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text 2018-12-13 23:39
24 Festive Tasks | Door 17: St. Lucia's Day



(December 13)




12/13/2018:  I'm slowing down more and more on my tasks, but I think I've done quite well this year's game already.  I've announced my guess for the fate of the Gävle Goat (without Googling!), and have chosen a possible book for the Book Task.  The other tasks are under consideration or being worked on, so hopefully more points to come!



Task 1

In honor of the Icelandic Jólabókaflóðið / Yule Book Flood tradition, create a (virtual or physical) “book flood” and post a picture of it.

I did some searching and reading up about the Yule Book Flood tradition, mainly because I wasn't entirely sure how to create a "book flood."  While I understand the significance of this tradition, this task may take a bit of thought and work.  I'll come back to it later.



Task 2

Bake a Swedish lussebulle (saffron bun – instructions and recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWSs-vQX0AI) or prepare some other dish containing saffron.

Somehow I'm not sure if I'll do this one.  I might find a recipe with saffron in it, but with a few other activities hanging out there involving learning new recipes that I may or may not do, I'm going to file this one on the back burner for now.



Task 3

Create a “crown of light” from book covers prominently featuring a lighted candle.

I've got some form of idea, but after stretching my imagination with the poppy and the 'Team Book Nerd' pennant, I'm reaching the limits of my art-flexing.  O.O  Will update once I've got something going... and also, finding books with candles on the cover is not easy, apparently.



Task 4

Guess (scout’s honor, NO GOOGLING!): Did the Gävle Goat survive this year?  For background: The Gävle Goat is a straw effigy erected in Gävle, Sweden, every year at the beginning of Advent.  It is infamous for being burned down ahead of time, which as of Advent 2017 has happened in 37 of the 51 years of the tradition’s existence. – The Yule goat lore in turn goes back all the way to the Norse myths, where the god Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats, and to ancient Indo-European and proto-Slavic beliefs according to which the harvest god appeared in the shape of a goat.  Possibly, it is also linked with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven sled.
-- GUESS MADE ON 12/13/2018 --

I'm going to guess that, no, it did not survive and has been burned down, based on the historical odds.  It looks as if the poor thing has been burned down more times than not (37 out of 51 years of being burned).

And I'm also now super curious about all the different methods that have been used to take down the goat, thanks to Broken Tune's update post.

And now I sit and await the resulting answer!  =D



Book Task

Set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, or by a Northern European / Nordic author, or a book newly released in November or December of this year.


Cold Dark Places by Kylie Brant was just released this month, so more than likely I will be reading this one, unless I find something else more interesting.  But since I like Kylie Brant, this book will be fine.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-17-st-lucias-day.html
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text 2018-12-13 21:08
24 Festive Tasks | Door 9: Thanksgiving Day



(Fourth Thursday of November | November 22, 2018)




12/13/2018:  I was updating this post for the completed Book Task, when I realized that I still had one task I hadn't completed yet.  So I'm finishing off this door!  I finished reading Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh for the Book Task, and filling in Task 3!

11/25/2018:  Completed Tasks 1, 2, and 4.  I might end up skipping Task 3.  And looks like, coincidentally, I'm currently already reading a book that takes place in Maine, so getting the Book Task worked on!



Task 1

List the 3 books you’ve read this year you’re most “thankful” for (your favs) or the one book you’ve ever read that changed your life for the better.
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

I actually don't have a whole lot of favorites to choose from this year.  I had a really long reading slump, for one, and I read a lot of not-so-great books, for another.

On that note, the books that I'm most thankful for this year:


These are, by far, my favorite books read this year, and I'm including both InCryptid novels, just because I loved both.  Deanna Raybourn's A Treacherous Curse was just a wonderful read!  And then, I wanted to include The Name of the Star because reading a great YA novel that I ended up loving made me feel good that there are still other YA novels out there that can entice me.



