Themis-Athena and Murder by Death have stepped in to take on this little game! The fun begins on 11/1/17. Keep your eye on their blogs!
Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!
So, I know that I promised an updated version of The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season, but I am struggling. I have creative block, and I'm not able to come up with any ideas for the tasks. This is likely because we are in the midst of a minor remodel (new floors/paint upstairs) which means that things are totally disorganized and crazy and I spend most of my time shifting furniture from one room to another, or with a paint brush in my hand. Finally, work is killing me.
This is a long explanation for not having anything for you guys! I'm not sure I'll be able to get it put together over the weekend because of all of the above. I may replay the old version myself, since I didn't get much accomplished last year with Booklikes being in the crapper most of the time, or if someone wants to take on the update, I will happily surrender responsibility!
I know I said I wasn't going to reveal the full game until tomorrow, but with Halloween Bingo coming to a close, I just can't wait anymore! The game runs from November 1, 2016 through January 2, 2017.
This one is just for fun! Activities/reads can be gathered in any order - you don't need to complete any individual task before moving on to the next. We have come up with 12 festive tasks for you to undertake - each task has two options for completion. One of the tasks is reading related, the other is an activity. You can fulfill the task by doing one task, but feel free to do both if they catch your fancy.
This game isn't really prize focused, but there will be a drawing on January 2, 2016 for a prize, with everyone who completes the twelve tasks eligible to win!
Task the First: The Winter Wonderland:
- Read a book that is set in a snowy place.
- If you are lucky enough to live in a snowy place, or even if you aren't, take a walk outside and post a picture of something pretty you encountered on your way.!
Task the Second: The Silent Nights:
- Read a book set in one of the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and/or Denmark), where winter nights are long!
- Get your hygge on! Hygge is a Danish concept that relates to being content and cozy. Put on your fuzziest socks, light a candle, and spend some time (reading) in front of the fireplace or your coziest nook. Post a picture if you want!
Task the Third: The Holiday Party:
- Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action. Examples would include holiday parties, country house hunting/weekend parties, weddings, etc.
- Make something that is considered party food where you are from, and post a picture of it on booklikes.
Task the Fourth: The Gift Card:
- Read a book that you either received as a gift or have given as a gift.
- Give a book to a friend and post a picture of the wrapped present.
Task the Fifth: The Kwanzaa:
- Read a book written by an African-American author or set in an African country.
- Make a small donation to a charitable organization that operates in Africa.
Task the Sixth: The Hanukkah:
- Let the dreidel choose a book for you: create a list of four books, and assign a dreidel symbol to each one (Nun = miracle; Gimel = great; He = happened; Shin = there, i.e. Israel). Google "spin the dreidel," and a dreidel comes up for you to spin. Give it a spin and read the book that the dreidel chooses!
- Make a traditional Hanukkah food like doughnuts or potato latkes. Post a picture, or tell us how they turned out!
Task the Seventh: The Christmas:
- Read a book set during the Christmas holiday season.
- Grab your camera (or your phone) and set up a Christmas bookstagram-style scene with favorite holiday reads, objects or decorations. Possibly also a cat. Post it for everyone to enjoy!
Task Eighth: The Movie Ticket
- Read a book that has been adapted to a holiday movie.
- Go see a new theater release this holiday season (during November/December. This does not have to be a holiday movie, so yes, Fantastic Beasts will qualify).
Task the Ninth: The Happy New Year
- Every year you get a little bit older! Read a coming of age novel or any old favorite comfort read to start the new year right.
- If you're feeling brave, post a holiday picture of yourself from your childhood or misspent youth.
Task the Tenth The Holiday Down Under
- Read a book set in Australia or by an Australian author, or read a book you would consider a "beach read".
- Christmas crackers are a traditional part of an Australian Christmas. Buy some (or make your own) to add to your festivities and share some pictures!
Task the Eleventh: The Polar Express
- Read a book that involves train travel (such as Murder on the Orient Express).
- Read a classic holiday book from your childhood (to a child if you have one handy) or tell us a story about a childhood Christmas you'd like to share.
Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl
- Read a book set in the UK, preferably during the medieval or Victorian periods (for those of us doing the Merlin read-along, the Crystal Cave works for this task).
- Drink a festive, holiday beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Take a picture of your drink, and post it to share - make it as festive as possible!
We hope you will join us in the fun!
So far, this book is completely charming! The main character, Amabel, is plucky and kind. Her daughter, Daphne is a bit of a snot, but she's gone off to Egypt, so that's fine. Amabel has agreed to spend six months in the Dower House, an opportunity to make 200 pounds, in order to stave off the rumors that it's haunted. Because she needs the 200 pounds to send self-centered Daphne to Egypt, where she plans to catch herself a wealthy husband.
Her solicitor's reaction when she told him to take the tenancy for her:
“Mr. Berry”—her tone took on a teasing shade—“you’re not going to tell me that you believe in ghosts!” The dark eyes twinkled.
