The better to see you, my dear
8/24 Tasks: 21st of November: Day of Penance

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.

 

Oh, my. I do all of those. Plus taking a pencil to those books I own, marking good passages or bad translations.

 

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).

 

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?

 

 

Since I've got the good luck of very fine, straight hair, most of my issues are around frizz and little else. When it's long enough, I just pull it into a bun. It's actually more of a hazzle now that I wear it short, lol.

 

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!).

 

Book:  Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution.

Review
3.5 Stars
Fun romp
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

Very easy and fast read. It would have been the type of book I would have adored as a kid in that liminal space where high reading skills put you beyond children's books but maturity does not really afford you adult reads. So yeah, classic adventures for the win.

 

The devise of telling the story from the third limited of a character other than the Scarlet Pimpernel allows for a show of his BAMF qualities that would have sounded boastful otherwise, so that's another good bit.

 

Most of my gripe comes from the ever moronic woman (I'll leave the political and racial alone this time). We are constantly told she's the cleverest woman in Europe, but either that's a huge fail of informed quality, or the author was taking the mickey on it by drawing a contrast of what the world says of a characters intelligence vs what happens behind curtains of a person's life. Still, the fact that she's absolutely useless and most times an obstacle, continued to bother me. I thought the story would redeem her when she decides to go to France, that we would be shown her being resourceful and clever and see her save the day right alongside the Pimpernel. Hell, for a bit there I was prepared to be blown out of my mind by a turn of the XX century female author writing a woman saving the hero. Alas, no dice.

 

The other bit that is a bit weak (beyond several un-reveals, duh), is the constant over explaining. Orczy does an excellent job of showing the pieces so that you can puzzle it out. It is a pity she wastes pages and belittle her readers intelligence by spelling it all out yet again in expository dialogues and what not.

 

Anyway, if you are not nit-picking like I've been, it is good entertainment.

 

7/24 Tasks: 20th of November: Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif

Task 1:  Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life.

 

I'm moving back to my home-town in 10 days, so everything is a bit up in the air, but:

1- I'll start a vegetable garden

2- I'll sell a lot of stuff (crossing my fingers)

 

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?

 

Beyond practically every public library and book-store I've ever encountered, right?

- Buenos Aires annual International Book Fair: we used to travel 300miles just for a day at it with mom.

- The Ateneo Grand Splendid. As in, people all over the world actually come and see it (lord, I used to live some 10 blocks from it, and passed it almost every-day, and still entered at least twice a month just to bask in the lovely). I mean. look at it:

 

Task 3: Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)?

 

Gandalf (I did mention before that I was a hardcore Tolkien fan before, right?). Hedwig! (yeah, childhood companion book series ftw). Cassiopea from Ende's Momo.

 

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.

 

- Mary Malone from His Dark Materials saga. From nun to quantum phisics doctor... Yeap, that one is the one that stayed top of my head. Will have to think on others.

- Erik, from soldier to ghost writer (heh) and the eponymous Phantom of the Opera

- Richard Mayhew from Neverwhere, from desk-jockey to... uhm... BAMF unemployed street dweller? It's one of those things that really only make sense in context (like most of this list, lol)

- Jean Valjean, from bread-thief to convict, to trader, to mayor, to fugitive, to gardener, to idly wealthy/fugitive... between the upheavals of the world and those of his soul, the poor guy saw some drastic career changes.

- I was thinking about every career woman in The Handmaid's Tale. And almost every character from Darkfever's 3rd book on. And those in The Host... and likely any going through an apocalyptic story, really... But I'll go with Chantal from L'Impure, by Guy des Cars, who goes from unapologetic whore to nun because it feels like a cop out.

 

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.

6/24 Tasks: 16th of November: International Day for Tolerance

Task 1:  Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.

 

I had a pretty good reading streak this year, but looking at stars, I'd go with the four PP novellas. They were bland, but they got me out of a reading slump.

 

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?)

