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Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Currently reading

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Timothy Egan
Progress: 224/340 pages
Capital Crimes: London Mysteries: A British Library Crime Classic (British Library Crime Classics)
Martin Edwards
Progress: 105/410 pages
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection
Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry

Reading progress update: I've read 224 out of 340 pages.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl - Timothy Egan

I really got into this last night, and would have finished it if I hadn't been so tired that I fell asleep while reading. Luckily, I was reading on my kindle, so when it fell onto my face it was substantially less painful than if it had been a hardback book.


I've always been struck - without going much further into the analysis than "huh" - by the stock market crash and the occurrence of the dust storms being more or less contemporaneous. Because, of course, economic crashes shouldn't have a physical impact on the environment. And while I'm sure that my high school American history class covered why the two things - one an economic catastrophe, the other an environmental catastrophe - were linked in time and space, there wasn't a lot of depth given to the analysis.


So, while I was unshocked that the exact same forces, excesses and behaviors fueled both the stock market crash and the dust storms, the precise alignment has given me pause. The stock market crash was fueled by stock speculation untethered from economic reality. And the dust storms were caused by land/grain speculation untethered from geographic reality. And this I really did not know. I did not know that the grass covering on the high plains was largely stripped off in an approximately 1000 day speculative orgy where people who were not farmers, did not want to be farmers, and did not particularly intend to be farmers, converged on the prairie, speculating in growing wheat of all things, in an effort to take advantage of worldwide high wheat prices. Which caused the worldwide wheat market to crash and which, in less than three years, destroyed an ecosystem that had existed for millenia.


I mean, I knew we were stupid. But this was stupid at the level of mind-blowingly, insanely, what the fuck were we thinking stupid. And the voices that urged caution, that suggested that perhaps, maybe, this wasn't a sustainable method of approaching dry land farming were largely drowned out by the chorus of voices who just wanted to make a pile of money and then move on. The classic horde of locusts descending.


The parallel between these events, which occurred on a compressed timeline to be sure, and the current response to the scientific consensus on human climate change is not lost on me. We, again, choose to ignore the cautious voices at our peril. It is a peril that will be realized, not on the compressed timeline of 3 years to devastation, but will be even more severe for the fact that they take longer to realize.


I haven't gotten to the end - I'm in the middle of it. Children are dying of dust pneumonia, their lungs full of dust. It's absolutely post-apocalyptic. There is a serendipity in reading this during the time of government shutdown, making me more aware than ever of a lack of leadership can result in disaster.

Listening to Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

This is one of my Top Ten Christie mysteries. This wasn't (even close to) the first time I read it, so I know the big reveal at the end. Nonetheless, it remains compelling even with the knowledge of the murderer, which I will not spoil here.

I listened to the book this time. If there is one tiny quibble that I have is that it was narrated by Hugh Fraser, who does a bang-up job, but I associate him so strongly with the character of Hastings that, this book being in the first person narrated by Dr. Shepherd, I would occasionally become a bit disoriented with the voice not matching the identity of the narrator. It's not a big thing, and someone not as wholly obsessed with all things Agatha might not even notice!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

A lot of people have already written great reviews of this book. I highly recommend Obsidian Blue's review, which you can find here, as an example of strong review. I'm not going to try to outdo the reviews that have already been written, so think of this as my voice added to the chorus, focused specifically on how the book resonated with me.


Angie Thomas has a gift for characterization and a unique narrative voice. Starr, the main character, was complex, convincing and compelling. She infused her characters with realism and her settings with the kinds of details that make a place come alive. Nothing is one dimensional for Angie Thomas, or even for Starr. She doesn't insult her readers by suggesting that complex questions are simple.


I devoured this book, reading it in about two hours. I was immersed in Starr's world. This book is the reason that #weneeddiversebooks. I need diverse books. Hearing Starr's voice has, in a very real way, changed my perspective. She provided me - 51 year old white lady - with a window into her world. I can only imagine that if I were a young black girl, having her as a mirror would be immeasurably satisfying.


Anyway, read Obsidian's review. And then read this book. 

