16 tasks, challenges

16 Tasks: Newtonmas & Saint Lucia

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Newtonmas: Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion. If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family. –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar/tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.). Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

Saint Lucia’s Day: Get your Hygge on — light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.

Well, these two tasks do go quite well together, don’t they?

First for Newtonmas. I can’t really call it a recipe because it really is just hot chocolate and flavoured syrup but that won’t stop me from posting pictures.

One thing I always stuff my suitcase with when I’m on holidays in the UK or Ireland is peppermint chocolate. Germany is severely lacking in that aspect. Yes, there’s After Eight and Ritter Sport but that’s not that much choice. And I’ve never seen peppermint hot chocolate anywhere in Germany…and since it’s been a while since my last trip to the UK and I’ve already used up all the chocolate I bought there I have to improvise with peppermint syrup and cocoa powder. Dark chocolate because that is clearly the superior one 😛 .

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(Moose optional. His name is Flen, by the way.)

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The milk does actually turn slightly green when you add the syrup but it doesn’t really show in the picture…

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Try to keep away from creatures that might also enjoy peppermint hot chocolate so you can have all for yourself.

 

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Take to your cosiest reading spot with your handmade t-shirt quilt made from all your band-, festival- and other commemorative t-shirts. Try not to sit on moose. Curse because you could have taken the water bottle out of the picture. Enjoy hot chocolate.


Part of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

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4 stars, historical

The Secret Diary of a Princess

10755502Title: The Secret Diary of a Princess
Author: Melanie Clegg

The dramatic and often tragic years of Marie Antoinette’s early life told in her own words. This book for young adult readers follows her privileged childhood and adolescence in the beautiful palaces of Vienna as the youngest and least important of the daughters of the all-powerful Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and invites the reader to share the long journey, both emotional and physical that ended with her marriage to the Dauphin Louis of France at Versailles.

This is the unforgettable story of a charming, fun-loving and frivolous young girl, destined for greatness, coming of age in one of the most magnificent and opulent courts that the world has ever seen.

Rating4star

I may not be very clever but I always know what will most please people and that, I think, is far more important.

Novels in diary-format are usually not my thing. I just can’t suspend my disbelief enough to believe that someone would tell their diary in detail about their own family history or anything else they already know perfectly well. Thankfully, this book manages to avoid this pretty well. Sure, there are bits that you would not normally find in a real diary but that are only a few sentences at a time and not pages and pages about the history of the Habsburg dynasty. It also sounds believable like the voice of a young girl without being annoying (something not many authors can pull off).

At the same time, I’m beginning to realize that historical novels featuring real historical people as main characters are not really for me. Especially cases like this. The Secret Diary of a Princess begins when Marie Antoinette is nine years and ends with her wedding at fourteen. During that time, things happen to her and she has no influence over any of those things. Because children of her age rarely have, princesses at that even less (and daughters of Maria Theresia definitely not). I’m aware of all of these things but in a book that reads like fiction a part of me will always expect something – well fictional – to happen. Anything that would stop the plot from going to A to B in a straight line. But since Marie Antoinette’s life wasn’t fiction that doesn’t happen. And so I ended up being somewhat unsatisfied at the end even though I enjoyed the book. But in the future, I guess I’ll stick with historical novels that feature characters that can do whatever they like ;).


This is a read as part of 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

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Book themes for Christmas: Read a book whose protagonist is called Mary, Joseph (or Jesus, if that’s a commonly used name in your culture) or any variations of those names.

16 tasks, challenges

16 Tasks of the festive season: Kwanzaa

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Tasks for Kwanzaa: Create a stack of books in the Kwanzaa color scheme using red, black and green and post your creation and post a photo (or post a photo of a shelfie where black, red and green predominate).

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Did you know that German publishers seem to like a red-blue-green colour scheme fo YA-trilogies? I didn’t. But the Tintentod, Mara und das Todesmal and Saphierblau all have blue covers. (The third Temeraire book is black so I guess I could have put that on the picture as well, but I noticed it too late because it’s still on my tbr-pile).


Part of 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

3 stars, fantasy, Uncategorized

Ash and Silver (Sanctuary #2)

25176096Title: Ash and Silver
Author: Carol Berg
Series: Sanctuary #2

Ever since the Order of the EquitesCineré stole his memory, his name, and his heart, thinking about the past makes Greenshank’s head ache. After two years of rigorous training, he is almost ready to embrace the mission of the Order—to use selfless magic to heal the troubles of Navronne. But on his first assignment alone, the past comes racing back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder.

He is Lucian de Remeni—a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can’t remember how or why.

Fighting to unravel the mysteries of his power, Lucian must trace threads of corruption that reach from the Pureblood Registry into the Order itself, the truth hidden two centuries in the past and beyond the boundaries of the world…

Rating3star

I stand by my opinion that people who are not me might enjoy the Sanctuary Duet a lot. Unfortunately, I am me and I still don’t enjoy conspiracy thrillers. And while Dust and Light had at least a very entertaining murder mystery B-plot, Ash and Silver is all about the conspiracy. Well, and Lucian’s lost memories. I like the amnesia trope about as much as conspiracy plots. Still, like for the first book, I have to say that I might dislike the trope in general but it’s still well written. The complete confusion before Lucian’s memories come partly back isn’t drawn out too much and there are enough other things to keep him (and the reader) busy. Very busy in fact. And that’s where I’m again back to a complaint I already had about the first book: there is only so much of a character being constantly on the run and almost getting killed or seriously injured I can take before I refuse to believe that a single person could get through this. At some point, I just crossed the line where I felt for Lucian because yet another thing went wrong and just rolled my eyes and thought ‘seriously?’

