Day was declared by the U.N. General Assembly, whose seat is in New York City.  Treat yourself to a Manhattan (classic recipe: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/manhattan-2/ ; virgin [non-alcoholic] recipes: https://www.anallievent.com/virgin-manhattan/ , http://www.1001cocktails.com/recipes/mixed-drinks/800238/cocktail-virgin-manhattan.html and https://www.liquor.com/recipes/not-manhattan/ ) or to a bagel or pastrami sandwich and share a photo with us.
-- POST TO COME --

I will probably try to do this one.  If I don't do a Manhattan, I might do a bagel.  I'm not really big on hard liquor, so it'll be a guess as to whether I go for the classic Manhattan recipe or the non-alcoholic one.

 

 

Book Task


Read any book with strong female characters, or written by an author from any minority group; any story about a minority overcoming their oppressors either individually or as a group. OR: A book set in New York City.
-- COMPLETED 12/17/2018 --

 


I will be claiming Dim Sum of All Fears, finished reading on 11/27/2018 for this door.  At the rate that I'm going in my reading life, I don't know how many other books I'll be able to read the rest of the game.  Anyway, Vivien Chien is a Taiwanese-American author, so this book will fit.

The book title is linked to my review.  Enjoy!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-16-human-rights.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 3: Melbourne Cup Day

 

 

(November 6)

 

 

Updates


12/17/2018:  Well... I thought I'd finished all four non-book tasks for this door, but in fact, I did not post that last one about the Jello.  I tracked it as completed... but I never actually completed it.  So... it's here now!  And no, it's not some great reveal of an update, it was just something simple I recalled after talking to some friends as a very short update.  So... moving along now.

11/06/2018:  Ahh... two down!  I'm already doing MUCH better than I did last year.  And I've only really finished reading one book for a different task!  =D

 

 

Task 1


Pick your ponies! MbD will post the horses scheduled to race as soon as they’re released; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).
-- COMPLETED 11/06/2018 --

So here is the link to MbD's Melbourne Cup Day announcement; also where to choose your horses!


24 Festive Tasks: Door 3 ... Wait! What Happened to Door 2?

In light of the fact that the door wasn't to be revealed until the day of the race, we were given a sneak peak of this first task in order to be able to choose our horses ahead of time.  And so here are the horses I had chosen for this task with hopes that I have better luck than... well... any time, really.

Horses chosen: 1) Sound Check / 2) Zacada / 3) Rostropovich

These choices were based on a very scientifically complex strategy of "Eenie Meenie Miney Moe" and "This like the sound of this name!"

Here is the final winning line-up of the race itself:
24 Tasks of the Festive Season: Melbourne Cup Day RESULTS

Winning horses:  1st - Cross Counter / 2nd - Marmelo / 3rd - A Prince of Arran

So... drat.  No points were earned by yours truly this round.

Edited update:  We DID earn one point for participation!

 

 

Task 2


Cup day is all about the hats.  Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.
-- COMPLETED 11/06/2018 --

I don't really like to wear hats if only because I always get a gnarly case of hat hair that I can never fix--so it's either wear the hat always until I get a chance to see a mirror and a brush, or wear no hats.  Of course, you always want the things you can't have, so I DO have a couple hats that I love, even if I never find a chance to wear them.

 

Well, hello there Penni!  Trying to wear my hat, are you?


I got the black one at a Japanese general store in Dallas called Daiso, where they sell everything for pretty much under $5.  It's a little hard to tell, but it's a cadet style hat rather than a baseball cap.  I liked it a lot, wore it out twice, and it's been sitting on Blue Bear's head ever since we got home from our vacation in May.

The other hat I got at Disney World and instantly fell in love with it, if only because I immediately took to the "This is my happy face" quote.  XD

 

 

Task 3


The coloring of the “horse of a different color” in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was created by rubbing the horse’s fur with jello.  What’s the weirdest use of jello you’ve ever come across?
-- COMPLETED 12/17/2018 --

After talking to some friends about this game, my BFF reminded me about high school where some of our friends used to dye their hair with Jello.  Apparently there was something about how the color of Jello mix worked really well, and washed out easily or something like that.  I can't confirm the legitimacy of this since I never tried it myself.