 

Oh, boy! I rarely, if ever, DNF books, and most times is because I loose interest, so this one is a bit difficult. I don't know that I have true deal-breakers... no, wait, there is one...but I doubt there are so much as five. Will have to think on it.

 

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.

 

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.

 

I happen to work at a bakery/cafe, and pastries on Sunday is something like a tradition around here. Will upload a pic later.

 

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.

24 Tasks of the Festive Season (Masterpost)

Decided to make one of these because tracking is getting unwieldy. Ah, wow, am I behind or what, lol. Between moving out and pulling a short second job, I'm starting to think I'm way over my head.

 

Door 1: Dia de Los Muertos (November 1): points 1

Book:  Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico:

 

Door 2: Guy Fawkes Night (November 5): points 4

Book:  Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy review

 

Door 3: Melbourne Cup Day (November 6): points 2

Book: about horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.

 

Door 4: Diwali (November 7): points 5

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’: Latest Hidden Legacy Book: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews review

 

Door 5: Veterans/Armistice Day (November 11): points 2

Book:  Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover: I might go with the second Temeraire if I get the time.

 

Door 6: International Day for Tolerance (November 16): points 1

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.

 

Door 7: Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif (November 20): points 3

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.

 

Door 8: Day of Penance (November 21): points 2

Book: Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution.

 

Door 9: Thanksgiving (November 22)

 

Door 10: Bon Om Touk (November 24):

 

Door 11: Russian Mother's Day (November 25):

 

Door 18: Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21):

 

Door 19: Festivus (December 23): 

 

Door 20: Christmas (December 25): 

 

Door 21: Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1):

 

Door 22: New Year's Eve (December 31): 

 

Door 23: Hogswatch (December 32)*:

 

Door 24: Epiphany (January 6):

5/24 Tasks: 11th of November: Veterans/Armistice

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.

 

Snow Crash - Neal StephensonStrangers on a Train - Patricia HighsmithCrash - J.G. Ballard

El Golpe y Los Chicos - Graciela MontesHalf of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieA Bend in the River - V.S. Naipaul     

 The Lovely Bones - Alice SeboldMen Explain Things to Me - Rebecca SolnitThe Phantom Tollbooth - Jules Feiffer,Norton Juster

 

Task 2: Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.

 

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)?

 

I'd say Tolkien's. I have not yet read The Unfinished Tales, but the amount of times I've gone over The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion ought to count. My mom opted to buy me a luxury hard-cover edition when I was a teen so I'd stop checking them out of the library.

 

Task 4: Treat yourself to a slice of poppy seedcake and post a photo.

 

Book:  Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover.

 

I might go with the second Temeraire if I get the time.

 

 

 

Review
2 Stars
Errrhhhh
Los Ojos Azules Pelo Negro - Clara Janés, Marguerite Duras

This one was one weird cookie. And for my first forage in Duras, not an auspicious one.

 

The premise, such as there is one, is interesting (when we finally get to glimpse wtf, but hey, if you made it to page 3, you know the writing is... hard to get used to would be my kind assessment), and some of the way it's approached rings true. But 90 pages of it in a weird literary flight and such a dreary tone? Big pass.

 

It's like taking a Nîn short story, stretch it 5 times it's length, take all the joy of it till the erotic label barely applies, add some strange (maybe theatric cues? Maybe meta? Who even knows!) paragraphs, and presto, depressing incomprehensible shit for you.

 

*sigh* We bought an extra book of hers this august. Wonder if I'll ever read it.

Review
3.5 Stars
Jewel of a family
Diamond Fire -  Ilona Andrews

I had so much fun.

 

I did not expect to engage much with 18-year-old Catalina, and picked it up mostly out of author faith a desire for some fast entertainment. I was pleasantly surprised. The passing of the torch was done well, and the humour and length helped a lot.

 

Blast! Now I want to go over the whole saga again.