“Not in the day-time,” said Mr. Berry briskly. “Not in the day-time, and not in this office, nor in Piccadilly Circus, or The Criterion, or Victoria Station. In all these places, my dear lady, I can count on myself to be a complete and confirmed sceptic. Pooh, I say.” He blew out his cheeks. “Ghosts? Nonsense, humbug, nerves! But”—he wagged an impressive forefinger—“put me at midnight in a lonely country house, with the rain coming down, black panelling on the walls, damp under the floors, and a fine smell of mildew in the air, and I don’t say that I mightn’t see ghosts with the best of ’em. That’s the mischief of it.”
Amabel also has been carrying a torch for Julian Forsham for approximately 20 years. He was her first love, but she was engaged to someone else at the time that they met, so like the self-sacrificing, genuinely nice person that she is, she kept the engagement. He never married.
You can see where this is going, right? Because, as it happens, the Dower House is part of the Forsham family holdings, although Julian is the younger son. And he just happens to be back in England after being on the Continent doing something science-y for a number of years.
Anyway, so far we've had an adorable meeting between Amabel and Julian that is just full of unsatisfied yearning. And long nights of ghostly dogs, cats, breaking windows, and everything else that a haunted house could have.
I don't know what is going on with the "ghosts," but I am absolutely positive that Amabel and Julian are going to get their happy ending.
I'm up to four bingos with the Romantic Suspense call.
First card is blacked out! Now it's just how much of that second card I can fill by the end of the game!
1. Ghost; 2. Cozy Mystery; 3. In the Dark, Dark Woods;
4. Horror; 5. Locked Room Mystery;
6. Murder Most Foul; 7. Witches; 8. Werewolves
9. Modern Masters of Horror; 10. Terrifying Women; 11. Diverse Voices
12. Haunted Houses; 13. Serial/Spree Killer; 14. Terror in a Small Town
15. Aliens; 16. Darkest London; 17. Gothic
18. 80's Horror; 19. Classic Noir; 20. Chilling Children
21. Magical Realism 22. Romantic Suspense
Called + Read:
Cozy Mystery: Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer. Read 9.2.17 (320 pages)
Ghost: The Looking-Glass Portrait by Linda Hilton. Read 9.4.17 (391 pages)
In The Dark, Dark Woods: Endless Night by Agatha Christie. Read 9.7.17 (303 pages)
Locked Room Mystery: Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Murders and Impossible Crimes by Martin Edwards (351 pages)
Murder Most Foul: Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (288 pages)
Genre: Horror: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (512 pages)
Free Space: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards. Read 9.17.17 (357 pages)
Terrifying Women: Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie. Read 9.20.17 (304 pages)
Witches: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Read 9.25.17 (652 pages)
Serial/Spree Killer: The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Read 9.26.17 (498 pages).
Terror in a Small Town: The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie. Read 9.17.17 (299 pages)
Haunted House: Greygallows by Barbara Michaels. Read 9.29.17 (352 pages)
Diverse Voices: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older. Read 10.2.17 (326 pages).
Darkest London: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. Read 9.6.17 (396 pages)
Gothic: Listen For the Whisperer by Phyllis Whitney. Read 9.11.17 (299 pages)
Classic Noir: The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich. Read 9.1.17. (191 pages)
Chilling Children: Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. Read 9.17.17 (240 pages)
Magical Realism: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (416 pages)
Romantic Suspense: Columbella by Phyllis Whitney. Read 9.16.17 (276 pages)
Read + Waiting for a Call
Monsters: Chaos Choregraphy by Seanan McGuire. Read 9.2.17. (368 pages)
Amateur Sleuth: A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Read 9.11.17 (108 pages)
American Horror Story: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Read 9.16.17 (201 pages) (this is my wild card)
Country House Murder: The Crime at the Black Dudley by Margery Allingham. Read 9.22.17 (224 pages)
Supernatural: Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire. Read 10.5.17 (368 pages)
Classic Horror: Carmilla by Sheridan LeFanu (61 pages)
Second Card (Blackout Only)
Darkest London: Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston. Read 9.29.17 (320 pages)
Murder Most Foul: Murder at the Museum by John Rowland. Read 10.1.17 (272 pages).
Terrifying Women: Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie. Read 10.4.17 (352 pages)
Locked Room: Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne. Read 10.7.17 (288 pages)
Gothic: The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt. Read 10.7.17 (379 pages)
Ghost: Woman Without A Past by Phyllis Whitney. Read 10.10.17 (352 pages)
Romantic Suspense: Dream of Orchids by Phyllis Whitney. Read 10.14.14 (279 pages)
Free Square: Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes. Read 10.13.14 (337 pages)
Country House Mystery: The Dower House Mystery by Patricia Wentworth
Total pages read for bingo: 10680
Giving another Patricia Wentworth a try - this isn't a Miss Silver mystery, but the plot summary sounded deliciously ghost-y!