Task 2

Describe your perfect meal. What would you cook for the perfect celebration, or, what would you have your imaginary personal chef cook for you?
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

Geez...  This answer could last forever if I wanted to list EVERYTHING I'd ever want a personal chef to cook.  Food is my life, and I'm still discovering more and more favorite foods every day.  So in order for this post to not go on for eternity, here are just a few things I've managed to narrow down to, and one of the biggest, mainly, is one of our Chinese feasts for big celebrations, such as weddings, New Years, and sometimes birthdays.

And because I'm a big lover of seafood, most of these pictures will include things such as the infamous Ginger Scallion Lobster, Seafood Soup, Stuffed Crab Claws, Abalone simmered in Oyster Sauce... like I said, the list could go on.  Let's just look at pictures, shall we?




Aside from Chinese feasts, I'm also a lover of sashimi, so I'd also love an endless chef-made supply of sashimi combo.


And finally, to top it all off, my most favorite dessert in the world, Creme Brulee.


I'm not asking for much, right?



Task 3

Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”.
-- COMPLETED 12/13/2018 --


The first book that came into mind for this task was Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright, as it certainly had much more tidbit info, not quite about the "world's worst plagues," but just some random anecdotes that may or may not have to do with the particular plague each chapter was covering.

Unfortunately, it pains me to admit this, because I DO like Nora Roberts and what few books I've read of hers so far, but Dance of Gods, the second book in her Circle trilogy was probably even more full of "stuffing."  This is your typical "filler" book masquerading as a second book in a series.  The whole time I felt like it the series could have gone without it--aside from giving a full novel for one of our main couples to have a romance story, and filling the quota for a second book in a trilogy, this book doesn't really do much to forward the story progression.



Task 4

Show us your 2018 book “harvest” – the books you newly acquired this year, regardless whether bought, received as gift or in whichever other way.
-- COMPLETED 11/25/2018 --

In an attempt to keep this post from going on forever (aside from the almost forever foodie task above), I decided to just show a handful of the 40+ newly acquired books in 2018.  Specifically, I'm just going to present the ones I haven't read yet, more or less as a way to make sure I'm aware of all the new books I've added to my TBR.

In no particular order:




Book Task

Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story.
-- COMPLETED 12/09/2018  --

This probably isn't the best book in the world, but I'm currently reading the second book in the Midnight series by Melinda Leigh, which takes place in Maine.


This was a crap book.  I tried to give it and the series, a chance after not quite liking the first book, but I couldn't do it.  Here's my review.  The book at least fits into a door, taking place in Maine to fulfill the, "set in New England" part of the task.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-9-thanksgiving-day.html
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text 2018-12-13 19:37
24 Festive Tasks | Door 1: Día de los Muertos
The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season



(November 1)




Completed Book Task!  Finished re-reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton on 12/10/2018.  With this update, I've officially completed all the tasks I will probably complete for this door.

Completed Task 4 - Treat yourself to some Mexican food!  Also updated the Book Task to reflect my chosen book.

I'm stealing ideas.  I like this idea of just reserving a post per square and filling in the deets as each task is completed, so I'm going to do the same.  Meanwhile, I will also keep a separate tracking post linking to each of these Door/Square posts.  I'll link to another separate post from these individual Door/Square posts if a task merits its own independent post.

First task up for completion is Task 2 - Sharing an epitaph.



Task 1

Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.
-- SKIP --

I don't poem or limerick, so more than likely skipping this one.



Task 2

Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).
-- COMPLETED 11/04/2018 --

I actually don't have a favorite gravestone epitaph--at least none that immediately come to mind.  But in light of the festive activities, I decided to do a little Google search and came up with a couple that stood out to me.


-- Lloyd "Billy" Andrews


Apparently that second epitaph is inscribed on the grave marker of one Wade Huff Andrews.  You can see different angles of the tombstone at the memorial page I found, linked above.



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.

