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review 2018-12-10 19:37
Small Gods / Terry Pratchett
Small gods - Terry Pratchett

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was: 'Hey, you!' This is the Discworld, after all, and religion is a controversial business. Everyone has their own opinion, and indeed their own gods, of every shape and size, and all elbowing for space at the top. In such a competitive environment, shape and size can be pretty crucial to make one's presence felt. So it's certainly not helpful to be reduced to appearing in the form of a tortoise, a manifestation far below god-like status in anyone's book.

In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast: for the Great God Om, Brutha the novice is the Chosen One – or at least the only One available. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...

 

The captain frowned. “It’s a funny thing,” he said, “but why is it that the heathens and barbarians seem to have the best places to go when they die?”
“A bit of a poser, that,” agreed the mate. “I s’pose it makes up for ‘em….enjoying theselves all the time they’re alive, too?” He looked puzzled. Now that he was dead, the whole thing sounded suspicious.


Dare I admit that this is my very first encounter with the writing of Terry Pratchett? I’ve seen the praise of his work from my friends and acquaintances and have been meaning to get to him sooner or later, so I’m glad that my reading project got me started.

Wow, Pratchett is an excellent writer, able to keep many balls in the air while still being humourous. This is very definitely a critique of organized religion of the modern sort, dressed up in the clothing of the Greco-Roman period. He makes good use of the early Christian idea that heathen gods ceased to exist as their worshippers drifted away. Also the notion that those best qualified to lead are the least likely to seek leadership positions. Plus, he plays with the tortoise/turtle mythology that is common to so many cultures. Very skillful.

Book number 303 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2018-12-10 19:08
The Towers of the Sunset / L.E. Modesitt
The Towers of the Sunset - L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Tells the story of Creslin, son of a powerful military matriarch, who chooses exile rather than an arranged marriage. He sets out on a search for his true identity as a man, developing his magical talents through constant conflict with the enigmatic white wizards of Candar.

 

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, with the male/female role reversal. The young man, Creslin, who is kept in seclusion to be pure for marriage, the reluctance to teach him fighting skills because he will have women to defend him, his major life role to be a consort to a powerful woman somewhere. And because he has insisted on learning to fight and to ski, we get a runaway groom instead of a runaway bride! I’ve read this particular pattern with a female lead character quite often and it was refreshing to see a male character get the same treatment.

Later in the book, there is some interesting exploration of the nature of man-woman relationships, the differences between the priorities of the sexes when it comes to love, perhaps? Not as spot-on for me as the beginning of the story, but still a long way from the fiction where only the man’s opinion matters.

Somewhat confusing sometimes was the alignment of the colour black with Order Magic and white with Chaos Magic. Kind of reversing the usual good/evil colour associations. Not that either form of magic is painted entirely good or evil—Creslin learns that he can certainly cause bad things to happen with his Order magic. It’s like the old saying about knives. It isn’t the knife that is good or bad, it’s the intention of the person wielding it.

Book number 302 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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text 2018-12-09 06:01
24 Festive Tasks | Update #4



I'm a little late on my weekly updates, so here's a big one!

Since the last update, I've completed tasks from 5 more doors, Bon Om Touk (Tasks 1, 3, & 4), Russian Mother's Day (Tasks 1, 2, & 3), St. Andrew's Day (Task 2), Advent (Tasks 1 & 2), and Hanukkah (Tasks 1, 3, & 4, plus Book Task).  This brings me to a total of 41 points!

I'm super stoked, because my total points last year was 18 for the entire game.  This time last year, I'd completed only 7 Tasks in November; this year, I've completed 31 Tasks in November.  Last year, I'd read 15 books for the Festive Tasks... while this year I've only read 3 books.  Which means that I've somehow managed to participate a lot more fully than I thought I would, completing a lot more non-book tasks than I'd been expecting.

Truthfully, I'd love to be able to do more Book Tasks, but I'm just going to play it by ear.  If Non-book Tasks are what gets the points for this year, I guess that's what I'll be doing!

I'm still working on one of the Sinterklass Tasks, and considering what to do for the other ones.  Meanwhile, as soon as I finish Jurassic Park, the next audio book I'm starting will be Alan Cumming's Not My Father's Son.  I'm almost done with Midnight Sacrifice; it's a slow going book, and I'm dropping the series after this installment because judging by the first two books of the series, I'm not going to like the rest of Melinda Leigh's writing.