But this would be the weirdest use of Jello I'd ever heard of.

And of course, all those Jello Salad posts from before...

 

 

Task 4


Have you ever been to or participated in a competition involving horses (racing, jumping, dressage, whatever)?  Tell us about it.  Photos welcome, too!
-- COMPLETED 11/06/2018 --

Unfortunately, I don't really have any good pictures, but I went to a horse track for the very first time in May this year when my parents, brothers, and I visited my elder brother in Dallas!  Yay for completing tasks without realizing it!

These are the best pictures I was able to get though.

 

 


We weren't in the best spot, but it was still an interesting experience.  We won a couple dollars and lost a lot more, and I learned a bunch of new terms... that I promptly forgot about what it means for different combinations of horses to win.  I'm recalling terminology like 'Trifecta' and 'Exacta'; and that 'Show' just means the horse you chose to 'Show' places at all?  Goodness, I should have been taking better notes.

But it's the fun that counts, right?

 

 

Book Task


About horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.
-- PLANNED READ  --

 


I probably won't get to this one before the end of the game, but this would be a perfect book for this door!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-3-melbourne-cup.html
24 Festive Task | Door 18: Winter Solstice / Yuletide

 

 

(December 21)

 

 

Updates


12/17/2018:  Three out of four non-book tasks is fine by me, plus the book task, gives me four points for this square!  Woot!

 

 

Task 1


Bibliomancy: Grab one of your larger books and flip to the indicated page and line number to answer the following questions - then post those answers for us:
-- COMPLETED 12/17/2018 --

I've got several huge tomes sitting on the shelf next to my desk, but the closest one was The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, a large collection of short stories and poems.  I think this one will work just fine!

It's either this one or Lord of the Rings, and I'm not feeling like cracking that one open...


A. Will I read all the books on my TBR? (page 378, line 29)

"...followed him immediately upon securing the object in view."
-- from The Purloined Letter

I'm going to take this as a good sign...


B. Will any of my 2019 reads be 5 stars? (page 227, line 31)

"...the fate of the Ourang-Outang.  The words heard by the party upon..."
-- from The Murders on the Rue Morgue

The fate of the Ourang-Outang, huh?  I don't recall the ape's fate being all that great, but I could be wrong.  Maybe there's another interpretation for this.


C. Will I discover a new favorite book / author / series? (page 309, line 23)

"...with a presentiment of some vast good fortune impending."
-- from The Gold Bug

Ooh!  This sounds promising!


D. Will I discover that a major twist (hopefully, for the [even] better) has occurred in one of my favorite series? (page 459, line 16)

"Augustus led the way to the wharf, and I followed at a little distance,"
-- from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

Who is Augustus and will he be leading me towards major story plot twists for the better?  (Note: I have not read this one yet, so I could probably benefit from some context.)


E. Will I finish all of my reading challenges in 2019? (page 69, line 7)

"...admiration of their eloquent madness, but from the ease with which my..."
-- from MS. Found in a Bottle

I have a feeling this means I probably shouldn't participate in too many challenges?


F. Will I stay within my book budget in 2019? (page 98, line 5)

"...I have derived a type of unloveliness?--from the covenant of peace,"
-- from Berenice

I take that as a resounding 'no.'  O.o

 

 

Task 2


Tell us: What book did you read this year that felt like it was never going to end?
-- COMPLETED 12/17/2018 --

 


Definitely this one.  This the first book that came to mind, because I DO honestly recall wondering to myself on a few occasions how much more I had to read until the end.  There have been other books I'd read that were probably worse than this one, but some of those were easily breezed through.

This one DEFINITELY felt like it was going on forever.

