The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season — Task the Second: The Silent Nights; and Task the Third: The Holiday Party

Task the Second: The Silent Nights:
– Get your hygge on! Put on your fuzziest socks, light a candle, and spend some time (reading) in front of the fireplace or your coziest nook. Post a picture if you want!

And:

Task the Third: The Holiday Party:
– Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action.

Sofa, pillows, favorite blanket, favorite black velvet slippers, favorite childhood dinner and a mug of spicy chocolate tea, volume 3 of the audio collection of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey / Maturin cycle on my living room speakers, with Rex Stout’s And Four to Go (4 short stories, 3 of these involving holiday celebrations) to be finished later … I’d say that should count as two birds (tasks) with one, err, shot, shouldn’t it?

Reading progress update: I’ve read 249 out of 928 pages.

Merlin Trilogy - Mary Stewart    The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart

(Note: the page number is for the trilogy’s omnibus edition, which is the book I’m actually reading.)

“Thanks” to having contracted some sort of cold or flu bug and having been out of commission for pretty much all other purposes over the weekend, I’ve progressed fairly well with this book — well there has to be at least one upside to fever, perpetually running nose and clinging headache, I suppose.

Anyway, I’m enjoying this enormously, and I’m so glad I joined this buddy read, so a big thank you to Moonlight Reader for setting this up!

I confess I’m not, or perhaps just “not yet” reading Merlin as the same person as the old wizard known from most other incarnations of the Arthurian saga, though.  It actually struck me, especially in Part 1, how similar this trilogy’s young Merlin is to the young Arthur of some of the other narratives — a misfit and a loner, the kid that nobody really knows where and how to place him, entirely too bright for his own good, and intensely interested in books and learning (even though that doesn’t mean he wants to be shut up behind the walls of a monastery),

And in Parts 3 and 4 we’re now getting the one thing that I sorely miss in accounts like T.H. White’s Once and Future King, great series though that is in all other respects … a glimpse of our hero’s coming of age and (with apologies to James Joyce) a Portrait Our Hero as a Young Man.  So, yey for that, too!  The magic stuff starts when he’s still a boy, but he’s learning more about his own magical powers as we go along now, too, as well as how to deal with other people’s expectations of him (well, that’s bound to happen, I suppose, especially looking at Stewart’s source material and the story — or throw-away line — that she herself says inspired the whole trilogy).

A great read so far, in any event; here’s hoping it’s going to continue this way!

I’m reading this book both for the Merlin Trilogy Buddy Read and for The Twelf Tasks of the Festive Season (Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl).

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1493893/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-249-out-of-928-pages

Merken

The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season — Task the Sixth: The Hanukkah — Arthur Conan Doyle: The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan Doyle   The Complete Sherlock Holmes (The Heirloom Collection) - Bill & Martin Greenberg (eds.), Ian Fleming, Leslie Charteris, John D. MacDonald, W. Somerset Maugham, Peter O'Donnell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Erle Stanley Gardner, John Jakes, Edward D. Hoch, Cornell Woolrich, William E. Barrett, Bruce Cassiday, Mic

Reading: Let the dreidel choose a book for you:

נ  Nun (miracle): Christopher Paolini – Eldest (audio version read by Kerry Shale)

ג Gimel (great): Arthur Conan Doyle – The Valley of Fear (audio version read by Simon Vance)

ה He (happened): Ian Rankin – Even Dogs in the Wild

ש Shin (there, i.e. Israel): J.R.R. Tolkien – Letters From Father Christmas

 So, it was to be Arthur Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear.

 The Valley of Fear is Arthur Conan Doyle’s last novel-length Sherlock Holmes narrative. Like A Study in Scarlet, where Holmes makes his very first appearance, it is split into two parts: Holmes’s actual investigation in Part 1; and the back story, i.e. the stuff that would either be told by Holmes himself or by the apprehended culprit in the shorter narratives (as well as in The Sign of Four) in the Big Reveal, appended as Part 2, with a very loose connection to the effect that Dr. Watson has been handed a written account of the back story during the reveal at the end of part one. (Part 2 is not in epistolary form, however.)

