Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!
Task 1: Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.
Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (Burn Bright Review)
I already commented about how this book just about broke the fandom when Briggs provided readers insight into a character. I never in my life want to have to discuss if pedophilia is still a thing if the person doesn't act on it. The say something nice that I have about this book is that Briggs did do a good job with opening up a possibly spin-off with an interesting new character that can open up a whole other avenue into the world of the Pack.
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?)
1. Love triangles. Now this trope has morphed into love squares and I hate it even more. That Team Edward and Team Jacob crap made me throw up my hands about Twilight. Now every author it seems these days tries to set up a love triangle so I guess they can create a new fandom that gets obsessed over one terrible teenage werewolf and vampire who both think they own another teenager who is the Queen of the Mary Sues.
2. Insta-love. This trope is also awful to read about. Most of the time insta-love seems to revolve around character staring/lusting over the other characters body. It just seems gross and out of date.
3. TSTL characters (Holly Review) Look, I can't help it, Holly will always go down as my most hilarious update rants at Booklikes. That said, if she existed in real life, I would not be responsible for what I would do to her.
4. Best first time ever. (Duchess War, The Brothers Sinister #1). Only Courtney Milan has written a first time scene for me that worked in the Duchess War. Usually authors have the woman somehow turn into a wanton trollop (not my words) or do things that the men exclaim no whore (once again not my word) has ever done to them. It's just unrealistic and makes me roll my eyes.
5. Women gives up career/life to follow man. Enough said.
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.
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.
Only going to put stars on dates where I have completed all tasks and the book too.
Total points: 26
Dia de Los Muertos (November 1): points 5
Completed tasks 1 through 4, and book related task: The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie.
Guy Fawkes Night (November 5): points 5
Completed tasks 1 through 4 and book related task: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Melbourne Cup Day (November 6): points 5
Completed tasks 1 through 4 and only got two points for task one.
Planned read is The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Diwali (November 7): points 4
Completed tasks 1 through 4.
Planned read is Summer Light by Luanne Rice
Veterans/Armistice Day (November 11): points 3
Completed tasks 1 through 3.
Planned read is The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21): points 1
Book related task: The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell
Festivus (December 23): points 1
Book related task: How to be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings by Sarah Cooper
Christmas (December 25): Read any Christmas book.
Planning on reading Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa Kleypas
Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1): points 1
Book related task: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
New Year's Eve (December 31): points 1
Book related task: An Irish Country Cottage by Patrick Taylor
Hogswatch (December 32)*: Read anything by Terry Pratchett.
Planned read is The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Epiphany (January 6): 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 or concerning kings or spices.
Planned read is Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
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.
I decided to do a poppy with books on my virtual book shelf. I was going to do this on the floor of my office, but the contractors are on their way and I resisted the urge to make a mess they would have to crawl over.
Task 2: Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.
Dear Alexandra Cooper,
You seem to be a perfectly adequate prosecutor when not obsessing about Mike and Mercer and making sure that they are constantly at your beck and call. The jealousy you experienced when Mike dared to be seeing someone and how weepy you got that he would not be there to save you as you ran from a murder because he was probably off somewhere with his girlfriend made me feel equal portions of annoyance and disdain. I finally gave up reading any more about your adventures since you also seemed to not so subtly be slut shaming some of the women that came to you for help. You should try calling your family once in a while.
I wanted to give you a book about narcissism which I hope helps you take a hint about how the world doesn't revolve around you.
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 would consider myself a veteran of Agatha Christie's books. I got into them due to Moonlight going on about her during our Amazon forum days. I was so happy to see so many fans here and really enjoyed the year long Christie project that had me reading her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books. I need to go back and read her other books, but you all have scared me about "Passenger to Frankfurt" and "They Come to Baghdad". I am going to have to finish the Colonel Race and Tommy and Tuppence books soon.
