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review 2018-12-23 22:01
24 Festive Tasks: My Final Books (Doors 16, 17 and 19 -- Human Rights Day, St. Lucia's Day, and Festivus)
A Christmas Guest - Anne Perry,Terrence Hardiman
Skandinavische Weihnachten: Die schönsten Geschichten von Sven Nordqvist, Hans Christian Andersen, Selma Lagerlöf u.a. - Hans Christian Andersen,Selma Lagerlöf,Various Authors,Sven Nordqvist,Josef Tratnik,Dirk Bach,Jens Wawrczeck
A Woman of No Importance - Full Cast,Oscar Wilde
Model Millionaire - David Timson,Oscar Wilde


Anne Perry: A Christmas Guest

The third book in Anne Perry's series of Christmas novellas, each one of which has as their protagonist one of the supporting characters from Perry's main series (William Monk, and Charlotte & Thomas Pitt).  This installment's starring role goes to Charlotte Pitt's vinegar-tongued grandmother, who -- like another remote relative, recently returned to England after having spent most of her adult life living in the Middle East -- finds herself shunted onto Charlotte and her husband Thomas at short notice, because the family with whom she had been planning to spend the holidays have made other plans.  While Grandma pretends to despise her widely-traveled fellow guest, secretly she develops a considerable amount of respect for her, so when the lady is unexpetedly found dead, grandma takes it upon herself to seek out the people who had unloaded her on the Pitt household; convinced that something untoward is afoot.

 

As Perry's Christmas novellas go, this is one of my favorite installments to date, and i loved seeing it told, for once, not from the point of view of an easily likeable character, but from that of Grandma, who is a major pain in the neck to others (even though you'd have to be blind not to recognize from the word "go" that her acerbic tongue and pretensions are merely part of her personal armour).  I also wondered whether the murder victim's character might have been inspired by pioneering women travelers like Gertrude Bell, even if the story is set a few decades earlier than Bell's actual life.  I had issues with a couple of minor aspects of the plot (and characters / behaviour), but they didn't intrude enough to seriously impinge on my enjoyment of the story.  And since Grandma, for all her overblown pretenses, is certainly a strong woman character -- which she shows, not least, by eventually admitting to her own fallibilities -- I am counting this book towards the Human Rights Day square of 24 Festive Tasks.

 

 

 
Various Authors: Skandinavische Weihnachten

A charming anthology of Christmas short stories and poems from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland; chiefly geared towards children, but more than enjoyable by readers and listeners of all ages and generations.  I knew some of the entries (no Scandinavian Christmas anthology without Andersen's Little Match Girl, I suppose), but many of the stories were new to me, and they made for delightful listening on this 4th weekend of Advent. -- Set in Scandinavia, and thus I'm using it as my book for the St. Lucia's Day square.

 

 


Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance

Wilde's second play; an acerbic take on the narrowness of fin de siècle English morality; or more particularly, supremely hypocritical perceptions of women's role in society.  Unlike in Wilde's later plays, the beginning comes across as a bit of an over-indulgence in the author's own clever wit, with a veritable fireworks of sparkling onelines and repartees following in quick succession without greatly advancing the plot (which is what earns the piece the subtractions in my star ratings -- it's the perfect example of too much of a good thing); but once the plot and the dialogue centers on the opposing protagonists, it quickly finds its feet. -- As Festivus books go, it's rather on the dark side, but it's a satire nevertheless, so I'm counting it for that square ... and though (unusually for Wilde) the last line is telegraphed a mile and a half in advance, I nevertheless enjoyed saying it along with the play's heroine from all my heart.

 

 


Oscar Wilde: Model Millionaire

My encore enjoyment to follow up A Woman of No Importance; a story that couldn't be any more different in tone and intent -- the tale of a gentleman who believes he has done a kindness to a raggedy beggar modelling for his artist friend ... only to find that he could not possibly have been any more mistaken, and that in fact it is he who is ultimately at the receiving end of an unexpected kindness.

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text 2018-12-18 15:30
Human Rights Day-24 Tasks

Human Rights Day

Hey first day that I feel a little bit back to normal so decided to check in and finish up as many tasks as I can for the day before back to sleep and soup. 

-Blue

 

Task 1:  Book hunt for human rights:  Search your shelves for books with titles containing human rights words such as (but not limited to): hope, friendship, equality, justice, love, liberty, etc.  Put them in a stack and take a picture for posting.  (5 book minimum).

 

 

I also put in my picture of the Sailor Moon wand I have. We all know she's about the power of love. 

 

Task 2:  This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Find 3 books on your shelves with protagonists or other key characters who are -- or can reasonably be assumed to be -- 70 years or older.

 

Based on my read shelf on Goodreads, I went with these three:

 

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4) The Mercy Thompson has vampires and werewolves that are older than 70 years old. I pick Bran the Marrok who is several hundred years old and pops up in this one. I would also include Stefan, Samuel, etc. who are older.

 

The Sleeper and the SpindleIn the Sleeper and the Spindle we have an unnamed Queen (Snow White) off to rid her and other kingdoms of a sleeping spell. She confronts an old woman who is not what she seems, and also is older than 70. 

 

DraculaDracula. Enough said he's older than 70 years old. I was also thinking of selecting Salem's Lot cause we know the vampire in that one is several hundred years old. 