 The first part of the book is a classic locked room mystery: A man is found shot in a historic manor house in the Weald south of London, not quite halfway on the way to the Channel coast. There is no indication that his killer is still in (or near) the building; nor could he however have escaped, as the building is surrounded by a(n albeit fairly shallow) moat and the drawbridge crossing that moat had been pulled up some time before the killing happened, and more importantly, since the weapon used is a particularly loud sawed-off shotgun, some of the building’s other inhabitants had been drawn to the scene instantly, before the killer could possibly have gotten away. (There is also an inference that the water in the moat is muddied by clay and would thus not merely have wetted the killer’s clothes by also left them with colored stains, but that didn’t strike me as conclusive — the killer might easily have hidden a spare set of clothes nearby and changed into those once the deed was done.) Holmes’s investigation follows the familiar lines of logical inference, with the odd bit of cypher decoding thrown in for good measure and with Professor Moriarty making a (largely off-stage) appearance as well, and it concludes, like many a Sherlock Holmes locked room mystery, with a solution very much in the spirit of Holmes’s old axiom “Eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” (though the closest we’re getting to a verbalization of said axiom here is an exclamation of “impossible!” by one of the investigating police officers). And no, the solution is neither a case of “when” the deed was done (as is so often the crucial issue in locked room mysteries) nor — at least not exclusively — how the killer could have escaped at all, either.

Well, so far, so enjoyable.

The story took a bit of a nose dive for me, however, when it got to Part 2 of the novel; and not merely because this book is structured essentially like A Study in Scarlet in the first place (nor, again like the very first Holmes novel, because it also uses an American setting for its second part; the eponymous “Valley of Fear”). However, and although certainly very atmospheric, it is — albeit loosely — based on actual historical facts that I was familiar with (only vaguely, but that vague knowledge was enough for me to place the story almost instantly), and which facts due to their then-recent notoriety Conan Doyle’s original readers would very likely have been equally familiar with. Indeed, Conan Doyle telegraphs enough of the “final reveal” of Part 2 of the book early enough and obviously enough to allow even a reader unfamiliar with the actual historical basis of the book to clue in to the solution fairly early on.

So, decidedly not on a level with my favorite Holmes adventures (The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-Headed League, The Blue Carbuncle, The Speckled Band, Silver Blaze, The Naval Treaty, The Empty House, The Abbey Grange, The Second Stain, The Priory School, and The Bruce-Partington Plans, to name but a few), but still an entertaining, though in Part 2 rather somber read and a nice start into the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season.

I listened to an audio version of this book, incidentally, read by Simon Vance as part of the Complete Sherlock Holmes set.  Vance’s reading is enjoyable, though he doesn’t necessarily distinguish a whole lot between Holmes’s and Watson’s voices: but his interpretation of the other characters, accents and vocal inflections and all, more than makes up for this, and there is just about enough briskness in his voice whenever Holmes is talking for the most important speaker to be recognizable nevertheless, too.

 

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1493668/the-twelve-tasks-of-the-festive-season-task-the-sixth-the-hanukkah-arthur-conan-doyle-the-valley-of-fear

The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season — Task the Sixth: The Hanukkah

Eldest (Inheritance, #2) - Christopher Paolini The Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan Doyle The Complete Sherlock Holmes (The Heirloom Collection) - Bill & Martin Greenberg (eds.), Ian Fleming, Leslie Charteris, John D. MacDonald, W. Somerset Maugham, Peter O'Donnell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Erle Stanley Gardner, John Jakes, Edward D. Hoch, Cornell Woolrich, William E. Barrett, Bruce Cassiday, Mic Even Dogs in the Wild - Ian Rankin Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien,Baillie Tolkien Letters From Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Reading: Let the dreidel choose a book for you:

נ  Nun (miracle): Christopher Paolini – Eldest (audio version read by Kerry Shale)
ג Gimel (great): Arthur Conan Doyle – The Valley of Fear (audio version read by Simon Vance)
ה He (happened): Ian Rankin – Even Dogs in the Wild
ש Shin (there, i.e. Israel): J.R.R. Tolkien – Letters From Father Christmas

