The better to see you, my dear
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

4.5 Stars
Competition for survival
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

This one went into and explored many of the points that I thought Chocky would, which is doubly great because creepy kids are disturbing as hell, and because I can give Wyndham props for not repeating himself in hindsight.


There are differences with the pop-culture classic movie, as it always happens. Beyond the distillation over our narrator and Zellaby (which I imagine stems from a wish to transfer all the BAMF quality from the seemingly absent minded old man to a younger MC), the big fact is that the mind reading is not part of the original book. There is enough flash and imminent danger with the will thing. The hive mind is the cherry that makes the eerie otherness cake.


I loved how things proceed slowly, and this insistence of going about business as usual. When the mothers bring the babies back to town, you immediately go "Oh, fuck", and in their heart of hearts, you know every character kinda does too, but they bury themselves in self denial. And as the book comes closer to the end, you start thinking back to Zellaby's wondering if civilization had not been a bad survival idea.


Seriously, for all the old man seemed to everyone as digressing from the current point, he was very much clear-sighted.


I loved the sci-fi call backs (and the niggling for none going into the morally ambiguous). Some of the doubts it tries to posit (specially on evolution) are a matter of "science marches on" but I always end up finding the idea of outside influence entertaining. The social commentary (outside the references to sci-fi, that is after all a commentary on society too) was a mixed bag, some insightful, some blithely chauvinistic, and there is what is clearly a lesbian couple never addressed as such, so maaaybe fair for its time.


At any rate, I had fun reading it. And that's a good way to wrap up my bingo card and get my reading black-out. Just to wait for the calls now.



Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 220 pages.
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

‘Oh, yes… where was I?’
‘With H. G.’s Martians,’ I told him.
‘Of course. Well, there you have the prototype of innumerable invasions. A super-weapon which man fights valiantly with his own puny armoury until he is saved by one of several possible kinds of bell. Naturally, in America it is all rather bigger and better. Something descends, and something comes out of it. Within ten minutes, owing no doubt to the excellent communications in that country, there is a coast-to-coast panic, and all highways out of all cities are crammed, in all lanes, by the fleeing populace – except in Washington. There, by contrast, enormous crowds stretching as far as the eye can reach, stand grave and silent, white-faced but trusting, with their eyes upon the White House, while somewhere in the Catskills a hitherto ignored professor and his daughter, with their rugged young assistant strive like demented midwives to assist the birth of the dea ex laboritoria which will save the world at the last moment, minus one.

That's a "take that!" that has not lost it's being current.



Wrapping up my last read towards Bingo-blackout tonight.

4 Stars
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)


I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.


Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.


Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.


I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.


If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).


Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.


Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 220 pages.
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

He lowered his pole from the vertical, and with the cage still dangling at its end, thrust it forward tentatively. The bird fell off its perch, and lay on the sanded floor of the cage. The corporal withdrew the cage. The bird gave a slightly indignant tweet, and hopped back on its perch.


I have a terrible sense of humour.


One not-so-young woman suddenly bought a bicycle, and pedalled it madly for astonishing distances, with fierce determination.


Appalling, really, lol!


4 Stars
Chocky - John Wyndham

That ended in a place I did not expect before I started. It is disquieting indeed, but more from being guilty of emulating the mum than anything else.

And because almost every adult involved was ghastly.

(show spoiler)

I kinda loved that it veered so.


I'm discounting a star because this being my second read of a book of his, I noticed and got irked by Wyndham's penchant for making women the overcautious anxious frets (sometimes warranted) while the men are all calm, cool and collected (sometimes even when unwarranted). He does not say that each are not sometimes right in their approach, but makes those approaches kinda married to their sexes, and it grates.


Reading progress update: I've read 505 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

I get the "pointing him away form the carnal to the spiritual" thing, but Beatrice's rant over Dante looking toward other women after her death sounded downright bitchy to me (it's been 10 years woman!).


I found Inferno a lot more engaging than Purgatory on the whole, but the symmetry between the two is interesting, as is the fact that the punishments are not that much lighter in corresponding sins and circles, but for the hope.


