The Halloween Creatures Book Tag

Rules:

Answer all prompts.
Answer honestly.
Tag 1-13 people.
Link back to this post. ( For me it was SnoopyDoo!)
Remember to credit the creator. (Anthony @ Keep Reading Forward)<
Have fun!

 

Witch

A Magical Character or Book

Terry Pratchett’s witches, particularly Granny Weatherwax. And DEATH (preferably in his Hogfather incarnation). No contest.

 

 

Werewolf

The Perfect Book to Read at Night

Any- and everything by Agatha Christie.

 

Vampire – A Book that Sucked the Life Out of You – and Frankenstein – A Book that Truly Shocked You

Joint honors in both categories to two novels chronicling civil war and genocide in two African countries, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (Nigeria / Biafra) and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love (Sierra Leone). Both of them are, in their own way, the literary equivalent of a gut punch that leaves you gasping for air in huge, big gulps. And both are, for that and many other reasons (characters, writing, the whole package) unforgettable in all the right ways.

The Devil

A Dark, Evil Character

Umm … the original blood sucker? (I don’t much go in for the sparkly variety.) And, of course, Tom Riddle aka Voldemort … and the dementors. Those creatures are vile.

 

Zombie

A Book that Made You “Hungry” for More

Dorothy L. Sayers’s Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane tetralogy, particularly Gaudy Night. While I can totally see that (and why) for Sayers there really was no easy follow-up to Busman’s Honeymoon, I’d still have loved to see how she herself would have framed Peter and Harriet’s married life and continuing investigations … instead of having to rely on another author’s attempts to pick the bones of Sayers’s sketchy drafts.

Gargoyle

A Character that You Would Protect at All Cost

Hmm. This one was difficult, because one of the things that I like about my favorite characters — and pretty much any and all of them, and across all genres — is that they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, even in the face of adversity. But I guess if you’re up against evil incarnate and you’re looking at the one group / fellowship of people who actually stand at least a minute chance of facing up to it, a little extra protection can’t go awray.

Along the same lines, Harry Potter, Dumbledore’s Army, and most of the teachers at Hogwarts.

Ghost

A Book that Still Haunts You

I could easily have used Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love for this category all over again — as well as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (see below) and, to a minimally lesser extent its sequel, The Testaments. I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to go with Clea Koff’s The Bone Woman — not just for its content as such, though, but because I have seen cases related to the very ones that she describes up, close and personal … and short of actually being the victim of human rights violations yourself, there are few things as devastating and haunting as working with victims, or otherwise being involved in the aftermath.

Demon

A Book that Really Scared You

I reread Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale last year before moving on to The Testaments, and it scared the living daylights out of me; possibly even more than when I read it for the first time many years ago — not least because events in the past couple of years have shown just how realistic Atwood’s dystopia is, and how little it takes for society to slide down that particular slippery slope.

Skeleton

A Character You Have a Bone to Pick With

You mean other than each and every TSTL character ever created?

OK, let’s go with the two protagonists of what I’ve come to dub my fall 2017 headless chicken parade — Giordano Bruno in S.J. Parris’s Heresy (essentially for not bearing any demonstrable likeness to the historical Giordano Bruno, who would probably have sneared at his fictional alter ego in this particular book / series), and Albert Campion in Margery Allingham’s Traitor’s Purse, for losing not only his memory but also the better part of his essential character makeup as a result of being coshed over the head.

Mummy

A Book You Would Preserve Throughout Time

Well, the likes of Hamlet, Pride & Prejudice and Sherlock Holmes have already made their point as far as “timeless” is concerned, so it feels kind of pointless to pick a classic here.

That being said, I hope one day the time will come for people to scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss was about, but right now — there hasn’t been a book in a long time that challenged stereotypes (gender, race, class, writing styles, younameit) in the way that Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other has. It’s the reality check we all urgently needed, and a book that can’t ever possibly have too many readers … now and for the foreseeable future.

Creepy Doll

A Cover too Scary to Look At

That of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary — because I really do NOT want to think about the possibility of my pets ever turning into zombies, revenants or the like, or otherwise taking on similarly murderous qualities. And that is precisely what this cover makes me do.

