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A Study in Emerald
Neil Gaiman, Jouni Koponen
The Kill Clause
Gregg Hurwitz
Most Wanted Mission 1: Chris Ryan Extreme: Series 3
Chris Ryan
Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling
How to Stop Time
Matt Haig
Progress: 10/304 pages
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Steven Pinker
Progress: 54/576 pages
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction
Neil Gaiman
Progress: 202/502 pages
Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist
Richard Dawkins
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
Atul Gawande

Door 20: December 25 Christmas (Book Task)

A Boy Called Christmas - Matt Haig


Book task: Read a Christmas book.


The boy Nikolas has lost his mother and now living with his father Joel. they were poor and only have mushroom soup.


He has no friend and only a mouse as companion.


It got worst. His father has to go on an expedition and left him for  his aunt who is cruel and mean. 


She took his bed and he has to sleep outside with not much to eat.


He run away. And try to fine his father.   His adventure led him to befriended a reindeer and almost died in the snow. 


The of course something magical happened. This is when the story departed from reality. Either that, or the boy has a vivid dream after before his passing. 


He was then first saved and captured by elf. The elf used to be kind and trusting. But a very young elf was captured by human. Now the human become the enemy. 


Nickolas escaped and not only found his father, but the kidnapped young elf too. This is when things got complicated. 


The story then got smooth and Nicholas got to live as a man among elf. He supposed to stop ageing once he found his life purpose. But he still have not find it yet. 


Elf is good of being simple, and kind and cheerful, but not reflective or truth-telling to find deeper meaning in life. 


Now all grown, he was elected into elf council and has a new name as Father Christmas. Is that it?


The whole Santa origin story is pretty good, without going too far from what is known about Santa, yet added background story to try to lead the readers to thinking about life and what it means to be a good human. Nicely done. 



Door 22: New Year's Eve/ St. Sylvester's Day (Book Task)

One Good Deed - David Baldacci


(Task: Read a book about an ending or a new start, where things go BOOM, with fireworks on the cover, set in medieval times, about the papacy, or where miracles of any sort are performed.)


For Aloysius Archer, this is a new day as he got parole out of prison. 


He now has to go and find a job and have regular meeting with the parole officer Ernestine Crabtree.


Things supposing got better. But it got boring. Half the books are there to tell us that it when men smoke in public, and talked like old men. 


Archer has fought in World War II and now he wanted to just get by. He found a job collecting debt and instead of doing something illegal, he met the guy who owe money and tried to persuaded him to pay the money back.


It takes so long to gather that two men do not like each other. Jackie is the mistress of Hank Pittleman and the daughter of Lucas Tuttle. 


Hank Pittleman has a wife Marjorie who become key much later on.


There isn't much happening. Just a lot of talking like it is a cigarette commercial. To the point of being stupid. There isn't much happening except the few attempts of flirting between Archer and the parole office and between Archer and Jackie. 


Not much happen except Archer found a dead man. And the weird detective Shaw, for some unknown reason, like Archer and want him not to be the killer. 


It is supposed to be mystery with a oldie favor. But the problem is, it is trying too hard to set the mood that it ended up failed to do so. 


I usually like Baldacci book but this one is boring. If I'm not so curious what is the ending that I would put this as DNF. 




Door 8: International Children’s Day (Task 3)



Task 3: Make some art – draw a picture, or color one in and share the results with us. Free printable bookmarks can be found on Google images


I like making bookmarks but do not usually do coloring. 


So I do this. 



Christmas Origami bookmarks. It is easy to do and the result looks good. 


1. Print out Snowman origami template 




2. Cut out the square. 



3. Fold into a bookmark. 


4. Use the bookmark



I quite like the outcome. it is easy to do and could do with kids. 



Door 7: International Day for Tolerance (Task 4)



Task 4:If you were offered an all-expenses-paid trip to one (one only!) of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which one would you pick (and why)?


Vatnajökull National Park Iceland would probably where I want to go if I have an all expenses paid trip to go to any UNESCO World Heritage site. 


Link: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1604/gallery/


Reason: It is amazing when fire meet ice.  Also, I don't like cold and need a big incentive to get me anywhere that is that cold. 


It just look surreal. I have friends who like Iceland so much. It is one of those places that feel like a dream. 


Ice Cave at Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland





Related image



Door 8: International Children’s Day (Book Task)


International Children’s Day



Book: Read a children’s or YA book or a book where children or teenagers play a significant role, or written by an author who was under the age of 18 at the time of publication.