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: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/poppy-seed-cake/ … or this one: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1629633/lemon-and-poppy-seed-cake
Hmmm I don't like poppy seeds. I will have to see about finding a cake and posting a picture of it though.
Book: Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover.
I was thinking of reading "The Man in the Brown Suit" since Colonel Race is in it and I haven't read it before.
Well this is another Christmas book though I didn't realize it at the time. I think I just skimmed over the synopsis and started reading right away.
I will say that this may be a major change for many who have been reading the Irish Country books. Though Taylor invites some history into his books, he has mostly stayed away from the Troubles in Ireland. Now though, he takes on the first signs of this when he showcases the fights between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
I am not surprised he finally showed it in his books, Barry's now wife Sue, is a member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and has often talked about Dr. Martin Luther King, and one man, one vote. I think Taylor did a good job of incorporating that into his book, but I still find it unrealistic that the town of Ballybucklebo would not have any issues with things going on. Though that part was okay, I thought the rest of the book was a wash. Too many plots were going on and we didn't get to spend much time before rushing off to read about something else.
"An Irish Country Village" takes 18 months after the events in the last book. FYI, I am still salty we didn't get a wedding scene in the last book and instead had Kinky describing it before Taylor gets into his usual recipes.
We have Barry and Sue returning home from the Christmas holidays when they stop due to fire trucks rushing past. They follow and realize that Donal's family's cottage is up in flames. Barry and Sue of course take the whole family back to number one (O'Reilly's home) and soon the whole village pitches in to help out Donal and his family. Donal and his family are able to move temporarily, but the village does what it can to help him rebuild his old cottage.
We still have O'Reilly still wishing that Kitty would retire to spend more time with him (eyeroll city) and that's about it. He and Kitty are happy, and O'Reilly does what he does best, sits around and meddles with things.
We have a new doctor in this one that I didn't feel anything about her. She was just there, and boring in my eyes. We have reference to the doctor in the last book who takes over Fitzpatrick's practice and that's about it. It's so weird how Taylor will just ignore characters and go on and on about those I would happily take a break from (like Bertie and Flo). Fitzpatrick does appear in this one, and we get another romance on the horizon.
As I said above the book talks about the Troubles for the first time. I have never read about the march that took place on January 1, 1969. The People's Democracy began a four-day march from Belfast to Derry, which got harassed and attacked by loyalists. We even have Sue and Barry go and march in the book and I think the incident that is referenced in this book, is about Burntollet Bridge. We have Barry witnessed people getting attacked and doing what he can to help a young woman who is hit repeatedly over the head. I am not going to lie, I was sick of Sue's attitude in this one. She wants to continue marching even though people are being beaten all around them and doesn't get why Barry (who is a doctor) refused to continue on and stays and tends to the woman he got attacked. I read a bit more about this incident and it sound pretty bad. The book ends in March, but reading further, there are several more incidents that will be occurring that it seems Taylor will incorporate into this book.
We have major plots also dealing with Barry and Sue's fertility problems, Bertie's health issues, etc. It just reads like same old same old in this one.
There is an interesting ending though with the talk of someone who has been in this series from the beginning, who may emigrate due to the fights between the Catholics and Protestants. And it seems to be setting up possibly Barry's exit from this series.
I forgot to mention this book is $15 and is not worth the price at all.
New Year's Eve (December 31): Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM!
I want to kick something. This book didn't work at all, and the ending just cobbles together happy endings, that make zero sense when you read what has come before. I am all for happy endings in my romance books, but not with partners who come out of nowhere and or partners that have zero chemistry with the objects of their affection. I kept hoping Mansell would switch things up a bit and have Carmen and Nancy not do what is typical for these types of books, it just doesn't work.
"The One You Really Want" has best friends Nancy and Carmen dealing with Christmas and changes to their lives. Nancy expected that her husband was buying her some fancy jewelry, instead she gets the surprise of her life when she finds out he has been having an affair. Carmen is still grieving the death of her rock star husband, three years later. When her brother-in-law comes to visit (and stay) for the holidays, she finds she is not going to be able to shut the world away anymore.
