State of the Reading Challenges

Spoiler: It’s…not great

The main post of my 2018 challenges is here.

My personal challenge was to buy one new book for every five books from my tbr-pile I read. I read nine books and bought three so I have clearly a small math problem 🙄. In my defense: There was a limited offer from Amazon for two months Kindle Unlimited membership for 99 Cents. So I ended up reading lots of books that were on KU instead of on my tbr-pile. Additionally, I ended up requesting (and getting) some ARCs which I also read and which also didn’t count as tbr-pile. This challenge is much harder than expected. I also might have read so much fanfiction that put together would probably be as long as two or three books.

And talking of ARCs: I went from having twelve to having ten, which is, well, less but not quite near my goal of having less than five. But why are there always new British Crime Library Classics on NetGalley? I just can’t resist them.

Continue reading “State of the Reading Challenges”

Women Writer Bingo

When I saw this over at Themis Athena’s blog (made in collaboration with Awogfli) I once again could not resist:

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The goal is not to read all the authors on the card, just female authors whose name starts with the letter. I hope I can use mine to diversify my reading a bit. Thanks to romances and mysteries I do read a lot of female writers but most are still white/western.

The challenge is open-ended and I hope I can fill all the squares (but if after three years I still haven’t found an author starting with Q that interests me I’ll probably give it a pass).

16 Tasks Round up

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The challenge is over. The story so far. I have 20 points


Square 2: Guy Fawkes Night/Bon Om Touk

Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Which kind of tea is your favourite? Tell us why.

Tasks for Bon Om Touk: 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.

both are here

2 points

Square 4: Thanksgiving

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book – post a picture of it.

here

1 point (3)

Square 7: International Human Right’s Day

Tasks for International Human Rights Day: 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.)

here

1 point (4)

Square 9: Winter Solstice

Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf. Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page. Post your results.

here

1 point (5)

Square 10: Pancha Ganapati

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.

here

1 point (6)

Square 12: Festivus/Saturnalia

Tasks for Festivus: Perform the Airing of Grievances: name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you – tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.

here

Tasks for Saturnalia: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?

here

2 points (8)

Square 13: Christmas

Tasks for Christmas: Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit.

here

1 point (9)

Square 15: St. Stephen’s Day

Book themes for St. Stephen’s Day: Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile on the Sandbank

1 point (10)

20 points + 10 points makes 30. That is nice, especially since I had totally expected to fail spectacularly

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Saturnalia

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Tasks for Saturnalia: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?

Now I was really into Ancient Romans when I was younger and had various ‘Ancient Rome for kids’ books but over time my history interest changed. I have now developed an obsession with Stephen and Matilda and am also interested in Russian History and the Habsburgs (or let’s be honest: certain Habsburgs). But one fascination connected to ancient Rome never quite left me: Pompeii. So I would love to meet Pliny the Younger and ask him all about the eruption of  Vesuvius. (But I guess if I could travel anywhere I could also see it myself? But I’m not sure if that wouldn’t be too scary).


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16 Tasks of the Festive Season: International Human Rights Day

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Tasks for International Human Rights Day: 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.)

Last year I visited the Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Prague. It’s an Orthodox church in which Jozef Gabčík, Jan Kubiš, and their co-conspirators hid after they assassinated Richard Heydrich, the SS Obergruppenführer and Police Chief of Czechoslovakia during the German occupation.

While that was the only successful assassination of a high-ranking Nazi the retribution was brutal. Two villages that were accused of helping the men during their escape were completely eradicated and the Nazis tortured and intimidated until someone gave up the hiding spot.

Then the SS laid siege to the church but could not capture them alive. Those who did not die in the battle committed suicide.