Reading this one "Red and the City"

Red and the City - Marie Voigt  Red and the City - Marie Voigt  


The children book now has changed too. This is a retold story of the Red ridding hood. 


The world has changed. With people always looking at their phone instead of what's going on in the world. 


She was a bit lost. And all the distraction is part of the hidden wolf. Fortunately, she finds her path again. 


Image result for red and the city by marie


Image result for red and the city by marie


Nice little story for the generation brought up with mobile devices. 

Door 6: Veterans / Armistice Day (Task 2)



Task 2: In keeping with the minute of silence, tell us about the authors who have passed this year that you will miss


The famous children books writer Judith Kerr passed way in May 2019. 


She gave beautiful illustrated children books. The one everyone know is probably The Tiger Who Came to Tea. 


Image result for The Tiger Who Came to Tea

She will be missed. Her legacy is how to find this lovely knowing that she has escape the Nazi as a child. 


She came us many more children books, a lot of them with cats. Her books continued to be loved and read by children worldwide. We lost a few famous writers this year, but I missed Judith the most. 




Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 432 pages.

One Good Deed - David Baldacci

The veteran and an ex-con Archer is trying to live his life after he was released from prison.


As a Baldacci fan, I'm really disappointed with this one so far. 


This Archer fought in WWII and so this is the pre-cell-phone era. Still, the language use is too sexist and too trying to sound like a oldie to the point of distracting from the story. 

And it isn't much of a story yet. 


Archer come out, met some rich man who want to collect a debt, want him to steal a car who was used as a collateral. Instead of stealing the car, he talked to the guy who owe the money and asked him to pay up instead. Turned out that the guy has the money but didn't want to pay back the debt because the rich guy was keeping his daughter Jackie as a mistress. 


Now Jackie said she choose to be a mistress and the man Pittkeman's wife Marjorie knew about the affair. 


Half the book is done and not much happening yet. 


Reading this for the Door 6:  Veterans / Armistice Day unless I give up reading. 


Door 7: International Day for Tolerance (Book task)

Found: A Mickey Bolitar Novel, Book 3 - Harlan Coben




Book: Read a book about tolerance, or outside your comfort zone, or set in Paris (seat of UNESCO).



This fits quite well with this book Found. It is about tolerance is important and how three kids being bullied become friends. This is also the third book of a trilogy. 


It is about three kids being bullied because of being different.  


Mickey is the main character who is tall and play basketball. The other two main characters are the girl Ema, who is not thin and Spoon who is the son of the janitor. 


All three were being bullied and treated as outsiders because they don't fit in and didn't even try to appease their tormentors.


The basketball team Troy was kicked off the team for using steroid. Instead of owing up to it, he solicited help from Mickey. 


A plot twist coming.


Ema is falling for a guy she met online. But he stop communicating and Ema wants to find out what happened to him. 


Spoon got shot in the last book and is in the hospital. But he still helps the case by doing background check and smart thinking. 


A mystery is being solved at the end and got also a surprise ending. Overall, still pretty good. But the story didn't run smoothly enough together and still got some lost end. 


4 stars read. 

Door 5: Bon Om Touk (Task 4)




Task 4:The South Korean flag features images of ying / yang (the blue and red circle in the center) and four sets of three black lines each representing heaven, sun, moon and earth and, in turn, the virtues humanity, justice, intelligence and courtesy. Compile a list or stack – 4 books minimum – composed of books that either have opposing words in their titles (e.g., war / peace; asleep / awake – not necessarily both words in the same title), or that feature the words “heaven,” “sun,” “moon,” “earth,” “humanity,” “justice,” intelligence,” and / or “courtesy.”


1. Light /Dark 


The Light and the Dark - Mikhail Shishkin  The Light and the Dark - Mikhail Shishkin  


This looks interesting. Russian literature that fits in both sci-fi and historical romance. 


2. Moon/Sun 


The Moon and the Sun - Vonda N. McIntyre,Gary Halsey  The Moon and the Sun - Vonda N. McIntyre,Gary Halsey  



Interesting is that this one got the Nebula Award 1997 beating out A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. 



3. Fast / Slow



Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman  Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman  


I actually read this one and it is about how we think and why smart people make bad decision. 


4. Ugly /Beauty 


Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry - Stacy Malkan  Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry - Stacy Malkan  


This sounds also pretty promising.  The ugly side of beauty industry. We all have been lied to all our lives by the beauty industry. So why do we still buy it? 