 

 

Task 3


Round up a herd of reindeer on book covers and in book illustrations.
-- COMPLETED 12/17/2018 --

 


Okie-doke!  We've got our reindeer herded up and ready to go looking for that Missing Reindeer with Olive the Other Reindeer leading the way...  Except the Little Reindeer--why aren't you harnessed up?  And Roger the Reindeer?  What are you doing?

 

 

Task 4


Treat yourself to a bûche de Noel (French Yule log cake) – if you want to try and make it yourself, see recipe here: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/buche-de-noel-recipe.
-- SKIP --

For reasons, this will probably be a skip.  Though I DID buy my parents a Yule log a few years back from one of my favorite local bakeries.  And there's a tangent during my high school years wherein my BFF and I tried to make a Yule log for her French class.  I admit, it didn't come out looking quite like what we'd intended, but apparently her classmates weren't as nice about their criticisms, straight out asking her if it was even edible.

Okay... maybe it looked a bit mushy...

 

 

Book Task


Read any book that takes place in December; OR with ice or snow on the cover; OR that revolves around the (summer or winter) equinox; OR a collection of poetry by Hafez
-- COMPLETED 11/17/2018 --

 


This was a crap book, but it fit in that it was set during December.  I read it earlier in November and so claiming it for this door.  But otherwise, that's all I have to say.  Here's my review.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-task-door-18-winter-solstice.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 17: St. Lucia's Day

 

 

(December 13)

 

 

Updates


12/13/2018:  I'm slowing down more and more on my tasks, but I think I've done quite well this year's game already.  I've announced my guess for the fate of the Gävle Goat (without Googling!), and have chosen a possible book for the Book Task.  The other tasks are under consideration or being worked on, so hopefully more points to come!

 

 

Task 1


In honor of the Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið / Yule Book Flood tradition, create a (virtual or physical) “book flood” and post a picture of it.
-- IN PROGRESS --

I did some searching and reading up about the Yule Book Flood tradition, mainly because I wasn't entirely sure how to create a "book flood."  While I understand the significance of this tradition, this task may take a bit of thought and work.  I'll come back to it later.

 

 

Task 2


Bake a Swedish lussebulle (saffron bun – instructions and recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWSs-vQX0AI) or prepare some other dish containing saffron.
-- PROBABLY WILL JUST SKIP --

Somehow I'm not sure if I'll do this one.  I might find a recipe with saffron in it, but with a few other activities hanging out there involving learning new recipes that I may or may not do, I'm going to file this one on the back burner for now.

 

 

Task 3


Create a “crown of light” from book covers prominently featuring a lighted candle.
-- WORK IN PROGRESS --

I've got some form of idea, but after stretching my imagination with the poppy and the 'Team Book Nerd' pennant, I'm reaching the limits of my art-flexing.  O.O  Will update once I've got something going... and also, finding books with candles on the cover is not easy, apparently.

 

 

Task 4


Guess (scout’s honor, NO GOOGLING!): Did the Gävle Goat survive this year?  For background: The Gävle Goat is a straw effigy erected in Gävle, Sweden, every year at the beginning of Advent.  It is infamous for being burned down ahead of time, which as of Advent 2017 has happened in 37 of the 51 years of the tradition’s existence. – The Yule goat lore in turn goes back all the way to the Norse myths, where the god Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats, and to ancient Indo-European and proto-Slavic beliefs according to which the harvest god appeared in the shape of a goat.  Possibly, it is also linked with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven sled.
-- GUESS MADE ON 12/13/2018 --

I'm going to guess that, no, it did not survive and has been burned down, based on the historical odds.  It looks as if the poor thing has been burned down more times than not (37 out of 51 years of being burned).

And I'm also now super curious about all the different methods that have been used to take down the goat, thanks to Broken Tune's update post.