The front of the church has a memorial-plaque for Gabčík and the others as well as a pillar with the names of those the Nazis killed in retribution for the assassination:

 

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The crypt below is also a memorial to the Czech Resistance and the event:

Věrni zůstali means Faithful we stayed and is a reference to the Czech resistance group Petiční výbor Věrni zůstaneme (Petition Committee We Stay Faithful) and the phrase can be found on several memorials for resistance-fighters (like this one with In life and death we stayed faithful) even though it seems not all of them were actual members of this group. (I admit I don’t remember everything from my visit there and online most information is available only in Czech).

 

16 Tasks of the festive Season: Guy Fawkes Night/Bon Om Touk

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Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Which kind of tea is your favourite? Tell us why.

My favourite tea is obviously royal-tea:

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Sorry. I just could not resist. (I’d also like to add that while the Vienna Tea is only one of a number of Empress Elisabeth-themed souvenirs I own, I got the Will & Kate one on a trip to London a year after the wedding when it was reduced. Does that make it better?) I wonder if Marie Antoinette or Catherine the Great tea-boxes exist.

Now I don’t have one favourite tea (I will drink pretty much anything that isn’t Green, Rooibos or contains peppermint) but I have a special fondness for Chai. The spices, combined with milk give a glorious taste-experience.


Tasks for Bon Om Touk: 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.

I live near the Main. Admittedly this spot (Seligenstadt) isn’t the closest to me but it’s very pretty:


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16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Winter Solstice

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Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf. Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page. Post your results.

A quick leaf through my bookshelves brought up these monsters:

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That would be The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde, A Dance with Dragons, The Collected Work of Shakespeare, Die Geschichte der Russischen Literatur (A History of Russian Literature), War and PeaceHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and The Collected Sherlock Holmes Stories. (As well as my faithful helper Flen the moose. He is not a monster but very cuddly). And no I haven’t read all of those from cover to cover (yet).

A glance at the page-counts, however, tells me that the Harry Potter is only 760 pages which makes it basically a novella compared to the rest, which are all over 1000 pages. (Though A Dance with Dragons and A History of Russian Literature both have massive appendixes so strictly speaking both are a bit under 1000 pages). The absolute winner is the collected Sherlock Holmes with about 1400 pages compared to about 1250 for Shakespeare (though that is printed with two columns per page which safes some space).

Now the important question for this oracle is of course: do collected works even count? Doesn’t that confuse the oracle-spirits when I’m actually on page 12 of that story in the collection or something? To be on the save side I shall consult one collected works and one single book. If one is gibberish the oracle has made their intentions clear 😉

And I will ask Sherlock Holmes (because he always knows all the answers) and A Dance With Dragons (because…well because it’s in English and saves me from awkwardly translating the German in War and Peace or the book on Russian literature).

Now, well, for the question. I’ll go for something simple:

Will I have nice holidays in 2018?

(And if the oracle gives me some inspiration on where to go, I won’t complain either ;))

So what does Holmes say?

As he spoke there was a sharp ring at the bell.

Hm. Will I go somewhere that has a famous bell-tower? Or will I stay somewhere where I can’t sleep for all the bell-ringing? This is a somewhat unhelpful answer so I’ll turn towards A Dance With Dragons (though I just realized that I’m hoping for a line in a George Martin novel that doesn’t talk about death and misery which is probably foolish but too late…)

Six now. I will not have the fighting pits reopened.

Well. I guess it’s a good sign that the pits won’t be reopened? So wherever I go I won’t be thrown into them? Which means nice holidays? Possibly?

Well, wherever I go I’ll take some earplugs with me. Just to be safe. And check the guide-book for the fighting pits so I can stay far away. I think that is a good plan.

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16 Task of the Festive Season: Thanksgiving

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Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book – post a picture of it.

Are two books OK? My two newest preciousssses

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London Calling is by Anette Dittert, the former news-correspondent for Tagesschau. During her time as a correspondent, she also had a great video-podcast (called…London Calling) in which she talked about stories that weren’t newsworthy but just fun. She visited parts of London that weren’t tourist-hotspots, talked about English oddities (like cricket) and was always hilarious during it. She’s no longer a correspondent (but still did a few videos (in German) you can watch here) but now she’s written a book about her life in London and I just couldn’t resist.

