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24 Festive Tasks: Mid-December Stats

Only two more weeks to go, and tomorrow we'll be revealing the tasks for the remaining seven holidays / doors!

 

So, here's the status quo as we are going into the final stretch of the game:

 

Current overall total is just shy of 700 points, which equals roughly 130% of the sum total of points collected in the entire game last year.  Woohoo!

 

The most popular square remains Melbourne Cup Day with an unbeatable 68 points, followed by Penance Day (58), Día de los Muertos (55), Guy Fawkes Night, Diwali and Mawlid (53 each) and Thanksgiving (51).

 

Now that the Hogswatch group / buddy read has kicked in, we have no square left without any points at all.

 

The most popular individual tasks to date are Melbourne Cup Day / pick your ponies (36 points), Día de los Muertos / favorite epitaph (18), Guy Fawkes Night / crimes against books and Diwali / "girls with flowers" book covers (both 16), Guy Fawkes Night / burn a book in effigy (15), and a trio with 14 points each: Penance Day / book habits, Penance Day / favorite sports teams, and Thanksgiving / favorite books of this year.

 

And finally, the holidays for which the most books have been read so far are Día de los Muertos (13), Guy Fawkes Night (12), as well as Veterans' / Armistice Day, International Day for Tolerance, and Mawlid (11) each.

 

Have fun during the final 2 weeks of the game!

 

 

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 17 - St. Lucia's Day, Task 4 (Gävle Goat)


The 2009 edition of the Gävle goat
(images collected when compiling the St. Lucia's Day tasks)

 

Ever the optimist, I'm guessing the Goat has survived / will survive this year.  IIRC, it did last year as well -- hopefully that means they've finally learned how to keep the vandals in check!

 

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 17 - St. Lucia's Day, Task 3 (Book Cover Crown of Light)

My feeble attempt at creating the approximation of a circular St. Lucia's crown:

 

 

Inspiration for the book covers:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3734.Lamps_torches_candelabras_on_the_cover

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/33553.Candles_and_Lamps

(These don't have to be books from your own shelves!)

 

24 Festive Tasks: Master Update Post

 

 

MARKERS:

Books: Falling Star / Meteor

Tasks: Bows

 

 

 

DOOR 1: DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

Book:  Agatha Christie: Miss Marple - The Complete Short Stories (audio version, narrated by Joan Hickson, Isla Blair and Anna Massey)

Task 1:

Task 2: Favorite epitaph (William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon)

Task 3: Sherlock Holmes altar

Task 4: Mexican food

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 2: GUY FAWKES NIGHT

Book: Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here's Poison

Task 1:

Task 2: Book-related crimes

Task 3: Favorite food "flambé" (vanilla ice cream and hot cherries)

Task 4: "Non-explosive" "Gunpowder" titles

 

Points:  4

 

 

DOOR 3: MELBOURNE CUP DAY

Book: Dick Francis: Field of Thirteen

Task 1: Pick your ponies: A Prince of Arran, The Cliffsofmoher, Sound Check  (=> 1 point for participation + 1 point for getting 1 horse right)

Task 2: Hats

Task 3:

Task 4: Hamburg Derby & CHIO

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 4: DIWALI

Book: Terry Pratchett: The Light Fantastic

Task 1: Bonn leuchtet / Bonn Shines (favorite light display)

Task 2: Shelf organization / tea shelves

Task 3:

Task 4: Book covers (girls holding flowers)

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 5: VETERANS' / ARMISTICE DAY

Book: Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile

Task 1: Book cover flag of Germany

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4: Poppy seedcake

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 6: INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR TOLERANCE

Book: Various Authors: A Very French Christmas (anthology)

Task 1: Redeeming element of low-rated book

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 2

 

 

DOOR 7: MAWLID

Book: Joanne Fluke / Laura Levine / Leslie Meier: Candy Cane Murder

Task 1: Book-related prophecies

Task 2: Book rescue & book-related travel / pilgrimages

Task 3:

