24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 – Hanukkah: Task 2

Latkes — the Chinese sweet water chestnut version:

 

 

My BFF (Gaby) and I had our traditional post-Christmas gift exchange dinner today: We decided on Chinese (dim sum) this time and, lo’n behold, I have yet another variety of latkes to add to the collection.

The rest of the meal consisted in hot and sour soup and various types of dumplings — beef meat balls, cumin and beef dumplings, mushroom dumplings (super delicious) and spinach dumplings.

 

(Task: Latkes or donuts are fried in oil to remind Jews of the oil that lasted for eight days: Fry yourself up some latkes or donuts.  Share your recipe with us if they came out tasty.)

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2022190/24-festive-tasks-door-18-hanukkah-task-2

24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 – Hanukkah: Task 3

High Rising - Angela Thirkell

Nighttime flashlight reading with complimentary cat.

 

Though if the eyes fail, there’s always this … (and to the cat, it doesn’t make one iota of a difference!).

 

(Task: Read a book by candle light (or flashlight).)

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2011104/24-festive-tasks-door-18-hanukkah-task-3

24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 – Hanukkah

17 - Solstice
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24
22
15 - International Human Rights Day
1 - dia de los Muertos
13 - Advent
18 - Hanukkah
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day
5 - Bon Om Touk
14 - St. Nicholas’ Day
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20
11 - Thanksgiving
23
10 - Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

 

 
Hanukkah
Door 18:  Hanukkah
 
Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year. Find a virtual dreidel here:
https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel
http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
 
Task 2: Latkes or donuts are fried in oil to remind Jews of the oil that lasted for eight days: Fry yourself up some latkes or donuts. Share your recipe with us if they came out tasty.
 
Task 3:  Read a book by candle light (or flashlight).
 
Task 4: The 6th night of Hanukkah is dubbed “Candle of Righteousness”; at this time believers are expected to make a charitable donation. Make a blessing bag or food donation to a local food bank (or another charitable donation if there is no food bank anywhere near you).
 
Book: Read a book about light, miracles, featuring Jewish characters, set in Israel, that is the second book in a series, with the word “two” in the title, or with a light on the cover.
 

 
NEW: Once you’ve completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.
[spoiler]

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Blog Name: *

 
Festive Task Door Completed: *
Choose
Dia de los Muertos
Japanese Culture Day
Melbourne Cup Day
Guy Fawkes Night
Bon Om Touk (Korean Water & Moon Festival)
Veterans / Armistice Day
International Day for Tolerance
International Children’s Day
World Philosophy Day
Russian Mothers’ Day
Thanksgiving
St. Andrew’s Day
Advent
St. Nicholas Day
International Human Rights Day
St. Lucia’s Day
Winter Solstice
Hanukkah
Festivus
Christmas
Kwanzaa
New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day
Hogswatch
Twelfth Night / Epiphany

 
I’ve completed the following task for this holiday: *
Choose
1
2
3
4
Book
BONUS TASK

 
Have you completed some of the tasks for this holiday already? *
Choose
Yes
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If you have completed tasks previously, which ones? * (Required if answered yes to the previous question.)
Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS
 
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Previous door’s tasks are “beneath the fold”

 

Previous Doors’ Tasks and Books

 

 
Dia de los Muertos
Door 1:  Dia de Los Muertos
 
Task 1: Compose a limerick or short poem in honor of a favorite book character.
 
Task 2:  If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to a favorite dish – and / or make yourself a margarita – and share a photo.
 
Task 3: Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year.
 
Task 4: Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?
 
Book: Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies.
 

 

 
Japanese Culture Day
Door 2:  Japanese Culture Day
 
Task 1: Tell us about a cultural festival or event in the area where you live.
 
Task 2: Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.
 
Task 3: Try your hand at folding a paper crane. Instructions: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Paper-Crane-1/
 
Task 4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.
 
Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.
 

 

 
Melbourne Cup Day
Door 3:  Melbourne Cup Day
 
Task 1: Pick your ponies.*
 
Task 2: Roses are the official flower of Flemington Race Track; write your own “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” poem for one of your favorite or most hated books of all time.
 
Task 3: Aussies shorten everything, so Melbourne Cup Day is just called “Cup Day” – post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate.
 
Task 4: Prepare your favorite dessert – in a cup! Post a photo of it for us to enjoy vicariously.
 
Book: Read a book about horses, with a horse or with roses on the cover, about gardening, or set in Australia, or written by an Australian author.
 
* Ponies (horses) running the race will be posted here by Darth Pedant, guest hosting for MurderByDeath, as soon as they’re announced, or thereabouts. The official field is published on November 3rd.

 

 
Guy Fawkes Night
Door 4:  Guy Fawkes Night
 
Task 1: Make a list of the top 3 treasonous crimes against books that an author can commit.
 
Task 2: Start a revolution: What one thing would you change about the book reading world? (Be it publishing, distribution, editing, cover art, bookstores – anything having to do with books.)
 
Task 3: Make a little straw (or wood / cloth / wool / fabric) effigy of the book character you like least.
 
Task 4:

How do you order the books on your shelves?
 
Book: Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published.
 

 

 
Bon Om Touk
Door 5:  Bon Om Touk
 
Task 1: List / tell us about your favorite rainy day reads.
 
Task 2: String up some fairy lights around your books / bookcase / kindle and share a picture of the results.
 
Task 3: Dragons and dragon-like serpents (imugi) are important to Korean mythology (as they are to that of other Asian peoples). So – which are your favorite literary dragons (fictional, mythological, whatever)?
 
Task 4:The South Korean flag features images of ying / yang (the blue and red circle in the center) and four sets of three black lines each representing heaven, sun, moon and earth and, in turn, the virtues humanity, justice, intelligence and courtesy. Compile a list or stack – 4 books minimum – composed of books that either have opposing words in their titles (e.g., war / peace; asleep / awake – not necessarily both words in the same title), or that feature the words “heaven,” “sun,” “moon,” “earth,” “humanity,” “justice,” intelligence,” and / or “courtesy.”
 