So, it’ll be Arthur Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1493020/the-twelve-tasks-of-the-festive-season-task-the-sixth-the-hanukkah

The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season — TA’s Reading List (& Matching Activities)

Thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for hosting yet another great game … this looks like so much fun (again)! — I’m probably going to try pairing activities and reads whenever possible, so I’m going to include all the activities in my list below, too, in addition to my reading choices:

 

Task the First: The Winter Wonderland:

Reading: A book that is set in a snowy place: Dylan Thomas – A Child’s Christmas in Wales (audio version, read by the author himself)

Activity: Take a walk outside and post a picture of something pretty you encountered on your way.

 

Task the Second: The Silent Nights:

Reading: A book set in one of the Nordic countries: Rose Tremain – Music and Silence, Kurt Aust – Das jüngste Gericht (The Last Judgment), or Åke Edwardson – Frozen Tracks

Activity: Hygge: Put on your fuzziest socks, light a candle, and spend some time (reading) in front of the fireplace or your coziest nook. Post a picture if you want.

 

Task the Third: The Holiday Party:

Reading: A book where a celebration is a big part of the action: Rex Stout – And Four to Go

Activity: Make something that is considered party food where you are from, and post a picture of it on Booklikes.

 

Task the Fourth: The Gift Card:

Reading: A book that you either received as a gift or have given as a gift: Since my recent birthday presents were almost all books, something from my birthday haul — most likely either Ilija Trojanow – Der Weltensammler (The Collector of Worlds), Edwidge Danticat – Claire of the Sea Light, Jim Butcher – The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Val McDermid – Splinter the Silence, Michael Connelly – The Crossing or Ian Rankin – Even Dogs in the Wild … all of these are books I’d been planning to read sometime soon anyway. I may also be using some of these for other tasks, though (see, e.g., “Kwanzaa” and “Hanukkah”).

Activity: Give a book to a friend and post a picture of the wrapped present.

 

Task the Fifth: The Kwanzaa:

Reading: A book written by an African-American author or set in an African country: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun, or possibly Ilija Trojanow – Der Weltensammler (The Collector of Worlds) (see also “gift card”).

Activity: Make a donation to a charitable organization that operates in Africa.

 

Task the Sixth: The Hanukkah:

Reading: Let the dreidel choose a book for you (note: I’m going to spin the dreidel when I’m actually getting ready to do this task):

נ  Nun (miracle): Christopher Paolini – Eldest (audio version read by Kerry Shale)
ג Gimel (great): Arthur Conan Doyle – The Valley of Fear (audio version read by Simon Vance)
ה He (happened): Ian Rankin – Even Dogs in the Wild (see also “gift card”)
ש Shin (there, i.e. Israel): J.R.R. Tolkien – Letters From Father Christmas

Activity: Make a traditional Hanukkah food like doughnuts or potato latkes. Post a picture, or tell us how they turned out.

 

Task the Seventh: The Christmas:

Reading: A book set during the Christmas holiday season: Donna Andrews – The Nightingale Before Christmas

Activity: Set up a Christmas bookstagram-style scene with favorite holiday reads, objects or decorations. Possibly also a cat.

 

Task the Eighth: The Movie Ticket:

Reading: A book that has been adapted to a holiday movie: Frances Hodgson Burnett – Little Lord Fauntleroy (The screen adaptation starring Alec Guinness and Ricky Schroder is one of the Christmas staples on German TV.)

Activity: Go see a new theater release this holiday season (this does not have to be a holiday movie).

 

Task the Ninth: The Happy New Year:

Reading: (A coming of age novel or) any old favorite comfort read: Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol (audio version performed by Patrick Stewart)

Activity: Post a holiday picture of yourself from your childhood or youth.