So next on the agenda will be The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.  And I'm also looking at starting the Blackthorn & Grim series by Juliet Marillier.

 

 

The Festive Card:

 

 

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

 

 

My Progress:


Overall Total Points Earned:  41
Books Read:  3
Tasks Completed:  38

Current Tasks:

  • Door 1 | Dia de los Muertos Book Task -- Reread of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Door 9 | Thanksgiving Book Task -- Reading Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh
  • Door 14 | Hanukkah Task 2 -- Looking for more candles...
  • Door 23 | Hogswatch Book Task -- Reading The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett


**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:  2

 

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: 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. Posted Activity:
So many sweet soups!
11/25/2018
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 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:  Mawlid (November 20)
Total Points Earned:  4

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover. Possible Reads:
'Tower of Thorns' by Juliet Marillier
TBA
Task 1 Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life. Posted Activity:
Prophesies for cleaning and purging!
11/20/2018
Task 2 The Five Pillars of Islam include almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka. Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed? Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you? Posted Activity:
I have donated books to the library and Goodwill!
11/20/2018
Task 3 Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)? Posted Activity:
Messengers chosen: 1) Hedwig / 2) Ponies / 3) GLaDOS... Oh My!
11/20/2018
Task 4 Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader. List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change. Posted Activity:
5 characters listed -- see main door post above
11/20/2018

 


 

Door 8:  Penance Day (November 21)
Total Points Earned:  3

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 “Confess” your book habits. Dog-earring? Laying books face down? Bending back the spines? Skimming? OR: Confess your guilty reading pleasure, or comfort reads. Posted Activities:
Habits confessed!  And also, comfort reads are obviously Romantic Suspense, right?
11/24/2018
Task 2 It’s “Pennants” day according to MbD’s husband: post a picture of your favorite team’s logo / mascot and the last time they’ve won a championship (or not). -- SKIPPING -- COMPLETED
I don't sports... but...
Per our lovely game host, I get to count my 'Team Book Nerd' pennant!
11/24/2018
Task 3 In centuries gone by, penance would often end up in what might be described as a very extended bad hair day (complete with sackcloth and ashes). Tell us: What’s a bad hair day to you – and what (if anything) do you do about it? Posted Activity:
Everyday is a bad hair day.
11/24/2018
Task 4 Early Christian spiritualists would sometimes do penance by spending time in the desert. If you’ve ever visited a desert region (or even live there), post a picture and tell us about it. Alternatively, post a picture of sand dunes (NOT with water in the background!). -- Probably SKIP -- XX

 


 

Door 9:  Thanksgiving (November 22)
Total Points Earned:  3

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Autumnal covers, set in New England, or a turkey shows up in the story. Current Read:
'Midnight Sacrifice' by Melinda Leigh
TBA
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. Posted Activity:
Listed books!  Four total instead of three.
11/25/2018
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? Posted Activity:
Chinese seafood banquet feast!
11/25/2018
Task 3 Name a book you’ve read this year that you thought was full of “stuffing”. Possible Activities:
Work in progress...
TBA
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. Possible Activities:
About 20+ books listed
11/25/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book that takes place at sea or on a river OR with water on the cover OR where the plot involves a festival or the moon plays a pivotal role in the plot. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Make a paper boat and post a picture of it. Instructions, if needed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiAWx8odStA Posted Activity:
Fleet of ships!
And a Supplementary Post!
11/26/2018
Task 2 If you’ve ever attended a procession or an event involving festively decked out boats, post a picture and tell us about it. -- SKIP! --
I've never attended one of these.
XX
Task 3 Bon Om Touk celebrates the end of the rainy season. Tell us: What’s your favorite type of rainy day book – and do you have a favorite drink or snack to go with your rainy day reading? Photos welcome! Possible Activities:
Any books! But especially Rom-Suspense. With hot tea and sweets.
11/26/2018
Task 4 Which are your 3 favorite books where a key character is “moonlighting”? Possible Activities:
Characters/books chosen - see main post.
11/26/2018