 

The Monster Mash

It’s Fun to Be with Friends on Halloween!
Tag Your Friends!

Anyone and everyone who wants to do this, I hope if you are reading this and have not done it you will. It’s fun, and outside of Halloween Bingo, nothing says bookish Halloween like tying a few of your reads to a roundup of Halloween creatures! 🙂

2019: The Books I’ve Been Most Thankful For

24 Festive Tasks: Door 11 – Thanksgiving: Task 2

With another full month to go in the year, it may be a bit early to do this task, but a substantial number of the books I’m going to be reading in December will be Christmas rereads, so here we go.

The books / authors I am most thankful for having (re)discovered are, working backwards in the order in which I’ve read them (and with links to my reviews or status updates, if any, in the titles):

 

Margaret Atwood, The Testaments and The Handmaid’s Tale:
Atwood’s Gilead novels were my final reads of this year’s Halloween Bingo, and the game couldn’t have ended on a bigger exclamation point (though The Handmaid’s Tale was a reread).  The Testaments not only takes us back to Gilead and provides answers to some of the questions remaining open at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, more importantly it is also a timely reminder of what exactly is at stake once a democracy’s foundations are allowed to weaken — as we’re seeing in more than one country around the world at the moment.  One of the hardest reading double bills I ever imposed on myself, but I’m very glad that I did.

As a side note and for something very different, I also truly enjoyed Atwood’s Hag-Seed, a novelization of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which I read earlier this year.

 

Toni Morrison, Beloved:
Another soul-drenching and profoundly devastating reading experience, and yet another one that I’m truly thankful for.  Morrison deserved the Literature Nobel Prize for this book alone, and while her literary legacy has hopefully made her voice immortal, among the many great authors we have lost this year, she stands head and shoulders above all the rest.  Her contributions to the literary and social discourse will well and truly be missed.

 

Guards! Guards! - Terry PratchettTerry Pratchett, Guards, Guards:
One of the Discworld series’s stand-out books and in many ways a perfect companion book for those by Atwood and Morrison as it, too, deals with the undermining of democracy by the forces of evil.  Trust me, this is one dragon you don’t want to encounter … (unless, of course, you happen to be able to bring the perfect antidote).

Reminder for the Discworld group: This is our bimonthly group read for this coming December.  And it’s highly recommended!

 

Danger! - Arthur Conan DoyleArthur Conan Doyle: Danger:
Speaking of timely reads, this was yet another one: Much more than “merely” the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, Conan Doyle was an astute observer of the politics of his time, and he did not shy away from speaking his mind, even if that meant offending the highest in the land.  Danger is a short story that he wrote shortly before WWI to warn the leadership of the Admiralty of the dangers of a submarine war, for which he considered Britain woefully unprepared.  And if Conan Doyle’s words struck a cautionary note a century ago (turns out the Admiralty took his warning seriously, and it was a good thing for Britain that they did), they should do so even more in the context of Brexit, which carries its very own significant risks of cutting off or curtailing Britain’s trade routes.  Alas, I very much doubt that’s the case.

 

Thomas Cromwell: A Life - Diarmaid MacCullochDiarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cromwell
Simply put, the Cromwell biography to end all Cromwell biographies.  In his research for this book, MacCulloch took a fresh look at virtually every single document on which Cromwell’s vast legacy is based, and the resulting biography is a masterpiece of historical analysis which does away with many an often-repeated myth (beginning right at the beginning of Cromwell’s life, with the role of his father), and which shines a light on Cromwell’s many innovations and achievements and on the inner workings of his meteoric rise from humble tradesman’s son to Henry VIII’s chief minister.  In the process, MacCulloch reevaluates everything from the foreign merchant experience that Cromwell gained early in life, to his work as Cardinal Wolsey’s assistant and, finally, his growing preeminence and his seminal policy as the power behind Henry VIII’s throne.  What emerges from MacCulloch’s analysis is the picture of a highly complex and intelligent man, difficult to deal with even for friends, fierce and ruthless as an enemy — but always with England’s well-being and advancement (as well as the advancement of its institutions) at his heart; the one man who, in the space of a single short decade, emerged as the single most important politician of the entire Tudor Age (short of, just possibly, Elizabeth I), whose legacy (and the legacy of his innovations and reforms, far above and beyond the well-known Acts of Parliament which he initiated) reaches down the centuries all the way to the present date.  If you’re even the slightest bit interested in the Tudor Age or in constitutional history, run, don’t walk to acquire this book.