Book: Read a book by a Korean author or set in Korea, that takes place at sea or on a river, where the plot involves a festival, where the moon or rain plays a pivotal role in the plot, or with rain, water or the moon on the cover.
 

 

 
Veterans / Armistice Day
Door 6:  Veterans / Armistice Day
 
Task 1: Sunrise services are a staple of this day: Take a picture of the sunrise where you live and share it with us.
 
Task 2: In keeping with the minute of silence, tell us about the authors who have passed this year that you will miss the most.
 
Task 3: Rosemary is for remembrance, but it’s great for chasing away moths, silverfish and other bugs that can damage books (and linens). Make a sachet with some rosemary, lavender, dried basil, etc. to keep on your bookshelves – post a picture of the results and let us know what combinations of herbs you used. A list of possibilities can be found here: https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects
 
Task 4:The Forest of Compiègne, just outside Compiègne, France, is the site of the signing of the 1918 Armistice. It was also the site of the signing by the French of a truce with the Germans following the German invasion in 1940. – Find a green space in your local area (or favorite area) and go for a walk or bike ride of a mile (or 1.61 km) and post a picture or screenshot of the map of where you walked / biked.
 
Book: Read a book involving a war, battle, or where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover, or honor the ‘unknown soldier’ of your TBR and read the book that’s been there the longest.
 

 

 
International Day for Tolerance
Door 7:  International Day for Tolerance
 
Task 1: Find a redeeming quality in a book you read this year and didn’t like.
 
Task 2: Share a story about yourself, or a story about your family that’s survived the generations, or share a particular tradition your family has passed on from generation to generation and if there’s a story behind why, tell us about it.
 
Task 3: The French expression for tolerance towards others is “laisser faire, laisser aller” (roughly: “let them do as they want, let it go”). Have you ever “let go” a book (e.g., given it away or decided not to yield to the temptation to buy it) and later regretted that choice?
 
Task 4:If you were offered an all-expenses-paid trip to one (one only!) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which one would you pick (and why)?
 
Book: Read a book about tolerance, or outside your comfort zone, or set in Paris (seat of UNESCO).
 

 

 
International Children’s Day
Door 8:  International Children’s Day
 
Task 1:  What was your favorite children’s book growing up? Your favorite middle grade book?
 
Task 2: Rediscover your childhood with a yo-yo, a slinky, – whatever toy you loved from childhood you still have access to, or make and blow some bubbles! Take a picture and share your fun with the rest of us.
 
Task 3: Make some art – draw a picture, or color one in and share the results with us. Free printable bookmarks can be found on Google images
 
Task 4: As a kid, did you enjoy visiting amusement parks and carnivals? Which were your favorite rides or shows? Do you still have any photos, or is there a memorable event you’re happy to share? – Alternatively, if you’re a parent now: Do you visit amusement parks / carnivals with your kids?
 
Book: Read a children’s or YA book or a book where children or teenagers play a significant role, or written by an author who was under the age of 18 at the time of publication.
 

 

 
World Philosophy Day
Door 9:  World Philosophy Day
 
Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?
 
Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?
 
Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?
 
Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?
 
Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kobo, etc.).
 

 

 
Russian Mothers' Day
Door 10:  Russian Mothers’ Day
 
Task 1:  “Three Russian writers walk into a bar …” (Take it from here – the wilder the merrier!)
 
Task 2: Towards the end of the 17th century, there was a Russian apprentice carpenter and shipwright going by the name Peter Mikhailov in the Dutch town of Zaandam (and later in Amsterdam), who eventually turned out to be none other than Tsar Peter the Great, whose great interest in the craft would become pivotal to his programs for the build-up of the Russian navy and naval commerce.
So: Tell us about a favorite book, either nonfiction history (demonstrably true facts, please, no conspiracy theories or unproven conjecture) or fiction – all genres, not limited to historical fiction –, dealing with a member of royalty “moonlighting” as a commoner.
 
Task 3: Until WWII, the most famous part of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg was the so-called amber room. It was looted, lock stock and barrel, by the Nazis, and has since vanished from the face of the earth, with its fate a complete mystery to the present day. Let your imagination run wild: What do you think may have happened to it? (Kidnapped by aliens? Spirited away by dwarves and hidden in a secret cavern deep below the face of the earth? Sold, piece by piece, to finance … what? The Nazi war effort? The restoration of the Romanovs to the throne of Russia? Stalin’s pogroms? What else?) Don’t hold back, we’d love to know!
 
Task 4: Forget-me-nots and handmade medals of honor are important Russian Mothers’ Day gifts. Create a medal of honor (with or without the image of a forget-me-not) for a favorite book character or for a family member or friend of yours that you’d like to pay respect to.
 
Book: Read a book set in Russia, by a Russian author, featuring a story within a story (like a Russian “matryoshka” doll), or featuring a character who is a mother.
 

 

 
Thanksgiving
Door 11:  Thanksgiving Day
 
Task 1:  If you have kids or pets, tell us about something “bad” they did that was so funny you couldn’t help but forgive (“pardon”) them. If you have neither kids nor pets, was there such an event in your own childhood – or with kids or pets in your family or circle of friends?
 
Task 2: Tell us: Of the books that you read this year, which are you most thankful for, OR was there one that turned out to be full of “stuffing”? Alternatively, which (one) book that you read anytime at all changed your life for the better?”
 
Task 3: Share your favorite turkey or pie recipe.
 
Task 4: Send a friend you’re thankful for having a postcard (in the mail!). Snap a picture of the postcard image (not the message) and share it with us.
 
Book: Read a book with an autumnal cover, set in New England, where a turkey shows up in the story, with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover, or with the theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.
 

 

 
St. Andrew's Day
Door 12:  St. Andrew’s Day
 
Task 1:  Tell us: Who is your favorite Scottish (or Scots-born / -descendant) writer?
 
Task 2: Ian Rankin likes to say that the Scottish national diet is sugar, fat and alcohol. The traditional Scottish dessert – Raspberry Cranachan – contains all three of these (and of course the alcohol in it is the national drink, whisky), but it’s also delicious! So … make Raspberry Cranachan: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2852/raspberry-cranachan.aspx (For a non-alcoholic version just omit the whisky – or substitute with orange juice.)
 