Light on romance, heavy on mystery

The Red Carnelian - Phyllis A. Whitney

I'm going to use this one for the "W" square in the Women Writer's Bingo Project. Originally published in 1969, this is a fairly early effort in Whitney's transition away from juvenile fiction into adult gothic style romance. It's set in a Chicago Department Store during the glory days of the window display industry. One of my favorite aspects of the book was this deep dive into the narrow historical moment during which window displays in department stores were a place for copywriters and artists to get paying work that got a lot of attention.


The main character, Linell, is a copywriter at Cunningham's, a Chicago Department Store. I pictured the old fashioned, multi-story department store, like Macy's, that took up a whole city block. Linell's former fiance, Michael Montgomery, who goes by Monty, is returning from a honeymoon with a different woman, after basically dumping Linell and running away. The book opens to the heroine trying to figure out how best to deal with the fact that the two of them, and his new wife, are all going to be working at Cunningham's.


It quickly becomes clear that there is trouble in paradise between Monty and his new bride, and by about page 35, someone has taken a golf club to Monty's head. I certainly can't say that he didn't deserve it, because he was clearly a total d-bag. 


This is really a closed circle mystery. It's well plotted, and there is a romantic sub-plot involving Linell and another young male employee at Cunningham's that isn't particularly convincing. There is one pretty solid suspenseful scene that occurs when Linnel is wandering around the mannequin storage area. 


At this point, I think that Open Road has reissued most, if not all, of her adult gothics. I found this one fairly enjoyable, but I think I'd like to dip my toe in one of her historicals next - I'm thinking Skye Cameron or Thunder Heights.

Reading progress update: I've read 207 out of 256 pages.

The Z Murders - J. Jefferson Farjeon

I have basically no idea what is going on in this book right now!

Reading progress update: I've read 29 out of 340 pages.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl - Timothy Egan

This was recommended to me by Portable Magic, and I already owned it, so decided to start with it!


My people hail from the midwest, so this book has always interested me. It's really too early to tell anything about the book, but I'm hopeful!

A call for recommendations!

All right, everyone! One of my plans this year is to read more non-fiction. I'm going to try to read a couple of NF books a month. 


In that vein, I'm looking for suggestions of good, narrative non-fiction. The themes that I am most interested in include: history, especially WWI or WWII, the lives of girls and women, Victorian era history, disasters, explorations, and crime (but not modern true crime), law, specific geographic areas (the Silk Road, India, Russia, England, Iceland, Scandinavia), biographies of significant statesmen (or women...), political figures, writers, artists or musicians, feminist icons but generally not celebrities, and not memoirs. They can broad or narrow, long or short, as long as they are interesting!


Hit me in the comments!



Fire and Fury - the conclusion

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - Michael Wolff

First off, the question that you might be asking at this point is "is this book worth reading?"


There are lots of ways to answer this - are you interested in the shit show that is the Trump White House at the one year mark? (Answer: Yes, read it) Do you ever use the phrase "Fake News" in an unironic manner? (No - you won't get anything out of it) Are you sufficiently emotionally stable that you can stand to read more than 300 pages about all of the ways in which the Trump presidency is dysfunctional? (Yes, but be prepared).


But ultimately, I will say that for me, the point of the book wasn't to point fingers and laugh at Trump. He's exactly what you think he is: an intellectually small, puerile man who is obsessed with himself, who has some profoundly weird quirks. But the quirks aren't really all that important. It's funny to read about his weird fetish about people picking up his clothes, or his fear of being poisoned, or his bizarre practice of staying up late and talking on the phone with his billionaire boys club buddies.


The real lesson of this book, though, in my opinion, is this:


Washington D.C. and the GOP is a personality cult full of treasonous enablers who are watching Trump destroy our Republic for short term personal gain. The stench of Trump is pervasive, and, at the end of this sad tale, they will be judged with the weight of history.


Sometimes, I use the expression "Nero fiddling while Rome burns," and I think that this is apposite here (regardless of its likely historical inaccuracy." But it is not Trump who is Nero. Nero is Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, General McMaster, Reince Preibus, John Kelly, and the rest of the men who have purported to be public servants, who have made careers out of "putting the country first," (ha, I know) who are ignoring Trumps unfitness for short term gain. They are, quite literally, fiddling while Rome burns.