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book set in Russia, or involving a story within a story / play within a play (like the Russian matryoshka dolls stuck inside each other), or where a key character (not necessarily the protagonist) is a mother. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Tell us: What is the mother of all writerly sins in your book (tropes, grammar mistakes, telling instead of showing, etc.)? Posted:
The sin: Not respecting the craft.
12/01/2018
Task 2 Do you have a favorite Mothers’ Day memory that you are happy to share? Photos welcome but optional. Posted:
A random Mothers' Day memory.
12/01/2018
Task 3 Perhaps the best-known scene in the James Bond novel and film From Russia With Love is 007 being poisoned by Russian agent Rosa Klebb with a venom-laced blade hidden in her shoe. Tell us: Have you ever owned any particular / outrageous / funny / best-beloved or otherwise special pair of shoes?  Post a photo if you should still own them. Posted:
Oh my, shoes!  I love shoes!  I have a lot of shoes!
12/01/2018
Task 4 Make a traditional Russian dish like borscht, blintzes, pirogi or solyanka soup, and share a picture with us. Find recipe suggestions here: https://www.expatica.com/ru/about/Top-10-Russian-foods-and-recipes_108678.html In Progress:
Going to try this one.
TBA

 


 

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Andrew was the first apostle; read the first book in a series.  OR: Andrew and Peter were brothers; read a book about brothers.  OR: Read books about or set in Scotland or by a Scottish author, or set in Charleston, South Carolina (which is where the celebrations as we know them today began – by a group of Scottish expats – according to scotland.org). Planned Read:
'Not My Father's Son' by Alan Cumming
TBA
Task 1 Nominate someone for sainthood.  Who?  Why? Under consideration:
This one will require some thought.
TBA
Task 2 St Andrew is revered in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, where he worked as a Christian missionary, long before his relics were brought to Scotland centuries later. – Tell us: Is there a book (regardless whether fiction or nonfiction) for which you would basically walk up to strangers and tell them: “Read this!”? What would you say and do to get people to read that particular book? Posted Thoughts:
I'm not likely to recommend books, to be honest.
12/06/2018
Task 3 Legend has it that the saltire or St. Andrew’s cross (white on an azure background) – which constitutes the national flag of Scotland – originated as a cloud formation, symbolizing St. Andrew’s being crucified on an X-shaped cross rather than an upright one.  Do you have any pictures of unusual cloud formations?  If so, share them with us! -- Gonna SKIP -- XX
Task 4 The town of St. Andrews, where the saint’s bones ended up in the course of the spread of Christianity to Scotland, is also famous for its golf course and tournament.  List your 3 favorite books where golf is key to the plot. -- SKIP, most likely -- XX

 


 

Door 13:  Advent (December 1)
Total Points Earned:  2

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade. Posted:
It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere!
12/06/2018
Task 2 The holidays season is in full swing – tell us: What’s your favorite tradition? Posted:
No real traditions...
12/06/2018
Task 3 The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing). Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy! Possible Activities:
I might try this one at some point.  =D
TBA
Task 4 Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it. Instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw83CCa2cg -- SKIP, SKIP, SKIP! --
Nope, nope, nope...
XX

 


 

Door 14:  Hanukkah (December 2 - 10)
Total Points Earned:  4

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read a book about light, miracles, characters who are Jewish or books set in Israel. OR: Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in the second century; read the second book in a series or a book with the word “second” or “two” in the title. Read / Retroactively Claimed:
'Midnight Blue-Light Special' by Seanan McGuire
12/01/2018
Task 1 Have you had any miracles in your life?  (Kids are a given.)  Just enough change for tolls?  Just enough gas to get you to the station?  Been tragically late for a flight only to find the flight was even more tragically delayed?  Nothing is too small - share your miracles with us! Posted:
Lots of miracles.
12/07/2018
Task 2 Light 9 candles each representing something you’re thankful for (share a picture with us; sharing anything else is optional). In Progress:
Need more candles...
TBA
Task 3 Have a donut – and let us share it via a photo. Homemade donuts and shared recipes encouraged … but any donut will do just fine. Posted:
Had a donut!  It was chocolate!
12/07/2018
Task 4 A miracle crucial to Hanukkah is the Miracle of the cruse of oil, which concerns a jug of oil that (ostensibly) only contained enough oil for a single day, but miraculously turned out to last all of eight days. – Miracles aside, tell us: Have you ever experienced that something you had bought or you owned lasted a lot longer than anticipated … or where you expected a shortage which then fortuitously didn’t occur after all? Posted:
Work place supplies... and at home everlasting conditioner.
12/07/2018

