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review 2018-11-12 13:30
24 Festive Tasks: Doors 2 and 5 - Books for Guy Fawkes Night and Veterans' / Armistice Day
Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer
Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer
The Riddle of the Third Mile - Colin Dexter,Samuel West
The Riddle of the Third Mile - Colin Dexter

Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here's Poison
(Narrator: Ulli Birvé)

The first Georgette Heyer mysteries I read were her Inspector Hemingway books, which in a way meant I was starting from the wrong end, as Hemingway progressed to the rank of inspector from having been the lead investigator's sergeant in the earlier Superintendent Hannasyde books.  That doesn't impede my enjoyment of Hannasyde's cases in the least, however, now that I'm getting around to these, even though I found the first one (Death in the Stocks) seriously underwhelming.  But Heyer redeems herself in a big way with Behold, Here's Poison: Though a fair share of her mysteries have a sizeable contingent of 1920s-30s stock-in-trade bright young things and generally "nice chaps" (which got on my nerves enough at one point to make me decide I'd had enough of Heyer), when she did set her mind to it, nobody, not even Agatha Christie, did maliciously bickering families like her.  And the family taking center stage here must be one of the meanest she's ever come up with, only (just) surpassed by the Penhallows.  I'm not overwhelmed with the story's romantic dénouement (there always is one in Heyer's books), and while I guessed the mystery's essential "who" and had a basic idea of the "why" at about the 3/4 - 4/5 mark (the actual "why" was a bit of a deus ex machina), by and large this has to count among my favorite Heyer mysteries so far ... though not quite reaching the level of my overall favorite, Envious Casca.


Ulli Birvé isn't and won't ever become my favorite narrator, and she seriously got on my nerves here, too.  Since all of the recent re-recordings of Heyer's mysteries are narrated by her, though, I've decided I won't hold her mannerisms against the author, and I've read enough print versions of Heyer books at this point to have a fairly good idea of what a given character would sound like in my head if I'd read instead of listened to the book in question.



Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile
(Narrator: Samuel West)

For Veterans' / Armistice Day I'm claiming the very first book I revisited after the beginning of the 24 Festive Tasks game: Colin Dexter's The Riddle of the Third Mile had long been one of my favorite entries in the Inspector Morse series, but Samuel West's wonderful reading not only confirmed that status but actually moved it up yet another few notches.  (Samuel West is fast becoming one of my favorite audiobook narrators anyway.) The fact that due to the progress of medical research a key element of the mystery would have been much easier to solve these days does not impede my enjoyment in the least ... changing social mores aside, half the Golden Age crime literature, including many of the great classics by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and even, on occasion, Arthur Conan Doyle would be deprived of substantial riddles if they were set today. -- The book qualifies for this particular "24 Festive Tasks" square, because some of the characters' and their siblings' encounter as British soldiers at the battle of El Alamein (1942) forms the prologue to the book and an important motive for their actions in the world of Oxford academia and Soho strip clubs, some 40 years later.

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review 2018-11-11 18:44
Tedious & Boring
The Essex Serpent - Sarah Perry

I really don't have much to say about this one. I was bored throughout. It took me several days to finish since I just couldn't get into this. I didn't like any of the characters. I thought the narrative style switching to letters made the flow even worse. The ending was just there and seemed set it up for a sequel (no thank you). 


"The Essex Serpent" is set in Victorian London and takes place mostly in an Essex village in 1890. The book starts off with Cora Seaborne dealing with the death of her husband. Cora finally feels free after years of abuse from her husband. She seems surrounded by many people who love her (her companion Martha and a doctor, Luke Garrett). When Cora finally gives herself over to being able to study naturalism, she moves to Essex and finds herself meeting the local villagers and finding herself there.


Will Ransome is the local vicar and is doing what he can to drive out thoughts of the Essex Serpent being real. When Will meets Cora, the two initially don't like each other, however, they eventually come to see each other more and start to have feelings for each other. Even though Will is happily married to his wife of many years, Stella. 


The book just flip flops between characters, that also didn't help. We follow Cora, Martha, Will, Stella, Luke, etc throughout the book. Maybe if Perry only had the book going back and forth between Cora and Will it would have worked better.


The writing was fine, I just didn't care to delve too deep into this one. I was bored. I found myself skimming certain pages just wanting to be done. 

There doesn't seem to be much of a lesson in this one besides people running around and not being with the person that they want to be and myths of serpents. if anything, this book just seemed to be love triangle after love triangle set in Victorian London. That's probably why I didn't like it much. 


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text 2018-11-06 17:19
Book Treason: j'accuse...

Task 2: List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.


Treason is a very particular kind of crime. It can only be committed by those who should be trusted. Murder is murder whether you are killed by friend or enemy but treason requires status, a connection of loyalty so deep and so universally understood that it is always an act of betrayal.


It follows that only those who owe books loyalty can commit treason, so I've looked to those whose status implies a loyalty to books and asked myself, "How might they betray books?" I have identified three possible traitors:



Librarian Treason: Making books unavailable.

In its most extreme form this is about banning books and or sending them to be destroyed but it also includes making books hard for readers to find and to access. 