 

Task the Tenth: The Holiday Down Under:

Reading: A book set in Australia or by an Australian author (or a book you would consider a “beach read”): Thomas Keneally – Office of Innocence, Kerry Greenwood – Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates, or Peter Temple – Bad Debts

Activity: Buy some Christmas crackers (or make your own) to add to your festivities and share some pictures.

 

Task the Eleventh: The Polar Express:

Reading: A book that involves train travel: Martha Grimes – The Train Now Departing, or Agatha Christie – Murder on the Orient Express or The Mystery of the Blue Train

Activity: Read a classic holiday book from your childhood, or tell a story about a childhood Christmas you’d like to share.

 

Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl:

Reading: A book set in the UK, preferably during the medieval or Victorian periods: Mary Stewart – The Crystal Cave

Activity: Drink a festive, holiday beverage; take a picture of your drink, and post it to share – make it as festive as possible.

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season books

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1491594/the-twelve-tasks-of-the-festive-season-ta-s-reading-list-matching-activities

Merken

[REBLOG] The Reveal: The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season – Moonlight Blizzard

 

Task the First: The Winter Wonderland:

– Read a book that is set in a snowy place.

– If you are lucky enough to live in a snowy place, or even if you aren’t, take a walk outside and post a picture of something pretty you encountered on your way.!

 

 Task the Second: The Silent Nights:

 

– Read a book set in one of the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and/or Denmark), where winter nights are long!

– Get your hygge on! Hygge is a Danish concept that relates to being content and cozy. Put on your fuzziest socks, light a candle, and spend some time (reading) in front of the fireplace or your coziest nook. Post a picture if you want!

 

Task the Third: The Holiday Party:

 

– Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action. Examples would include holiday parties, country house hunting/weekend parties, weddings, etc.

– Make something that is considered party food where you are from, and post a picture of it on booklikes.

 

Task the Fourth: The Gift Card:

– Read a book that you either received as a gift or have given as a gift.

– Give a book to a friend and post a picture of the wrapped present.

 

Task the Fifth: The Kwanzaa:

– Read a book written by an African-American author or set in an African country.

– Make a small donation to a charitable organization that operates in Africa.

 

Task the Sixth: The Hanukkah:

– Let the dreidel choose a book for you: create a list of four books, and assign a dreidel symbol to each one (Nun = miracle; Gimel = great; He = happened; Shin = there, i.e. Israel). Google “spin the dreidel,” and a dreidel comes up for you to spin. Give it a spin and read the book that the dreidel chooses!

– Make a traditional Hanukkah food like doughnuts or potato latkes. Post a picture, or tell us how they turned out!

 

Task the Seventh: The Christmas:

 

– Read a book set during the Christmas holiday season.

– Grab your camera (or your phone) and set up a Christmas bookstagram-style scene with favorite holiday reads, objects or decorations. Possibly also a cat. Post it for everyone to enjoy!

 

Task the Eighth: The Movie Ticket

 

– Read a book that has been adapted to a holiday movie.

– Go see a new theater release this holiday season (during November/December. This does not have to be a holiday movie, so yes, Fantastic Beasts will qualify).

 

Task the Ninth: The Happy New Year

– Every year you get a little bit older! Read a coming of age novel or any old favorite comfort read to start the new year right.

– If you’re feeling brave, post a holiday picture of yourself from your childhood or misspent youth.

 

Task the Tenth: The Holiday Down Under

– Read a book set in Australia or by an Australian author,  or read a book you would consider a “beach read”.

– Christmas crackers are a traditional part of an Australian Christmas. Buy some (or make your own) to add to your festivities and share some pictures!

 

Task the Eleventh: The Polar Express

– Read a book that involves train travel (such as Murder on the Orient Express).

– Read a classic holiday book from your childhood (to a child if you have one handy) or tell us a story about a childhood Christmas you’d like to share.

 

Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl

– Read a book set in the UK, preferably during the medieval or Victorian periods (for those of us doing the Merlin read-along, the Crystal Cave works for this task).

– Drink a festive, holiday beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Take a picture of your drink, and post it to share – make it as festive as possible!

 

We hope you will join us in the fun!

 

Via The Reveal: The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season – Moonlight Blizzard