Task 3: St. Andrew was a fisherman by trade: Which book(s) from your TBR that you read this year turned out to be the year’s greatest “catch”?
 
Task 4: If you could create your personal tartan, what would it look like? Or if you have a favorite existing tartan, which one is it?
 
Book: Read a book set in Scotland.
 

 

 
Advent
Door 13:  Advent
 
Task 1:  Share a picture of your advent calendar.
 
Task 2: Tell us: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
 
Task 3: Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!
 
Task 4: Tell us about an event in the immediate or near future that you’re looking forward to.
 
Book: Read a pastiche, a book authorized by a deceased author’s estate, the 4th book in a series, a book with the word “four” in the title, a book featuring four siblings, or a book with a wreath, pines or fir trees on the cover.
 

 

 
St. Nicholas Day
Door 14:  St. Nicholas’ Day
 
Task 1: Write a book wish list to St. Nick / Santa Claus for books that you’ve been eyeing but can’t justify the expense of purchasing. (E.g., art books? Collector’s editions? Boxed sets?)
 
Task 2: In the Netherlands, ‘Sinterklaas’ is celebrated with ginger biscuits, marzipan and hot chocolate with cream; in Germany, it’s St. Nicholas’ Day with gingerbread, chocolate and / or nut or almond cookies, chocolate candy, and tangerines (or oranges). Choose one or more of the above as a holiday snack and post a picture for us to drool over.
 
Task 3:  St. Nicholas is a man of many names in English alone – Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas … although in the English speaking world he only comes once (at Christmas, not also on December 6 – whereas in Germany and the Netherlands he makes his visits under different names on both occasions). Which of your favorite books were published under different titles in the same language, e.g., in North America vs. Britain? Have you ever bought a book under a title unfamiliar to you, only to discover belatedly that it was one you already own / had already read under a different title?
 
Task 4: A Czech Republic tradition for St Nick’s Day is groups of three “people” – St Nick, Angel, and Devil – to roam the streets the night before St Nick’s Day and stop children to ask them if they have been good during the year or not. Most kids say yes, sing a song or recite a poem. The three “strangers” then decide if the children are telling the truth. The good kids get candy / treats from the Angel, bad kids get potatoes or coal from the Devil. So: Post a song or poem (your own or someone else’s) that involves candy, potatoes, or coal.
 
Book: Read a book with an orange or red cover, set in the Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with nuts, chocolate, coins, canals or beer on the cover.
 

 

 
International Human Rights Day
Door 15:  International Human Rights Day
 
Task 1: Cook a dish from a culture other than your own or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (for the Netherlands, seat of the International Court of Justice & International Criminal Court).
 
Task 2: Create a stack of books or a list with books by some of your favorite female and / or minority authors (minimum: five) and tell us what you like about their writing.
 
Task 3:  Nominate a (fictional) character from one of the books you read this year for a Nobel Prize – regardless which one – or for a similarly important prize (e.g., the Fields Medal for mathematics) and write a brief laudation explaining your nomination.
 
Task 4: Reconstitute one of the bodies or institutions of the United Nations (Plenary Assembly, Security Council, Secretariat, International Court of Justice / Criminal Court, World Bank, etc.) with some of your favorite characters (minimum: five) and explain why you chose them and what you’d expect them to achieve.
 
Book: Read a book featuring a strong female character (or characters), by an author from any minority group, a story about a minority overcoming their oppressors, or revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused, a book set in New York City, or a book originally written in a language other than English and / or your mother tongue or by anyone not Anglo-Saxon.
 

 

 
St. Lucia’s Day
Door 16:  St. Lucia’s Day
 
Task 1: Famous first words: Tradition has it that the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are woken up by the St. Lucia maidens, as St. Lucia’s Day (Dec. 13) is just three days after the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony and many laureates stay long enough to be able to take in the St. Lucia festivities. Imagine one of your favorite (fictional) characters had won that prize: How would you think (s)he would greet the maidens? (If you’ve used the Nobel Peace Prize for Door 15, Task 3, this can be the same character, of course … or a different one, just as you wish.)
 
Task 2: Compile a list of five or more carols, poems, short stories, novels or other pieces of writing that feature sleigh rides.
 
Task 3:  Trolls, gnomes, dwarves and similar beings (some evil, some less so, almost all of them mischievous) are a staple of Scandinavian mythology and folklore, as well as other folklores and mythologies around the world and, of course, fantasy and speculative fiction. Who is your favorite such creature and why? (No matter whether mythological, fictional or from whatever other source.)
 
Task 4: The historic (3d century AD) St. Lucia was Italian; yet, like those of many other saints (including, e.g., St. Andrew and St. Nicholas), the most important celebrations of her holiday don’t occur in her place of origin but somewhere else in the world.
 
Book:  Read a book set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, by a Northern European / Nordic author, with a predominantly white cover (or white with red lettering), newly released in November or December of this year, or set in the candle-lit world (i.e., before the discovery of electricity – roughly, that is, before the late 19th century).
 

 

 
Winter Solstice
Door 17:  Winter Solstice (Yule / Yaldā Night / Dongzhi / Soyal):
 
Task 1: Yule task (Germany / Scandinavia): Burn a Yule log – or if you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle to chase away the winter and welcome in the longer days. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, light a candle to mourn the slow but inexorable retreat of the sun.
 
Task 2: Yaldā Night task (Persia / Iran): Stay up all night reading a good book (or at least stay up past your usual bedtime).
 
Task 3:  Dongzhi task (China): To commemorate Marco Polo’s memoirs of his trip to China, write a fictional diary entry or letter home from an imagined trip to a faraway place (real or invented) – or if you actually have written such a letter in the past and are happy to share it with us, please do!
 
Task 4: Soyal task (Zuñi & Hopi / Native American): While systems of written symbols and communication already existed with the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures, to many tribes even today (including the Zuñi and Hopi) the oral tradition is still important. Have you ever had stories told to you (e.g., as children’s bedtime stories, or at night during a camping vacation)? Or if you haven’t, try to imagine a “storytelling” situation you’d like to experience?
 