It's hard to find a single favorite book or series out of so many I personally love, so this one is under consideration at the moment.

I figured if I haven't done anything for this task by now, I'm more than likely skipping it.



Task 4

If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.
-- COMPLETED 11/10/2018 --

I have a hankering for tamales...

And so, the first thing I thought to do on my first free weekend since the game began, was get myself some tamales!

To be totally honest, Mexican food isn't exactly my go to type of food.  I like tacos and chips and salsa.  I like queso... a lot, even though I shouldn't be indulging too much in anything that creamy.

Tamales, though, are my utmost favorite of Mexican food, thus far in life.  I first encountered them when a relative made them for us, and something about that corn dough and the juicy meats wrapped within just really hits all the right spots.  It helps that I have a thing for corn (cheesy corn casserole is one of the best things I know how to make... among the very few dishes I know how to make...).

Tamales, unfortunately, I DO NOT know how to make.  And thus, it's either restaurant, or store bought, and I had picked up a package of tamales a few days ago thinking I might just heat a few up for my task.  Of course, I DID also consider, briefly, just running out to a restaurant and enjoying myself.

But I'm glad I picked up a package of these, because wanting tamales for lunch today, I did not feel like leaving the house, on account of it's very, very cold out today.




The above picture shows the tamales before I remove the corn husk wrap.  Also before microwaving them.  The below picture shows my attempt at putting together a fancy luncheon meal with a side of salsa and avocado.


These aren't the best of pictures, nor the best placement on a dish for any wonderful aesthetic appeal.  I had considered making the entire thing look pretty, but after I plunked my side dish of avocado down, and tried to add sour cream... well, the entire thing sort of fell apart.  I tried not to cover up the entire tamale with the cheese, to show what it looks like unwrapped, though.

And yes, I enjoyed myself a lot!



Book Task

Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.
-- COMPLETED 12/10/2018 --

One possible book is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, probably because of our Flat Book Society read this month.


Finished listening to the audio book of Jurassic Park, written by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick.  This will fit the "re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author" part of this task.  I might have a review out at some point.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-1-dia-de-los.html
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review 2018-12-13 07:12
Ranting Thoughts: Midnight Sacrifice
Midnight Sacrifice - Melinda Leigh

Midnight Sacrifice

by Melinda Leigh
Book 2 of Midnight



One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town.  Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan's sister, who barely escaped.  Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness.  When the police fail to find his sister's captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down.  He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny's suspicions.

What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding?  Mandy Brown has a secret.  But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth.  A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual--and that he's circling in on Mandy.

I seem to be in the minority about this book (and maybe the series overall).

In a nutshell, this book was too long for the material it presented, with our heroine rehashing her own "woe is me" story on repeat several times.  Mandy probably could have been a better character to relate with if she'd just get over herself.  She was a great independent and strong type, with resources and skills that many women would kill for.  But her unwillingness to speak up about the threats she'd been getting from the antagonist, Nathan was what bugged me the most.  What she knew, and the fact that she'd been getting threats, might have been helpful--after all, everyone thought that Nathan might be out of the area or dead, so the manhunt had been called to a temporary halt.

Instead, she spent the entire book moping about how her life had turned out, about how she and her family are now in danger from a crazy man out to make human sacrifices, about how she'd do anything to protect her family... and yet when she's questioned, she adamantly denies the fact that Nathan could still be alive.  I guess I just didn't understand her logic, because allowing someone to know that her family might be in danger would have gotten her more protection.  Accepting help from someone who could keep an eye on her property and her family could have kept her brother safer.

Giving the authorities, or even our main hero, the information necessary to help find Nathan is probably a better way to make sure her family stays safe.  Because no matter what she was thinking, the fact that her brother was already on Nathan's radar meant that nothing she could do, including keeping silent, would ensure her brother's safety--as is ultimately proven by the end of the book.

