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text 2018-11-19 20:34
24 Festive Tasks | Update #2

 

 

So yet another week has gone by, and I feel like I've made a lot of good progress.  As opposed to last year's game, I think I've managed to at least finish one task for every Door that has been revealed since the beginning, and I'm feeling quite good about it.

It also helps that I've got my Monkey and Penni markers, and my Holiday Penguin Tree to enhance the cheer.  I DO wish I could figure out a better color scheme for my tables--the light green is fine, but I'm having trouble finding a lighter red color that won't wash out the text, and that is also compatible with whatever html code that Blogspot and Booklikes is able to use.

 

The hex codes for some of the lighter reds don't seem to work.  -_-

 

And whelp, the green and red background colors also kind of wash out the links because BL's links are green...  They still seem tolerable at Blogspot...  Booooo...

I'll work on it and keep experimenting, though I'm loathe to fall into another html hole at this point, especially when that 'indianred' background color isn't terrible.


I've read fewer books so far this month than I would have liked, though since I'm going for laid back, whatevs.

This newest update has added the newest two Doors revealed since my last update, Armistice/Veterans' Day and International Day for Tolerance.  I've completed a few more tasks and finished one more book.

All in all, things are looking great!

 

 

The Festive Card:

 

 

Peek-a-Boo Penni Claus = Completed Book Task
Magnetic "Elfin" Monkey = Completed Non-Book Tasks

 

 

My Progress:


Overall Total Points Earned:  17
Books Read:  2
Tasks Completed:  15

Current Tasks:

  • Door 1 | Dia de los Muertos Book Task -- Reread of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton


**For my own sanity purposes, I will link the main post for each door at the top of each table.  All tasks listed under 'My Activity' will more than likely be found at the main post; otherwise, the link will be included for that particular task if a separate post is published outside of the main post, such as book reviews.  Thanks!**

 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico. Current Read:
'Jurassic Park' by Michael Crichton
TBA
Task 1 Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice. -- SKIP-- I don't poem... XX
Task 2 Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one). Posted Activity:
Two epitaphs found - one with Kay's fudge recipe
11/04/2018
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. -- SKIP -- No ideas for this one XX
Task 4 If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it. Posted Activity:
Tamales at home for lunch!
11/10/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning. Possible Reads:
-- 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
-- 'Chasing Fire' by Nora Roberts
TBA
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)? Posted Activity:
Chose book: 'The Iron Daughter' by Julie Kagawa
11/05/2018
Task 2 List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books. Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst. Posted Activity:
1) Burning; 2) Defacing; 3) Borrowing and not returning, or returning damaged
11/05/2018
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). Posted Activity:
Korean BBQ for the wins!
11/05/2018
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). -- Will probably SKIP this one --  XX

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book About horses or a horse on the cover. Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia. Possible Reads:
'The Rose Garden' by Susanna Kearsley
TBA
Task 1 Pick your ponies! MbD will post the horses scheduled to race as soon as they’re released; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order). Finished Activity:
Horses chosen / Winners announced / no bonus points
11/06/2018
Task 2 Cup day is all about the hats. Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not. Posted Activity:
My cadet hat and my 'This is my happy face' hat!
11/06/2018
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? Posted Activity:
Jello as hair dye.  A short memory from high school
11/09/2018
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! Posted Activity:
My first horse track racing experience in Dallas!
11/06/2018

 


 

Door 4:  Diwali (November 7)
Total Points Earned:  1

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
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) Possible Read:
-- 'The Woman Left Behind' by Linda Howard
-- 'The Governess Game' by Tessa Dare
-- 'Dim Sum of All Fears' by Vivien Chien
TBA
Task 1 Share a picture of your favorite light display. Work in Progress
(possible skip / still considering)
TBA
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: http://jenn.booklikes.com/post/1782687/state-of-the-database-booklikes-database-halloween-bingo-and-a-mini-rant-with-pictures). -- Probably going to SKIP this one -- XX
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. Possible Activity:
One of our culture's many sweet soups... maybe.
TBA
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. Posted Activity:
Five books with young women holding flower; found with some difficulty, but successful!
11/08/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover. Possible Reads:
'Behind Enemy Lines' by Cindy Dees
TBA
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. Posted Activitiy:
The Penni Book Cover Poppy!!  With Monkey, too!
11/13/2018
Task 2 Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year. -- SKIPPING this one -- XX
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)? Posted Activity:
Jayne Ann Krentz / Honorable Mention goes to Jill Shalvis
TBA
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:
Poppy Seed Cake @ tastesbetterfromscratch.com
… or this one:
Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake @ bbcgoodfood.com
-- SKIPPING this one too -- XX