 

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo - Tom ReissTom Reiss, The Black Count:
Another highly fascinating biography: We’ve come to think of Alexandre Dumas père and fils as the two writers, but did you know that Dumas père’s father (also called Alexandre) — the son of a black Haitian slave and a French count — was a general in the French revolutionary army and, in his own time, much more important than his son and grandson ever were in theirs?  Reiss’s book not only tells the story of his life; it also places General Dumas’s life into the wider context of his era and examines, inter alia, how equal the budding colonial power’s black sons and daughters actually were in the motherland of “Liberté – Egalité – Fraternité” (spoiler: they weren’t).  The picture emerging from Reiss’s research is that of a man of great personal courage, intelligence and ambition, as well as sheer enormous physical presence, whose life was cut tragically short as a result of the side effects of being caught up in the European and French power struggle of his time — and in case you ever had any doubts, yes, General Dumas was the model for one of his son’s greatest heroes, the Count of Monte Cristo … and D’Artagnan’s famous friendship-building duel with all three Musqueteers at the beginning of their acquaintance does have a basis in reality as well.

 

The Raven Tower - Ann LeckieAnn Leckie, The Raven Tower:
Truly original worldbuilding, a powerful story, evocative writing and a knockout, totally unique narrative perspective: In a literary scene that seems to be dominated more and more by sameness and formula (both in adult and YA fantasy), with barely skin-deep layers of seeming originality, this book was my reading year’s one saving grace that singlehandedly restored my faith in the idea that there are at least a few fantasy writers out there who are still capable of compelling creations that are entirely their own and unlike anything else already out there.

 

The Memory of Love - Aminatta FornaAminatta Forna, The Memory of Love:
Last year, it was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun that provided insight and a new perspective on the history of one particular African country (Nigeria); this year, Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love did the same and then some for Sierra Leone.  A devastating tale of love, loss, and the many ways in which a person can be broken, in a country variously slipping into and emerging out of decades of a devastating civil war.

 

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace - Kofi AnnanKofi Annan, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace:
Mr. Annan was far and away the most influential and important Secretary General of the United Nations in its more recent history; his memoirs set forth with great passion and understanding how the experience of a lifetime, from growing up in post-WWII Ghana all the way to serving as Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping under Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and his first-hand insight into conflicts like those in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Somalia, Israel / Palestine, Iraq, and Somalia, shaped his conviction about the necessity of an “interventionist” United Nations policy; one that does not stay on the sidelines of genocide and war crimes but takes seriously its mandate to act on behalf of the peoples of the world.  A simply riveting read.

 

The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo - Clea KoffClea Koff, The Bone Woman:
This one hit home, because it touched more or less directly on some of my own past work — but even if you don’t have any personal inroads into the investigation of human rights violations, it’s a great introduction to the subject and, more importantly, does great legwork in conveying both the psychological trauma and the physical wounds suffered by the victims of such abuses … as well as the toll that the field work of the subsequent investigation takes from the investigators.  A truly memorable read.

 

An Accidental Death: A DC Smith Investigation Series, Book 1 - Peter Grainger, Gildart JacksonPeter Grainger, An Accidental Death:
One of the year’s early and totally unexpected, great discoveries.  A great location (the Norfolk coast), pithy and insightful writing, an unusual, profoundly contemplative detective — a formerly high-ranking officer who has chosen to be knocked back to the rank of sergeant so as to be able to keep doing hands-on police work instead of being mired in administration and pushing paper … and thanks to the main character’s hobby, there is even a bluesy background note.  Who could ask for more?

 

Becoming - Michelle ObamaMichelle Obama, Becoming:
Mrs. Obama may have chosen to focus on her charity work and on political education instead of seeking a career in party politics now that she and her husband have left the White House (and who could possibly blame her?), but I am very glad she also decided to give us her deeply personal perspective on her own and Barack Obama’s path all the way to the end of 2016.  It’s a spirited narrative that manages to build an immediate connection with the reader, and which made me regret the end of the Obama presidency even more than I had done before.  I can only hope the Obamas are going to continue to seek and find ways to make their mark on the political discourse, in America and beyond — not only Barack but also Michelle Obama, who in her own right is clearly at least as important a voice as her husband.