Book:  Read a book that takes place in December, with ice or snow on the cover, where all events take place in a single day or night, that revolves around the solstice, set in Persia / Iran, China or the American Southwest or prominently featuring Persian / Iranian, Chinese or Native American characters, or a collection of poetry.
 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2002997/24-festive-tasks-door-18-hanukkah

24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 – Hanukkah

17 - Solstice
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24
22
15 - International Human Rights Day
1 - dia de los Muertos
13 - Advent
18 - Hanukkah
6 - Veterans / Armistice Day
5 - Bon Om Touk
14 - St. Nicholas’ Day
7 - International Day for Tolerance
20
11 - Thanksgiving
23
10 - Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

 

 
Hanukkah
Door 18:  Hanukkah
 
Task 1: Spin the dreidel to determine which book is going to be the first one you’ll be reading in the new year. Find a virtual dreidel here:
https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel
http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm
http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
 
Task 2: Latkes or donuts are fried in oil to remind Jews of the oil that lasted for eight days: Fry yourself up some latkes or donuts. Share your recipe with us if they came out tasty.
 
Task 3:  Read a book by candle light (or flashlight).
 
Task 4: The 6th night of Hanukkah is dubbed “Candle of Righteousness”; at this time believers are expected to make a charitable donation. Make a blessing bag or food donation to a local food bank (or another charitable donation if there is no food bank anywhere near you).
 
Book: Read a book about light, miracles, featuring Jewish characters, set in Israel, that is the second book in a series, with the word “two” in the title, or with a light on the cover.
 

 
NEW: Once you’ve completed a task or tasks, please use the handy form, located in the spoiler tags (to keep things tidy) to let us know. This will make tracking points MUCH easier for the 24 Tasks Team.
[spoiler]

* Required
 

Blog Name: *

 
Festive Task Door Completed: *
Choose
Dia de los Muertos
Japanese Culture Day
Melbourne Cup Day
Guy Fawkes Night
Bon Om Touk (Korean Water & Moon Festival)
Veterans / Armistice Day
International Day for Tolerance
International Children’s Day
World Philosophy Day
Russian Mothers’ Day
Thanksgiving
St. Andrew’s Day
Advent
St. Nicholas Day
International Human Rights Day
St. Lucia’s Day
Winter Solstice
Hanukkah
Festivus
Christmas
Kwanzaa
New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day
Hogswatch
Twelfth Night / Epiphany

 
I’ve completed the following task for this holiday: *
Choose
1
2
3
4
Book
BONUS TASK

 
Have you completed some of the tasks for this holiday already? *
Choose
Yes
No

 
If you have completed tasks previously, which ones? * (Required if answered yes to the previous question.)
Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS
 
(Optional) Link to your blog post:

space
[/spoiler]
 
Previous door’s tasks are “beneath the fold”

 

Previous Doors’ Tasks and Books

 

 
Dia de los Muertos
Door 1:  Dia de Los Muertos
 
Task 1: Compose a limerick or short poem in honor of a favorite book character.
 
Task 2:  If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to a favorite dish – and / or make yourself a margarita – and share a photo.
 
Task 3: Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year.
 
Task 4: Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?
 
Book: Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies.
 

 

 
Japanese Culture Day
Door 2:  Japanese Culture Day
 
Task 1: Tell us about a cultural festival or event in the area where you live.
 
Task 2: Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.
 
Task 3: Try your hand at folding a paper crane. Instructions: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Paper-Crane-1/
 
Task 4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.
 
Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.
 

 

 
Melbourne Cup Day
Door 3:  Melbourne Cup Day
 
Task 1: Pick your ponies.*
 
Task 2: Roses are the official flower of Flemington Race Track; write your own “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” poem for one of your favorite or most hated books of all time.
 
Task 3: Aussies shorten everything, so Melbourne Cup Day is just called “Cup Day” – post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate.
 
Task 4: Prepare your favorite dessert – in a cup! Post a photo of it for us to enjoy vicariously.
 
Book: Read a book about horses, with a horse or with roses on the cover, about gardening, or set in Australia, or written by an Australian author.
 
* Ponies (horses) running the race will be posted here by Darth Pedant, guest hosting for MurderByDeath, as soon as they’re announced, or thereabouts. The official field is published on November 3rd.

 

 
Guy Fawkes Night
Door 4:  Guy Fawkes Night
 
Task 1: Make a list of the top 3 treasonous crimes against books that an author can commit.
 
Task 2: Start a revolution: What one thing would you change about the book reading world? (Be it publishing, distribution, editing, cover art, bookstores – anything having to do with books.)
 
Task 3: Make a little straw (or wood / cloth / wool / fabric) effigy of the book character you like least.
 
Task 4:

How do you order the books on your shelves?
 
Book: Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published.
 

 

 
Bon Om Touk
Door 5:  Bon Om Touk
 
Task 1: List / tell us about your favorite rainy day reads.
 
Task 2: String up some fairy lights around your books / bookcase / kindle and share a picture of the results.
 
Task 3: Dragons and dragon-like serpents (imugi) are important to Korean mythology (as they are to that of other Asian peoples). So – which are your favorite literary dragons (fictional, mythological, whatever)?
 
Task 4:The South Korean flag features images of ying / yang (the blue and red circle in the center) and four sets of three black lines each representing heaven, sun, moon and earth and, in turn, the virtues humanity, justice, intelligence and courtesy. Compile a list or stack – 4 books minimum – composed of books that either have opposing words in their titles (e.g., war / peace; asleep / awake – not necessarily both words in the same title), or that feature the words “heaven,” “sun,” “moon,” “earth,” “humanity,” “justice,” intelligence,” and / or “courtesy.”
 
Book: Read a book by a Korean author or set in Korea, that takes place at sea or on a river, where the plot involves a festival, where the moon or rain plays a pivotal role in the plot, or with rain, water or the moon on the cover.
 

 

 
Veterans / Armistice Day
Door 6:  Veterans / Armistice Day
 
Task 1: Sunrise services are a staple of this day: Take a picture of the sunrise where you live and share it with us.
 