Elemental Magic is…well a collection of novellas and one of which is by Carol Berg. Have I mentioned that I like that author a lot? I think I didn’t for at least…two entries.
(I do plan to read the whole book, though…but possibly not in the ‘right’ order…)

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16 Tasks of the festive Season: Christmas

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Tasks for Christmas: Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit.

 

So this is a mesh of several of these questions. Because it involves a tradition but not with my family. I still stayed in contact with some friends from my school-days. Today we all live spread around Germany but we try to meet up occasionally and at least make it to (most of) each other’s birthdays. We also always meet somewhere around Christmas to have a fancy breakfast/dinner and exchange small presents. This year I decided to sew some small bags, decorate them (with things that they would enjoy but honestly also things I already had in my endless craft-supplies :D) and fill them with some treats.

Tada!

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This is the pingback you’ve all been waiting for

16 Tasks of the Festive Season (and a book-roundup)

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Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.

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1. Curtis Craddock: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
The heroine saves several princes at the end. One of them with her knowledge of fantasy!Latin.

2. KJ Charles: Spectred Isle
A great romance AND demons from the war between Stephen and Matilda. This book is everything I never knew I needed

3. Carol Berg
Yes, not a book but since discovering Flesh and Spirit earlier this year I have been bingeing her books and while the Sanctuary Duet wasn’t quite my cup of tea I haven’t come across a book by her that I disliked. I love her characters, the relationship between her characters, her worldbuilding and how she avoids so many tired fantasy cliches.

4. Carola Dunn: Carola Dunn: Superfluous Women
The Lady Daisy-mysteries now have 22 books and I’m still reading them. Do I even need to say more? (Also, this pulled a really nice twist that stopped me from guessing the killer in advance).

5. J. Jefferson Farjeon: Mystery in White
Now I only rated this book three stars which means it isn’t technically one of my best books of the year but I think the author is really promising and I will check out more by him next year.

AND a shelfie. Well, window-ie since there is slightly more light this time of the year.

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(The big drawback of e-copies is, of course, the lack of pretty pictures you can take with them. So I had to decide between Spectred Isle and Mystery in White since I have both only as e-book and despite currently reading my – ehem – eleventh Carol Berg novel this year, I consumed most of them as audiobook. Which are on my audible-app. Which is on my phone. Which I needed to take this pic)


 

Tasks for Festivus: Perform the Airing of Grievances: name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you – tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.

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1. Katelyn Davies: A Dance with Dragons series (book 1 with links to the other reviews)
And no I didn’t read all of it this year but enough that it should qualify (and also no, usually I don’t read three full-length novels and four novellas if I already hated the first but I had the whole box set as review copy). The worldbuilding is abysmal and offensive (these horrible people that are really sexist and also the bad guys just happen to look like Arab/middle eastern people and have some customs similar to Muslim ones but that’s fine right? Just a coincidence!) and the characters are so bland and boring that I never really worried about them.

2. Sherry Thomas: A Conspiracy in Belgravia
Sadly the subtitled version of My Dearly Beloved Detective, a Soviet movie that did something actually fun with the idea of an all-female Holmes/Watson duo has disappeared from youtube. That’s a shame because while it wasn’t perfect it was better than this mess. You can still watch the original version if you know Russian. Or at least the intro in which there is singing about the London fog:

 

There is always singing in Soviet movies. It is known.

3. Andrew Caldecott: Rotherweird
That book was sadly so busy with creating quirky characters, that have quirky names, are quirky, act quirky and say quirky things that it forgot to have a plot

4. Brigitte Sokop: Jene Gräfin Larisch (German Review on GR)
This book proves that it is possible to write an extremely boring biography about a person with a really interesting life.

5.  Jim Bradbury: Stephen and Matilda
If you want to write very detailed about military history just do it. But don’t claim it’s actually a book about the whole war. Also, your favoritism is showing.

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