 

The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee, John David MannHyeonseo Lee, The Girl with Seven Names:
A riveting read and proof positive of the old adage that truth is vastly stranger than fiction: the true story of a young woman who defected from North Korea to China “by accident” right before her 18th birthday and, after ten years of trials and tribulations, eventually ended up in South Korea and, later, in the U.S., where she testified about her experience, and more generally on the topic of dictatorial regimes and human rights abuses, before various bodies of the U.S. government and the United Nations.  At times her story is so heartstoppingly riveting that you want to doubt whether all this truly happened, but apparently it did — and the book is worth a read for her unquestionably personal and in-depth inside perspective on Norh Korea and China alone.

 

The Good Women of China - XinranXinran, The Good Women of China:
My first read of 2019, and with it, the year started well and truly with a bang: the true stories of a number of Chinese women whom Xinran — then a radio presenter in Nanking — encountered as a journalist, but whose stories she was not able to tell while still subject to state censorship.  In equal parts eye-opening and heartbreaking; by no means easy to digest but an absolute must-read, and my reading year couldn’t have begun in a better way.

 

 The Murderer's Son - Richard Armitage, Joy Ellis Their Lost Daughters - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Fourth Friend - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Guilty Ones: A Jackman and Evans Thriller - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Stolen Boys - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage
Beware the Past - Joy Ellis, Antony Ferguson Five Bloody Hearts - Joy Ellis, Matthew Lloyd Davies

Joy Ellis, Jackman & Evans series and Beware the Past:
As a new discovery, this is actually a carry-over from 2018, when Ellis’s Their Lost Daughters completely knocked me sideways during Halloween Bingo.  I’ve since read her entire Jackman & Evans series — my favorite entries still being Their Lost Daughters as well as, coming very close, book 4 of the series, The Guilty Ones — and I have continued my adventures in Ellis’s Fenlands world of detection with an encounter with DCI Matt Ballard in Beware the Past, the conclusion of which managed to knock me sideways yet again (though warning: this is definitely not a tale for the faint of heart).  And the good news is that the second book of the Matt Ballard series (Five Bloody Hearts) is already available as well, so I’m not done with the Fenlands by a long shot …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(Task: 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?”)

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/2002275/24-festive-tasks-door-11-thanksgiving-task-2

Halloween Bingo 2019: Tracking Post — Blackout! (And bingos Nos. 12 and 13.)

 

Many thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for hosting this game for the fourth year in a row, bigger and better than ever before!

Witih today’s call, I’ve blacked out my card, in addition to collecting my final bingos (nos. 12 and 13).

Somewhat to my surprise, after completing my books for my official bingo card at the end of September, I even managed to read enough extra books to put together a supplemental inofficial card throughout the month of October, so this year’s game has really exceeded my wildest expectations in every conceivable way!

 

My Official 2019 Bingo Card:

Weekly Status Updates and Reviews:

First Week
Second Week
Third Week
Fourth Week

 

The Books:

International Woman of Mystery: Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments – finished September 29, 2019.
Locked Room Mystery: Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat – finished September 23, 2019.
Murder Most Foul: Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased – finished September 13, 2019.
Psych: Sofi Oksanen: Fegefeuer (The Purge) – finished September 17, 2019.
Read by Flashlight or Candle Light: The Lady Detectives: Four BBC Radio 4 Crime Dramatisations – finished September 20, 2019.

DeadLands: Terry Pratchett: Monstrous Regiment – finished September 26, 2019.
Fear the Drowning Deep: Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing – finished September 25, 2019.
Relics and Curiosities: Patricia Wentworth: Eternity Ring – finished September 10, 2019.
Dark Academia: James Hilton: Was It Murder? – finished September 1, 2019.
Modern Noir: Joy Ellis: The Guilty Ones – finished September 21, 2019.