Task 2: In keeping with the minute of silence, tell us about the authors who have passed this year that you will miss the most.
 
Task 3: Rosemary is for remembrance, but it’s great for chasing away moths, silverfish and other bugs that can damage books (and linens). Make a sachet with some rosemary, lavender, dried basil, etc. to keep on your bookshelves – post a picture of the results and let us know what combinations of herbs you used. A list of possibilities can be found here: https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/12-plants-that-repel-unwanted-insects
 
Task 4:The Forest of Compiègne, just outside Compiègne, France, is the site of the signing of the 1918 Armistice. It was also the site of the signing by the French of a truce with the Germans following the German invasion in 1940. – Find a green space in your local area (or favorite area) and go for a walk or bike ride of a mile (or 1.61 km) and post a picture or screenshot of the map of where you walked / biked.
 
Book: Read a book involving a war, battle, or where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover, or honor the ‘unknown soldier’ of your TBR and read the book that’s been there the longest.
 

 

 
International Day for Tolerance
Door 7:  International Day for Tolerance
 
Task 1: Find a redeeming quality in a book you read this year and didn’t like.
 
Task 2: Share a story about yourself, or a story about your family that’s survived the generations, or share a particular tradition your family has passed on from generation to generation and if there’s a story behind why, tell us about it.
 
Task 3: The French expression for tolerance towards others is “laisser faire, laisser aller” (roughly: “let them do as they want, let it go”). Have you ever “let go” a book (e.g., given it away or decided not to yield to the temptation to buy it) and later regretted that choice?
 
Task 4:If you were offered an all-expenses-paid trip to one (one only!) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which one would you pick (and why)?
 
Book: Read a book about tolerance, or outside your comfort zone, or set in Paris (seat of UNESCO).
 

 

 
International Children’s Day
Door 8:  International Children’s Day
 
Task 1:  What was your favorite children’s book growing up? Your favorite middle grade book?
 
Task 2: Rediscover your childhood with a yo-yo, a slinky, – whatever toy you loved from childhood you still have access to, or make and blow some bubbles! Take a picture and share your fun with the rest of us.
 
Task 3: Make some art – draw a picture, or color one in and share the results with us. Free printable bookmarks can be found on Google images
 
Task 4: As a kid, did you enjoy visiting amusement parks and carnivals? Which were your favorite rides or shows? Do you still have any photos, or is there a memorable event you’re happy to share? – Alternatively, if you’re a parent now: Do you visit amusement parks / carnivals with your kids?
 
Book: Read a children’s or YA book or a book where children or teenagers play a significant role, or written by an author who was under the age of 18 at the time of publication.
 

 

 
World Philosophy Day
Door 9:  World Philosophy Day
 
Task 1:  Share your reading philosophy with us – do you DNF? If so, do you have a page minimum to read before you declare it a DNF?
 
Task 2: Share your reviewing philosophy with us – how do you rate a book? Do you have a mental template for reviewing? Rules you try to follow, or rules you try to break?
 
Task 3: How do you stay zen / sane over the holidays or in other stressful periods?
 
Task 4: Did you love or hate the books you had to read for school? Looking back, which ones (good or bad) stand out to you the most?
 
Book: Read a book about philosophy or a philosopher, or a how-to book about changing your life in a significant way or suggesting a particular lifestyle (Hygge, Marie Kobo, etc.).
 

 

 
Russian Mothers' Day
Door 10:  Russian Mothers’ Day
 
Task 1:  “Three Russian writers walk into a bar …” (Take it from here – the wilder the merrier!)
 
Task 2: Towards the end of the 17th century, there was a Russian apprentice carpenter and shipwright going by the name Peter Mikhailov in the Dutch town of Zaandam (and later in Amsterdam), who eventually turned out to be none other than Tsar Peter the Great, whose great interest in the craft would become pivotal to his programs for the build-up of the Russian navy and naval commerce.
So: Tell us about a favorite book, either nonfiction history (demonstrably true facts, please, no conspiracy theories or unproven conjecture) or fiction – all genres, not limited to historical fiction –, dealing with a member of royalty “moonlighting” as a commoner.
 
Task 3: Until WWII, the most famous part of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg was the so-called amber room. It was looted, lock stock and barrel, by the Nazis, and has since vanished from the face of the earth, with its fate a complete mystery to the present day. Let your imagination run wild: What do you think may have happened to it? (Kidnapped by aliens? Spirited away by dwarves and hidden in a secret cavern deep below the face of the earth? Sold, piece by piece, to finance … what? The Nazi war effort? The restoration of the Romanovs to the throne of Russia? Stalin’s pogroms? What else?) Don’t hold back, we’d love to know!
 
Task 4: Forget-me-nots and handmade medals of honor are important Russian Mothers’ Day gifts. Create a medal of honor (with or without the image of a forget-me-not) for a favorite book character or for a family member or friend of yours that you’d like to pay respect to.
 
Book: Read a book set in Russia, by a Russian author, featuring a story within a story (like a Russian “matryoshka” doll), or featuring a character who is a mother.
 

 

 
Thanksgiving
Door 11:  Thanksgiving Day
 
Task 1:  If you have kids or pets, tell us about something “bad” they did that was so funny you couldn’t help but forgive (“pardon”) them. If you have neither kids nor pets, was there such an event in your own childhood – or with kids or pets in your family or circle of friends?
 
Task 2: Tell us: Of the books that you read this year, which are you most thankful for, OR was there one that turned out to be full of “stuffing”? Alternatively, which (one) book that you read anytime at all changed your life for the better?”
 
Task 3: Share your favorite turkey or pie recipe.
 
Task 4: Send a friend you’re thankful for having a postcard (in the mail!). Snap a picture of the postcard image (not the message) and share it with us.
 
Book: Read a book with an autumnal cover, set in New England, where a turkey shows up in the story, with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover, or with the theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.
 

 

 
St. Andrew's Day
Door 12:  St. Andrew’s Day
 
Task 1:  Tell us: Who is your favorite Scottish (or Scots-born / -descendant) writer?
 