Task 4: Characters who made a career change

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 8: PENANCE DAY

Book: Barbara Vine: The Brimstone Wedding

Task 1: Comfort reads

Task 2: Favorite sports teams and their pennants

Task 3: Bad hair day

Task 4: In the desert (Egypt)

 

Points: 5

 

 

DOOR 9: THANKSGIVING

Book: Donna Andrews: Six Geese A-Slaying

Task 1: Books I am "most thankful" for / my favorite books of 2018

Task 2:

Task 3: A book full of stuffing

Task 4: Book harvest

 

Points: 4

 

 

DOOR 10: BON OM TOUK

Book: Simon Brett & Certain Members of the Detection Club: The Sinking Admiral

Task 1: Paper boat (and cats)

Task 2: Rhein in Flammen / The Rhine on Fire (festive boat procession)

Task 3: Rainy day books

Task 4: "Moonlighting" book characters

 

Points: 5

 

DOOR 11: RUSSIAN MOTHER'S DAY

Book: Michael Connelly: Dark Sacred Night

Task 1: The mother of all writerly sins

Task 2:

Task 3: Favorite shoes

Task 4:

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 12: ST. ANDREW'S DAY

Book: Michael Connelly: The Late Show

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3: Cloud formations

Task 4: Books featuring golf

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 13: ADVENT

Book: Neil Gaiman: A Study in Emerald

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

DOOR 14: HANUKKAH

Book: Michael Connelly: Two Kinds of Truth

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

DOOR 15: ST. NICHOLAS' DAY

Book:

Task 1: Book Wishlist

Task 2:

Task 3: Holiday Treats

Task 4: Books Featuring Children Rescued from Peril

 

Points: 3

 

 

DOOR 16: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

Book:

Task 1: Human Rights Keywords in Bok Titles

Task 2: 70+ Year Old Book Characters

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 2

 

 

DOOR 17:

Book:

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points:

 

 

DOOR 18: WINTER SOLSTICE / YULETIDE

Book: Diane Setterfield: The Thirteenth Tale

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

DOOR 19: FESTIVUS

Book:

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points:

 

 

DOOR 20: CHRISTMAS

Book: Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

DOOR 21: KWANZAA

Book: Ken Bruen: The Guards

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

DOOR 22: NEW YEAR'S EVE

Book: Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

DOOR 23: HOGSWATCH

Book:

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points:

 

 

DOOR 24: EPIPHANY

Book: Patricia Wentworth: The Clock Strikes Twelve

Task 1:

Task 2:

Task 3:

Task 4:

 

Points: 1

 

 

 

BOOK JOKER

 Used for:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Total Score:

 

 58 points

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):

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.

 

 

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).

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 6 - International Day for Tolerance, Book

A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time - Jean-Philippe Blondel, Dominique Fabre, Alphonse Daudet, Irène Némirovsky, Guy de Maupassant, Jean Brassard

 

An anthology of French Christmas short stories, from 19th century classics to contemporary, up to and including stories published in 2017.  "Nobody does Christmas like the French" is, of course, monumental sales hyperbole (and that's not even taking into account the ubiquitous non-French usual suspects like Dickens's Christmas Carol and E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker), but the stories included are enjoyable enough, even if (on balance) a bit on the preachy side.

 

Since several of these stories are set in Paris, I'm using this as my book for the 24 Festive Tasks - International Day for Tolerance square.  Since one of the anthologized stories is by Irène Némirovsky, I'm also using it for the "N" square of the Women Writers Bingo.

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 15 - St. Nicholas' Day / Sinterklaas, Task 3 (Holiday Treats)

Here's my assortment -- this year's edition:

 

The traditional Christmas-y stuff:

"Christstollen" (Christmas loaf cake), "Printen" (spicy, crunchy gingerbread bars), "Frankfurt Bethmännchen" (round marzipan and almond cookies), "domino cubes" (chocolate-coated cubes filled with gingerbread mass, chocolate and jelly), and chocolate-coated almond gingerbread cookies

 

-- and the not-necessarily-Christmas-y-but-melt-in-your-mouth-sinfully-delicious stuff: white chocolate and crushed almond tartuffi (pralines) and dark chocolate pralines (both Italian)

 

... and a chocolate Santa, and two snowmen wearing chequered scarves and red winter bonnets, just because!