Ghost Stories: Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten – finished September 1, 2019.
Gothic: Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor – finished September 9, 2019.
Free (Raven) Space: Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories – finished September 7, 2019.
Truly Terrifying: Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering – finished September 12, 2019.
Amateur Sleuth: Priscilla Royal: Wine of Violence – finished September 5, 2019.

Cryptozoologist: Terry Pratchett: Guards! Guards! – finished September 18, 2019.
Diverse Voices: Toni Morrison: Beloved – finished September 22, 2019.
Black Cat: Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut’s Windlass – finished September 16, 2019.
Creepy Crawlies: Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow – finished September 7, 2019.
Country House Mystery: Anthony Rolls: Scarweather – finished September 14, 2019.

Spellbound: Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown – finished September 6, 2019.
A Grimm Tale: Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling (eds.): The Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales – finished September 4, 2019.
Creepy Carnivals: Fredric Brown: The Dead Ringer – finished September 12, 2019.
Paint It Black: Trudi Canavan: The Magicians’ Guild – finished September 20, 2019.
Cozy Mysteries: Margery Allingham: The White Cottage Mystery – finished September 19, 2019.

 

My Square Markers

 

Called but not read

Read but not called

Read and Called

Center Square: Read and Called

 

The Extra Squares / Card and Books:

13: Rex Stout: And Be a Villain
Supernatural: Jennifer Estep: Kill the Queen
New Release: Sara Collins: The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Genre: Mystery: Catherine Louisa Pirkis: The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective
Romantic Suspense: Georgette Heyer: The Unfinished Clue
Terror in a Small Town: Ann Cleeves: Raven Black
Halloween: Agatha Christie: Hallowe’en Party
Monsters: Terry Pratchett: Pyramids
Shifters: Joan D. Vinge: Ladyhawke
Sleepy Hollow: Dennis Lehane: The Given Day
Film at 11: J.B. Priestley: An Inspector Calls
In the Dark, Dark Woods: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness
Free (Raven) Square: Various Authors: The Rivals: Tales of Sherlock Holmes’ Rival Detectives
Grave or Graveyard: Kathy Reichs: Grave Secrets
Genre: Suspense: Tony Medawar (ed.) & Various Authors: Bodies from the Library 2
Southern Gothic: Sharyn McCrumb: The Unquiet Grave
Baker Street Irregulars: Joanne Harris: Gentlemen & Players
Darkest London: J.V. Turner: Below the Clock
Magical Realism: Joanne Harris: Chocolat
It was a dark and stormy night: Peter May: The Lewis Man
Full Moon: Edmund Crispin: Glimpses of the Moon
King of Fear: John Le Carré: Absolute Friends
Serial / Spree Killer: Steven Kramer, Paul Holes & Jim Clemente: Evil Has a Name
Classic Noir: Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train
Classic Horror: Matthew G. Lewis: The Monk

Note: With regard to the extra squares, I added the image for the relevant square for every book completed (= “read”); and I am using my “called” markers for the main card to indicate “called and read”.

 

My Spreadsheet:

My Book Preselections Post: HERE

 

My Transfiguration Spells

Not used.

 

My “Virgin” Bingo Card:

Posted for ease of tracking and comparison.

 

 

Original post:
http://themisathena.booklikes.com/post/1942220/halloween-bingo-2019-tracking-post

Halloween Bingo 2019: The Fourth Week

Reading blackout before the end of the first bingo month and two more completed bingos in week 4 for a total of three bingos so far — if anybody had told me this going in, I’d have questioned their sanity.  Not least because I had a major project to complete this month, which I knew was going to involve a lot of meetings and time in the car — but all that time spent driving, and waiting for meetings to begin, turned out a blessing in disguise.  Either way, I’ll take it!  Especially since my final reads for my card turned out really, really great as well.

Now that I’ve completed my books for the squares on my card, I’m going to move on to a couple of the squares not on my card — first and foremost those from which I’d have picked my options for my three transfiguration spells if I had needed them.  I’ll be posting my progress with those on my bingo master tracking post.

 

The Books

Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat

My first book of the week was another excursion into the world of Golden Age mysteries; this time one set in the U.S.; the first book of Clayton Rawson’s Great Merlini series, focusing on a famous magician who, instead of resting on his laurels, has opened a magic shop and, as a sideline, agrees to help the police solving crimes set in his milieu.