"Arguably—and on many days indubitably—most members of the senior staff believed that the sole upside of being part of the Trump White House was to help prevent worse from happening. In early October, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s fate was sealed—if his obvious ambivalence toward the president had not already sealed it—by the revelation that he had called the president “a fucking moron.” This—insulting Donald Trump’s intelligence—was both the thing you could not do and the thing—drawing there-but-for-the-grace-of-God guffaws across the senior staff—that everybody was guilty of.


Everyone, in his or her own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes. There was now a fair amount of back-of-the-classroom giggling about who had called Trump what.


For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an “idiot.” For Gary Cohn, he was “dumb as shit.” For H. R. McMaster he was a “dope.” The list went on. Tillerson would merely become yet another example of a subordinate who believed that his own abilities could somehow compensate for Trump’s failings. Aligned with Tillerson were the three generals, Mattis, McMasters, and Kelly, each seeing themselves as representing maturity, stability, and restraint. And each, of course, was resented by Trump for it. The suggestion that any or all of these men might be more focused and even tempered than Trump himself was cause for sulking and tantrums on the president’s part."


But here is the thing, there comes a point - and we are well past that point - that a person cannot excuse the fact that they are profiting by chaos by claiming that they are trying prevent chaos.


They are treasonous ratfucks, every last one of them. 


Trump isn't Nero - he is the infantile Dauphin, a toddler throwing a tantrum over the toy he can't have, and he is the Harvey Weinstein of government. It is an open secret that he is utterly unfit for the office of the President of the United States of America. According to Wolff, everyone knows it. 


And you know what, this is believable, because WE ALREADY KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE. You know it. I know it. Even his stupidest supporter knows it, they're just so delighted that he's a finger in the eye of the liberal elite that they don't care. 


So, in the end, this book makes Trump look bad. But it makes the people around him look worse. They are the capable ones. They are responsible.


And history will judge them. Harshly.

Fire and Fury - part three

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - Michael Wolff

As a lawyer and a woman, the thin undercurrent of contempt that this president possesses for smart women has been fairly obvious, and continues to be a thread that can be followed through the book. Trump has a problem with women that he does not want to fuck.


As the book explains it, specifically in relation to Trump’s Sally Yates problem, there was


“... a certain kind of woman who would immediately rub Trump the wrong way—Obama women being a good tip-off, Hillary women another. Later this would be extended to “DOJ women.”


Donald Trump cannot conceive of women who aren’t purely decorative. He is never surrounded by substantive women - he has a limited understanding of two kinds of women: wives and socialites.


“The effort among a new generation of wealthy women was to recast life as a socialite, turning a certain model of whimsy and noblesse oblige into a new status as a power woman, a kind of postfeminist socialite. In this, you worked at knowing other rich people, the best rich people, and of being an integral and valuable part of a network of the rich, and of having your name itself evoke, well … riches. You weren’t satisfied with what you had, you wanted more. This required quite a level of indefatigability. You were marketing a product—yourself. You were your own start-up.”


I have a few things to say. The first one is "ugh." As the second, I would point to that terribly tone deaf book "written" by Ivanka Trump called something silly like "Women Who Work - How To Have Your Cake And Eat It Too As Long As Your Daddy Is Super Rich And You Can Hire People To Actually Do The Work." Also, Louise "Marie Antoinette" Linton and this picture:


Image result for louise linton money


The last thing I will say is this: let it never be said that women can't be just as pathetically shallow as men.


But when it comes to a woman like Sally Yates, a DOJ woman, a prosecutor, a woman who is, although extremely interesting and attractive, completely unfuckable as far as DJT is concerned, and a woman who could outwit him using a paltry 10% of her intelligence, he simply does not know how to handle her. So he hates her:


“To Trump, he was just up against Sally Yates, who was, he steamed, “such a cunt . . .


“Yates is only famous because of me,” the president complained bitterly. “Otherwise, who is she? Nobody.”


She was the Acting Attorney General of the United States. She was and is a fine prosecutor, a woman of integrity, brilliant, interesting and confident. No wonder he was baffled by her. He'd never met anyone quite like her.


I’ve come to the conclusion that if there is anything that will save us from Trump, it’s women like Sally Yates. Which will bring me to my final post on this shit show of an administration.

Fire and Fury - part deux

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - Michael Wolff

My last review ended with finding where the policies being espoused by Trump are coming from, since he, himself, is so disengaged that they clearly aren’t coming from him.