Publisher Treason: the Out Of Print excuse.

With the technology currently available, there is no reason why ANY book need ever be Out Of Print. Printing on demand, either physically or electronically, is simple and cost-effective. If publishers decline to use technology to make books available then they have betrayed the trust of writers and readers and should be prepared to suffer the consequences: free peer-to-peer networks or digital books.


Reviewer Treason: reviewing a book without reading it

This comes in two forms. The most common is the reviewer who skims a book in order to be able to push an opinion that they'd already formed about the book and or the author. A rarer form is to express strong opinions about a book without even the pretence of reading it. This is often an approach taken by those who want to ban books or to express disdain for popular books as a way of establishing their intellectual credentials.


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text 2018-11-06 13:33



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)?

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5; Mercy Thompson World - Complete, #15)


Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (Burn Bright Review)

I already commented about how this book just about broke the fandom when Briggs provided readers insight into a character. I never in my life want to have to discuss if pedophilia is still a thing if the person doesn't act on it. I maybe rolled my eyes a million times when I saw this was up for a Goodreads Choice Awards too. This book has also ruined my love of the Mercy Thompson series. Just did a re-read for Halloween bingo and just felt bitter the whole time. 


Image result for flames gif


Task 2:  List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.


1. Dog earing the pages. Get a freaking bookmark!

2. Borrowing someone's book and not returning it. I had someone lose one of my books two years ago, and I am still mad about it. She also didn't even offer to pay the value of the lost book. Just acted like it was just one of those things. 

3. Treating it like it's a decoration and using it to color coordinate your bookshelves. Yep, I still hate that trend. 



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).


Favorite BBQ recollection is definitely being a little kid and going over to my father's aunt and uncle's house (they raised him) every Memorial Day and Fourth of July and eating BBQ. All of the kids would run up to where this old spring was and drink from it. We would play basketball, hide and seek, jump rope, and do our level best to injure each other without causing bruises. Then we would run back to the house when the food was ready. Usually my aunt would holler at us kids to get down from that hill and come and eat already. She would sit there with a cigarette in her mouth and call us rotten (that was her way of saying she loved us) and we would just eat, and go and play, and come back and eat again. I would just eat hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, mac and cheese, chitlins, pigs in the blanket, cake, until I thought I would burst. I still can't eat a hotdog unless it's been on a grill. It just tastes wrong to me somehow. 


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).


This was really hard! I also am going to await some ruling on my book titles and included links for them below. 


1. The Gunpowder Gardens or, A Time for Tea: Travels Through India and China in Search of Tea by Jason Goodwin. I think after doing several hours of research, I find one. I had to dismiss some cozies that had Gunpowder in the title. 



2. Gunpowder Alchemy (The Gunpowder Chronicles #1) by Jeannie Lin. This does not appear to be about blowing up people or shooting them. Lin seems to be doing a steam punk book which has the Qing Dynasty falling to Great Britain due to the creation of steam engines. Book 1 of the The Gunpowder Chronicles, an Opium War steampunk series.



3. Gunpowder (Gunpowder #1) by Joe Hill. Gunpowder in this case refers to the planet R2 in this book. I have been meaning to read this someday, but refuse to spend $100 on it (Amazon price). 



4. Gunpowder by Bernard O'Donoghue. This is a book of poetry. 



5. Colour of Paradise: The Emerald in the Age of Gunpowder Empires by Kris Lane. Hmm this is a history book that goes into the emerald and why it is/was so important to the Islamic empires. 


Book:  Set in the UK, or a political thriller; a book involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.
I am currently reading The Essex Serpent which should fit this. Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.
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text 2017-11-05 11:00
The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Second Square: Guy Fawkes Night and Bon Om Touk


Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, is an annual commemoration observed on November 5, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of November 5, 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators of the so-called Gunpowder Plot were arrested for planning to blow up explsives placed beneath the House of Lords.  Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and several months later an Act of Parliament enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.  Traditionally, Guy Fawkes Night bonfires are kindled by a supersized straw effigy.


The Reading Tasks:

Read a book about the English monarchy (any genre) –OR– about political treason –OR– a political thriller –OR– a book where fire is a major theme –OR– which has an image of a fire on the cover.




Other Tasks:

Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers. –OR– Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read.  Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.



Bon Om Touk

The Cambodian Water Festival Bon Om Touk is celebrated in early November and commemorates the end of the country's rainy season, as well as the annual reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River, the central part of a hydrological system in the Lower Mekong Basin which the Mekong River replenishes with water and sediments annually.  The Water Festival was first celebrated in the 12th century, around the time of Angkorian King Jayavarman VII, when the King’s Navy helped usher in the Cambodian fishing season. The festivities made the gods happy and secured good harvests of rice and fish in the upcoming year.  Another interpretation is that Bon Om Touk was a way for the King to prepare his navy for battle. -- The biggest celebrations take place in Phnom Penh, lasting night and day for three days, with boat racing along the Sisowath Quay and concerts.


The Reading Tasks:

Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river –OR– read a book that has water on the cover.




Other Tasks:

Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle) –OR– if you're living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.

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