Task 2: Ian Rankin likes to say that the Scottish national diet is sugar, fat and alcohol. The traditional Scottish dessert – Raspberry Cranachan – contains all three of these (and of course the alcohol in it is the national drink, whisky), but it’s also delicious! So … make Raspberry Cranachan: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2852/raspberry-cranachan.aspx (For a non-alcoholic version just omit the whisky – or substitute with orange juice.)
 
Task 3: St. Andrew was a fisherman by trade: Which book(s) from your TBR that you read this year turned out to be the year’s greatest “catch”?
 
Task 4: If you could create your personal tartan, what would it look like? Or if you have a favorite existing tartan, which one is it?
 
Book: Read a book set in Scotland.
 

 

 
Advent
Door 13:  Advent
 
Task 1:  Share a picture of your advent calendar.
 
Task 2: Tell us: What is your favorite holiday tradition?
 
Task 3: Prepare an apple cider wassail bowl or a wassail bowl containing your favorite drink or fruit. Post a picture and enjoy!
 
Task 4: Tell us about an event in the immediate or near future that you’re looking forward to.
 
Book: Read a pastiche, a book authorized by a deceased author’s estate, the 4th book in a series, a book with the word “four” in the title, a book featuring four siblings, or a book with a wreath, pines or fir trees on the cover.
 

 

 
St. Nicholas Day
Door 14:  St. Nicholas’ Day
 
Task 1: Write a book wish list to St. Nick / Santa Claus for books that you’ve been eyeing but can’t justify the expense of purchasing. (E.g., art books? Collector’s editions? Boxed sets?)
 
Task 2: In the Netherlands, ‘Sinterklaas’ is celebrated with ginger biscuits, marzipan and hot chocolate with cream; in Germany, it’s St. Nicholas’ Day with gingerbread, chocolate and / or nut or almond cookies, chocolate candy, and tangerines (or oranges). Choose one or more of the above as a holiday snack and post a picture for us to drool over.
 
Task 3:  St. Nicholas is a man of many names in English alone – Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Father Christmas … although in the English speaking world he only comes once (at Christmas, not also on December 6 – whereas in Germany and the Netherlands he makes his visits under different names on both occasions). Which of your favorite books were published under different titles in the same language, e.g., in North America vs. Britain? Have you ever bought a book under a title unfamiliar to you, only to discover belatedly that it was one you already own / had already read under a different title?
 
Task 4: A Czech Republic tradition for St Nick’s Day is groups of three “people” – St Nick, Angel, and Devil – to roam the streets the night before St Nick’s Day and stop children to ask them if they have been good during the year or not. Most kids say yes, sing a song or recite a poem. The three “strangers” then decide if the children are telling the truth. The good kids get candy / treats from the Angel, bad kids get potatoes or coal from the Devil. So: Post a song or poem (your own or someone else’s) that involves candy, potatoes, or coal.
 
Book: Read a book with an orange or red cover, set in the Netherlands or Germany, by a Dutch or German author, or with nuts, chocolate, coins, canals or beer on the cover.
 

 

 
International Human Rights Day
Door 15:  International Human Rights Day
 
Task 1: Cook a dish from a culture other than your own or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (for the Netherlands, seat of the International Court of Justice & International Criminal Court).
 
Task 2: Create a stack of books or a list with books by some of your favorite female and / or minority authors (minimum: five) and tell us what you like about their writing.
 
Task 3:  Nominate a (fictional) character from one of the books you read this year for a Nobel Prize – regardless which one – or for a similarly important prize (e.g., the Fields Medal for mathematics) and write a brief laudation explaining your nomination.
 
Task 4: Reconstitute one of the bodies or institutions of the United Nations (Plenary Assembly, Security Council, Secretariat, International Court of Justice / Criminal Court, World Bank, etc.) with some of your favorite characters (minimum: five) and explain why you chose them and what you’d expect them to achieve.
 
Book: Read a book featuring a strong female character (or characters), by an author from any minority group, a story about a minority overcoming their oppressors, or revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused, a book set in New York City, or a book originally written in a language other than English and / or your mother tongue or by anyone not Anglo-Saxon.
 

 

 
St. Lucia’s Day
Door 16:  St. Lucia’s Day
 
Task 1: Famous first words: Tradition has it that the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are woken up by the St. Lucia maidens, as St. Lucia’s Day (Dec. 13) is just three days after the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony and many laureates stay long enough to be able to take in the St. Lucia festivities. Imagine one of your favorite (fictional) characters had won that prize: How would you think (s)he would greet the maidens? (If you’ve used the Nobel Peace Prize for Door 15, Task 3, this can be the same character, of course … or a different one, just as you wish.)
 
Task 2: Compile a list of five or more carols, poems, short stories, novels or other pieces of writing that feature sleigh rides.
 
Task 3:  Trolls, gnomes, dwarves and similar beings (some evil, some less so, almost all of them mischievous) are a staple of Scandinavian mythology and folklore, as well as other folklores and mythologies around the world and, of course, fantasy and speculative fiction. Who is your favorite such creature and why? (No matter whether mythological, fictional or from whatever other source.)
 
Task 4: The historic (3d century AD) St. Lucia was Italian; yet, like those of many other saints (including, e.g., St. Andrew and St. Nicholas), the most important celebrations of her holiday don’t occur in her place of origin but somewhere else in the world.
 
Book:  Read a book set in Scandinavia / Northern Europe, by a Northern European / Nordic author, with a predominantly white cover (or white with red lettering), newly released in November or December of this year, or set in the candle-lit world (i.e., before the discovery of electricity – roughly, that is, before the late 19th century).
 

 

 
Winter Solstice
Door 17:  Winter Solstice (Yule / Yaldā Night / Dongzhi / Soyal):
 
Task 1: Yule task (Germany / Scandinavia): Burn a Yule log – or if you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle to chase away the winter and welcome in the longer days. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, light a candle to mourn the slow but inexorable retreat of the sun.
 
Task 2: Yaldā Night task (Persia / Iran): Stay up all night reading a good book (or at least stay up past your usual bedtime).
 