What I am wondering, given the correspondence where repentance makes the difference between up or down, is whether not even repentance can wash fraud and betrayal in this cosmology.


Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 183 pages.
Chocky - John Wyndham

‘What have you been doing to Mr Caffer?’ I asked.
‘He gets annoyed,’ said Matthew. ‘There was one time when I wanted to know about the pressure of light, and another time when I told him I can see what gravity does, but I don’t see why it does it. I don’t think he knows why


LMAO! I reckon uppity middle grade teachers will forever sweat that one coming.


Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 183 pages.
Chocky - John Wyndham

So far, a vacation from hell, digs at societal pressure to make babies, comparisons between religious beliefs and imaginary friends, and some cringe inducing comments on adoption.


And the vague sense of unease over the kid's questions, of course.


I love how Wyndham packs these page turners.


Reading progress update: I've read 270 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

Finished with Inferno and in Purgatory now.


I forgot to mention before, but I'm having a blast with the all encompassing syncretism.


The last circle was interesting by how much less horrifying I found it in relation to the eight. I think it's the corporeal and visceral nature of the Malebolge, while a frozen plain has something of the unfathomable in it (and yeah, I got the contrast idea of virtues and the Holy ghost being depicted as fire).


Maybe there is something about horror vs terror in there too? The knowable bad vs the impossible to comprehend?


The descriptions, for such short things, are epic.


Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

Holy shit, Dante did not like thieves!


The Malebolge is an all around horror fest in truth


Challenging myself this 2018 (tracking post)

12 classics from my TBR


Most years I manage to read a dozen or so of some form of classic, but just to keep on track and maybe try to stay within of what's ALREADY THERE in my TBR


  • Eugenie Grandet by Honerè de Balzac (22/1)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (16/8)
  • The Tennat of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (22/8)
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (25/8)
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1/9)
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (8/9)
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (11/9)
  • The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (11/10)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (19/10)
  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (21/10)
  • La Divina Comedia by Dante Alighieri (26/10)


Other Countries, Other Languages


I've noticed I'm reading a lot of works originally written in English (somewhere around a 9 in 10 at least). A bit because England and USA have a long and healthy publishing history, with a lot of classics and pop-culture exponents to their soils. Some, because English is an easy common ground language-wise, and forums like these tend to exchange in it, either opinions or recommendations. A good deal because the market is flooded with them.

But I want more perspectives, different styles and backgrounds.

So I'll start shooting for 20 or so from my TBR and we'll see (availability might be an issue)


  • Dante Alighieri, La Divina Comedia (26/10)
  • Jorge Amado, Grabriela, Clavo y Canela (just bought it! so happy!)
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Roberto Arlt, Los 7 Locos
  • Honerè de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet (22/1)
  • Enrique Barrios, Civilizaciones Internas (reading)
  • María Brandán Araoz, Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano (3/9)
  • Ítalo Calvino, Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Fernándo de Rojas, La Celestina (this one I have on hand, but it's such an archaic Spanish, it gave me head-aches the one time I attempted it. We'll see)
  • Marguerite Duras, L'Amant
  • José María Eça de Queirós, El Crímen del Padre Amaro
  • Umberto Eco, El Nombre de la Rosa (bought it too, will have leisure to read)
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Meijin
  • Clarice Lispector, Laços de família
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Guadalupe Loaeza, Las Niñas Bien
  • Gabriel García Marquez, El Amor en los tiempos de Cólera (another of the buying spree and mom kept laughing and being amazed by the first third)
  • Facundo Manes, Usar el Cerebro (reading)
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka en la Orilla (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Kezaburo Oe, Memushiri kouchi (Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring)
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Pairault, Suzanne, Verónica, ¿Estrella de Cine? (31/8)
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persépolis
  • Tulsidas, Ramayana
  • Lisbeth Werner, Puck y la Fierecilla (28/10)
  • Marguerite Yourcenar, Mémoires d'Hadrien
  • Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel


25 female authors (22/25)


A follow up on this idea (here Themis-Athena explains in English). Shall construct my tentative list from my TBR as much as possible too, and post read books as I go.



  • Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey (16/8)
  • Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (24/8)



  • Lois McMaster Bujold: I owe to myself to try her. Almost did for Bingo, but couldn't get my hands on one of her books.
  • Octavia E. Butler: Ditto
  • Anne Brontë: The Tennat of Wildfell Hall (22/8)
  • Charlotte Brontë: Shirley and Villete have been there some 7 years too, but I've been procrastinating because I did not care for Jane Eyre when I was a teen.
  • Leigh Bardugo: Ruin and Rising
  • Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting (21/7)
  • Fanny Burney



  • Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (17/10)
  • Willa Cather: O Pioneers! (25/8)



  • Marguerite Duras: The Lover is one that I've been meaning to read for over a decade but have not yet found a hard copy
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (4/8)




  • George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans): Middlemarch keeps popping (Chist, it's massive)
  • Kate Elliott: King's Dragon



  • Carrie Fisher: The Princess Diarist (9/8)



  • Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South (11/9)



  • Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train (4/9)
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Shuttle (26/1)



  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House in the Big Woods (29/7)



  • P. D. James: Children of Men (27/8)
  • Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle



  • Barbara Kingsolver: The Poisonwood Bible
  • M. M. Kaye: The Ordinary Princess (5/8)



  • Clarice Lispector: I think mom added one of her books to our library
  • Guadalupe Loaeza: Las Niñas Bien
  • Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice
  • Madeleine L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time (9/1)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossed (4/1) The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (24/1) The Word for World is Forest (26/1) Four Ways to Forgiveness (18/4)



  • Juliet Marillier: I've heard so amazing things about her, and fantasy is my love
  • Carson McCullers: scared to, but have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter somewhere around
  • Collen McCullough: The Thorn Birds, yeah, another scary prospect
  • Marissa Meyer: Cinder (26/9)
  • Toni Morrison: Funny thing here: I've had it on my "author to try" list for a long while, but thought her male
  • Anchee Min: Empress Orchid
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Blue Castle
  • Ann McCaffrey: Dragonflight



  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife
  • Anais Nin: Delta of Venus has been waving at me, but I'm unlikely to pick it up this year
  • Amelie Nothomb: another on mom's wish-list that I can't remember if we bought
  • Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon (5/9)



  • Joyce Carol Oates: Bellefleur is one I took a stab at when I was 14 and never finished. Might rectify this year (and how did I come to the conclusion Joyce was a male name then? maybe my brain associated James Joyce?)
  • Lauren Oliver: Liesl & Po
  • Wendy Orr: Nim's Island
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Akata Witch (10/9)



  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (1/9)
  • Eleanor Porter: Pollyana
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Barbara Pym: Excellent Women
  • Ann Patchett: Bel Canto
  • Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia... if I'm feeling brave or wanting a good bawl





  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase (23/10)
  • Veronica Rossi: Never finished her saga. Might go for it if in the mood for YA
  • Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow
  • Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea



  • Lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (some group discussed a buddy read when I was still on goodreads, and the movie renewed my interest)
  • Alice Sebold: maybe. The Lovely Bones did a lot of noise
  • Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle
  • Sofia Samatar: Stranger in Olondria (read a short story of hers in Clarkesworld magazine, and oh, my!)
  • Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis
  • Elizabeth George Speare: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (20/10)



  • Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar was brought to my attention during the games, and will read as soon as I can get a copy
  • Amy Tan





  • Catherynn M. Valente: In the Night Garden is one I want to buy and savor
  • Joan D. Vinge: The Snow Queen



  • Edith Wharton: pure author faith (even if she rips my heart)
  • Connie Willis: keeps popping up on my radar
  • Virginia Woolf: sure I have a couple of hers back at home



  • Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen is a book that keeps popping up and haven't gotten to yet
  • Jane Yolen: I had Tam Lin on my list, but reading up on her... over 365 books! Woman!
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: Have Memories of Hadrian on my bed-table
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: I'm likely to pick Blood Games for bingo



currently reading

Progress: 189/366pages
Progress: 27/260pages
Progress: 46/160pages
Progress: 140/288pages
Progress: 69/264pages
The Two Princesses of Bamarre - Gail Carson Levine