I wish that Mansell had actually shown Nancy and Carmen hanging out solo more than she did. Instead we have Nancy working, dealing with her mother Rose, and crushing on Carmen's next door neighbor. I wish I had gotten a better sense of her character. She doesn't even care that her husband is cheating on her. She just pops smoke from Edinburgh to go and live with Carmen in her mansion in Chelsea. I don't know if I wanted her sobbing throughout the book, but she's not even grief stricken. And her mother and Carmen tell her how they never liked her husband anyway.
Carmen's story jumped all over the place. She has three love interests in this book and the first one fails miserably and the second is ruined because she lies about her history and how much money she has. It made no sense to me, and I felt annoyed about it. The worst for me is that Mansell has you rooting on one of these guys for most of the book, and throws a third person in the ring for her and it didn't work at all.
Carmen's brother-in-law Reenie did not read as realistic to me at all. He's a rockstar and has a new girl every day it seems, but it stretched realism that he was living with Carmen, Nancy, and Nancy's mom Rose and has zero friends it seems.
Nancy's mother Rose was okay, but not that exciting a character.
We also get the next door neighbor Conner and his 16 year old daughter Mia. I didn't really like Conner and thought him not actually standing up for his daughter more due to his BS relationship was eye-roll inducing. I didn't get why Nancy even liked this guy.
The setting of this book take place over Christmas. What's weird though is it doesn't read like a typical Christmas romance book. Also the book jumps ahead a few months here and there so I don't even know what month things ended on. It was summer I think.
The ending was a bit of a mess. We have Carmen deciding to start a relationship I didn't root for at all and then she fades away from the book. We switch to Nancy and she gets her totally not realistic happy ending too.
Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21): 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.
I really don't have much to say about this one. I was bored throughout. It took me several days to finish since I just couldn't get into this. I didn't like any of the characters. I thought the narrative style switching to letters made the flow even worse. The ending was just there and seemed set it up for a sequel (no thank you).
"The Essex Serpent" is set in Victorian London and takes place mostly in an Essex village in 1890. The book starts off with Cora Seaborne dealing with the death of her husband. Cora finally feels free after years of abuse from her husband. She seems surrounded by many people who love her (her companion Martha and a doctor, Luke Garrett). When Cora finally gives herself over to being able to study naturalism, she moves to Essex and finds herself meeting the local villagers and finding herself there.
Will Ransome is the local vicar and is doing what he can to drive out thoughts of the Essex Serpent being real. When Will meets Cora, the two initially don't like each other, however, they eventually come to see each other more and start to have feelings for each other. Even though Will is happily married to his wife of many years, Stella.
The book just flip flops between characters, that also didn't help. We follow Cora, Martha, Will, Stella, Luke, etc throughout the book. Maybe if Perry only had the book going back and forth between Cora and Will it would have worked better.
The writing was fine, I just didn't care to delve too deep into this one. I was bored. I found myself skimming certain pages just wanting to be done.
There doesn't seem to be much of a lesson in this one besides people running around and not being with the person that they want to be and myths of serpents. if anything, this book just seemed to be love triangle after love triangle set in Victorian London. That's probably why I didn't like it much.
Task 1: Share a picture of your favorite light display.
Not lit up for the holidays yet! But you can see the candles and lamps that surround it.
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: [insert link to MbD’s how-to post from earlier this year.]]
I did clean up my shelves with this renovation! So I have before pictures. Will have to take pictures tonight for after.
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.
I miss cooking and baking. One of my favorite things to do during the winter time is to bake brownies. Here is a recipe that I have used time and time again. Go to All Recipes if you are looking for the exact recipe and you want to know about trying to tweak it a bit.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm.
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.
