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text 2017-12-06 03:01
Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- November 2017

November was definitely the slowest month for me in reading and blogging all year.  I barely posted anything, and read a total of 6 books.  I had ambitions for this month, I promise, but things just didn't work out and now I've got a lot more books on my TBR that I'd been hoping to finish before the end of the year... all crammed into December.

It looks like I'm either going to have to get more ambitious... or just call it a day and screw my reading list!  I'll read what I want!



November Reads




Books Dropped/Put On Hold


None this month!  Yay!



Currently Reading




November Reading Stats


Total works read:  6

  • 5 print/e-book novels
  • 1 novella

Average rating: 3.36 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare // 4.5 Stars
  • Lowest Rated:  5 books // 3.0 Stars
    • (1) Close to Heaven by Pamela Clare
    • (2) It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis
    • (3) Frost Line by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
    • (4) A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
    • (5) Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare


Series I started reading:

  • Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare
  • Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie


Series I completed:

  • None


Series I have made progress on:

  • Colorado High Country by Pamela Clare
  • Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
  • Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare


Favorite reads:  Really, Tessa Dare made my month great, what with everything being so slow in November.  My most favorite read was, obviously, Any Duchess Will Do, with the other Tessa Dare books following very closely behind.

Disappointing reads:  I wouldn't necessarily say that I was disappointed in any books, really... except maybe the one book took me a while to finish... which took some motivation to finish that last chapter...  more on that later...



Reviews & Notable Posts


Reviews Written




Other Posts



Coming Up In December


Tentative TBR



Other Stuff

The above tentative list of books I want to read in December isn't as ambitious as I thought it would be, but at the rate that I'm going (and if history is to show a pattern), I'll probably be lucky to finish most of them at all.  Especially since I've still got three books currently being read.

Nonetheless, my main goal is to get those books read, and become more active on my blog for this last month of 2017, at least.  And hopefully I can stick to that, but it almost seems easier just to go into a slump and stay there for the first three months of the next year... much like I did this year.  Very tempting...

I think I'll just take it day-by-day at this point.



2017 Wrap-Ups 


Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups
See Also: 2015 Reading Wrap-Up posts (scroll to bottom of page)

(updated as year progresses by month)
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December


Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/monthly-reading-wrap-up-november-2017.html
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text 2017-12-03 16:57
16 Festive Tasks -- Ani's Tracking Post
game play hosted @ Booklikes


Ani's 16 Festive Tasks Summary Page




It's still kind of slow going for this game for me, but I'm slowly getting back into it.  I've got a few other tasks planned (if only just in my head for now), and am making my way through possible book selections.  I've finally finished reading Val McDermid's Forensics book, and will have a review out for it soon.


I'm not restricting myself to just books that could count towards the 16 Tasks, but I surely would like to find more just to rack up a few more points.  But I've been marathon-ing Tessa Dare novels, and I'm not entirely sure I can find a suitable square to fit all of them in.


Nonetheless, onward into December and the second half of this lovely game!




My Progress

Points Earned:  9
Books Read:  6
Tasks Completed:  3

Currently Reading:

  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Upcoming Tasks:

  • Square 3 | St. Martin's Day -- Wine and a book!!
  • Square 8 | Hannukuh -- The Dreidel game and the next read!



The Tasks


Square 1: November 1st: (Día de Muertos / All Saint’s Day / Calan Gaeaf)

Book for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  

  • Read:  Frost Line by Linda Howard and Linda Jones // ROYGBIV cover // review pending // +1 point

Book for Calan Gaeaf:  

  • Current Read:  All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater // roses on the cover

Task for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  Undecided

Task for Calan Gaeaf:  Undecided



Square 2: November 5th: (Guy Fawkes Night / Bon Om Touk)

Book for Guy Fawkes Night:  Undecided

Book for Bon Om Touk:  Undecided

Task for Guy Fawkes Night:  Tea and Books! // +1 point

Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Undecided



Square 3: November 11th: (St. Martin’s Day / Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day)

Book for St. Martin’s Day:

Book for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Undecided

Task for St. Martin’s Day:  Wine and a book!! // post pending

Task for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day:  Undecided



Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd: (Penance Day / Thanksgiving Day)

Book for Penance Day:  Undecided

Book for Thanksgiving Day:  Undecided

Tasks for Penance Day:  Undecided

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: I am thankful for... and a new book! // +1 point

Bonus task:  Share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.  -- Skipping this one --



Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays: (Advent)

Book for Advent:

Planned Read:  Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill Shalvis // pine trees on the cover

Tasks for Advent:  My youngest brother and a Master's degree!! // +1 point

Bonus task:  Make your own advent calendar and post it.  - Undecided



Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th: (Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht / Bodhi Day)

Book for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  Undecided

Book for Bodhi Day:  Undecided

Task for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht:  To be determined

Task for Bodhi Day:  To be determined // post pending



Square 7: December 10th & 13th: (International Human Rights Day / Saint Lucia's Day)

Book for International Human Rights Day:  Undecided

Book for Saint Lucia's Day:  Undecided

Task for International Human Rights Day:  Undecided

Task for Saint Lucia's Day:  Gettin' my Hygge on!  With chocolate! // post pending

Bonus task:  Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk -- Going to try this one at some point!