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
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. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it. Posted Activity:
Chose book, This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
11/19/2018
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?) Posted Activity:
Long-winded talk about 5 tropes -- see main post
11/19/2018
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. -- Going to SKIP this one -- XX
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. Posted Activity:
French Macaroons!!
11/19/2018

 


 

Door 7:  TBA (TBA)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book TBA Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 8:  TBA (TBA)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book TBA Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 9:  TBA (TBA)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book TBA Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 18:  Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21)
Total Points Earned:  1

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book 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 Read:
'Midnight Exposure' by Melinda Leigh
11/17/2018
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 19:  Festivus (December 23)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any comedy, parody, or satire Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 20:  Christmas (December 25)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any Christmas book. Planned Read:
'How the Dukes Stole Christmas' anthology
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 21:  Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean; OR by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author; OR a book with a green, red, or black cover. Possible Reads:
-- 'Tower of Thorns' by Juliet Marillier
-- 'Den of Wolves' by Juliet Marillier
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM! Read:
'The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs' by Steve Brusatte
11/06/2018
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 23:  Hogswatch (December 32)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read anything by Terry Pratchett Planned Read:
'The Light Fantastic' by Terry Pratchett
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 24:  Epiphany (January 6)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book 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 concerning kings or spices Possible Read:
'Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
TBA
Task 1 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 TBA Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/24-festive-tasks-update-2.html
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text 2018-11-19 19:20
24 Festive Tasks | Door 6: International Day for Tolerance 2018

 

 

(November 16)

 

 

Updates


11/19/18:  Completed Tasks 1, 2, and 4.  Will probably skip Task 3.  Still pending on Book Task.

 

 

Task 1


Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.
-- COMPLETED 11/19/2018  --

I create a list of books each year, ranking them from most liked and least liked, a lot of times based on star rating.  There have been years where the ranking of the book on my list doesn't necessarily match the star rating as compared to other books on the list.

This year, the list has been fairly straight forward, for whatever reason--probably because I've stuck more with a star rating system wherein the book gets stars more based on whether I liked it or not, rather than factoring in whether or not the book actually deserved a specific star rating, regardless of my like for it.

Anyway, at the bottom of the list right now is a novella by Courtney Milan, This Wicked Gift.  When I saw Milan's name at the bottom, I was thinking, "How on earth did she end up at the very bottom of my book rankings list?"  But it only took a few milliseconds to recall that it was really because of the premise of the romance that made the book all sorts of wrong for me.


Yes, apparently even a beloved author can really cross that line.  Here's a link to my combined series review with This Wicked Gift at the end of the post: Series Review: Carhart

And so, moving on to the one redeeming quality of this book:  It was written by Courtney Milan and in spite of the terrible romantic premise, it was actually written well.

I don't know why this quality makes it any better, because if anything it should make it worse, considering all the thought-provoking subjects she brings up in her other historical romances.  Knowing that she's aware and brings to surface women's issues in her historicals makes it confusing as to why she wrote This Wicked Gift the way she did.  I still can't wrap my mind around it, unless I just misunderstood the story altogether.

But I DO really like Milan, and I know she can write very well.  Any other author, I probably would have already dropped, but because it's Milan, I'm willing to overlook this novella as a random fluke on her part.  This was one of her earlier works after all.

 

 

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?)
-- COMPLETED 11/19/2018 --

I have a surprisingly high tolerance when it comes to books considering how impatient I usually am.  I think it might be my stubborn, unwillingness to drop a book if I've already invested a lot of time into it.  And when I say a lot of time, I usually mean more than 20% of the book, which is usually at about the time I decide whether or not I'm liking it--a quite useless percentage since by then, I'm holding out a naive hope that the book will get better.