When I was thinking about an analogy to describe my theory on the “Trump White House.” I basically came up with Trump as an ocean on a more or less dead planet with three moons. His policy-related activities are the result of the tidal effect of whichever of moons - Bannonus, Jarvanka Major and/or RNC #1 - is currently on the rise. The only activity that comes directly from Trump himself, independent of these tidal influences, are the self-focused tweets and the personal feuds, which are a result of the bacteria extant in the primordial soup of TrumpWorld. He has no policies of his own that he is focused on.


It is easy to see how these influences interact. Only one of them can be ascendent at a time. The immigration stuff, the nationalist nonsense - that’s all a result of Bannonus. The tax bill and the Obamacare repeal - we get that when RNC#1 is on the rise. And Jarvanka Major is a small but powerful moon that is almost wholly focused on self-preservation, so its ascendancy resulted in the Comey firing and the Scaramucci debacle. This the reason that so much of what comes out of the White House is contradictory - none of it is actually coming from Trump. It’s all coming from whatever faction has the power at that precise moment. And all three of the factions hate each other with million watt intensity.


I promised some quotes, so here we go:


“The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their fundamental worldview one whit: we don’t have to be anything but who and what we are, because of course we won’t win.


Indeed, while everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance—Trump, the businessman, could not even read a balance sheet, and Trump, who had campaigned on his deal-making skills, was, with his inattention to details, a terrible negotiator—they yet found him somehow instinctive. That was the word. He was a force of personality. He could make you believe.”


This is from the beginning of the book. I think we’ve all seen Trump’s preposterously terrible negotiating skills at work.


Bannon on Trump:


Bannon described Trump as a simple machine. The On switch was full of flattery, the Off switch full of calumny. The flattery was dripping, slavish, cast in ultimate superlatives, and entirely disconnected from reality: so-and-so was the best, the most incredible, the ne plus ultra, the eternal. The calumny was angry, bitter, resentful, ever a casting out and closing of the iron door.


Katie Walsh on Trump:


Trump, observed Walsh, had a set of beliefs and impulses, much of them on his mind for many years, some of them fairly contradictory, and little of them fitting legislative or political conventions or form. Hence, she and everyone else was translating a set of desires and urges into a program, a process that required a lot of guess work. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”


Katie Walsh is probably the most interesting character in the Trump White House, as I see it. She was quite young, and an RNC operative who went into her job (Deputy Chief of Staff, IIRC) thinking that her role was to help the Commander in Chief put together his agenda. She was accustomed, presumably, to dealing with grown-ups who were capable of actually having an agenda. She didn’t last long, and probably the most telling quote of the entire book is this one:


“To Walsh, the proud political pro, the chaos, the rivalries, and the president’s own lack of focus and lack of concern were simply incomprehensible. In early March, Walsh confronted Kushner and demanded: “Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on. What are the three priorities of this White House?”


“Yes,” said Kushner, wholly absent an answer, “we should probably have that conversation.”


I’m almost done with this post - I am loosely planning on two more, one to discuss Trump’s intense dislike of women in general, and smart women in particular, and then a last one to synthesize what I took away from this book.


I want to leave you with this thought: we have elected a President who has no policy priorities. Who is less engaged than your horrible Aunt Mildred who ran for the local School Board because she wanted to make sure that those devil books about gay people didn’t make into the library.


He could not care less about anything. You name it, DJT does not give a fuck about it. Unless, of course, it directly relates to his infantile need for immediate self-gratification. There is nothing deeper here than that, which isn’t exactly a newsflash. But seeing Wolff spell it out in black and white is . . . disconcerting.


Fire and Fury - a review in parts

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - Michael Wolff

I started this book at around 6:00 a.m. my time Friday morning, and then read about 50% Friday evening and Saturday. Life intervened, and I finished it last night. It’s probably obvious, but I’m not a Trumpette or a Trumpateer or whatever his supporters are calling themselves these days. In that sense, Wolff’s book merely corroborated what I already had concluded given my analysis of the news coming out of the White House.


I would start by saying that, overall, this book isn’t really plowing a lot of new ground. Going in, I believed that Donald Trump was ignorant, self-absorbed and incompetent. Finishing the book, my belief was strengthened. DJT is ignorant, self-absorbed and incompetent. A buffoon, a clown, a feces-flinging shitgibbon. Whatever your preferred insult might be, insert it here.