Reading progress update: I've read 111 out of 197 pages.
Diamond Fire -  Ilona Andrews

“Mmm, delicious cyanide. Old school. Histotoxic hypoxia on you, histotoxic hypoxia on your house, histotoxic hypoxia on your cow. Wait.”

 

LMAO! The poison tester rocks

4/24 Tasks: 7th of November: Diwali
Anna Karenina - Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear, Leo Tolstoy Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry The MacKinnon's Bride (Highland Brides, # 1) - Tanya Anne Crosby El oso de karantania - Cristina Loza Heidi - Johanna Spyri Anne of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw Reforming Lord Ragsdale - Carla Kelly Her Sister's Baby (Harlequin Superromance No. 627) - Janice Kay Johnson

Task 1:  Share a picture of your favorite light display. ~ I might be reaching here, but no man-made display has ever captivated me as much as the night sky (though lantern festivals come close).

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.

 

Well, since I can never help myself, while searching for the girl with flowers covers I ended up merging one of my books into it's proper author, and I bet I'll end up doing some more, lol.

 

As for my physical library, I plan on an overhaul around Christmas, so I'll post pictures then.

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.

 

Dulce de Leche!!

 

This is not an easy one to make, actually. I think we only attempted it once, it took a looooong time, and the consistence was not that firm (plus, I think we got a bit enthusiastic with the sodium bicarbonate)


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.

 

I'm among those having a lot less difficulty finding women brandishing weapons than carying flowers among my covers, but children and classic books came to my rescue. Clearly, I might want to "make love not war" more reading-wise. If only I could find more romances that treaded better the line between crazy drama and blandness.

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)

3/24 Tasks: 6th of November: Melbourne Cup

Task 1: Pick your ponies!  MbD has posted the horses scheduled to race; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).  

 

I made 0 points here. I love it that my surprisingly brilliant luck in games always deserts me as soon as any betting is involved.

Task 2:  Cup day is all about the hats.  Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.

 

I need to come back to this one. I have the hat, and the photo, but will need to find and upload

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?

 

I know I joked around with aspiks, but I have one better:

 

While running around in Peru, we found a traditional desert in Cusco is sweetened natural jelly. For northerners, this might sound perfectly normal, because their jellies, now mostly synthetic, used to come traditionally from mallow. For us, old school jelly comes from extracting the collagen by boiling bones and cartilage. Not many people outside culinary circuits know this, the instant dust fruity types being so ubiquitous, so a lot of my companions took a bit to catch why I was grimacing to the idea. Our guide laughed quite a bit when he explained that it therefore had a bit of a soupy taste.


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!

Book: about horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.

2/24 Tasks: 5th of November: Guy Fawkes Night

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)?

 

Huh... you know, there are many books that annoy me to no end, or plain give me the shudders, but since I've not been bombarded by any of them or their hype lately, I can be all mellow and skip to appreciating the discussion they spark... but if we are talking sacrifice and "burning this saves all the others" I'll throw the 50 shades ones into the pyre with no tears or lamentation.


Task 2:  List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.

 

Lol, I have several book-peccadilloes in my past, but for outright crimes, I'll go with burning, banning and not returning.

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).

 

That will be flambe apple crepes, but I'll have to search for my notes, because I always made them on instinct.

 

Here is one pretty close to how I make them (though it is in Spanish, of course)


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).

Book:  Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy review

 

1/24 Tasks: 1st of November: Día de los Muertos

Task 1:  Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.

 

Task 2:  Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).

 

Lol! Several!

 

The much used old astronomer's, of course: "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.", being so bad-ass, hopeful and accepting all at once.

 

Bette Davies': "She did it the hard way"

 

Tolkien's "Beren" and "Luthien" on his and his wife's headstones

 

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.

 

Task 4: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.

 

Book:  Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.

 

Halloween Bingo 2018: Full Blackout!!