So I'm just going to list the tropes or plot devices in a book that really, really will skew the book's star rating towards the negative.  And since I'm hugely a romance reader, most of these will be romance tropes I dislike.


1.  Woman has to choose between her career and an established lifestyle versus romance, love, and family.  I'm sort of stealing this one from Obsidian Blue, because it is definitely a trope in a lot of stories, movies, and television series that rankles.  It's also a real life issue, too, but we won't get into that.  I hate how it's implied that women have to choose between one or the other, and can't have both, when no one ever questions whether or not a man can handle a career and romance.  But in a lot of books I usually steer clear of, there's always this issue disguised behind a woman's life journey and revelations.

To quote OB's comment, "because they imply she’ll die alone and unloved if she doesn’t decide to give it all up for the guy she just met."


2.  Love Triangles.  I can't stand love triangles.  Rarely they are handled well.  And having been exposed to many love triangles (as well as other many pointed love polygons) in YA (and K-drama), I quickly got tired of the genre.  I feel like they often serve no purpose either.  If anyone can prove me wrong, give it a go.


3.  Perfect People--the Mary Sues, Gary Stus, and Speshul Snowflakes of fiction.  Because in real life, nobody is perfect, so I don't expect them to be perfect in fiction either.  No one is loved by everyone.  Even the sweetest person you know has his or her flaws that drive you crazy.  Because we are all human and humans are prone to make mistakes.  So when an author deliberately makes his or her main character a special snowflake, or a Mr. Perfect, or a Ms. Perfect, I can get pretty frustrated.  I find myself rolling my eyes whenever a special character walks into the room and the atmosphere suddenly changes to ethereal glows and serene stillness and everyone is suddenly all happy and so on, so forth.  Or when the perfect character finally makes a mistake, but it still ends up being a good thing without negative repercussions.


4.  TSTL Characters.  Most commonly in romances, the female is typically the TSTL, but let it be known that men can come across as TSTL as well--I've read my share of those.  It's just easier to assign TSTL to women because society has taught us that there are some things that it's stupid for a woman to do, even if a man could do the exact same thing and simply be labeled "brave" or "a hero" for doing.  I don't like these double standards, so I often assign TSTL based on circumstances.

For instance, if a person needs protection in terms of a bodyguard or a security firm, whether that person is a man or a woman, if said person neglects or ignores the professional skills and advice of the professional security expert assigned to protect said person, then that person is stepping into TSTL territory.  Most irredeemable is when that person ends up getting, not only him or herself hurt, but puts others' lives in danger because of those stupid actions.

Again, this does not matter if you're a man or a woman.  If you knowingly put your life in danger when you are aware there are other choices, but you're too stubborn to acknowledge said other choices, you've walked into TSTL territory.


5.  Double Standards.  Following on the tails of my 'TSTL' trope above, I had also mentioned double standards, with a brief example.  When a woman rushes into a dangerous scene unarmed, or neglects professional security to prove how strong she is, she is labeled TSTL--rightly so.  But when a man does the same exact thing, it's written off as the instincts of a man, and people will call him "brave" or "crazy hero" or some other such more positive context of names.  It's not fair, because men can bleed and die just as women can.

In a certain instance of books I've read, the men will also usually play caveman and refuse to let a woman walk into a dangerous situation, even though the woman is the armed law enforcement officer who has been trained for these situations, and he is not.  She could have the situation planned to the last detail with her team of other law enforcement officers, and people will still think she's putting herself into danger for no reason.  But when you flip the situation around, no one ever questions a man's somehow superhuman ability to not die in the line of fire when put in the same situation.

Or, for a more common double standard, a woman is usually considered a trollop or a slut if she has multiple sex partners... or even when she just has multiple, platonic guy friends.  But if a man sleeps around, he's usually cheered on by other men, and is said to just be "playing the field" or other such bullshit.  Or there have been instances where a woman is considered dirty, or unfit for marriage if she's not a virgin, but no such damning traits are placed on a man, even if he's slept with half the city.