Like most locked room mysteries, this book is best enjoyed in print — or if as an audiobook, at least with the print edition not too far away, as the print edition includes images of the crime scenes (yes, there are several) as well as other diagrams, all of which are darned near indispensable to following the plot, let alone trying to solve the mystery.  As you’d expect in any book with a magician at its center, slights of hand, trap doors and other instances of misdirection play a huge part here, and although they are not all visual, being able to trace them on the scene of crime images helps a lot.

What I particularly enjoyed in this book, though, were its manifold hattips to virtually all the great authors and detectives of Golden Age crime fiction — Rawson’s contemporaries as well as those of prior decades.  There is a long paragraph right at the beginning of the book, and many more references throughout; some (from a modern reader’s POV) a bit veiled, some less so — although doubtlessly all of them would have made instant sense to Rawson’s contemporary readers.  Rawson truly treasured the great mystery authors of his own time, and in turn, John Dickson Carr considered him one of the masters of the locked room genre and one of the six best mystery writers of the era: One may or may not agree with the second part of that compliment, but there is no doubt about the truth of the first part, and I am glad that, once more, Martin Edwards (in his two nonfiction books on the Golden Age) and Otto Penzler (by republishing this particular book) have collectively brought him to my attention.

 

Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing

A wonderfully atmospheric book set in the marshes on the North Carolina coast; the story of Kya Clark, who is successively abandoned by her entire family while still a child, manages to survive in the derelict family home with the help of a few well-meaning friends, autodidactically (though jump-started by a former friend of her elder brother’s, who eventually becomes her friend as well) turns herself into a marshland biologist, ecologist and science writer of considerable renown — and yet finally has to face up to her community’s lifelong prejudice arising from her unusual lifestyle, over an accusation with potentially catastrophic consequences.

The bulk of the book is told in two parallel timelines; one following Kya from childhood to adult life; the other set during her young adult age and dealing with the event that will eventually threaten to bring her very life and existence under threat.  (It is at this latter point that both timelines merge into one.)  Kya is a heroine impossible not to root for, and Owens’s writing, particularly in the first half of the book, is richly lyrical and emotive (without ever overstepping the boundaries towards facile emotionality), taking you right into the Carolina marshes, and into Kya’s person.   In the second part, I could have done with a somewhat less extensive exploration of the courtroom scenario — which may sound weird, coming from me, as I do enjoy courtroom scenes a lot in mysteries (and of course courtrooms also feature rather largely in my day job); however, even though Owens was obviously using the sterile, formalistic operations of the state justice system as a deliberately jarring contrast with the freedom of Kya’s life in the marshes and her intimacy with nature, I felt that part of the book could have done with a bit of streamlining.  Overall, though, this was a wonderful discovery and definitely one of the highlights among this year’s bingo reads.

 

Terry Pratchett: Monstrous Regiment

I had initially been planning to read Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids (also the Discworld group’s October group read) for this square, but given that I was ready for the square before October had rolled around and I still want to do the Discworld group read in any event, a quick switch to another one of Pratchett’s (de facto) standalone Discworld novels was called for; the justification for being applied to the “Deadlands” square being provided, in this particular instance, by a vampire named Maladict (who has managed to switch his craving for blood into a craving for coffee) and a few, albeit minor appearances by Ankh-Morpork Night Watch member Reg Shoe, who is a zombie.

As the title indicates, Monstrous Regiment is an exploration of the role of women and their fitness for positions within the official power structure of the state; and Pratchett wouldn’t be Pratchett if he didn’t take the phrase literally and set the whole thing in the context of the military — and not in peace time either, but in war.  (John Knox’s original treatise, from whose title the book’s name derives — The First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous regiment of Women — was a polemic against female monarchs.)  Moreover, it also served as a fitting run-up to my final bingo books, Margaret Atwood’s Gilead duology (The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments), as the core of the action is set in a country that is modeled on states with an extremely restrictive, religion-based attitude towards women … as well as the warmongering craze of the Nazis.  As a satirical exploration of society and what makes it tick, it isn’t quite as polished and on point as Guards! Guards! (which I only read last week), but that is really nitpicking — it’s still easily one of Terry Pratchett’s best offerings … outside the Witches subseries, that is.