 


 

Door 15:  Sinterklass / St. Nicholas Day (TBA)
Total Points Earned:  0

 

Task My Activity /
Link to Post
Date
Completed
Book Read any book with an orange or red cover or with nuts, chocolate or coins on the cover, set in The Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with canals or beer on the cover. Possible Reads:
TBA
TBA
Task 1 Write a book wish list to St. Nick. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 2 You are King / Queen for the day and can have 3 ‘wishes’: one for yourself, one for your community (however you define it), and one for the world: What are they? Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 3 If your holiday family traditions should include bowls or plates filled with gingerbread, cookies, oranges / tangerines, chocolate, nuts and the like, share a photo with us! Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA
Task 4 List your 3 favorite books involving children being rescued from serious peril. Possible Activities:
TBA
TBA

 


 

Door 16:  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 17:  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 /
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Book Read anything by Terry Pratchett Planned Read:
'The Light Fantastic' by Terry Pratchett
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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
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text 2018-12-08 05:44
24 Festive Tasks | Door 14: Hanukkah

 

 

(December 2 thru 10)

 

 

Updates


12/07/2018:  Alrighty!  I'm getting caught up!  Tasks 1, 3, and 4, as well as the Book Task completed.  Task 2 might be coming later.  =D

 

 

Task 1


Have you had any miracles in your life?  (Kids are a given.)  Just enough change for tolls?  Just enough gas to get you to the station?  Been tragically late for a flight only to find the flight was even more tragically delayed?  Nothing is too small - share your miracles with us!
-- COMPLETED 12/07/2018 --

About a year (and one month ago) on the cusp of a job change, if everyone will recall, I gave a news update about my near miss with a situation that could have gone very, very bad.  When my friend and I were on the way home, in the middle of the night, a deer had shot out into the middle of the highway, and my SUV slammed right into it.  Just the fact that we both made out it unharmed, with only my car taking the brunt of the damage, in honesty, I feel like was a big miracle.

If I hadn't been driving slower than the speed limit because of the dark; if I had tried to swerve instead of just hitting the breaks; if my car had not been an SUV, and had been a smaller, less durable car...  There were just so many factors that, looking back, could have worked against us.  But they didn't, and instead, I am thankful everyday that there were so many factors of that night that kept us from a worse fate.


This is only one of few miracles, but probably the one that affected me the most as a personal experience.  But lately, I keep noticing other things that I might call miracles as well, whether big or small.  As I work at a hospital that specializes in cardiology as well as regular open-heart surgeries, I feel like it's a big miracle each time a patient comes out of the OR and is able to stabilize and get better.  Especially when some patients end up in surgery, start going bad, and manage to pull through after hours of post-op recovery work.

Meanwhile, a couple incidents in my own personal life have occurred the past year that are of note.

My mother had been having some strange stomach discomfort, causing a slight bump in her lower abdomen each night, something she only really noticed when she went to bed.  My mom isn't really one to see a doctor all that often.  She prefers to just let things play out because she doesn't like being bothered with doctor's visits.  But after I had a brief health scare involving prolonged abnormal vaginal bleeding that lead to the discovery of a benign polyp, she's been super vigilant about everyone's health.

So without having to be convinced, she immediately made an appointment to see a doctor who proceeded to just have her do an abdominal ultrasound wherein they discovered two things: 1) My mother's stomach discomfort was the result of eating too much, as well as eating things that don't digest well, while the slight bump was just bowel movement that was more prominent because she's too thin; 2) Mom might have gallstones.  While I still don't like the non-diagnosis of the slight bump, the doctor says she's done all the examinations and nothing seems to be amiss with Mom's lower abdomen.  In fact, it had been the gallstones she was worried about.

So Mom got sent to a specialist with the possibility of having to have surgery to remove her gallbladder.  Needless to say, no one was happy about that diagnosis either.  Even though the procedure is said to be pretty simple, it is still surgery, and the removal of the gallbladder would be a huge life change for Mom.  We were all worried.  Fortunately, after seeing the surgeon, Mom was extremely happy to hear her say, "Keep your gallbladder and keep your stones.  You won't need surgery."  Basically, she really just needs to watch what she eats, and as long as the gallstones weren't going to obstruct any ducts, they were eventually go away and she'd be fine.