Task 3:  Dongzhi task (China): To commemorate Marco Polo’s memoirs of his trip to China, write a fictional diary entry or letter home from an imagined trip to a faraway place (real or invented) – or if you actually have written such a letter in the past and are happy to share it with us, please do!
 
Task 4: Soyal task (Zuñi & Hopi / Native American): While systems of written symbols and communication already existed with the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures, to many tribes even today (including the Zuñi and Hopi) the oral tradition is still important. Have you ever had stories told to you (e.g., as children’s bedtime stories, or at night during a camping vacation)? Or if you haven’t, try to imagine a “storytelling” situation you’d like to experience?
 
Book:  Read a book that takes place in December, with ice or snow on the cover, where all events take place in a single day or night, that revolves around the solstice, set in Persia / Iran, China or the American Southwest or prominently featuring Persian / Iranian, Chinese or Native American characters, or a collection of poetry.
 

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24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 – Hanukkah: Book

Thou Shell of Death - Nicholas Blake Thou Shell of Death - Nicholas Blake, Kris Dyer

This is a Christmas book, but I’ll be reading plenty more of those in the next couple of weeks (plus, it doesn’t have an overly Christmas-y feel), so I’m counting it as “second book in a series” — which takes it into the book tasks for Hanukkah.

Atmosphere aside (which I actually found to be more evocative in book 1), this is quite a jump in skillful execution from the first book, though.  This is beginning to bode better and better for the series as a whole.

(Task: Read a book about light, miracles, featuring Jewish characters, set in Israel, that is the second book in a series, with the word “two” in the title, or with a light on the cover.)

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24 Festive Tasks: Door 14 – Hanukkah, Task 1 (A Miracle? Maybe.)

 

I hadn’t actually thought of this incident in a long time, and when I remembered it during the course of this game, it took me a while to make up my mind whether to use it for the “miracle” or the “homing pigeon” task — but given that it scared the living daylights out of me, somehow “miracle” seems to cut it better.

 

This happened during a skiing holiday when I was in my mid-20s, in the Dolomites region of the Italian Alps (which, for the record, I still love dearly — it’s one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of the Alps). And it was an incredibly effective reminder that even in today’s highly technicized world, nature can easily get the better of you, witih potentially lethal consequences.  Even if you think you know what you are doing (or if only one in a party of two knows what they are doing).

 

My mom first put skis under my feet when I was 3, and we’d been spending at least a week or two per winter — and most years, more than that — in the various skiing regions of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy ever since (often also with the family of my mom’s sister, all of whom were avid skiers as well).  So by the time this incident happened, I was well familiar with the vagaries of winter weather in the mountains, too — we had had several tricky situations in the past, but had always been able to deal with them, regardless whether it was just the two of us or the larger family party of six.

 

This vacation was different, however.  This time, I had gone with my then-boyfriend, who had never skied in his life, nor spent time in the mountains in winter.  We went to Val di Fassa, where I had stayed before and which I liked a lot, on the one hand because of its natural beauty, but on the other hand I also thought the comparatively easy slopes available in this part of the Dolomites would be a great place to learn skiing, for anybody who really wanted to learn.  The more advanced Fassa slopes are also part of the so-called Sella Ronda, a circular network of interlinked slopes and ski lifts all around the Sella massif which allows you to make entire day or half-day tours on your skis and explore several different skiing regions, instead of being limited to only a single one … but obviously this sort of thing is impossible with someone who has never been on skis before.  So we agreed that I’d spend most of the time with my boyfriend, teaching him to ski on one of the Val di Fassa beginners’s slopes.  Only one day I’d do part of the Sella Ronda and ski over to neighboring Val Gardena (Grödnertal), where my mom and my aunt and uncle were staying at the same time.  And tellingly, what happened did NOT happen while I was out alone, going to Val Gardena and back (on a series of slopes that I was well familiar with — we had spent several vacations in Val Gardena in the past, too, and the part of the Sella Ronda between there and Val di Fassa was one stretch that we particularly loved and had skied many, many times).

 

 

My boyfriend and I were not staying in one of the skiing towns and villages down in the valley but halfway up to Passo Sella, because most hotels were already fully booked by the time he said he wanted to go — which for a popular Alpine skiing region was not unexpected (and I was quite frankly happy to still find any accommodation at all).  So for a few days we went down to the beginners’s slopes in Campitello and Canazei, and back up to Passo Sella again in the afternoon.  One day, we were late getting started on our trip back — I forgot why.  The weather had been fine in the morning when we started (and most of the day, too); I’d packed skid chains regardless, but even those ultimately were no help.

 

At some point on our way up to the Pass, dusk began to fall.  At the same time, clouds were moving in, fogging up the view and snowing in the road, until we were caught in a complete whiteout, with dusk added into the mix and visibility reduced to practically zero.  There was nobody else on the road, not even snow ploughs — I think their operators had been surprised by the sudden change of weather, too (this was when weather reports were a lot more unreliable anyway, but particularly so in the mountains, where the weather can change very rapidly).  Somehow, I made it all the way up to within almost a kilometre or two (1 – 1 1/2 miles) of our hotel, to a point where the road was flattening out again for a stretch.  I don’t remember why exactly we didn’t manage the last part of the road back to the hotel in our car, but I do remember pulling over to the side with my inner reserves thoroughly drained by that point already, telling my boyfriend there was nothing for it; we’d have to walk the last part of the way, carrying our skis.  So we set out with me leading the way, warning him to stay close behind me, walking single file; and with nothing to guide me but the telegraph poles along the road, the respective next one of which I could barely make out with everyone that I passed.

 

 

After a while, I realized that my boyfriend was no longer walking behind me.  I couldn’t tell how long that had been the case (in a whiteout, the combined effect of low clouds and snow will also muffle almost all sound) and whether, disregarding my warning, he had just dropped into one of his habitual slow ambles or whether he had actually fallen.  I briefly hesitated whether to go back and look for him or walk on and try to get help as fast as possible.  Since dusk was really closing in on us and even if he had fallen and I had gone back, I wasn’t sure whether there would have been anything I could have done on my own, I decided to walk on and try to get to the hotel and call for help as quickly as possible; all the more since I thought I had almost reached the turnoff.  This, fortunately, was true.  But although the pathway to the hotel was short, there was now no more landmark to guide me — and of course, the path itself was rapidly disappearing under layers of freshly fallen snow, too.  I literally stumbled on, hoping I was going in the right direction.  Then I slipped and fell, and was instantly and completely disoriented — and in despair, ready to just lie down and give up. 

