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review 2018-12-15 19:27
Murder of a Stacked Librarian / Denise Swanson
Murder of a Stacked Librarian - Denise Swanson

There’s no place like Scumble River at Christmastime, and this year, school psychologist Skye Denison has twice as much to celebrate—and to do. In addition to the usual holiday frenzy, Skye’s wedding to police chief Wally Boyd is less than a week away—that is, if the groom isn’t too busy working to attend. The town’s sexy new librarian, Yvonne Osborn, has just been murdered, and the list of suspects is piling up faster than late fees on an overdue book.Yvonne’s strict sense of right and wrong annoyed some townspeople and infuriated others. Did her high standards lead to her death? Skye is distracted by worries about what havoc the crazy Dooziers will wreak on her wedding day and whether she’ll fit into her dress. But Skye can’t afford to leave any page unturned because unless she works quickly to expose the scheming killer, her happy ending may be put on permanent hold.…


I may have stepped into this series at book 16, but I needn't have worried that I would be missing out on anything.  In fact, the author may have over-explained a few details!  I was unsurprised to read Charlaine Harris' blurb on the cover--this book reminded me very strongly of two of Harris' series (Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard). There is the same attention to a lot of tedious detail.  We know how often Skye cleans her cat's litter box and we know every bite that she eats plus far more than we need to about her personal hygiene habits.  


But those seem to be characteristics of cozy mysteries set in the Southern States.  That, plus the image of the Southern mother being over-bearing and persistently entangled in her children's lives (thinking of Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series too).  Add to that Skye's preoccupation with marriage, her weight, and doing everything perfectly, all of which make me roll my eyes!


So this was not the right book for me, but I know for a fact that there are cozy mystery readers out there who will eat this up and ask for more.  That's why there are over 16 books in the series.  In some ways, I'm glad, as I really don't need more series clamouring for my attention!

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review 2018-12-14 16:09
12 Days at Bleakley Manor / Michelle Griep
12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas - Michelle Griep

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.


A sweet Christmas story, easily read in one evening. It’s a combination of historical fantasy, Gothic romance, and mystery story, set in a big ole English edifice, Bleakly Manor. Me thinks it owes a bit to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, as a number of people are anonymously invited to the Manor for the 12 Days of Christmas with promises of rewards should they stay the full 12 days. Their host is not in evidence and the rules quickly change: only one guest will get the reward, the person who makes it to the 12th day. Things quickly begin to happen, eliminating guests by choice & by happenstance.

The Gothic romance aspect involves the two main characters, Clara Chapman and her former fiancé Benjamin Lane. Clara considers herself abandoned at the altar and left penniless. Ben has to be rescued from prison, where he has been merely surviving, wondering why Clara hasn’t come looking for him. The mystery includes deducing who has done this to them and why. Clara is your classic Gothic heroine, orphaned, poor, and separated from her love by a grave problem.

There are interesting details involving the Victorian celebration of Christmas and a seasonally appropriate message about caring for others and the nature of love.

If you’re looking for a cozy Christmas mystery, you could do much worse that 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

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review 2018-12-14 15:51
The Last Command / Timothy Zahn
The Last Command - Timothy Zahn

The embattled Republic reels from the attacks of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who has marshaled the remnants of the Imperial forces and driven the Rebels back with an abominable technology recovered from the Emperor's secret fortress: clone soldiers. As Thrawn mounts his final siege, Han and Chewbacca struggle to form a coalition of smugglers for a last-ditch attack against the empire, while Leia holds the Alliance together and prepares for the birth of her Jedi twins. Overwhelmed by the ships and clones at Thrawn's command, the Republic has one last hope--sending a small force, led by Luke Skywalker, into the very stronghold that houses Thrawn's terrible cloning machines. There a final danger awaits, as the Dark Jedi C'baoth directs the battle against the Rebels and builds his strength to finish what he had already started: the destruction of Luke Skywalker.




Well, I am glad to have finished this trilogy. Kudos to Rich Kelly for the wonderful cover art depicting Grand Admiral Thrawn. I wish he’d been on the first book cover of the series, giving me a better image of the master-planning Imperial villain. Is it wrong of me to like Thrawn better than any of the good guys? But I do—he’s smart, he’s cultured, he’s emotionally controlled. And he is by far the most complex character in the trilogy.

As I’ve said in reviews of the previous two books, the writing is about the right level for the 10-13 year old crowd. By all rights, there should have been a romance between Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker, but that opportunity isn’t taken up—another reason that I feel these books are written with much younger people in mind. Those two should be making Jedi babies!

You know, one of these days I’m going to have to watch the Star Wars movies—maybe next time there’s a Star Wars marathon being shown in town.

Book number 308 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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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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