But no more really oily or greasy foods--fewer french fries and lay off the fried chicken.

We just need to help Mom watch her diet, and Mom needs to say something if there's any pain or discomfort.


Most recently, our family heard from my uncle who lives in Australia with his family--my aunt and three cousins.  One of my cousins was in a motorcycle accident.  He was hit by a car on Halloween night and thrown from his bike.  He ended up in the hospital with a broken leg, as well as needing a skin graft to his knee area.  We'd all been exchanging messages online for a few days before hearing that he'd be fine and would be starting physical therapy soon.  The most recent exchange from his elder sister about a week ago told us that everyone is relieved, he's out of the hospital, and he's "zipping around on his crutches."

While I'm happy that he's fine, it doesn't escape my notice that motorcycle accidents can be dangerously fatal.  The fact that he got out of it with just a broken leg, I believe, is a big miracle in itself.  I can imagine how relieved his family must be feeling, as the rest of us were waiting daily for updates on his condition from across the world.  It was a scary situation that I'm extremely glad hadn't been worse.

And things like this really make you truly thankful for the miracles in life, big or small.

 

 

Task 2


Light 9 candles each representing something you’re thankful for (share a picture with us; sharing anything else is optional).
-- IN PROGRESS --

I'm in need of at least seven more candles to complete this task.  A bit of shopping might be in order.

 

 

Task 3


Have a donut – and let us share it via a photo.  Homemade donuts and shared recipes encouraged … but any donut will do just fine.
-- COMPLETED 12/07/2018 --

I honestly don't really go for donuts as a sweet snack or anything--yeah, I know, the nerve.  But if I DO ever eat a donut, it's usually a cake donut, or the Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts.

When I got to work earlier in the day, there were a box of half-eaten donuts that I was tempted by.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a great picture of the donut I chose, but here's a picture of the box of half-eaten donuts.

 


I took this picture to show one of my coworkers when I got to the lab, as the donuts weren't in our area, but in the front room of the offices, free for all.  My coworker wanted me to tell her what kinds of donuts there were, so I just took a picture for simplicity.  I'd forgotten that I had this and was quite upset that I forgot to take a picture of my chosen donut, by itself.

But hey, this works too, right?

The one on the bottom right is the chocolate cake donut with chocolate frosting.  It chose that one immediately because they are one of my favorites.  If I ever came across a chocolate cake donut, it typically got dunked in hot chocolate, letting the frosting melt into the chocolate and making my drink even more chocolatey!  =D

 

 

Task 4


A miracle crucial to Hanukkah is the Miracle of the cruse of oil, which concerns a jug of oil that (ostensibly) only contained enough oil for a single day, but miraculously turned out to last all of eight days. – Miracles aside, tell us: Have you ever experienced that something you had bought or you owned lasted a lot longer than anticipated … or where you expected a shortage which then fortuitously didn’t occur after all?
-- COMPLETED 12/07/2018 --

The only thing I can think of would be some of the various supplies we utilize in the hospital lab.  I was recently put in charge of inventory and supply ordering.  And one of the things that had me freaked out a few months back are these big, five gallon containers of high purity, reagent grade water that we use for one of our instruments.  When items are on back order, it is a nightmare, and this particular item ended up on back order for at least a month, and even with my conviction that we only went through one box each week, anything was bound to happen, and we only had a couple boxes left of this water.  And back order dates are notorious for being inaccurate, and in this particular instance, the back order had gotten pushed back an extra week.

Fortunately, either we were running fewer tests or there was some miracle, we managed to hold out until one of my orders finally came in.  Meanwhile, I'd already been making inquiries and arrangements to find a possible back up or replacement.


On a more personal note, does anyone ever find that their conditioner seems to never run out?  I think I've been able get through one bottle of my Loreal Ever Creme Conditioner versus at least two and a half, or even three bottles, of shampoo of any brand.

 

 

Book Task


Read a book about light, miracles, characters who are Jewish or books set in Israel. OR: Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple in the second century; read the second book in a series or a book with the word “second” or “two” in the title.
-- COMPLETED 12/01/2018 --

I chose to retroactively claim Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire when this door was first revealed.  As the second book in the InCryptid series that I finished reading in November, it fits right in for this task.