Square 8: December 12th - 24th: (Hanukkah / Las Posadas)

Book for Hanukkah:  Undecided

Book for Las Posadas:  Undecided

Task for Hanukkah:  Spin the Dreidel book selection! // post pending

Tasks for Las Posadas:  Undecided

Bonus task:  Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it. -- Probably not going to do this one.



Square 9: December 21st: (Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night / Mōdraniht / Yuletide)

Book for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  To Be Determined

Book for Mōdraniht:  Undecided

Book for Yuletide: 

Task for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night:  (Something planned) // post pending

Bonus task:  Read a book in one night. -- Totally going to attempt this one!


Task for Mōdraniht:  Undecided

Bonus task:  Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.


Task for Yuletide:  Undecided



Square 10: December 21st: (World Peace Day / Pancha Ganapati)

Book themes for World Peace Day:  Undecided

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati:  Undecided

Task for World Peace Day:  Not sure yet

Task for Pancha Ganapati:  Thinking about it



Square 11: December 21st-22nd: (Soyal / Dōngzhì Festival)

Book for Soyal:  Undecided

Book for Dōngzhì Festival:  

  • Possible Read: The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin // Chinese author
  • Possible Read: My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin // Chinese author

    Task for Soyal:  Undecided

    Task for Dōngzhì Festival:  (something planned) // post pending



Square 12: December 23rd: (Festivus / Saturnalia)

Book for Festivus:  Undecided

Book for Saturnalia:

  • Planned read: The Lost Night by Jayne Castle // sci-fi book that takes place in space

Task for Festivus:  Undecided

Task for Saturnalia:  ???



Square 13: December 25th: (Christmas / Hogswatch Night)

Book for Christmas:  Undecided

Book for Hogswatch Night:  

  • Possible read:  The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

    Task for Christmas:  Undecided

    Task for Hogswatch Night:  Undecided



Square 14: December 25th: (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti / Quaid-e-Azam / Dies Natalis Solis Invicti)

Book for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:

  • Planned Read:  He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis // beach AND seaside setting

Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam:  Undecided

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti:  Undecided

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam:  Undecided



Square 15: December 25th-26th: (Newtonmas / Boxing Day / St. Stephen’s Day)

Book themes for Newtonmas:

  • Read:  Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid // Flat Book Society November group read // review pending // +1 point

Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:

Tasks for Newtonmas:  (something planned) // post pending

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day:  Baby in a box? // possible post pending

BONUS task:  Box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it.



Square 16: December 26th-31st:

Book themes for Kwanzaa:  Undecided

Book themes for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Undecided

Tasks for Kwanzaa:  Undecided

BONUS task:  Create something with your stack of books: a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.


Tasks for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Undecided

MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash. (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

-- Baby dressed as a pig on a leash??  =D



Surprise Tasks / Bonus Tasks

Surprise, Surprise Bonus #1 - Melbourne Cup Day, the Race that Stops a Nation!
11/05/2017:  Pick three of the ponies listed for this task to bet on, then wait and see what the outcome is.  Host, Murder by Death will announce the results and award points for any winners!

My Picks:  1) Wall of Flame // 2) Nakeeta // 3) Ventura Storm
Winners:  1) Rekindling // 2) Johannes Vermeer // 3) Max Dynamite
Points Earned:  0



Surprise, Surprise Bonus Joker #2: The Cuckoo Egg
11/28/2017:  Figure out which of the 32 holidays present doesn't actually occur in December!

Me:  Did not guess.
The Answer:  World Peace Day -- actually takes place on September 21 of each year.
Points Earned:  0



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text 2017-12-03 16:17
16 Festive Tasks | Square 5 - Advent (Task 1) - My youngest brother and a Master's Degree!
16 Festive Tasks

Square 5 | Advent: (Task 1)
Post a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.) –OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)

This will be one of the few task posts that I won't really have a photo for, but if I DO find a suitable one, I will most definitely update and edit this post to fit.  In fact, after the event has passed, I may return with a follow-up post.

As I had stated in my Thanksgiving Day task post, a lot of events and activities have been going on this year of 2017.  There was a wedding, and if this task had been part of another game prior to that, I would have named my little brother's wedding as an event I'm very much looking forward to--but that event has come and gone, and all was wonderful!

Instead, my family and I will be looking forward to a graduation in the very, very near future:  My youngest brother will be graduating with a Master's degree in Computer Science and Computer Engineering!  The ceremony will be taking place in exactly two weeks on December 17, so today is the perfect time to boast and brag about it.

For this generation in our family, including cousins, he will be the first with a Master's degree, and we're all very excited.  Of course, this is not disregarding the fact that one of my cousins is a Doctor of Pharmacy... but she already had her day to shine, and today (as well as two weeks from today) will be all about my baby brother.