Thank you Goodreads! I picked books on my read shelf on Goodreads.
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)
Two potential books:
Hmm maybe this book. Will have to see.
VA had a good night. Bye bye Corey Stewart you terrible white supremacist, you took two Ls this year!
TASKS AND BOOK
Task 1: Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.
Ode to Mary Yellan (Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier)
She arrives at her family's inn
And is almost beaten and done in
By her uncle who is a nasty guy
While her aunt stands idly by
She realizes that she is not on stable ground
And proceeds to walk all around
Meeting men wherever she goes
And finding out a secret that leaves her low
She eventually makes it out alive
And runs off with Jem who is vile
Task 2: Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).
I adore the below because of the pettiness involved.
May eternal damnation be
Upon those in Whaling Port.
Who, without knowing me,
Have maliciously vilified me.
May the curse of God
Be upon them and theirs.
According to local folklore, Mary was at odds with her neighbors in Whaling Port over the number of cats she owned. The neighbors went to court to try to get this headstone changed or removed, but the stone carver had a signed contract and payment in full, so he had to fulfill Mary's wishes.
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.
Apologies for how this turned out!
Task 4: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.
Ordered this for my lunch today! Yum! Spicy mini tacos. I could have eaten 6 more.
Task 1: Pick your ponies! MbD has posted the horses scheduled to race; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).
Got one point for this! Red Cardinal!
Task 2: Cup day is all about the hats. Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.
Honestly my favorite hat is my Washington Nationals hat. That is my hiking hat. The pictures I have of it though show my face. So here is my second favorite hat. I wear this get-up every Halloween when giving out candy.
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?
One of my friends uses gellatin to clean her deep fryer oil. I still think it's weird. I did dig around with Google this morning and found this though, so apparently this is a thing! I think this is up there with people using vodka to clean their bathtubs.
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!
Yep! Every year my friend throws a huge Derby party for the Kentucky Derby and Cinco De Mayo. I won $100 this year after betting on Justify! Here are some pictures from the party this year. He and his husband do a huge crawfish boil too. I loathe crawfish.
Book: about horses or a horse on the cover. Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.
It's been on my list for ages. Finally going to settle down and read The Thorn Birds. Have a hold on it, so hopefully it pops up in a week or two and I can start it.
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)?
Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (Burn Bright Review)
I already commented about how this book just about broke the fandom when Briggs provided readers insight into a character. I never in my life want to have to discuss if pedophilia is still a thing if the person doesn't act on it. I maybe rolled my eyes a million times when I saw this was up for a Goodreads Choice Awards too. This book has also ruined my love of the Mercy Thompson series. Just did a re-read for Halloween bingo and just felt bitter the whole time.
Task 2: List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books. Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.
1. Dog earing the pages. Get a freaking bookmark!
2. Borrowing someone's book and not returning it. I had someone lose one of my books two years ago, and I am still mad about it. She also didn't even offer to pay the value of the lost book. Just acted like it was just one of those things.
3. Treating it like it's a decoration and using it to color coordinate your bookshelves. Yep, I still hate that trend.
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).
Favorite BBQ recollection is definitely being a little kid and going over to my father's aunt and uncle's house (they raised him) every Memorial Day and Fourth of July and eating BBQ. All of the kids would run up to where this old spring was and drink from it. We would play basketball, hide and seek, jump rope, and do our level best to injure each other without causing bruises. Then we would run back to the house when the food was ready. Usually my aunt would holler at us kids to get down from that hill and come and eat already. She would sit there with a cigarette in her mouth and call us rotten (that was her way of saying she loved us) and we would just eat, and go and play, and come back and eat again. I would just eat hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, mac and cheese, chitlins, pigs in the blanket, cake, until I thought I would burst. I still can't eat a hotdog unless it's been on a grill. It just tastes wrong to me somehow.
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).
This was really hard! I also am going to await some ruling on my book titles and included links for them below.