The above example also seems to work vice-versa as well, since I've also come into instances where it's okay for a woman to have a guy friend who is platonic, but gets all tied in knots when her boyfriend or significant other even talks to another woman.  It's a really sad human trait, apparently, for both sexes to play the double standard cards.

In real life, I have a friend who bristles when people make fun of her penchant for jeans, hoodie, and all things John Deere; but in contrast, she doesn't keep from expressing her complete believe that men should never wear pinks or reds or any soft pastel colors, or carry any kind of bag, because "men shouldn't do that."  le sigh...

I read a lot of Romantic Suspense, so a lot of these tropes have to do with dangerous situations and romances.  But these situations obviously can take place in any number of books, against both sexes, or even based on circumstance between people of different social standing or ethnicity.  In some cases this is a trope that is handled well, and awareness is brought about, but in other cases, it just lingers in the background and no one ever even points out that this, indeed a double standard.

On a separate note, I've got a nice review of a Jill Shalvis book wherein there's a bit of a Double Standard trope that bugged the crap out of me so, so much:  Once in a Million by Jill Shalvis.  If anyone is interested that is.


Okay... I got a little long-winded there.  Apologies for that.

 

 

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.
-- SKIP --

I don't feel creative enough to create a charter of any kind, so this one will most likely be a pass.

 

 

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.
-- COMPLETED 11/19/2018 --

I thought about going to the bakery, but realized that I DID have a photo of some of my favorite pastries: French Macaroons.

 


My BFF and I went out for some sweets at the beginning of the month, and I took some pictures of my spoils, mainly because aside from reading books, I love food and taking pictures of food and drink that look especially pretty.

I got myself a nice combination of a dozen French Macaroons along with my Mayan Hot Chocolate.  And yes, I DID bring them home to my family... even if I ended up eating the majority of them, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Technically, Cocoa Dolce is more of an artisan chocolatier and coffee lounge than a bakery.  However, their menu boasts a lot of baked goods (with lots of chocolate!), alongside their gourmet coffees and artisan chocolates.

I could always use another trip to the bakery in town though, so if this doesn't really count as completion of the task, I can update it another time with a more task appropriate activity.

 

 

Book Task


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.
-- SEARCHING --

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/24-festive-tasks-door-6-international.html
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review 2018-11-19 16:49
Brief Thoughts: Midnight Exposure
Midnight Exposure - Melinda Leigh

Midnight Exposure

by Melinda Leigh
Book 1 of Midnight

 

 

Point, click, die.

When two hikers disappear, their hometown in Maine blames the blinding storms.  But the truth is far more sinister.  Unaware of the danger, tabloid photographer Jayne Sullivan follows an anonymous tip to find the most reclusive sculptor in the art world.  Instead, she finds sexy handyman Reed Kimball—and a small town full of fatal secrets.

Five years ago, Reed buried his homicide detective career along with his wife.  But when a hiker is found dead, the local police chief asks Reed for help.  Why was a Celtic coin found under the body?  And where is the second hiker?  Avoiding the media, Reed doesn’t need a murder, a missing person, or a nosy photographer.  Then Jayne is attacked, and her courage is his undoing.

Reed must risk everything to protect her - and find a cunning killer.



This book would have been more interesting without all the romantic angst, which, when the conclusion rolls around, seemed awfully moot, as none of the misunderstandings really affected anyone's feelings.  There was instalust, which quickly became instalove, and a couple who are unwilling to talk to each other, even though they are willing to sleep with each other, and think that they're in love.

At the very least our heroine wasn't TSTL, but that's little consolation for the fact that a whole bunch of other stuff in the book bugs the crap out of me.  Not least of all was the way too predictable murder mystery / crime thriller.  I most definitely saw the killer's identity from the beginning.

As I have a predisposition to give second chances to an author who didn't thoroughly annoy me--because this book was less frustrating than it was just formulaic and predictable--I will probably move onto the next book and see how that one works out.

Otherwise, pending my decision to continue or drop this series, I'll have to move onto my backup series for the Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge for this month.

Meanwhile, this book was also read for the 24 Festive Tasks, Door 18: Winter Solstice / Yuletide:
'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'.