 

Task 3: The symbol of Human Rights Day is the dove, which in its incarnation as a homing pigeon is also renowned for its navigational skills. – Tell us: Did you ever get so thoroughly lost (either in the days before GPS or because GPS, for whatever reason, was of no use to you) that you wished you had a homing pigeon to guide you?

 

Oh yes. When I moved to Virginia to start my job in D.C. back in 2003 I was hopelessly lost all of the time. This was before smart phones people and if I was going to make a trip, I had to print out instructions from MapQuest. Whatever happened to MapQuest? The worst was me trying to find a home in DC my friend was living in while the owners were away. I still remember the flop sweat that broke out on my body when the street I was supposed to turn onto had a freaking detour. I was in a total panic when I realized that I was driving around and around and could not find this street I needed to get to. I ended up trying to call three friends before someone finally picked up. I had to pull over, get myself under control, and then one of my friends guided me there. 

 

Task 4: Human Rights Day was declared by the U.N. General Assembly, whose seat is in New York City. Treat yourself to a Manhattan (classic recipe: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/manhattan-2/ ; virgin [non-alcoholic] recipes: https://www.anallievent.com/virgin-manhattan/ , http://www.1001cocktails.com/recipes/mixed-drinks/800238/cocktail-virgin-manhattan.html and https://www.liquor.com/recipes/not-manhattan/ ) or to a bagel or pastrami sandwich and share a photo with us.

 

Hmm I may be able to do the bagel this weekend. I may be up for a walk at that point. No drinking though. 

 

Book: Read any book with strong female characters, or written by an author from any minority group; any story about a minority overcoming their oppressors either individually or as a group. OR: A book set in New York City.

 

This should be easy to do. I feel well enough to read again and have some reviews to post. 

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text 2018-12-12 19:28
24 Festive Tasks: Door 16 - Human Rights Day, Task 1 (Human Rights Keywords in Book Titles)

Since I just recently restored order to my physical shelves, I'm reluctant to upset that particular apple cart all over again -- but here are screenshots of some of my search results on my BookLikes shelves (both read and TBR) for the keywords "human," "rights," "freedom," "justice," "liberty," "peace," "sanctuary," "truth," "equal," "happiness," "protect," and "vision":

 

... as well as the little "European Enlightenment" corner of my philosophy shelf (the American authors are part of my Library of America collection):

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text 2018-12-12 17:17
24 Festive Tasks: Door 16 - Human Rights Day, Task 2 (70+ Year Old Characters)
Miss Marple Omnibus Vol. 1 - Agatha Christie
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson
The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens,Norman Page
The Final Solution - Michael Chabon

Admittedly fairly obvious choices, but anyway:

 

1. Miss Marple -- who may or may not have cracked 70 at the beginning of the series (The Murder at the Vicarage, 1930) but is an elderly lady even then and must have been over 90 by the time the last book about her was published, some 46 years later (Sleeping Murder).

2. Allan Karlsson -- the eponymous protagonist of The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared.

3. Little Nell's Grandfather in The Old Curiosity Shop.

 

Honorary mention:

 

Sherlock Holmes -- who has retired and is keeping bees in the South Downs in The Final Solution, which is set in 1944.

 

 

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text 2017-12-11 11:45
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Seventh Square - International Human Rights Day and St. Lucia's Day

International Human Rights Day (December 10th)

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on December 10 every year.  The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on December 10, 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations. The day is usually marked by high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions organized by governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights issues.  The Nobel Peace Prize is also awarded on this day. -- Note: The 2017 award went to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), as announced on October 6, 2017.  You can read the Award Ceremony Speech on the Nobel Prize website.

 

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not Anglo-Saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused.
–OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the U.N. and U.N. World Court respectively).

 

–OR–

 

Other Tasks:

Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights. (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.) –OR– Cook a dish from a foreign culture or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (The Netherlands); post recipe and pics.

 

 

St. Lucia’s Day (December 13th)

St. Lucia’s Day is a Christian feast day celebrated on December 13 in Advent, commemorating a 3rd-century martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to legend brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs using a candle-lit wreath to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible.  Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a Christian festival of light.  Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucia's Day is seen as an event signaling the arrival of the Light of Christ on Christmas Day.  Saint Lucia’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, where it is a major feast day, and in Italy.  In Scandinavia, where the saint is called Santa Lucia in Norwegian and Sankta Lucia in Swedish, she is represented as a lady in a white dress (a symbol of a Christian's white baptismal robe) and a red sash (symbolizing the blood of her martyrdom) with a crown or wreath of candles on her head.  In Norway, Sweden and Swedish-speaking regions of Finland, as songs are sung, girls dressed as Saint Lucia carry rolls and cookies in procession, which symbolizes bringing the light of Christianity throughout world darkness.

 

The Reading Tasks:

Read a book set in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden - and Finland for the purposes of this game) or a book where ice and snow are an important feature.

 

–OR–

 

Other Tasks:

Get your Hygge on -- light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.


Bonus task: Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk

Addendum: Lillelara shared another set of instructions here and explained:

"You can find a link for a pfd file with a lot of different patterns here: http://www.altomhobby.dk/jul/flettede-julehjerter/sadan-fletter-du-julehjerter/

Klick on the link called "52 gratis skabeloner til flettede julehjerner". They do mean julehjerter - christmas hearts. A julehjerne is a christmas brain. I had to chuckle quite a bit at that :)."

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