And now I sit and await the resulting answer!  =D

 

 

Book Task


Set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, or by a Northern European / Nordic author, or a book newly released in November or December of this year.
-- PLANNED READ --

 


Cold Dark Places by Kylie Brant was just released this month, so more than likely I will be reading this one, unless I find something else more interesting.  But since I like Kylie Brant, this book will be fine.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-17-st-lucias-day.html
24 Festive Tasks | Door 9: Thanksgiving Day

 

 

(Fourth Thursday of November | November 22, 2018)

 

 

Updates


12/13/2018:  I was updating this post for the completed Book Task, when I realized that I still had one task I hadn't completed yet.  So I'm finishing off this door!  I finished reading Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh for the Book Task, and filling in Task 3!

11/25/2018:  Completed Tasks 1, 2, and 4.  I might end up skipping Task 3.  And looks like, coincidentally, I'm currently already reading a book that takes place in Maine, so getting the Book Task worked on!

 

 

Task 1


List the 3 books you’ve read this year you’re most “thankful” for (your favs) or the one book you’ve ever read that changed your life for the better.
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

I actually don't have a whole lot of favorites to choose from this year.  I had a really long reading slump, for one, and I read a lot of not-so-great books, for another.

On that note, the books that I'm most thankful for this year:

 


These are, by far, my favorite books read this year, and I'm including both InCryptid novels, just because I loved both.  Deanna Raybourn's A Treacherous Curse was just a wonderful read!  And then, I wanted to include The Name of the Star because reading a great YA novel that I ended up loving made me feel good that there are still other YA novels out there that can entice me.

 

 

Task 2


Describe your perfect meal. What would you cook for the perfect celebration, or, what would you have your imaginary personal chef cook for you?
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

Geez...  This answer could last forever if I wanted to list EVERYTHING I'd ever want a personal chef to cook.  Food is my life, and I'm still discovering more and more favorite foods every day.  So in order for this post to not go on for eternity, here are just a few things I've managed to narrow down to, and one of the biggest, mainly, is one of our Chinese feasts for big celebrations, such as weddings, New Years, and sometimes birthdays.

And because I'm a big lover of seafood, most of these pictures will include things such as the infamous Ginger Scallion Lobster, Seafood Soup, Stuffed Crab Claws, Abalone simmered in Oyster Sauce... like I said, the list could go on.  Let's just look at pictures, shall we?

 

 

 


Aside from Chinese feasts, I'm also a lover of sashimi, so I'd also love an endless chef-made supply of sashimi combo.

 


And finally, to top it all off, my most favorite dessert in the world, Creme Brulee.

 


I'm not asking for much, right?

 

 

Task 3


Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”.
-- COMPLETED 12/13/2018 --

 


The first book that came into mind for this task was Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright, as it certainly had much more tidbit info, not quite about the "world's worst plagues," but just some random anecdotes that may or may not have to do with the particular plague each chapter was covering.

Unfortunately, it pains me to admit this, because I DO like Nora Roberts and what few books I've read of hers so far, but Dance of Gods, the second book in her Circle trilogy was probably even more full of "stuffing."  This is your typical "filler" book masquerading as a second book in a series.  The whole time I felt like it the series could have gone without it--aside from giving a full novel for one of our main couples to have a romance story, and filling the quota for a second book in a trilogy, this book doesn't really do much to forward the story progression.

 

 

Task 4


Show us your 2018 book “harvest” – the books you newly acquired this year, regardless whether bought, received as gift or in whichever other way.
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

In an attempt to keep this post from going on forever (aside from the almost forever foodie task above), I decided to just show a handful of the 40+ newly acquired books in 2018.  Specifically, I'm just going to present the ones I haven't read yet, more or less as a way to make sure I'm aware of all the new books I've added to my TBR.

In no particular order:

 

 

 

Book Task


Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story.
-- COMPLETED 12/09/2018  --

This probably isn't the best book in the world, but I'm currently reading the second book in the Midnight series by Melinda Leigh, which takes place in Maine.

 


This was a crap book.  I tried to give it and the series, a chance after not quite liking the first book, but I couldn't do it.  Here's my review.  The book at least fits into a door, taking place in Maine to fulfill the, "set in New England" part of the task.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-9-thanksgiving-day.html

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