 

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments

See separate post HERE.

 

The Card

… as of today; with my “virgin” card below for reference:

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1960788/halloween-bingo-2019-the-fourth-week

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale & The Testaments

~ Gilead ~

Well, that was as soul-drenching as any double bill ever was (even though The Testaments is marginally more optimistic than The Handmaid’s Tale).

It’s not always a good idea for an author to revisit one of their standout classics decades later, but in this instance it clearly worked.  Atwood stays faithful to the original tale while supplying additional depth to the world she created there.  (Now it remains to be seen whether the TV series, in turn, is going to stay true to the story as set out in The Testaments, which is set a decade and a half later.  Though I’m not sure Atwood herself considers more than a few basic facts from the TV series “canon” as far as her novels are conscerned.)

And Atwood has clearly done her homework on dictatorships, theocratic and otherwise — which is, of course, a large part of what makes Gilead come across as so goddamned credible (and hence, so goddamned frightening).  Like the authors of other dystopias (Orwell’s 1984, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Du Maurier’s Rule Britannia) — and also like Terry Pratchett in the first Night Watch novel, Guards’ Guards! — she points out that once a country’s democratic foundations have been allowed to weaken, it doesn’t even take a violent toppling of government for a dictatorship to take root — and while she may have been inspired by recent events to revisit Gilead and write The Testaments, this clearly is at the heart of The Handmaid’s Tale as well, as it is there that the notion is presciently first given voice.

I’m glad I went through both novels back to back, and Halloween Bingo couldn’t have ended on a bigger exclamation mark.  I also fervently hope the world doesn’t even get within the equator’s total length of Gilead, however; or rather, the actually existing theocracies will eventually be rooted out once and for all and no new ones will be added, anywhere on earth.  Most especially and for the immediate future I hope the Western world will come to its collective senses and manage to make a U-turn from the course that it started to take somewhere around the mid-2010s.  Heaven knows what the participants of late-22nd century historical conferences will otherwise have to say about us.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1960141/gilead

Halloween Bingo 2019: Tracking Post — Bingo No. 3 and Reading Blackout

* Triple Bingo Happy Dance *

Well, that went by much faster than I had anticipated … Many thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for hosting this game for the fourth year in a row, bigger and better than ever before!

I’ll continue tracking my bingos of course — and since we now have so many more great squares than can possibly fit on one person’s card, I’ll just continue reading for a few of the extra squares that didn’t make it onto mine.

And I hope everybody else is going to continue / start collecting bingos soon as well!

 

Weekly Status Updates and Reviews:

First Week
Second Week
Third Week

 

The Books:

International Woman of Mystery: Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments – finished September 29, 2019.
Locked Room Mystery: Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat – finished September 23, 2019.
Murder Most Foul: Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased – finished September 13, 2019.
Psych: Sofi Oksanen: Fegefeuer (The Purge) – finished September 17, 2019.
Read by Flashlight or Candle Light: The Lady Detectives: Four BBC Radio 4 Crime Dramatisations – finished September 20, 2019.

DeadLands: Terry Pratchett: Monstrous Regiment – finished September 26, 2019.
Fear the Drowning Deep: Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing – finished September 25, 2019.
Relics and Curiosities: Patricia Wentworth: Eternity Ring – finished September 10, 2019.
Dark Academia: James Hilton: Was It Murder? – finished September 1, 2019.
Modern Noir: Joy Ellis: The Guilty Ones – finished September 21, 2019.

Ghost Stories: Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten – finished September 1, 2019.
Gothic: Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor – finished September 9, 2019.
Free (Raven) Space: Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories – finished September 7, 2019.
Truly Terrifying: Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering – finished September 12, 2019.
Amateur Sleuth: Priscilla Royal: Wine of Violence – finished September 5, 2019.

Cryptozoologist: Terry Pratchett: Guards! Guards! – finished September 18, 2019.
Diverse Voices: Toni Morrison: Beloved – finished September 22, 2019.
Black Cat: Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut’s Windlass – finished September 16, 2019.
Creepy Crawlies: Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow – finished September 7, 2019.
Country House Mystery: Anthony Rolls: Scarweather – finished September 14, 2019.