There are a few things, though, that I would point to as “new” information. The first of those comes out right at the beginning, where Wolff lays down his initial thesis: no one expected, or wanted, DJT to become president. His candidacy was nothing more than a long con - a complicated grift, a sting operation - that was designed to ultimately benefit DJT, the Trump business empire, and his “associates” in very specific ways. They saw profit in him losing - a new Trump network; coveted slots on cable news shows, name-recognition. They neither expected, nor really wanted, him to win. This explains why his transition was such a mess. There was no transition preparation done, because the transition for which they were preparing was this one: transitioning back into the private sector to continue their profitable grift as the Clinton opposition.


Why is this so important? Because it tells us the true story of the Trump presidency: he never wanted to be president. He has never, not for one second of one minute of one day, wanted to be president because he had an agenda to implement. What this means is that all of the rhetoric that talks about his incredible ability to connect with voters, his “progressive conservatism,” his desire to help the common man - it’s all bullshit. He cares about no one whose last name isn’t Trump. That’s it, that’s all it’s ever been.


He is now, as he was then, a blank page, an empty vessel, vacant and hollow. He has no animating principles, no core ideals and no executive or legislative agenda. If you want to find his agenda, you must look to the people who surround him. And this explains everything.


I’ll be back to continue my thoughts - with quotes - in a bit!

Happy New Year, Y'all!


I know I'm at least a day late and a dollar short, but wanted to wish everyone a happy New Year nonetheless! I last posted on November 11, and I've been dealing with a combination of a reading slump, renovation, holiday breaks for both of my kids, and binge watching various shows on Netflix. I can highly recommend The Crown, if anyone is looking for something to watch - Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth is riveting!


I'm still working through this reading slump, but I want to be more active - I've missed my BL bookish buddies! So, I'm not sure WHAT I will be posting about, but I'll be here!


Another thank you and shout out to Murder by Death and Themis - while I didn't actively play the Festive Sixteen, I checked in and enjoyed other people's game play. The game looked wonderful, and I'm bummed that a roaring reading & blogging slump hit me just at the wrong time to play it!


I have made no reading plans for 2018, which is totally unlike me. But, I did read Fire and Fury: inside the Trump White House over the weekend, so you can expect a post about that - soon.

Weekend happenings

I have had a lovely 3 day weekend so far - I had Friday off because of today's Veteran's Day holiday. I had a quilt that I wanted to finish, and this seemed like an opportune time to download the new full cast audio production of Murder on the Orient Express and check it out!


So, I finished the quilt. This is a Christmas quit that I made for my daughter. I fell in love with the panel that is the focus of the quilt. I backed it in a grey and red buffalo check flannel that is cozy as all get out! It's in the washing machine right now, to get all crinkly, sweet smelling and soft!


So, here a couple of pics of the quilt in the wild - well, at least in my backyard!




The audiobook was just OK. I actually preferred the straight up Dan Stevens recording - the narrator who vocalized Poirot didn't work for me at all. I don't think I would recommend it. However, it will still work for Square 7 - St. Lucia's Day - because snow is a critical element of the plot!

My Festive Sixteen!


All right! I have been very busy this weekend, putting my upstairs back together! This is pretty much the first chance I've had to sit down and contemplate the new game. I will track my progress here!


My plan for today are to just identify a few of the tasks/books to work on this week to get me started!




4. Penance Day: read Dead Man's Ransom by Ellis Peters.


Category Plans:


Square 1: November 1st:

All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos / Calan Gaeaf


Book themes for Calan Gaeaf: 
Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft –OR– read a book with ivy or roses on the cover, or a character’s name/title of book is/has Rose or Ivy in it.


My plan for this one is to read The Dire King by William Ritter, which involves witchcraft & magic.


Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: If you’re superstition-proof, inscribe your name on a rock, toss it in a fire and take a picture to post –OR– Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.


I am either going to do the toss the rock in the fire thing, or I am going to make potato leek soup. Not sure which!

Square 2: November 5th:
Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night/Fireworks Night) / Bon Om Touk (Cambodian Water Festival). 