Obviously there is a lot of boasting going around the family and lots of people are happy.  Coming from a family of immigrants, myself, my brothers, and most of our cousins are the first generation of the family born in America.  And while we aren't the first generation given the opportunity to go to college (my youngest uncle on my mother's side of the family also has a Master's degree), there's no denying that the elder generation are all very proud of this accomplishment.

And now, as my brother reaches the end of his higher education years, it is time for him to figure out what he's going to do for a job.  Definitely, his life is about to change a lot as he officially enters the working world.  Of course, he has been working as a paid intern with NIAR (National Institute for Aviation Research)--a job he loves.

But still, a bright new future for him, hopefully, as he begins his search for his ideal career!!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/16-festive-tasks-square-5-advent-task-1.html
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review 2017-12-03 02:46
Spindle Cove Series Thoughts: A Lady by Midnight / Beauty and the Blacksmith / Any Duchess Will Do
A Lady by Midnight - Tessa Dare
Beauty and the Blacksmith - Tessa Dare
Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare

Spindle Cove
by Tessa Dare
Book #3:  A Lady by Midnight | Rating:  3.0 Stars
Book #3.5:  Beauty and the Blacksmith | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #4:  Any Duchess Will Do | Rating:  4.5 Stars

Apparently it was a nice Tessa Dare marathon for me as I devoured one book after another (and continue to do so).  These books are wonderfully written and so much fun, even if a bit hard to believe based on the time frame and setting.

But what do I care about any of that when all I want is a good time, an enjoyable book, and lots of steamy romance with witty characters, amusing dialogue, and heart-warming moments?




A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love.  The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne.  The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome.  But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiancé.  He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness.  He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him.  To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.

A Lady by Midnight is my least favorite of the Spindle Cove books, thus far, but for whatever reason, I'm not sure I can pinpoint, exactly.  I only recall thinking that while I did like our main couple, Kate and Thorne, I also found them extremely frustrating in their actions, especially towards the ending.  And something about their relationship never did sit well with me, especially with Thorne coming off so intense and dangerous all the time.

Meanwhile, the long lost family who has come to claim Kate were amusing, and while I had the same misgivings about them at first as Thorne did, I later came to find that maybe Thorne was being too much of a possessive, paranoid jerk than was necessary.

Nonetheless, this was still an enjoyable and charming book.




At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman.  At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords.  The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes.  By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?

I hadn't really known what to expect of Diana's turn at being the main heroine, even as this is a novella.  In fact, with her situation, I would have almost expected her to get a full length novel instead, but Beauty and the Blacksmith proved to be quite cute, sweet, and charming... even while I had no idea what our main couple were doing with each other.

I mean, I know what they were doing with each other, but there were a lot of actions that spoke to the contrary of what I thought they wanted with each other.  I'm suspecting that might have been intentionally added angst, just for the sake of having romantic angst.




What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence.  Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever.  He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes.  All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop.  That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment.  Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training"... and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure.  She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul.  Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy.  Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

I'm supposing that this Spindle Cove installment was supposed to be some sort of fairy tale meets 'My Fair Lady' crossover, which was wonderful and amusing, and so many things I enjoyed all rolled into one.  "The practical girl's fairy tale," as Duke Halford puts it.  The premise is promising, and the characters were all individually awesome by their own merit.

The character interaction could have been better, and somehow, the romance rang a little false to me, but I enjoyed a few of the exchanges here and there, and loved Pauline's randomly muttered, "Dukes and their problems."  I found I absolutely adored the dowager duchess of Halford before she even reveals the little knitting atrocities to Pauline--after that, I fell in love with her.

And the dialogue was terrific, especially when the duchess was trying to teach Pauline proper diction, among all of her other "duchess training" lessons.

The only quibble I have about this book would probably be the ending.  Somehow, it felt rushed and kind of trampled over the emotional build-up that I thought it was going for.  I'm not sure I know how to describe my conflicting feelings about it, but while I enjoyed how Griff handles the situation, I still felt like there could have been something... more.

Otherwise, this was a lovely read and I can honestly say that I absolutely loved it!


I'm trying to decide which 16 Festive Tasks squares to mark these as and have come up with at least two for A Lady by Midnight, and one for Any Duchess Will Do.



Square 2 | Book themes for Bon Om Touk:
Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.

Square 3 | Book themes for St. Martin’s Day:
Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

I think A Lady by Midnight will fit in either of the above two squares (the bolded book theme options), as Spindle Cove takes place on a setting near the sea, and I'm quite sure Spindle Cove would be considered quite rural.  The setting is Regency... which is before the age of electricity, no?  I haven't quite decided which square to choose... and just as well, there were a couple other squares that would work, too.



Square 15 | Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day:
Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

I mainly bolded the first part of this book theme if only because I'm certain about the Duke and his family employing paid servants in his household.  The second part of this book theme would probably fit as well, but probably on a stretch, since Pauline is a serving girl/barmaid, who gets paid to pretend to take duchess training lessons from the dowager duchess--I'm not sure that actually qualifies her for a paid servant, though, but since the first part of the book theme fits, I'm definitely using this book for this square.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/12/spindle-cove-series-thoughts-lady-by.html
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