This book takes place in December.

I'll come back and add the Door's graphic when it is officially revealed!

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/brief-thoughts-midnight-exposure.html
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review 2018-11-16 07:10
Thoughts: The Woman Left Behind
The Woman Left Behind - Linda Howard

The Woman Left Behind

by Linda Howard
Book 2 of GO-Team

 

 

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it.  She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC.  She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit.  The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun... or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina--who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice--making it through the rigors of training.  The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation.  In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates.  What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria.  While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives.  Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for.  He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.



The truth is that this book probably doesn't deserve more than 3 Stars.  It isn't the best outlined, and would even come across as fairly boring to anyone looking for an action-packed story where our heroine gets left behind, and needs to fend for herself until her team comes back for her.  But the summary blurb is a little bit misleading, frankly, and the action-packed part of the book really doesn't take place until well into the last half of the book.

The Woman Left Behind had tons of potential to be a great book, but it fell short of that by maybe spending too much time on Jina's day-to-day training life with the GO-Team she's been re-assigned to work with.  This part of the book, in itself, is already a little unbelievable, and requires a very high willingness to suspend disbelief.

By narrative, Jina ends up spending six months on physical training and drone training.  In the book, there are times where you want to get on with the story.  On the other hand, I can't find myself just blowing off that first half of the book she spends challenging herself and pushing herself to physical limits she never knew she had.  And I honestly loved the camaraderie built between her and a team of macho super paramilitary men who didn't think she was going to make it in the first place.

Color me contradictory--those six months she spends getting to know her knew teammates was truly loads of fun.  I love a character driven story, and I love great character interaction, and this book certainly had that in spades.  To others, it might come off dragged out and too banal for a romantic suspense, or military romance thriller.  And once again, the entire ordeal requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief anyway--because who in their right mind actually thinks its a great idea to take a bunch of chair-bound tech geeks and force them through high impact military precision training so that they can join these elite GO-Teams in dangerous operations?

I have a hard time believing that the higher ups couldn't have just transferred in some military personnel, already trained for battle, who also have great tech skills.

But moving along, because something about that entire training sequence sort of appealed to me anyway.

Yeah, I'm kind of wishy-washy in my opinions.

And speaking of the romance, for romance lovers, this book might also kind of fall to the wayside.

While we DO have a lovely couple to focus on, we unfortunately don't get to see much of the chemistry, or the romantic bond building between Jina and Levi.  And also, Levi sort of runs hot and cold, which helps him get categorized squarely on my asshole list.  I don't care that he also had some very good personality traits, he crossed a couple lines he shouldn't have crossed and that makes him an asshole.  The way that the romance was resolved made me a bit pissy.

On the other hand, I like how Jina's own self-revelation journey/conflict was concluded.  Somehow, it seems appropriate for her.

So without a whole lot of suspense and without a whole lot of romance, and without even a focal conflict, this book, instead, ends up becoming a sort of self-journey book for Jina, as an individual.  And it's a fairly thought-provoking journey that I thoroughly enjoyed.

And we'll just kindly side-step that strange, background villain subplot that lurked along the entire book, and took up precious book space every few chapters.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/thoughts-woman-left-behind.html
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review 2018-11-15 04:29
Rambling, Rambling Thoughts: Midnight Blue-Light Special
Midnight Blue-Light Special - Seanan McGuire

Midnight Blue-Light Special

by Seanan McGuire
Book 2 of InCryptid

 

 

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity--and humanity from them.  Enter Verity Price.  Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest.  It didn't quite work out that way...

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge.  With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ--assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done.  It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.



Midnight Blue-Light Special was, in a weird way, a bit tamer than Discount Armageddon--and when I say tamer, I really just mean that it didn't have as many scattered story lines buzzing around the main conflict.  While Discount Armageddon was a somewhat slow-paced, banal following of Verity's daily life in New York, finally focusing on a main conflict about halfway through the book, Midnight Blue-Light Special had a more focused plot driving the story and the characters from the beginning.