Tasks for Bon Om Touk: Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you're living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.


I have a house rented at the Oregon coast between Christmas and New Year, so I'll be posting a picture from that vacation to fill this task!

Square 3: November 11th:
St. Martin’s Day (5th) / Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day (11th)


Book themes for St. Martin’s Day: Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).


For this one, I am going to reread The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - this is one of my favorite books, and there is a scene in it that reduces me to tears every time I read it, when Sara finds a sixpence, uses it to buy buns because she is so hungry, and then she gives them away to an even hungrier, poorer little girl.


Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better. –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background. –OR– Bake a Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live. Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.


I am going to bake a gingerbread cake, and serve it with whipped cream, and it shall be glorious.

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd (COMPLETED):
Penance Day (22nd) / Thanksgiving (23rd)


Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).


This is going to have to be a Brother Cadfael - I am on book 9, Dead Man's Ransom.

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays:


Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.


Book themes for Advent: Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover –OR– Read the 4th book from a favorite series, or a book featuring 4 siblings.



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a lifelong favorite of mine, which features 4 siblings, so I am strongly considering re-reading it.

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th:
Sinterklaas / Krampusnacht (5th) / St. Nicholas Day (6th) / Bodhi Day (8th)


Tasks for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: Write a witty or humorous poem to St. Nicholas –OR– If you have kids, leave coins or treats, like tangerines, walnuts, chocolate(s) and cookies [more common in Germany] in their shoes to find the next morning and then post about their reactions/bewilderment.  ;)  If you don’t have kids, do the same for another family member / loved one or a friend.


I know exactly what I am going to do for this task! My daughter left a pair of shoes at home when she headed back to college, so I am going to fill them with coins, treats, nuts and chocolates and ship them to her to arrive on 12/6 with a card that explains the origins of Sinterklaas! I will do the same thing for my son, at home! I will post pictures, because this is going to be really fun!

Square 7: December 10th & 13th:
International Human Rights Day (10th) / St. Lucia’s Day (13th)

Square 8: December 12th - 24th:
Hanukkah (begins 12th, ends 20th) Las Posadas (begins 16th, ends 24th)

Square 9: December 21st:
Winter Solstice / Mōdraniht / Yuletide / Yaldā Night

Square 10: December 21st:
World Peace Day / Pancha Ganapati begins (ends 25th)

Square 11: December 21st-22nd:
Soyal (21st) / Dōngzhì Festival (22nd) (China)

Square 12: December 23rd
Festivus / Saturnalia ends (begins 17th)

Square 13: December 25th
Christmas / Hogswatch

Square 14: December 25th
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti / Quaid-e-Azam’s Day

Square 15: December 25th-26th:
Newtonmas (25th) / St. Stephen's Day/Boxing Day (26th)

Square 16: December 26th-31st:
Kwanzaa (begins 26th, ends 31st) / New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay / St. Sylvester’s Day / Watch Night

Square 4! Penance Day Read

Dead Man's Ransom - Ellis Peters

This is my first filled square for the 16 Tasks game. I decided to do:


Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).


This is 9th in the Brother Cadfael series, and our erstwhile detective/medieval monk and herbalist, must determine who murdered Sheriff Gilbert Prestcote once he is returned from Wales as part of a prisoner exchange. The prisoner, the young, brash Welsh noble Elis, has managed to fall in love with Prestcote's daughter, Melicent, who returns his affections. Once Prestcote is murdered, suspicion falls on Elis.


This is very standard fare for a Brother Cadfael mystery. Cadfael must determine who killed the Sheriff using the tools at his disposal in the 12th century (which is to say, some cloth fibers and the strong compulsion based upon religious norms to unburden oneself before dying). It isn't the strongest entry in the series, but Melicent and Elis were likeable, although their instalove made me eyeroll a bit.


The end of the book was so abrupt that I wondered if something had gone wrong with my download, however. The story just . . . ends. And then a preview of the next book in the series begins. For that, I give it 3 1/2 stars.

We're done here! Blackout + Halloween bingo ends at midnight!

Well, another game of Halloween bingo comes to an end! The game 

officially concludes at midnight tonight, along with the month of October!


I hope you had as much fun as I did!



My final bingo card:



I will update my tracking post later today - I haven't done it for a while - to wrap up my game!