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 - Mawlid, Book

Candy Cane Murder - Leslie Meier, Laura Levine, Joanne Fluke, Suzanne Toren

Well, let's just say that none of these three ladies is anywhere near Donna Andrews's league when it comes to cozy mysteries, plotting, character creation, dialogue, and a writer's craft in general.  And if I thought Joanna Fluke's entry was disappointing (mediocre plotting and dialogue, character responses that felt forced / didn't make sense, and one of my no-go TSTL behavior tropes as the "big reveal" cue (though I have to hand it to Fluke, the setting and overall scene of the final confrontation with the murderer was inspired)), I'm sorry to have to say that Leslie Meier's contribution did even less for me -- you could scratch off the Hallmark sugar coating with a shovel, virtually NONE of the characters' actions and responses bore even the slightest semblance of realism,  and she managed to make 1980s rural Maine come across as more backward than it probably was even in the 1940s and 1950s (while also looking more dripping-with-saccharine-style-homely than any Norman Rockwell picture -- and for the record, I like Norman Rockwell.  Or at least I like his Christmas pictures.)

 

Laura Levine's entry fared a bit better (I'd call it the book's highlight if such a term were appropriate for a muted glow in the midst of two seriously dulled lights); at least she took me right back to L.A. inside my head and the plotting was halfway decent.  But her story seriously suffered from an overabundance of quirky characters, not-very-subtle hints at the MC's padded waistline and her resolutions to do something about it (in which she predictably fails on every single occasion -- and yes, I know this actually is an L.A. thing; been there and would have bought the T-shirt, too, if I'd found it funny then, but the last thing I want is to have this sort of fad jammed up my nose with a sledgehammer in a book) -- and an equal overabundance of wannabe hipster slang and coloquialisms ... everything from repeated exclamations like "ugh!", "oh golly!" and "drat!" to "bet my bottom cupcake" (and yes, even there she goes again with the calorie stuff).  Oh, and the MC's conversations with her cat and said cat's female-Garfield act got old pretty soon as well.

 

Oh well.  If nothing else, this has made me appreciate the consistently high quality of Donna Andrews's writing even more -- I'll happily be returning to her for my cozy contemporary Christmas mysteries (I just hope she'll reliably continue to produce them for the foreseeable future).

 

I may try some of the recipes included in this book eventually, though.

 

Since the audiobook I listened to has a green cover, I'll be using this as my book for the Mawlid square.

Fancy Food Shopping Splurge; or, the Cats and the Candle

My BFF and I took a trip down to Frankfurt yesterday, to stock up supplies at our favorite tea and spice store; and while we were there, we also took a look at Frankfurt newly-restored (pseudo-)medieval quarter (whose medieval buildings were destroyed in WWII and were now finally restored from scratch, some 70+ years later -- and wow, they sure did an amazing job there) ... and of course, at Frankfurt's main Christmas market, where I found a lovely Rosina Wachtmeister candle holder.

 

Charlie inspects the gift box I secretly had the store put together for my friend while we were there ...

... while Sunny goes straight for the jugular -- or for his human's jugular at least:

"This smells interesting.  So what exactly are pralines, mom?"

 

Seconds later, though:
"Why does this light keep moving and flickering?  That's ... intriguing, but it's also seriously spooky!  Lights aren't supposed to behave like that!!"

(Not to be outdone, Charlie has a look as well -- but to everybody's relief, doesn't dare get any closer, either!)

24 Festive Tasks: Door 15 - St. Nicholas' Day / Sinterklaas, Task 4 (Books Featuring Children Rescued from Peril)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain, Guy Cardwell, John Seelye The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett The Black Stallion - Walter Farley, Keith Ward M - Jon J. Muth

I suppose Harry Potter and just about every children's / YA fantasy (or mystery) series would fill this bill, but big HP and Three Investigators fan though I am, let me offer these for consideration instead:

 

1.  Mark Twain: The Adventure of Tom Sawyer -- Tom and Becky Thatcher in McDougal's Cave (rescued thanks to Tom's tenacious search for an exit), and Tom and Huck Finn up against Injun Joe; inter alia, listening to Joe's and his cohorts' plans at the peril of their own death in case they are discovered, and Tom incurring the same risk by speaking up at Injun Joe's trial (after which Joe escapes through a window).