Besides, one of the things I always enjoy about Carol Berg novels are the friendships. Her characters might start off as lone wolves but over the course of the story, they meet somebody with whom they form a strong bond. And all of these friendships feel so well-developed and go far beyond what you usually find in fantasy novels. In Dust and Light Lucian had Bastien but while he still appears in the second book his screen-time is much shorter. And, with the conspiracy plot getting turned up to 11, there really isn’t anybody else he can form such a friendship with. He can trust nobody and everybody at least quadruple-crosses him because that’s what happens in conspiracy thrillers…

Last but not least: I wasn’t a fan of the ending. I am used to endings that don’t rule out another book completely from Berg’s other novels. But this one felt a lot like a very strange sequel hook.


Review of book 1

3 stars, crime & mystery, historical, romance

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities #1)

30517107Title: An Unseen Attraction
Author: KJ Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities #1

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

Rating3star

Greater Love hath no man than he share the last ginger biscuit.

After The Magpie Lord and The Spectred Isle this is my first non-fantasy novel by KJ Charles and it’s…well different. Beyond the obvious lack of malicious spirits trying to kill the main characters. (Although…it depends on your definition of malicious spirit I guess). Both books felt like fantasy novels with strong romance elements to me. I’m not trying to slag off romance novels (and I gushed over the relationship in The Spectred Isle a lot). I’m just saying that the main plot was about the characters trying to defeat an evil supernatural being. They happened to fall in love along the way but the main threat wasn’t their relationship not working out but getting killed by aforementioned supernatural evil.

An Unseen Atraction is more a romance with a murder mystery in the background…and it occasionally tries to be a murder mystery with a strong romance plot and the end result left me somewhat unsatisfied. There was more focus on the building relationship and the troubles they face along the way than in the average ‘sleuth falls in love with a witness during the investigation’-mystery. Clem and Rowley argue. They have things they don’t want to share with each other. There are misunderstandings and their different backgrounds sometimes cause tension. All of these conflicts are well-written, realistic and not just arguments for the sake of filling pages. But the resolution sometimes falls short when suddenly the mystery pushes the romance in the back seat again.

And then the mystery plot goes beyond ‘romance where the heroes conveniently fall over some clues’ but also is never a ‘proper’ mystery because the actual sleuthing that they do is rather limited. So despite loving historical romances and historical mysteries, the book couldn’t quite win me over. I still enjoyed it and am curious enough to give the second book a try (even if there hadn’t been the sequel hook at the end) because even this romance that I wish had been more time to develop is more convincing than many of the ‘they meet, they find each other hot, they fuck, there is a ridiculous misunderstanding, it is resolved, happy end’-variety. *glances at some past reading choices*. (But yes, there’s also the sequel hook. Damn you *hmpf*)


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This is also part of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season challenge:

Winter Solstice/Yaldā Night: Read a book where the cover is a night-time scene.

16 tasks, challenges

16 Tasks of the Festive Season (Square 6: Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht)

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Book themes for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: A Story involving children or a young adult book.

For this task I listened to Tommy Krappweis’ Ghostsitter audio play:

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14-year-old Tom has inherited a haunted ride. A real one. There’s a zombie (who loves his plush rabbit), a werewolf (who’s grumpy but never bites anyone), a mummy (who is very polite), a ghost (who loves computer games but can only watch the let’s play videos because…well she’s a ghost) and a vampire (who occasionally laments that it’s not the 19th century anymore but is otherwise also really nice).

Together they fight crime…well or the supernatural that is less benevolent than the creatures of the haunted ride and it’s hilarious. The phrase ‘a story that children and adults can enjoy’ gets thrown around a lot but here I genuinely didn’t care that I’m over 20 years older than the target audience.

Part of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

I had to read this

I had to see this and now so do you

Today I got lost in the hilarity and horror that is the Amazon freebie section that is full of…fascinating covers and summaries. And since I don’t want to suffer alone…

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Might Drake be…a dragon? Nah. That would be silly. (Get the book if you are so inclined)


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That cover in combination with the title makes me expect just the best from this book…


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How do you think the cover of a Gay Monster Harem book looks?

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Was that what you expected? Did you even want to know?


Do you like fiction? Do you like books set in the past? I have a book with a perfect setting for you:

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The random capitalization is not the worst about this book. (Don’t believe me?)


Do you hate finishing a book and then wondering what the moral of the story was? Seafarer takes care of this for you:

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Are you tired of fantasy where the fate of the kingdom is at stake? Shield has you covered:

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Reading about the kingdom’s fait is something new and refreshing. And talking about refreshing:

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When does ever something expected happen in books? Having something expected happen is so…unexpected.


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Oh yes, please! I want to learn froma master! (You can do so, too)


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I miss the times when atrocious crimes against punctuation were reserved for fanfiction sites. I also don’t dare to ask if ‘necromongers’ is an in-universe word. Are you braver?


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So…living 5000 years isn’t immortality? Also, Mountain of the Down is the least impressive name for a fantasy mountain where a prophecy says epic shit will happen. (book…sorry screenplay)


This might have a second part if I ever get sucked into the abyss again. Meanwhile…

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