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text 2018-12-31 19:22
24 Festive Tasks: Doors 9 - Thanksgiving, Task 2 and Door 20 - Christmas, Task 2 (Christmas Dinner)

I've decided to combine these two tasks -- they both deal with dining in some fashion, and while I would actually not want to change anything about my / our personal holiday traditions, just for once I think it might be fun to have


Christmas or New Year's Eve dinner with Mark Twain,


enjoy his sense of humor and myriads of stories (he must have been quite the raconteur), all the while enjoying an


all you can eat dinner


featuring my mom's very own minced beef and bell pepper stir fry, her potato salad, as well as my BFF's curry & cream soup, Indonesian rice salad, and mousse au chocolat;


amplified by some of the goodies that make up my favorite restaurant's weekly changing culinary trip all around the Mediterranean and some of my favorite Spanish restaurant's tapas.  (Alternatively, a bunch of Indian curries -- say, mango, korma and saag --, Thai / Indonesian / Vietnamese lemongrass chicken, Szechuan beef, and sweet & sour pork.  Or a selection of Mexican burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and tacos with guacamole, salsa roja and sourcream on the side ...)



All of this, with a nice Rioja Gran Reserva, plenty of sparkling mineral water, and an espresso or cappuccino to chase it down ... as well as a single malt, preferably 15+ years of age.  Cheers!


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review 2018-12-12 15:05
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Book
Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10) - Donna Andrews
Six Geese A-Slaying - Donna Andrews,Bernadette Dunne

I decided to backtrack a bit to the series's first (I think) Christmas entry, which is set right after Meg and Michael's marriage and in which Meg is in charge of organizing Caerphilly's annual holiday parade -- emphatically not a "Christmas" parade, since it includes a nod to Diwali (complete with elephants), as well as a Kwanzaa float, which obviously makes this book a fun match with "24 Festive Tasks".


Andrews had definitely found her Meg Langslow legs by the time of this book, and the writing and plotting is great fun ... of course a holiday parade themed on The Twelve Days of Christmas offers countless opportunities for things to go hilariously haywire, but you still have to be able to hit just the right balance of humor and storytelling instead of simply stringing together a series of (wannabe) quirky incidents and characters, which not every writer is able to pull off convincingly.  Perhaps the one tiny letdown was that the murderer (and their motive) was fairly obvious well before the conclusion of the book, but still, I very much enjoyed my annual return to Caerphilly for Christmas the holidays.


And since a whole rafter of turkeys show up in various parts of the book -- they march in the holiday parade, they're being offered as charity gifts to the local poor, they're roasted at one of the local church community's food stand, and a turkey also features in the Christmas dinner "in the off" at the end of the story, to be prepared by Meg's mother -- I feel justified in using this as my Thanksgiving square read in "24 Festive Tasks" ... even if the turkeys are not accorded quite as prominent a role as the titular six geese (or actually, 37 geese ... or make that 38, counting one deceased of natural causes).


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text 2018-11-26 21:38
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Task 4 (2018 Book Harvest)

Well, we know that 2018 was the year I almost broke my shelving system ...



... or would have, if MbD hadn't shown me the way out.  According to Booklikes, I acquired 387 books this year -- 203 print books and 184 audiobooks.  And that figure is definitely too low, as there are some 70 or so Audible downloads I haven't catalogued yet and will probably only add to Booklikes once I've listened to them.



So there's no way I will be posting covers of all of this year's additions to my shelves.  But my stand-out 2018 acquisition was the new Harry Potter hardcover set, together with the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw anniversary editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  I've posted photos of it before, but anyway, just for fun (and because I'm so damned happy about it) ...



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text 2018-11-26 14:58
Thanksgiving-24 Tasks

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.


The one book that changed my life for the better was To Kill a Mockingbird. I had seen the movie and never read the book until 2015. The entire book moved me in a way I haven't been moved in years until that point. I always have my favorite re-reads like "The Secret Garden" and "Little Women."  To Kill a Mockingbird makes me think about justice, how far we had to go to where we are now with regards to race in this country (and even that still needs improvement), the love of a father for his children, and they for him. All of the characters in this one shone brightly, Scout, her brother Jem, her father Atticus, the house keeper Calpurnia, and Boo Radley. 


It was summertime, and the children came closer.
A boy trudged down the sidewalk dragging a fishing-pole behind him.
A man stood waiting with his hands on his hips.
Summertime, and his children played in the front yard with their friend, enacting a strange little drama of their own invention.
It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Dubose's.
The boy helped his sister to her feet, and they made their way home.
Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day's woes and triumphs on their faces.
They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive.
Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house.
Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog.
Summer, and he watched his children's heart break.
Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him.


To Kill a Mockingbird Review

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?


Oh man, my favorite meal was my mom's beef stroganoff. I loved it. She would always make that for me when I was sad or upset. I think once my kitchen gets back together, I am making that! Okay, so my perfect meal with start with a glass of veuve clicquot. I would also be munching away on my favorite cheese, brie with crackers. Then I would be served beef stroganoff with a side of home made biscuits. I don't know why, but the biscuits and stroganoff always go well together. By then I would make sure that I would leave enough room to end with a piece of chocolate cake. 


Image result for beef stroganoff

Task 3: Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”.


Going to have to go with The Hazel Wood Review. Such a disappointment. I was ready to read a dark fairy tale and as I noted in my review, this whole book was information dumps (stuffing) galore. As many people who have been following me for years know, that is always a pain point for me while reading. It didn't help me that I realized that his book was mostly filler (once again stuffing) to set up the second book. I hate that. Each book should be able to stand alone. This one definitely did not do that. This is the first book in what I would guess is a planned duology which I am sure will morph into a trilogy. Though maybe it will stay that way,  The Hazel Wood didn't really gel with readers from what I can tell. 

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.


Um. That's a lot! How about I post the first 32 books and just link you to my Goodreads (owned) book shelf? 


An Irish Country CottageThe One You Really WantHow to Be Successful without Hurting Men's Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for WomenIn the Tall Grass

The ProposalBride of PendorricThe Body in the LibraryThe Moving Finger

Bone CrossedThe Murder at the VicarageMagic BurnsDim Sum of All Fears: A Noodle Shop Mystery

Death by DumplingGhostedCarrieAs You Wish

Secrets of a Happy MarriageThe Hollow ManThe Picture of Dorian GrayA Pocket Full of Rye

The Witchcraft of Salem VillageGetting Over ItMagic BitesTales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era

Flight or FrightSleeping MurderStrangers on a TrainGunmetal Magic

Magic TriumphsA Country AffairFalling for YouYou and Me, Always


Goodreads Owned Books Link

Book: Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story.


It would be easy for me to just pick a Stephen King book for this, so I am going to resist the urge to do so. Picking The Wedding by Dorothy West.

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text 2018-11-25 20:06
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Task 3 (Book Full of Stuffing)
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte


The proverbial stuffed turkey -- full of self-praise and completely unnecessary references to the author's interactions with paleonthologists of note; space that would have been better used for actual information on ... the rise and fall of the dinosaurs.  And yes, Dr. Brusatte -- I know.  Turkeys are birds, and birds are dinosaurs.

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