 

Eventually I pulled myself up and crawled forward, hoping to at some point be able to grab onto something that would show me where I was.  That something, when I found it at last, turned out the stairs to the hotel — luckily I had fallen right in the hotel (originally a farm) forecourt.  I burst into the door and, once inside, into the hotel kitchen, where I hoped the host family would be staying at that moment (which they were), and blurted out something to the effect that our car had broken down a kilometre or two back on the main road, my boyfriend hadn’t followed me and I didn’t know whether anything had happened to him.  Like many hotels and farms in the area (and as I had hoped they would), this one had a snowcat, which they brought out to go look for my boyfriend, while the landlady made me sit down in the kitchen to get warm again, gave me a cup of hot cocoa and tried to calm me down.  A while later, the guys who had gone out returned with my boyfriend — unscathed and merely disgusted.

 

We had only one more day left during that stay; I don’t recall what we did on that day, but it wasn’t skiing.  Two days later we left for home. 

 

And I’ve learned that even today, it is still possible to come to serious harm literally on the doorstep of a welcoming house that you’re not able to recognize.  I shudder to think what sort of peril whiteouts and blizzards must have meant in decades and centuries gone by.

 


Sassolungo (Langkofel): Unquestionably the most dramatic peak between Val di Fassa and Val Gardena; the Sella Ronda passes just below it, somehwere behind the snowed-in ridge to the right.

This is how I remember skiing in the Dolomites with my mom and my family! 😉

 

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24 Festive Tasks: Door 14 – Hanukkah, Task 2 (9 Candles)

Some of the things for which I am grateful this holiday season:

* My mom and the fact that, at age 80 (just this year) she is still around and well enough to manage her own affairs;

* My beautiful, darling new fur babies, Sunny and Charlie; and all the cats in my life — Teddy and all that he taught me about cats who haven’t grown up around humans, as well as my much-missed first trio, Gypsy, Holly and Tiger;

* My BFF and our almost 4 decades of friendship;

* Books (and more books);

* The BookLikes community and the fact that, against all odds, it’s still around and feeling closer than ever;

* My continued good health;

* My true and trusted work relationships;

* The treasures of our world, both natural and man-made, which miraculously we haven’t managed to eradicate entirely just yet — and by the same token, every single person contributing to the preservation of peace on earth, justice and sanity, in however little or big way they can;

* 2 days of absolute and uninterrupted bliss, quiet and relaxation on Christmas and Boxing Day.

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ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1823350/24-festive-tasks-door-14-hanukkah-task-2-9-candles

24 Festive Tasks: Door 14 – Hanukkah, Task 3 (Donut)

… and of course, I needed to reward myself for braving the Friday-before-Christmas crowds.  So I decided to take home a donut — and found that they even had Oreo donuts!  Couldn’t resist that one, of course!  And because I felt like it, I also brought home a nougat ring from the bakery down the street …

 

 

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ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1821356/24-festive-tasks-door-14-hanukkah-task-3-donut

C.H.B. Kitchin: Crime at Christmas

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 8 – Hanukkah

Murder on Hampstead Heath


Book themes for Hanukkah: Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the story’s plot.

Well, “miracle” is putting it a bit strongly, maybe, but light definitely features crucially here.  Unfortunately, to say anything more would constitute a fairly major spoiler, so let’s just stick with the fact that the investigators — the book’s amateur sleuth narrator just as much as the police inspector in charge of the case — are enlightened in more senses than one when they reach the solution.

The story is told by a London stockbroker named Malcolm Warren, who is invited to the house of his biggest client, a financier of Scandinavian extraction, for — you guessed it — that family’s annual Christmas gathering.  (For once, we’re not out in the boonies miles and miles away from London but, more or less anyway, in the suburbs, in Hampstead; right on the edge of the Heath).  Also present, in addition to the host’s family (wife, wife’s son from her first marriage, daughters from her second marriage, one daughter’s “special friend” — read, suitor and would-be fiancé but for her stepfather’s strenuous opposition on grounds of total unsuitability — and the hosting couple’s youngest son (sick, thus largely off stage) and his nurse (not so much off stage)), are the host’s closest friend (a doctor) and, in an odd twist, the mother of the host’s secretary, who has been invited by way of a stop-gap solution because it so happens that her son and his boss (the Christmas party’s host) can’t be there at all but, rather, at the very last minute have to attend an important overnight business meeting in London — and the secretary’s mom, who had come to visit her son (who lives in his employer’s house), doesn’t have anywhere else to stay.  Not a good solution for mom, it turns out, because she doesn’t even survive her first night in the house.  Since her death is not interpreted as a murder but as an accident, however, the police only show up when a second death occurs, which in turn has fairly obviously been brought about intentionally.

I initially liked this book quite a bit, chiefly due to Warren’s narrative voice and due to the fact that our narrator’s responses to the events he witnesses — and to the rather disagreeable group of people assembled in the house — are initially all too plausible and easy to empathize with.  The book took a slight dive in my appreciation at about mid-point, however, when people (including the narrator and his host, a businessman used to engaging in the toughest of negotiations) started to faint right and left whenever something upsetting occurred — or rather, not even necessarily in that very same instance, but (like our narrator) at some convenient later moment, after having acted sensibly and in furtherance of the plot for easily a half hour prior to their attack of the willies.  (And no, I don’t think the author had a solid grasp on the psychology of euphoria and delayed shock, either.)  Also, unlike in some of the other Golden Age country house Christmas party books I’ve read recently, the explanation given for the amateur sleuth’s continued involvement in the investigation seemed rather weak; and there are moments towards the end where he comes off as rather pompous.  That said, though, generally Kitchin’s writing is easily on par with that of his contemporaries, and as a rather traditional Christmas mystery, this works nicely enough.

 

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