Called Squares

 

Classic Horror; Cryptozoologist; Cozy Mystery; New Release; Southern Gothic;
Terrifying Women; A Grimm Tale; Modern Masters of Horror; Creepy Carnivals; Relics and Curiosities; Diverse Voices; Murder Most Foul; Amateur Sleuth; Genre: Suspense; Supernatural; Ghost Stories; Doomsday; Shifters; 13; Terror in a Small Town; Darkest London; Gothic; Genre: Horror; Fear the Drowning Deep; Spellbound; Country House Mystery; Deadlands; Romantic Suspense; Slasher Stories; Modern Noir; Backer Street Irregulars

 

 

Links for easier access

 

Master-post list of sugestions managed by Murder by Death.

Bingo squares cut 1 & 2

List of Participants

My Card

 

 

 

Book Picks (wiiiii!!!)

 

Doomsday: Children of Men by P. D. James (headstart)

Classic horror: The Yellow Wall-paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1/9)

Fear the Drowning Deep: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (8/9)

Terror in a small town: The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (11/10)

Baker Street Irregulars: Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano by María Brandán Aráoz (3/9)

 

Darkest London: The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (19/10)

Gothic: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (21/10)

Ghost Stories: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (26/10)

Genre: Horror: Midwich Cuckoos (27/10) (Wildcard author)

Deadlands: Iron Magic by Ilona Andrews (16/9)

 

Murder Most Foul: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (4/9)

Supernatural: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (8/10)

Free Space: Leverage in Death by J. D. Robb (18/10)

Modern Noir: Chocky (25/10) (Wildcard author)

Relics and Curiosities: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (17/9)

 

Amateur sleuth:  The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart (23/10)

Country house mystery: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (9/9)

Diverse voices: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (10/9)

Spellbound: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elisabeth George Speare (20/10)

Creepy Carnivals: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter (17/10)

 

A Grimm Tale: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (26/9)

Cryptozoologist: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (5/9)

Modern Masters of Horror: Under the Dome by Stephen King (2/10)

Shifters: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews (13/9)

Southern Gothic: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (19/9)

Halloween Bingo Conclusion

Having finished my 25th book (and holy hell, these games put me in overdrive, I hoped for 18 to 20 at the outside), I'm taking stock of how close I stayed to my tbr, and how much it grew (inevitable, given all those delicious reviews).

 

I docked several classics and pop-culture exponents long languishing in my tbr:

   

The Children of Men - P.D. JamesThe Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine HedgesStrangers on a Train - Patricia HighsmithHeart of Darkness - Robert Hampson,Joseph ConradThe Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan DoyleThe Return of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan DoyleThe Castle of Otranto - Horace WalpoleChocky - John WyndhamThe Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen MandelbaumThe Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham  

 

Found some new favourites, and think that they deserve all their accolades

 

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt  The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett  Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter  The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare  

 

Miscellanea from my tbr that I got to:

 

Akata Witch - Nnedi OkoraforCinder - Marissa MeyerUnder the Dome - Stephen KingThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories - Stephen KingThe Circular Staircase - Mary R Rinehart,Otto Penzler 

 

The rest were re-reads and books that just landed in my hands in time.

 

Between suggestions and reviews now I also want to read:

 

Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz  Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett  In a Glass Darkly - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu  Uncle Silas - Victor Sage,Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu  Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige  Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake  Obscura - Joe Hart  The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey  American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis  Skinwalker - Faith Hunter  The Decagon House Murders - Yukito Ayatsuji,Ho-Ling Wong,Soji Shimada  The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr  Jaws - Peter Benchley  The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie  

 

All in all, it was a great show and a I had a lot of fun.

 

Thank you Moonlight Madness and Obsidian Blue for hosting!

 

Reading progress update: I've listened 3377 out of 4260 minutes.
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection -  Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry

Hell, Fry got me right in the feels with the foreword of His Last Bow

currently reading

Progress: 30/303pages
Progress: 3377/4260minutes
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Progress: 69/264pages