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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Slumpageddon

Hi!  Merry Christmas!

 

I feel like I've almost been gone long enough to need to re-introduce myself, but really, it's only been 6 weeks or so - but it's by far the longest period I've ever been off Booklikes.  I've missed y'all!

 

As my post title suggests, I've been in a slump.  Not just a reading slump, but something of a real life slump.  MT and I and our furry, feathered and finned family are all healthy (MT might not be batting 1000 right at the moment, but that's because he's been at the cricket all day - 'nuff said).  But several things in our lives all came to a head at the same time and we both fell off the radar while we dealt with shit; some of it good, some of it not, but none of it, to be clear, catastrophic.  In brief-(ish) bullet points:

 

• we're in the midst of tying up the very last (they'd freaking better be the very last) loose threads from MT's takeover of the family business, which is requiring far more time, energy and angst than it deserves.  And bankers - I don't like bankers;

 

* my in-laws sold their house and -  I'm going to really try not to rant here - they're moving to a temporary apartment while the apartment they bought is being built (b/c nobody ever explained the whole cart-before-the-horse thing, apparently). They've decided they have to get rid of, or sell, EVERYTHING.  This included family heirlooms several generations old and - I'm not kidding you - the art their kids made when they were young (it was really good art that received national recognition).  To stave off the shedding of family history, we agreed to take as much as we could feasibly shoe-horn into our tiny house, but made it clear we had to do a massive purge ourselves and we'd need time.  We got one week before my father-in-law started dumping stuff on our doorstep (including things we did NOT agree to take);

 

• because of the above, our house has been CHAOS - it wasn't this insane when we moved into it and the boxes were our own.

 

• also as a result of the grand re-shuffling, we've been forced to start a project that's been on the back burner for 6 months or so.  This is a good thing, and I'll talk more about it once the drilling and sawing commence.

 

• because family chaos wasn't enough, the doves that have been nesting in our backyard for years abandoned a nest a little too close to our house, in a tree under which Carlito does all his lizard hunting.  Birds have mites; when a nest is abandoned, the mites look elsewhere - ooh look! a cat! he might do; cat comes in the house; mites decide the female human tastes better - and she's allergic to the bites.  It took us awhile to thread together how I was getting bit, and in the time it took us to get there we've been battling the almost invisible blood suckers in a multi-fronted war that has involved doing more laundry than two people should have to do in a decade, and my doing some chemistry experiments that MT probably finds concerning, but he's too polite to mention it.  I think we've won though - so yay!  Also, thank god for robot vacuums.

 

As you can see, these are all first-world problems (except the mites - seriously, I looked like a charity poster child for the pox or something), and if any one of them had happened in isolation, it wouldn't even blip our radar, but they all happened at the same time, with Christmas and the end of the school year (which is insane for me at work) just around the corner.  Nobody would have wanted me around here - I was the Queen of Bitch Mountain.

 

We're still struggling through some of these things, but on Christmas Eve we both felt we'd turned a corner.  We had a lovely Christmas with friends and today neither of us did anything whatsoever of value.

 

I've been reading, but not nearly as much, and the biggest testament to my slumpageddon is my failure, for the first time, to come anywhere near my normal yearly reading goal.  And I'm embarrassed, and disappointed, about my complete absence from the Festive Season game.  I thought about it these past weeks, and mentally noted things I intended to do for several tasks, but I just never was able to sit still long enough to pick up the computer, except to google things like 'how to kill mites without burning the house down'.  

 

I'm going to try to post reviews of the books I've read - though they'll be short - and attempt to catch up on everyone's posts without breaking my BL connection.  I hope everyone celebrating Christmas had a lovely, wonderful holiday - and in case the mites make a comeback, I'll hedge my bets and say Happy New Year!!

 

Behold, the fearsome plague-bringer. (Now a mite killing machine after a date with Advantage drops.)



24 Festive Tasks: Door 24 - Epiphany



17 - Solstice
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21 - Kwanzaa
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24 - Epiphany
22 - New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day
15 - International Human Rights Day
1 - dia de los Muertos
13 - Advent
18 - Hanukkah
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day
5 - Bon Om Touk
14 - St. Nicholas’ Day
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20 - Christmas
11 - Thanksgiving
23 - Hogswatch
10 - Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19 - Festivus
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

It's our last door - ::sniffle:: - I hope everyone has had a good time with the game this year and that everyone will continue to share their tasks with us throughout the rest of the holidays, as time allows.

 
Epiphany

Door 24:  Twelfth Night / Epiphany

 

Task 1: Prepare your favorite spicy dish or drink; share a picture and enjoy. (Sharing the recipe is optional.)