Spellbound: Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown – finished September 6, 2019.
A Grimm Tale: Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling (eds.): The Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales – finished September 4, 2019.
Creepy Carnivals: Fredric Brown: The Dead Ringer – finished September 12, 2019.
Paint It Black: Trudi Canavan: The Magicians’ Guild – finished September 20, 2019.
Cozy Mysteries: Margery Allingham: The White Cottage Mystery – finished September 19, 2019.

 

My Square Markers

 

Called but not read

Read but not called

Read and Called

Center Square: Read and Called

 

My Spreadsheet:

My Book Preselections Post: HERE

 

My Transfiguration Spells

Not used.

 

My “Virgin” Bingo Card:

Posted for ease of tracking and comparison.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1942220/halloween-bingo-2019-tracking-post-bingo-no-3-and-reading-blackout

Halloween Bingo 2019: Final Square

For my final bingo square — “International Woman of Mystery” — I’ve decided on a Margaret Atwood double bill: a reread of The Handmaid’s Tale followed by its recent sequel, The Testaments … if I can stand that extended exposure to Gilead, that is, and don’t end up bailing out of The Handmaid’s Tale halfway through.  Even if I do, though, I’m still planning on reading The Testaments.  Wish me stamina …

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1958774/halloween-bingo-2019-final-square

Halloween Bingo 2019 PreParty — Question for 08/13 (Day 13): New Releases?

One recommendation and three expectations:

Ann Leckie – The Raven Tower: That rare beast of a newly-released book that worked for me on every level despite all the hype attached to it.  Fantasy / supernatural, but without the usual menagerie of magical beasts: instead, an alternative early medieval society and its (very much alive) gods, with a truly awesome narrator. My review is HERE.

Margaret Atwood – The Testaments: The new release I’m looking at with the greatest amount of trepidation, because come on, how do you match something as iconic and monumental as The Handmaid’s Tale … even as that book’s own author?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Gods of Jade and Shadow: The book that, thanks to Chris’s review, instantly made it onto a good number of Halloween Bingo reading lists; including mine.  A modernized (well, sort of) retelling of the Popol Vuh rendered in a storyteller’s voice, what’s not to like?

And, finally:

Michael Connelly – The Night Fire: Connelly never lets up and his writing is still as crisp as on day one.  Bosch and Ballard return as a team (I’m very much hoping as a team only), moonlighting in the investigation of a cold case Bosch has “inherited” from his recently-deceased mentor. — Side note: I’ve been bingeing on the Bosch TV series while compiling my “Halloween Bingo pre-party” posts up to now, which of course has only served to increase my anticipation of this particular book.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1935144/halloween-bingo-2019-preparty-question-for-08-13-day-13-new-releases

Halloween Bingo 2019 PreParty — Question for 08/10 (Day 10): Most Anticipated Read for 2019?

MR suggested a group or buddy read of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments — I’d definitely be up for that.  (Ditto Toni Morrison’s Beloved, if it comes to that.)  If I can work up the nerve, I may reread The Handmaid’s Tale prior to bingo just so as to have the continuity experience; either way, I’m definitely planning to read The Testaments.

Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing is the kind of immensely hyped book that I would ordinarily not touch for another year or two at least, just to see how much staying power it has once the hype has died off.  But it’s been reviewed favorably — enthusiastically even — by several people whose opinion I trust, so now I actually do want to see what all the excitement is about.

Joy Ellis’s The Guilty Ones is book 4 in her Jackman and Evans series, the second book of which completely blew me away during last year’s bingo to the point that I’ve since also listened to all the other books from the series that have been released on audio to date.  While my first experience (Their Lost Daughters) still remains unsurpassed, the series has fast become a new favorite and each new release is eagerly anticipated.  (Obviously it also helps that all of the audiobooks are narrated by Richard Armitage.)

And Priscilla Royal’s 13th century Prioress Eleanor / Tyndal Priory series has been on my TBR for a minor eternity, so I’m really hoping I’ll finally be able to make room for it this time around!

 

(NB: Post(s) for yesterday’s prompt still in production … )

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1933941/halloween-bingo-2019-preparty-question-for-08-10-day-10-most-anticipated-read-for-2019