They meet again in the dusk of a ruined garden. Amabel Grey hasn’t laid eyes on Julian Forsham in twenty years, not since she gave him up—the man she’d fallen passionately in love with—for the fiancé who needed her. Now an unexpected circumstance brings the British widow and the world-famous scientist together again.
Amabel’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Daphne, has been invited to join her friends—and the boy she adores—on a trip to Egypt. But she needs two hundred pounds from her mother. George Forsham is offering that exact sum to anyone willing to stay six months at Dower House, the centuries-old estate in the English countryside where Amabel and Julian first met. The fact that the overgrown, sadly neglected house is rumored to be haunted doesn’t deter Amabel. Until strange things start happening . . .
The mewing of a cat that doesn’t exist, the sound of flapping wings, someone crying in the dark. Are restless spirits walking the night? Or is there a rational explanation? Plunged into deadly danger, Amabel could lose her second chance with the man she never stopped loving.
Phyllis Whitney was 82 years old when she wrote this book. Seriously, guys - she was my mother-in-law's age (and I'm 51) and she would go on to write another 10 freaking books after she was 82. I'm giving it a third star just for that reason.
As far as the book itself, it certainly wasn't a bad book, although it also wasn't a great book. It's set in Key West, and at times Whitney got a little too travelogue in her descriptions. She usually does a better job integrating the setting details into the story itself. But, did I mention that she was 82 years old when she wrote this book? I'm still dealing with that fact.
This book definitely follows the Whitney formula: appealing young woman goes to a place where she is on her own, and some sort of dangerous situation develops. There is always romance, and sometimes the object of desire is a decent sort and sometimes he's the villain. There's always at least one questionable death that is usually murder, and the villain - who can be either male or female - often has a tenuous grip on reality. Often times, some historical crime is exposed.
In Dream of Orchids, Laurel is a young bookseller in New England whose mother has recently passed away, and who was abandoned by her father, Clifton York, a well known author. A young man shows up at her bookstore, asking her to visit it her father in Key West. Once she arrives in Key West, she learns that things are not as she had believed, and that there is something quite sinister going on with her father, her two younger sisters, Iris and Fern, a sunken Spanish galleon and the orchid house where her step-mother, Poppy, bled to death in a bizarre accident. There's also a creepy secretary, her scarred ex-husband, and Iris's much older and far too sketchy fiance, Derek.
This is not Whitney's best work. But goddammit, she was 82 when she wrote it. And that's amazing.
This novella was hard for me to rate - I am not really a fan of short works. Carmilla was good, but it could easily have been expanded into a full length novel. It makes more sense to me to put it in the context of the collection of which it was a part, which is why I've attached it to the full Oxford Classics edition of the collection.
The five stories in the collection are purported to be five studies from the casebook of Dr. Hesselius, an "occult detective." Shades of Dr. Van Helsing, perhaps? I can definitely see the influences that Carmilla had on Bram Stoker - there are a lot of analogs, from Laura (Lucy Westenra) to the location of story (the Austrian state of Styria, which has a very similar feel to the Carpathian mountains of Dracula). Both vampires have transformation abilities, with Dracula being capable of transformation into a large black dog, while Carmilla transforms into a large black cat.
The homoeroticism between Carmilla and Laura is overt, rather than subtle. It amuses me a little, honestly, to imagine how titillated and thrilling the repressed Victorians must've found the lesbian, erotic, languid relationship between Carmilla and her victims. Don't get me wrong, this is not a graphic by any stretch of the imagination, but the overtones are impossible to miss.
The weird name anagramming seemed really contrived to me and I didn't get it all. Carmilla. Millarca. Mircalla.
Anyway, I decided that I would go ahead & buy the full collection and read it before the end of Halloween bingo. At least, that's my plan!
Do you need a wild card to help you fill your card?
Join us for:
Carmilla was originally published in 1872.
"Before Dracula, there was Carmilla—the first seductive vampire to haunt readers’ imaginations
This classic of Gothic horror follows Laura, a woman haunted by a girlhood dream of a beautiful visitor to her bedroom. Now, a decade later, Laura finds Carmilla, who appears to be her own age, on the side of the road after a carriage accident. The two recognize each other from the same childhood dream and become fast friends. Soon after, Laura begins to experience mysterious feelings and is once again haunted by nightmares. She finds Carmilla strangely irresistible and longs to be with her.
But as the two friends grow closer, Laura’s health begins to fail. It becomes apparent that her enchanting companion is harboring a sinister secret. To free herself from Carmilla’s grasp, Laura and her family must fight for their lives."
A novella, Carmilla is under 100 pages long, and should be a relatively fast read! Because it is in the public domain, it's easily available through Project Gutenberg, or for free or near free download from Amazon.
Link to the thread in our discussion group: here.