1. The Gunpowder Gardens or, A Time for Tea: Travels Through India and China in Search of Tea by Jason Goodwin. I think after doing several hours of research, I find one. I had to dismiss some cozies that had Gunpowder in the title.
2. Gunpowder Alchemy (The Gunpowder Chronicles #1) by Jeannie Lin. This does not appear to be about blowing up people or shooting them. Lin seems to be doing a steam punk book which has the Qing Dynasty falling to Great Britain due to the creation of steam engines. Book 1 of the The Gunpowder Chronicles, an Opium War steampunk series.
3. Gunpowder (Gunpowder #1) by Joe Hill. Gunpowder in this case refers to the planet R2 in this book. I have been meaning to read this someday, but refuse to spend $100 on it (Amazon price).
4. Gunpowder by Bernard O'Donoghue. This is a book of poetry.
5. Colour of Paradise: The Emerald in the Age of Gunpowder Empires by Kris Lane. Hmm this is a history book that goes into the emerald and why it is/was so important to the Islamic empires.
I ended up buying this on Thursday and was happy when it arrived Saturday. After a long road trip back from the southern part of VA, I was happy to be back in my house and reading something funny.
I had seen a post about this book on Ask A Manager, and loved the images that were shown.
Later on a friend and I going into work looked it up and were dying about some of the the things that Cooper gets into, but then of course we also got mad and then sad, because though this is humor, it still stings.
Yes, women are often talked down to by colleagues, ignored for saying something, but kudos are given out when a male colleague repeats the same comment ten minutes later. We are often told to not get wound up when someone is doing something shitty to us, and called a bitch behind our backs when we refuse to let someone walk all over us. Yes, it is 2018 and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This book reminds me of Yes Please by Amy Poehler, both are bright books which include places for the owner of the book to write, scribble, doodle, etc.
There are 12 chapters in this book (FYI they are very short due to the illustrations, so don't worry about getting bored) with a funny introduction and conclusion.
Chapter 2: Communication-How to Talk Like A Man but Still be Seen as a Woman is the one chapter that ticked me off the most though (I still laughed). Probably because every scenario in there has happened to me. Oh you said something that got totally ignored and a male colleague is praised for saying it 15 minutes later. Do you worry about talking too loud and forceful though when your male colleague does it, somehow he's considering charismatic and a leader of the future?
Chapter 4: Authenticity-How to Bring Your True Self to Work and Then Hide it Completely made me giggle the most though. I remember being new to the government and being told I needed to bring in pictures (I was not married and didn't have kids--still don't) to make me more approachable. A manager said this to me. I remember thinking who cares what is going on at home, it's not like you will ever meet these people!
Chapter 7: Negotiation-Gaslighting for Beginners and Chapter 8: Harassment-How to be Harassed Without Hurting his Career were also had some funny side by sides.
The side by sides showing how to do things incorrectly and the right way to do things in this book should be pull outs that you can stick on a fridge or in your cube somewhere.
This book is obviously humor, so please don't follow the advice in the book.
Festivus (December 23): Read any comedy, parody, or satire.
Not too much to say about this short story besides there is no happy ending. I am warning you there is no happy ending. Also don't read and eat at the same time. I repeat, don't read and eat at the same time.
King and Hill do a very good job with developing Cal and Becky (Irish twins) and my heart and body hurt for both of them. Becky's story and realization of things that come broke me. Sometimes I need a happy ending King, just saying.
Also I am a terrible person, because if I heard a person calling for help, the first thing I would go, that's a trap and call 911. I have seen and read too many horror books/movies.
NOPE! And I read this before eating and am going to be off food for several hours now. Very scary/gory and just...shuddering.
Laughed so hard I hurt myself. I bought this one in paperback because I heard the illustrations that came with it are awesome. The voice one made me sigh and want to punch someone though.
Festivus (December 23): Read any comedy, parody, or satire.