 

Task 2: Have you ever had an “epiphany” of your own, in the sense of a sudden revelation or insight? If so, share that “ah-HAH” moment with us.

 

Task 3:  George and Martha Washington were married on Twelfth Night in 1759. She wore purple silk slippers (https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/martha-washington/george-marthas-courtship/ ). In honor of the first FLOTUS, wear purple socks or slippers and share a picture of them with us.

 

Task 4:  In Ireland, Epiphany is also sometimes called “Nollaig na mBean” or Women's Christmas. Traditionally the women get the day off and men do the housework and cooking! It is becoming more popular and many Irish women now get together on the Sunday nearest Epiphany and have tea and cakes. (https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/epiphany.shtml ) Take a picture of your book for this square (Epiphany) or of the book you are currently reading with a mug of tea and snack or enjoy a cream tea.

 

Book: Read a book featuring three main characters, about traveling on a journey to a faraway place, a book that’s part of a trilogy, with a star on the cover, with the word “twelve” or “night” in the title, or concerning kings or spices.

 

 

 

NEW: Once you've completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


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Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

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24 Festive Tasks: Door 20 - Christmas



17 - Solstice
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24
22
15 - International Human Rights Day
1 - dia de los Muertos
13 - Advent
18 - Hanukkah
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day
5 - Bon Om Touk
14 - St. Nicholas’ Day
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20 - Christmas
11 - Thanksgiving
23
10 - Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19 - Festivus
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

 

 
Christmas

Door 20:  Christmas

 

Task 1: Share a picture of your holiday decorations.

 

Task 2: Watch a favorite Christmas movie.

 

Task 3:  Did your Christmas celebrations include books? Share your book haul pictures with us!

 

Task 4: What was the best Christmas / holiday present you ever received – the one that meant the most to you or gave you the greatest joy? (This can be anything; objects / material gifts as well as something someone did for you, or anything else – whatever made that particular holiday especially memorable.)

 

Book: Read a Christmas book.

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  

 

 

NEW: Once you've completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


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Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

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24 Festive Tasks: Door 13 - Advent



17
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24
22
15
1 - dia de los Muertos
13 - Advent
18
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day
5 - Bon Om Touk
14
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20
11 - Thanksgiving
23
10 - Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19
16
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

It's the official kick-off to the Christmas season, whether from a religious or secular standpoint - only 25 days until Christmas!

 
Advent

Door 13:  Advent

 

Task 1:  Share a picture of your advent calendar.

 

Task 2: Tell us: What is your favorite holiday tradition?

 

Task 3: Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!

 

Task 4: Tell us about an event in the immediate or near future that you’re looking forward to.

 

Book: Read a pastiche, a book authorized by a deceased author’s estate, the 4th book in a series, a book with the word “four” in the title, a book featuring four siblings, or a book with a wreath, pines or fir trees on the cover.

 

SPACE

NEW: Once you've completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


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Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

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24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - World Philosophy Day



17
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21
9 - World Philosophy Day
12
24
22
15
1 - dia de los Muertos
13
18
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day
5 - Bon Om Touk
14
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20
11
23
10
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19
16
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

New Holiday for this year!  It sort of speaks for itself, although we've given it our own BookLikes spin.

 
World Philosophy Day

Door 9:  World Philosophy Day

 

Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?

 

Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?

 

Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?

 

Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?

 

Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kondo, etc.).

 

SPACE

NEW: Once you've completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


space

(show spoiler)

 

Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

read more »


Festive Tasks of the Season: International Day for Tolerance, Task #4

 If you were offered an all-expenses-paid trip to one (one only!) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which one would you pick (and why)?

 

I hope Themis-Athena won't mind me outing her as the author of this task, but when I saw it show up on the plans, it was a bit of a woo-woo moment for me:  I was preparing to go for one week to Vanuatu, to Efate Island, which is the location of a UNESCO World Heritage site - AND - it was an all expanse paid trip.  My mother-in-law, god love her, wanted to celebrate her 70th birthday by flying all the family to Vanuatu for a week, and putting us up in a heavenly resort.

 

So, my task isn't so much as which location would I pick, but "hey! this was my vacation!".

 

While the 'why' of picking it seems obvious - my mother-in-law did all the planning and choosing - Vanuatu has been a place I've longed to visit ever since I learned of its existence and that it has an active volcano they let you walk to the rim of.  So, when MIL was considering destination options, I might have nudged her a bit.

 

We had a spectacular week - Vanuatu is beautiful, the people are really, really lovely and friendly, and I don't think either MT or I have ever felt so relaxed and ... safe while on holiday before.  I say safe because this is a place where the people are so genuine and friendly that not even my safety-paranoid self would think twice about walking around in the dead of night, or sleeping with our bungalow opened up to the night air.

