Moonlight Snowfall
Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
A Christmas Party - Georgette Heyer

I've read this one before, but I enjoy this particular Christmas mystery quite a lot. Not quite so much as checking in with the Lee family, along with Monsieur Poirot, but I've already read that one!

Review
3.5 Stars
WWII fiction: The Winter is Past
The Winter is Past - Noel Streatfeild

I've never read any of Streatfeild's famously old-fashioned "shoes" series, including Ballet Shoes, so this was the first book I've read by her. I picked up it up for kindle because a number of her adult novels have been reprinted very cheaply. I read about it in one of my favorite blogs Furrowed Middlebrow - the blogger included it in his 100-book Furrowed Middlebrow Syllabus.

I love mid-century British fiction by women. The Winter is Past is set during the very beginning of WWII, at an old country house, Levet. This is during a time of great social change for Britain, and Levet details these changes in microcosm.

I'm not sure that I would recommend it widely - it's a book in which little happens, and the main character, Sara, is frustratingly vague. Her relationship with her husband has been badly damaged, and she spends most of the book dithering about whether or not she will remain at Levet. I kept wanting to kick her in the ass and tell her to make a damned decision. Having said that, it's well-written, and readers who enjoy books published by VMC and Persephone would likely enjoy it.

Review
4.5 Stars
Such an English murder
An English Murder - Cyril Hare

That was utterly delightful. A golden age Christmas puzzle mystery with a wonderful solution. Highly recommend for fans of the golden age. I'm not sure if I'll get around to writing up a more substantive review - and I'm going to use this for Door 17, Winter Solstice, because it has snow on the cover.

Reading progress update: I've read 71%.
An English Murder - Cyril Hare

This is delightful.

 

Someone is going to have to explain the William Pitt clue to me after I finish the book, unless the author adequately manages it.

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.
An English Murder - Cyril Hare

Oh, Dr. Bottwink.

 

"You see,"—he adjusted his spectacles with a gesture that somehow invested the room with the atmosphere of a lecture hall—"as the good Sergeant Rogers so crudely but forcibly puts it, this young man has in all human probability been murdered. That being so, the suspects are, conveniently from his point of view, but lamentably from ours, extremely few.

 

He has to choose between a Cabinet Minister, a young lady of the aristocracy, the wife of a rising politician, a trusted family servant and a foreign savant of mixed parentage and doubtful nationality. To effect the arrest of any one of the first three I have enumerated would clearly provoke a scandal of the first magnitude. To nab—I believe that is the word?—to nab a family butler would shake the faith of the British public in one of their most cherished institutions. How fortunate, then, that there should be ready to hand a scapegoat for whom nobody in England can possibly care a brass farthing!"

Reading progress update: I've read 39%.
An English Murder - Cyril Hare

But Dr. Bottwink forestalled him. Kneeling by the recumbent figure, he raised its head and took one quick look at the face before he laid it down again.

 

"I am afraid he is quite dead," he said in his quiet, precise voice.

 

Dun dun dun!

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
An English Murder - Cyril Hare

I soooo hope that it's Robert who gets whacked. I really hate him.

 

Dr. Bottwink is wonderful.

St. Lucia's Day: Door 13


17
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
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
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

December 13! We're revealing this now, because it is also revealed "beneath the fold."

 
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).

 

 

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.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


 

(show spoiler)

 

Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

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Hogswatch - Door 23


17 - Solstice
3 - Melbourne Cup Day
21 - Kwanzaa
9 - World Philosophy Day
12 - St. Andrew's Day
24
22 - New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day
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 - Christmas
11 - Thanksgiving
23 - Hogswatch
10 -  Russian Mothers' Day
2 - Japanese Culture Day
19 - Festivus
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

Yippee!

 
Hogswatch

Door 23:  Hogswatch

 

Task 1: Glingleglingleglingle: if you could wish any kind of god(dess) or fairy into existence, what would they be in charge of?

 

Task 2: Who is your favorite Discworld character and why?

 

Task 3:  If you could spend time in the world of one of the Discworld sub-series (or one of the standalone Discworld novels), which one would you pick – and why?

 

Task 4:  In Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, who do you root more for: Aziraphale or Crowley? Or another character? (And in each case: why?)

 

Book: Any- and everything Terry Pratchett.

 

 

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.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


space

(show spoiler)

 

Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

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Festivus: Door #19


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 - Festivus
16 - St. Lucia's Day
8 - International Children’s Day
4 - Guy Fawkes Night

Well, I got busy decorating and cleaning, and completely forgot to post my holidays! Sorry everyone!

 
Festivus

Door 19:  Festivus

 

Task 1: The annual airing of grievances: Which are the five books you liked least this year and why?

 

Task 2: Battle of the Books: pick two books off your shelf (randomly or with purpose); in a fair fight, which book would come out on top? The fight can be based on the merits of the book itself, its writing, or full-on mano a mano between two characters. Which would win the feat of strength?

 

Task 3:  Go polemic on one of the characters from an entrant in your five least favorite books, or just have a go at one of the books (the book, not the author, please) in Task 1.