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-14-hanukkah.html
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text 2018-12-06 08:10
24 Festive Tasks | Door 13: Advent

 

 

(December 1 this year - Four Sundays before Christmas)

 

 

Updates


12/06/2018:  It is 2:00 A.M. my time and I really should be getting to sleep right now.  But I also really wanted to do one more 24 Festive Tasks update.  I'm really bad about general delegation of sleep and time in my life.

But hey!  I completed Tasks 1 and 2.  And there's a Book Task update for a planned read!  Yay?

 

 

Task 1


Post a picture of your advent calendar - store bought or homemade.
-- COMPLETED 12/06/2018 --

I've never really thought of advent calendars and have never actually bought one before.  HOWEVER, if I were to buy an advent calendar, it would probably be this one:

 


It's a 12 Days of Wine Advent Calendar.  I'd seen those infamous wine advent calendars on Pinterest a few years back and always thought it was a great idea... if you lived with a big family, or planned to have 25 parties until Christmas Day.  While I love myself a nice glass of wine, I'm also not sure I can handle a full bottle of wine daily, for 25 days straight.  And given how quickly wine can start going bad, obviously you don't want to open a bottle of wine, drink a glass or two one day, then open another bottle the next day before finishing the first.

While 12 bottles of wine might still be a bit much, it's a bit more realistic for me, if I want to be honest.

Barring that, I also came across some wine advent calendars that apparently have smaller bottles of wine rather than full 750 mL bottles.  They look super cute as well!

 

 

Task 2


The holidays season is in full swing – tell us: What’s your favorite tradition?
-- COMPLETED 12/06/2018 --

Truth is, I get asked this question a lot--not in those words, but more of as a general, "What kind of holiday traditions do you have?"  Of course, this question is usually following on the tail end of, "I don't know if your family celebrates Christmas or anything in your culture."  I don't know why I find that lead-in so amusing--probably because I know people try so hard to be politically correct and inoffensive.  And it gets asked almost every year by the same people.  Understandable, though, since it IS true that Christmas isn't a traditional Asian holiday.

So even while our family DOES like to celebrate holidays indiscriminately, we don't really have any actual traditions.  Unless you count the one where we simply find any holiday (Christmas or otherwise) as a great excuse to go out to a nice restaurant.  It really IS as simple as that.  There isn't any decorating of tree or house, no going to see Christmas lights around town, nor do we even really exchange gifts.

My parents don't believe in randomly giving people things that they won't be able to use.  Surprise gifts are definitely out of the question.  So for Christmas every year, Mom and Dad just give my brothers and me a holiday themed envelope with a certain amount of money--I suppose this could be counted as a tradition--and we can use said money however we wish.  In return, we treat them to dinner at a nice, fancy restaurant.  We may take my parents shopping if they so desired, and typically Dad ends up with some fun new technology to fawn over.  Mom never wants anything, though I might buy her a cute new scarf, or pay for the pretty shirt she's picked up and put down a dozen times with the excuse that she doesn't need any new shirts.

 

 

Task 3


The tradition of carol singing in the Advent / holiday season is linked to the old Anglo-Saxon (and medieval) custom of wassailing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassailing).  Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit.  Post a picture and enjoy!
-- COMING SOON --

I really do want to do this one.  It might happen sometime this weekend.

 

 

Task 4


Make your own Advent wreath and share a picture of it.  Instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw83CCa2cg
-- SKIP, SKIP, SKIP! --

Yeah, no.

 

 

Book Task


Advent also means “second coming”: Read a pastiche, or a book written by an “authorised author” by the deceased author’s estate. OR: There are four Sundays in Advent. Read the fourth book of a series or a book with the word “four” in the title.
-- PLANNED READ --


I'm a little peeved at myself that I haven't gotten to this book yet.  I've been really slacking in reads these last two months of the year, but I DO want to finish the Nichelle Clarke series.  If I'd already read this in November, I could have retroactively claimed it already.  As it stands, I will definitely do what I can to work it into my reading schedule.

Devil in the Deadline is the fourth book in the Nichelle Clarke series by LynDee Walker.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/24-festive-tasks-door-13-advent.html
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