 

I won't kill you with a mess of photos, but here are a few highlights:

 

We did go to the volcano, and it was spectacular.  They rate the level of activity and we were there during a "low Level 2"; I'm told Level 3 is the best show, and they close it to visitors when it reaches Level 4.

 

 

You really are standing right on the rim, and looking down you can see everything bubbling away, with an occasional show of lava exploding.  After dark is absolutely the time to see it in all its glory.

The videos are even better, but I'm not a YouTube person.

 

The other big draw to Vanuatu is the snorkelling / scuba diving.  Situated in the Coral Sea, the islands are entirely rimmed by coral reefs just meters/feet off the shore.  Our resort had one of the best reefs of Efate just off their pier and MT and I were snorkelling fiends, going out 2 or 3 times a day.  Every time we went out, we saw something completely new, and we didn't have to go far: I saw two moray eels in water no higher than mid-shin, and we saw a sea snake as it came out of the water to hide in a seawall niche.

 

We had one day of sailing, where we snorkelled over deep water reefs, where we spotted our one and only sea turtle.

 

Knowing the snorkelling was supposed to be spectacular, I purchased a small point and shoot waterproof camera.  I took over 1200 photos, but I've whittled it down to just a few to give you an idea of how gorgeous it is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Festive Tasks of the Season: Japanese Culture Day, Task #2

Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.

 

As one of the co-hosts of the 24 Festive Tasks, I can lay claim to a fair few of the tasks, but this one was all Mrs. Claus' Tea House, and the timing was pure serendipity.  Melbourne's central shopping area has a Kit Kat Chocolatory: a shop devoted to the more exotic Kit Kat flavours.  I'm rarely in the city shopping mall, and when there I've always given it the shop the side-eye, but I had to go to the mall to pick up my camera before leaving on holiday, and the Kit Kat task was just the excuse I needed to visit the Chocolatory.

 

 

I ended up with 3 varieties - and keeping MT from hoovering them down before I could document them was, as you can see, a challenge.  Only one of my selections strictly adheres to the task - the Passionfruit Sparkle with White Chocolate.  I will say the swirling marble chocolate was ok, nothing great, and the Sublime Volcanic - which I bought because we were going to Vanuatu and these are made using their chocolate - was basically a rich, dark chocolate Kit Kat.

 

But on to the Passionfruit Sparkle with White Chocolate.  This was, by far, both our favourites, though I had some reservations going in.  I don't generally like white chocolate, and I'm philosophically challenged by sparkles.  There was some mystery yellow crunch bits on the bottom, too, but the passionfruit makes it all work.  I would definitely buy these again.

 

 



Festive Tasks of the Season: Día de los Muertos Task #4

Well, I'm back from holiday and I've finished up all (I think) of the behind-the-scenes Festive Task tasks and I'm ready to play along.

 

I'm going to start with Task #4:  Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?

 

I'm going to share a story from my father's childhood, as told by my father to a journalist who was documenting life in Florida in the early to mid-1900's.  These were stories I grew up hearing at the dinner table, that I never got tired of hearing; almost all of them were funny in some fashion, but this one seems fitting for the holiday that kicks off the Festive Tasks as we usher out Halloween Bingo.

 

The gator:

“In the late 1930’s when I got big enough, I discovered I could make some money by catching specimens for the Bass Lab on New Point Comfort.  It’s full name was the Bass Biological Laboratory and Zoological Research Supply Company.  Bass would buy alligators, among other things.  I couldn’t handle one more than about 4 to 5 feet.  That was as big as I wanted to catch and as big as I could carry.  I think I could get one or two dollars for one that big.  Babies weren’t worth much ‘cause you could just go out and pick them up all over the place.”

 

“Well, one night I had been out in the woods with ole Jake – that was a tame racoon I had that followed me like a dog – and I caught an alligator. He was close to 5 feet long.  I wrapped his snout up and put him over my shoulder and took him home.  I was going to put him in one of the pens I had under the house.”

 

“At this time my uncle Cee and my Aunt Eura had moved back to Palm Island.  Eura had a sister, Helen, who was one year older than I was.  I guess that would have made her about 15 when this happened.  She was still going to school on the mainland so she would stay with us during the week then go to Palm Island on the weekends.  There was a hall that ran through the house we had there.  She slept on one of those rollaway cots that had castors on it, there in the hallway.”

 

“Well, the night I caught the ‘gator I got home, and it was late.  Carrying it home had worn me out.  I knew I had to get to bed so I could get up for school, so I just tied the ‘gator up at the front steps instead of letting it loose in a pen.  I walked into the house and the moonlight was coming in all the windows, and there was Helen fast asleep on that cot.”