 

2.  Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden -- At the beginning of the book, Mary is sent to England to stay with her uncle to save her from the cholera epidemic that will shortly thereafter kill both of her parents, who have remained in India.

 

3.  Walter Farley: The Black Stallion -- Alec and "The Black" become friends when they help each other to survive on a desert island after being shipwrecked.

 

Honorable mention:

 

"M" (screenplay, not book): A chillingly creepy 1930s movie,  concerning the hunt for a pedophile serial killer -- starring Peter Lorre (pre-Hollywood) as the pedophile and directed by Fritz Lang.

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 15 - St. Nicholas' Day / Sinterklaas, Task 1 (Book Wishlist)

Ummm ... St. Nick, are you sure you are up for this one? (http://themisathena.booklikes.com/shelf/wishlist?by=date&order=desc)

 

Actually, dear St. Nicholas -- if you'd just pick one of these (and I mean any one), I would be totally over the moon!  Thank you so very much!

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 4 - Diwali, Book -- as well as Discworld December Group Read

The Light Fantastic  - Terry Pratchett The Light Fantastic  - Terry Pratchett

The book where we learn how the Librarian of the Unseen University ended up as an orang-utan.  (This happens on the very first pages and anyone who's read at least one Discworld book knows this anyway, so I'm officially not considering it a spoiler.)  Other than that, more fun with Rincewind, Twoflower and the luggage, and more send-ups of  the1980s' life and times on our round blue planet, complete with Conan Cohen the Barbarian and a doomsday cult.  The picture box makes a reappearance, too, and we learn what Death is like when he's at home

and hanging out with the other three horsemen of the apocalypse -- and with his daughter.

(show spoiler)

  Also, there are dine chewers (say that one aloud).  And trolls with a Scottish accent in the audio version.  And there's this, on the usefulness of books:

"Cohen was shocked.

'Bonfires of books?'

'Yes.  Horrible, isn't it?'

'Right,' said Cohen.  He thought it was appalling.  Someone who spent his life living rough under the sky knew the value of a good thick book, which ought to outlast at least a season of cooking fires if you were careful how you tore the pages out.  Many a life had been saved on a snowy night by a handful of sodden kindling and a really dry book.  If you felt like a smoke and couldn't find a pipe, a book was your man every time.

Cohen realized people wrote things in books.  It had always seemed to him to be a frivolous waste of paper."

To put this one to optimum use, since it's got the word "light" in the title I'll use it as my book for the Diwali square of 24 Festive Tasks.  In addition to which, of course, it is the Discworld group read book for December 2018.

 

24 Festive Tasks: Door 20 - Christmas, Book

The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories - Martin Edwards, Various Authors The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories - Gordon Griffin, Anne Dover, Martin Edwards, Various Authors

The third annual edition of the British Library's anthologies of unjustifiedly-buried Golden Age Christmas mystery short stories, again edited by Martin Edwards.  Great fun and a great way to segue into the holiday season, one story at a time.

 

I'm using it as my book for, guess what, the Christmas square of 24 Festive Tasks.

 

Hogfather Buddy Read

Hogfather: (Discworld Novel 20) - Terry Pratchett

Prompted by Themis-Athena's post about the 24 Festive Tasks stats, it dawned that we're approaching Hogswatch!

So, in the spirit of the season, who's in for a Hogfather buddy read?

 

When:

All through December 2018. 

 

Where:

Right here! Please comment below if you fancy to join the buddy read, so we all know who is reading, and can make sure to follow everyone to see and comment on update posts.

 

Whether you're taking part in the 24 Festive Tasks or not,

Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in! 

 

I suggest we use "Hogfather Buddy Read" as a tag.

 

Reblogged from BrokenTune