But she decided to go the stubborn, independent, stupid route of, "I can take care of myself and my own."  Except that she wasn't equipped to do any of that, nor did she possess the skills necessary to combat a half-maniacal, determined psycho killer.

But anyway... in the end, it was all a moot point.  It didn't even seem like anything Mandy knew about Nathan could have done much to help capture him--simply it would have proven that there was a chance that random hikers disappearing wasn't just another case of "hikers disappear in the mountains all the time," due to getting lost or eaten by a bear or whatever.  But the whole "if we find Nathan's secret girlfriend, then we can find Nathan" thing was a waste of story line, because it went nowhere.

Which brings me to how laughable the entire law enforcement investigations turned out.  As Danny kept bringing up, over and over again, the last time a couple hikers/campers disappeared, it wasn't by accident or due to nature.  So the fact that every cop so readily dismissed a second set of campers disappearing, only months after the first incident involving disappearing campers and ritualistic sacrifice of living humans...  It occurred to me that everyone in this book was in denial except for Danny and Jed.  It seemed like there had been no effort put into the entire investigation, whether on the side of the manhunt to find Nathan, or even about the disappearance of the campers.

And while we might say that the entire town only had one cop who wasn't exactly top notch police material, there was also the state police that kept being referred to.  There was no talk about what they were even doing.

And when the first set of campers disappeared, I was actually quite surprised that a full scale Search and Rescue wasn't launched--especially when a child was involved.  This just reeked of poor outlining, to be honest.  Everyone was all, "They probably just fell in the river, got carried downstream.  We'll see them surface at some point."  But... what if they hadn't fallen into the river?  What if, psycho kidnapping for ritual sacrifice aside, they'd gotten lost?  We're just going to leave it to presumption that they probably just fell in the river?  The apparently quite shallow river?  And got carried downstream?

Is nobody going to even consider the possibility that they might be wandering lost?  Even if we don't want to contemplate the fact that there's a kidnapper out there, already running from a statewide manhunt?  Why would we take the chance that they could be lost and not send a team in to look for them?

And what if they DID just "fall into the river?"  Why are we still NOT looking for them?  What if they are still alive in the river?  What if they did just "get carried downstream" and managed to climb out of said supposed river scenario?  What if a child is shivering to death after being soaked in a river?

And nobody thinks it's worth it to further investigate?  Or send SAR out to find this child?

But anyway...

Meanwhile, Danny was pushy and one-dimensional.  He was the only person with sense in this book, but he let his emotions and his dick lead his actions.  But otherwise, he didn't really stand out much.

Every other character was also quite one-dimensional, truth be told.

I liked Mandy's brother, Bill.  And I liked the dogs.  There should have been more about dogs.  I have a hard time believing that someone who made a living out of training dogs didn't at least train a few for Search and Rescue.  Especially in a town where there are mountains and woods, and apparently campers and hikers get lost on a regular basis, and just fall into rivers and hypothetically get carried downstream, just waiting to be discovered later.

The logic holes in this book are insulting.

That's probably about it.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/ranting-thoughts-midnight-sacrifice.html
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review 2018-12-13 06:53
Thoughts: Dim Sum of All Fears
Dim Sum of All Fears - Vivien Chien

Dim Sum of All Fears

by Vivien Chien
Book 2 of A Noodle Shop Mystery



Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else.  Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge.  Surprising everyone―including herself―she turns out to be quite capable of running the place.  Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . . and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.

Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case.  But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .

As a whole, Dim Sum of All Fears seemed to have cleaned up a bit of the amateur sleuth thing that was bugging me about the first book.  Lana's questioning and snooping actually came off a lot more casual than it did previously--rather than in a short, brusque interrogation style, she managed to just sound like an acquaintance or friend, curiously asking random, innocent questions.