 

Task 4: As miracles go, a "Festivus miracle really is't one - it's just something marginally unusual that someone mentions and which someone else then declares Festivus miracle, as a pun on the Christmas miracle trope. (E.g., in the original Seinfeld episode, it's a coincidental meeting: "Oh, I didn't expect to run into you here!" a Festivus miracle!) Create a "Festivus miracle" dialogue/ situation; the greater the parody the better.

 

Book: Read any comedy, parody, or satire.

 

 

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.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


space

(show spoiler)

 

Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

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St. Andrew's Day - Task 12


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

Sorry I'm late this morning! Husband and son & I were watching 1980's rock concerts into the wee hours last night.

 
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.

 

 

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.

* Required

 


 


 


 


 


Book
T1
T2
T3
T4
BONUS

 


space

(show spoiler)

 

Previous door's tasks are "beneath the fold"

-read more-
My yearly festive short story extravaganza
Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries - Various Authors, Martin Edwards The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries - Otto Penzler The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories - Sir Walter Scott,  Arthur Conan Doyle, Tara Moore Christmas Stalkings: Tales of Yuletide Murder - Reginald Hill, Elizabeth Peters, Medora Sale, John Malcolm, Dorothy Cannell, Bill Crider, Patricia Moyes, Evelyn E. Smith, Eric Wright, Mickey Friedman, Robert Barnard, Margaret Maron Christmas Most Foul - Nicholas Blake, Michael Innes, Margery Allingham

Every year for the past two or three years, I've downloaded or pulled out, depending on format, a few short story anthologies that were specifically released for Christmas.

 

The Valancourt anthology of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories was just far too tempting for me not to buy, and the Christmas Stalkings compilation is also new to me. I've owned The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries and Crimson Snow for a couple of years, but still haven't finished all of the stories even once.

 

Christmas Most Foul is available through the KU library, and I've read three out of the four stories included. Two are Albert Campion shorts by Margery Allingham that are just okay, and then there are two full-length novels: Thou Shell of Death by Nicholas Blake, which I really liked when I read it last year, and There Came Both Mist And Snow by Michael Innes, which I've not yet read and which is the reason that I borrowed the book again this year.

 

I usually read ten or fifteen Christmas shorts throughout the season. 

Reading progress update: I've read 32%.
Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery - Gladys Mitchell

I am loving the fearless young women in this book, who have no qualms about telling unwanted men to go away. Delightful.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery - Gladys Mitchell

I'm enjoying this one quite a lot - more than the other few Mrs. Bradley books that I read previously, so I'm wondering if the problem was that I didn't read them at the right time.

 

I am really liking the side characters, especially Deborah, Mrs. Bradley's nephew's wife, as well as Jonathan, the nephew. The atmosphere of all of that snow and the villagers tromping about in it is seasonal and fun.

Weekend reading & watching!
Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery - Gladys Mitchell Thin Air: (Shetland Series 6) - Ann Cleeves An English Murder - Cyril Hare Murder With Peacocks - Donna Andrews

Unfortunately, I did have to work on Friday, but I'm plotting lots of good reading and watching over the weekend. My daughter and her new husband will be visiting starting next Wednesday, so weekend after next I have a 5 day weekend, since I'm taking the 9th, 10th & 11th off!

 

My big plan for this weekend is to get some of the holiday decorations up. I always decorate my front porch, and will get that finished since it's going to be dry all weekend. There's nothing like decorating outside in typical Oregon weather. 

 

I have a pair of new to me Christmas mysteries on tap: Murder in the Snow by Gladys Mitchell, which was previously published as Groaning Spinney, and An English Murder by Cyril Hare. I also have the next in the Shetland Island series, Thin Air, checked out of the library, and finally got my hand on Murder with Peacocks, the first in the Meg Langslow series!

 

I'm also going to find time to watch some movies/television, and will likely turn to one of my old favorites, Poirot, while I do some Christmas sewing - I want to get the Christmas stockings I am making for my daughter finished before they arrive on Thursday!

A Call for Reccs: Bleak Settings

Reading the newest Ann Cleeve, along with the Shetland Island series, has reminded me how much I love books set in bleak places, especially mysteries. Examples, in addition to the three series by Cleeves, include:

 

Peter May's Lewis Trilogy, starting with The Black House, set in the Outer Hebrides;

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, which is in Cornwall, but has the similar sense of bleak isolation;

Buriel Rites by Hannah Kent, set in 19th century rural Iceland;

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; 19th century Alaska

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson: Northern Iceland

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths: coastal Norfolk

Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis: the English Fens

 

I've admittedly read a lot of books with this type of setting, but I'm always on the lookout for more. Any ideas?

currently reading

Progress: 52%
Dead Men Don't Ski - Patricia Moyes
The Nine Tailors - Dorothy L. Sayers
Christmas Most Foul - Nicholas Blake, Michael Innes, Margery Allingham
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories - Sir Walter Scott,  Arthur Conan Doyle, Tara Moore