By all rights, the way in which Midnight was outlined and executed should have made me love the book much more than it's predecessor.  But for some strange reason, I didn't detect that giddiness I'd had from reading Discount Armageddon--I attribute that to the fact that my squee-ness from finding a shiny new series to obsess on kind of faded.

That isn't to say that I didn't immensely love Midnight.  It just means that I'm now aware that there may have been some glaring foibles in Discount that I purposefully ignored because I was enjoying it so much.  In truth, Midnight is, indeed the better book, although I would have loved to see more of a presence from our main love interest, Dominic De Luca, who seemed to sort of fade into the background for a certain period of time.

On the other hand, you get to see more from the cast of cryptids whom Verity is always around, and I love how quickly they all band together to help Verity when she gets into a jam.  As the resident cryptozoologist cum cryptid hunter in Manhattan, you always saw a wariness coming from some of these humanoid cryptids, all wondering if Verity will suddenly change her credo and start slashing away at every non-human she comes across.  So I loved that that wariness sort of slips away as soon as the city is threatened by a purging from the Covenant, and Verity has now got a group of cryptids ready to defend their community as well as their cryptozoologist.

I liked seeing more of the cryptids as more than just background decoration in Verity's world.  In fact, from the beginning of this series, the cryptids were always a close second set of main characters through Verity's eyes.  I liked that Kitty comes more to the forefront, and you can see how conniving she can be, even if for her own bogeyman-like, moralistic reasons--she certainly wasn't like her jackass of an uncle from the first book.  I like that Sarah, and even Istas, was given a bigger role in this book than just sidekick to Verity's missions.

Sarah wasn't really a personal favorite of mine, but she certainly had much more depth than we are likely to give her credit for when she goes to work trying to help Verity out of trouble.  She's got an inner struggle that is quite illuminating considering her line of cryptid species--she's a Cuckoo, described as a telepathic bug-like creature who looks human, but is far from being human.  Cuckoos are also described as being sociopaths from birth, wherein their seemingly one and only goal in life is to use their telepathic abilities to manipulate others (specifically humans) into giving them everything they own, and then leaving said human in ruination, especially financially.  Cuckoos don't eat human flesh, but they DO ruin human lives.

So it's kind of interesting to watch Sarah continuously be embarrassed of her own species, showing a very distinct exception as a member of her kind.  At the same time, she doesn't necessarily restrict the use of her Cuckoo abilities just because she could potentially be a dangerous creature.  Her pleasures in life are quite harmless if you overlook the fact that she still has the innate ability to make fancy hotels let her stay in their nicest, grandest suites for free.  Otherwise, she enjoys reading comic books, spending time with Verity, going to college math classes, and chatting with her long-time crush, Artie, online almost every evening.

Meanwhile, we also get a quick glimpse, if superficial, at Istas, the waheela--a bear-dog therianthrope with a tendency towards violence and lacy Goth-Lolita costumes.  It's both cute and strangely creepy at the same time, especially when Istas lets out her various one-liners, often involving the approval of violent carnage being involved.  It's fascinating following her line of logic as well, because in spite of her carnage-happy declarations, a lot of what she says has a simplistic logic to it, especially when concerning who to rip the head off of, or who NOT to rip the head off of.

And now I'm rambling again, so it's entirely possible I was lying about not being giddy about this book.  I absolutely loved it, and I'm guessing that getting a chance to give it a quick analytic write-up is doing much more to make me want to read more.

I would absolutely love to come back to this world anytime!  And sort of lament the fact that the next two books will be more focused on Alex Price, Verity's older brother.  I mean, I love the little tidbits we get about her family every so often, and I've been wanting a family reunion since she first mentioned her grandmother's spelunking through Hell, or other dimensions and worlds in search of her missing grandfather.  I mean, how often do you get to call home and be told that Mom is spelunking Hell with Grandma?

But I have nothing against Alex Price, despite the fact that I would have liked to have had more interaction between him and Verity before being dropped in his realm.  I guess, being that I've fallen quite in love with Verity and her world (and her colony of Aeslin mice), I just want to hang out for a bit longer with her and the Manhattan community of cryptids.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/rambling-rambling-thoughts-midnight.html
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