 

“To this day I don’t know what came over me – but I suddenly had a thought.  I just wondered what she would do if she woke up in the morning and found that ‘gator lying there on the floor next to her cot.  Well, there was only one way to find out.”

 

“I went back outside and I tried to calm the ‘gator real good.  Alligators are sort of peculiar – you can set ‘em down, and turn ‘em belly side up on their backs and rub their bellies.  They will just kind of go to sleep.  It seems to sort of hypnotize them.  Sometimes they will stay that way for quite a long while – sometimes only for a few minutes.”

 

“Well, this ‘gator got nice and calm.  I brought him back in the house real quiet.  I tied the rope that I had the ‘gator tied up with to one of the legs of the cot, which I think I mentioned had castors on it.  I was kind of pleased with myself as I started to get ready for bed thinking about the big discovery in the morning when Helen would wake up.”

 

“The next thing I knew the house was filled with the most blood curdling screams you have ever heard in your life.  I, of course, immediately thought that I knew what had happened – she had discovered the ‘gator.”

 

“But it was really much worse.  I went out in the hallway and there’s Helen sitting up on the cot and darned if that ‘gator’s not moving out.  He’s trying to head back to the swamp with the cot in tow.  Of course, those castors make it real easy to pull, and he is going all over the hallway with Helen and the cot.  I have to say it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen!”

 

“I probably would have gotten the only whipping of my life that night except for the fact that when my mother and father came out into the hall and saw the scene, my father just couldn’t contain himself.  He had a great sense of humor.  He just broke up laughing and could hardly stop.  I was of course, verbally reprimanded eventually.  My mother told me to get the creature out of the house that instant and not ever to do that again!”

 

“Not too long ago a lady came in our shop and introduced herself to my wife.  She said, ‘My name is Helen Alderman’ and before she could say anything else, my wife, having heard the story, immediately said, ‘Oh you’re the one whose cot Larry tied the alligator to,’ to which Helen replied ‘Yes, and I darn well may kill that Larry yet!’ Well, we might not have had television back then but it wasn’t all that uneventful in those days!”

 



New books added - Knopf

Last batch for tonight - and possibly awhile; these are the last of the Penguin Random House (except for large print) that were left to process for the remainder of 2019.  If I get a chance I'll start with Harper Collins over the weekend.

 

HUGE thanks to Elentarri and Themis Athena for adding the covers for all these books - they are the reason you won't see ugly green boxes when you look up one of these books.

 

If you have some spare time and want to contribute to the BookLikes database building effort, please feel free to jump in and grab a batch.  The more the merrier!

 

 

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More new books - Doubleday and Random House

Here are the upcoming releases for Doubleday and Random House for the rest of 2019:

 

 

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New Penguin HC books added - the rest of them

It's been a good day - I've been ticking off the to-do items at a pretty decent clip.  Here are the final Penguin Adult HC books for 2019:

 

 

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More New Books - Penguin Adult

Here's the first half of the Penguin Books new releases through the end of the year - Easter-cat has just announced it's bed time and has threatened to destroy this post by walking all over the keyboard, so the second half will go through tomorrow.

 

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New books Added - Various Penguin Random House Imprints (Part 2)

 Ok, third time's the charm?  I've tried to post this twice before and both times Safari ate the post;  I think it's because I'm trying to cut and paste the single book entry in the last batch, so I'm leaving it alone.  

 

These are the last of the new books for 2019 by various PRH imprints.

 

 

 

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Batch #9 - just one entry but I'll be damned if I'm going to let Safari eat this post again:

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New Books Added - Various Penguin Random House Imprints (Part 1)

Elentarri is killing it - she's added images to everyone of these books; think kind thoughts and send them her way.  It was a LOT of books!

 

This was another big haul and I was only able to get through some (most) of it tonight.  Hopefully BookLikes won't be too laggy for everyone else (it did improve for me as the night went on).

 

 

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New Audio books added - second half

Elentarri blazed through the rest of this list too - and got through it with a slow BookLikes connection.  Thanks heaps for all your work Elentarri!  :D

 

Here they are - the rest of the new Penguin Random House audio books for the next three months.  BookLikes has been intermittently sloooow today, so there were a few hiccups, but these are the books that should have been added:

 

 

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New Audio books added - first half

Thanks to Themis Athena for adding covers to ALL the books listed in this post - there are at least 100 titles here.  o_O

 

I got about halfway through adding the Penguin Random House Audio books for the rest of the year, but it's time for bed (just ask Easter-cat), so here's the list so far - I'll finish up the second half tomorrow (hopefully).

 

 

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