Unfortunately, as a whole, this book was actually much more boring than the previous one.  And I'm not sure if that was my problem, or the book's.  I couldn't quite pay attention to much of the story, and probably couldn't even recall how the investigating went.  In fact, at times it didn't even really seem like there was much of a case going on, as it seemed kind of delegated to the background.  Really, everything about this book felt like it got delegated into the background: the Chinese New Year's upcoming festivities, the romance with Detective Trudeau, Lana's taking over of her parents' noodle shop...

In a way, it felt like there were too many story tangents going on with no real focus.  I kept finding myself thinking that I wished we could see more about the Chinese New Year since it's such a big part of Asian culture.  On the one hand, I love that Lana is being portrayed in such an Asian-American way--rather than deliberately making her seem or feel more Asian, she simply comes off as your average Asian-American girl; a half-Taiwanese, half-English, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, who acts no different than any other average American girl, save for the references to her Asian background.  And I love that!

But on the other hand, this cozy mystery is set in a very Asian, Asia Village, where you DO notice that a lot of older generation Chinese and Taiwanese are pretty prominent members.  I guess that I would have expected more ado about the Chinese New Year, even if Lana's own parents are currently out of the country.  I mean, I'm a rather more American Asian-American, but Chinese New Year is still a pretty big deal!

Aside from that, I was also hoping to see more of a development to the romance between Lana and Detective Trudeau, but the two had zero chemistry.  And it was a bit of an eye roller that people were constantly telling Lana that Detective Trudeau is "crazy about her."  I mean, I don't blame Lana for having doubts because I don't see it either.  I don't necessarily need romance for a book to be good, but if you're going to include romance, you should at least make it a believable one--it's not even a slow burn.  There is no burn.

And then the conflict at the beginning wherein Lana gives up the chance at a job interview to help her parents run their restaurant was never brought up again.  So we're left with some open-ended deal where everyone, except for some of Lana's select friends, continuing to think that she hasn't gotten her butt in gear to look for another job, and that she's just being a lazy layabout claiming to have stuff to do.  And it was irritating as heck that her sister kept throwing that in her face.  And, even though this is besides the point, I got a little irked that everyone kept telling Lana what seems more like "her type of job."

Has anyone bothered to ask Lana what she actually wants to do?  And actually cared to listen to her rather than either belittling her, or telling her she's wrong?  About what she wants with her own life?  It's also quite irksome that everyone feels like they have the right to expect Lana to move on in her romantic life as well and find a new, nice boyfriend.  And I get that mothers (especially Asian mothers) are all about their daughter finding a nice man and getting married and starting a family, but the insinuation that the only way Lana will be happy is if she finds a nice man and gets married can start grating after a while.

And I know that the bickering between Anna May and Lana was supposed to come off cute, but I was really getting irritated with Anna May.  Because even though Lana's narrative made it seem like the two bickered regularly, what I was seeing was that Anna May was swooping in and belittling Lana every chance she got.  None of the bickering scenes were started by Lana herself, despite what the narrative or others seem to claim.  I also didn't get why Anna May was so pissed off at Lana about her parents leaving her in charge of the restaurant--it's not like Anna May really had the time to focus on being in charge herself.

And even in spite of all this... I still want to read the next book.  Because I like Lana and I love Megan, and I love them as a duo.  And I'm hoping that the mystery aspect of the books will continue to improve, even if slightly.

And I'm hoping for a new love interest.  Detective Trudeau does nothing for me.

And I was also hoping for a bit of development in Lana's own career choices, which may involve her parents' restaurant.  There was something that had been brought up in the first book that mentioned Lana maybe experimenting with food services from a cooking stand point.  That maybe, aside from just being there to work her shift and make a little extra cash to pay bills and rent, she might get involved with more of the food prep... which I hope will spiral into her maybe helping to expand the restaurant's menu or creating new, fun, menu items... or something like that.

Please bring that small, almost insignificant recommendation to Lana from the first book back to the surface.  Even if just for a small glimpse at a possibility.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/thoughts-dim-sum-of-all-fears.html
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