Door 5: Bon Om Touk (Book Task)

A Darkness More Than Night - Michael Connelly



Book: Read a book by a Korean author or set in Korea, that takes place at sea or on a river, where the plot involves a festival, where the moon or rain plays a pivotal role in the plot, or with rain, water or the moon on the cover.


I wasn't able to find a Korean book that is translated in English. Didn't find the one that I like. And I was reading this one. It still fits with water on the cover.


The story takes place at sea as one of the main character sleep on a boat and charter boat as as living. The boat is also tied to some of the clues and plots twist. 


Don't really read happy book that often. So no festivity in this one. 


Door 4: Guy Fawkes Night (Book Task)

Seconds Away - Harlan Coben

Book: Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published.


Reading this with the fire on the cover. 


It is about a teenager Mickey and his investigation on happening of his father who died, and got involved in an organization like children underground. 


There is a bat lady and there is a neighborhood haunting house. The lady said his father is not dead. Wanting it to be true so much, Mickey want to seek his uncle's help to find out. 


IN the meantime, Rachel was shot. 


He with his side kick Ema and Spoon, would try to find out what's happened to Rachel and who killed her mom. 


The plot is not great, but the story stay good in a teenage spying on adult thing. There is masks involved as well as they had worn mask from the Lion King. 


Mickey didn't like his uncle as he thought he should have come and rescue his parents and him when their life started to fall apart. But that's not right. His mother was an addict, that's got nothing to do with his uncle. Anyway, it is more of a plot of make a much more powerful ally staying away from the investigation. 


Myron is the sport agent detective that I like so much.


Overall, a good read. There is a third book to the series. 


4.5 stars read. 


Chibi Maruko-Chan is a third grade girl in Japan

ちびまる子ちゃん 2 - Momoko Sakura

The story is based on what happened to her at home and at school.


Nothing supernatural. Just her everyday mistake in life that seems so big at the time and so funny now when we looked at it. Like forgotten homework, and accidentally eaten the cake prepared for a home visit from her sister's teacher. 


it is black and white manga, but is also made into anime. 


Image result for chibi maruko-chan


From the left back row: Father, mother, grandmother, grandfather. 

From the left front row: Older sister, Maruko Chan 


It is funny because it is a common things kids do. Like wanting to buy a toy but didn't really want to play after they got it. Like wanted to save a piece of cake later but forgotten about it and it turned bad when found. 


Fun read. 

Door 5: Bon Om Touk (Task 3)




Task 3: Dragons and dragon-like serpents (imugi) are important to Korean mythology (as they are to that of other Asian peoples). So – which are your favorite literary dragons (fictional, mythological, whatever)?


The animation in How to Train Your Dragon is so cute. The Toothless in the book is much smaller. The movie version is bigger. 


Image result for toothless


The Water dragon in Spirited Away. 


Image result for Spirited away


Both are nice. If I have to pick one, Toothless in the movie is my current favorite. 


Door 2: Japanese Culture Day (Book task)

ちびまる子ちゃん 2 - Momoko Sakura




Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.


Chibi Maruko Chan is in the third grade. She is kind and clumsy. It captured the life of a child in Japan, like having all the Japanese festivals, homework including a diary to record what one has done for the day. Exchanging dairy is also a custom in deepening friendship. 


I couldn't find the store of Vol 1. So I picked this one.  


Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting. A stay at mom who yelled at her for not doing her homework and a grandfather who would do whatever she wants. 


The kid strategy to buy snacks (big deal in Japan) for limited money. Spent 1/4 of the money buy the sweets or snack for yourself. Then use the rest of the money to buy the largest quantity of snacks for snacks exchange with other kids. 


It is a fun read. 


Image result for Chibi Maruko Chan


Harry Bosch is testifying on a murder trial

A Darkness More Than Night - Michael Connelly


A Hollywood director David Storey was accused of murder of a young actress during sex. 


And Bosch is testifying is the detective of the case. 


The case was solid. 


Terry McCaleb is an ex-FBI profiler who got a heart surgery and has to retire, and now chartering boat for people who want to go fishing. 



He got asked to look at some weird owl thing on a crime scene photo that might lead to something more. 


The something more is a painting done by Hieronymus Bosch. A painter who painted very dark paintings 500 + years ago. One of the main object is owl in his paintings. 


So the name that is the same as Harry Bosch and the owl in the crime scene linked it to Bosch. 


Terry was thinking maybe Bosch has turned evil and killed a person who deserved it. Gunn was a bad cop.


And with all the twists and turned, it also linked to a journalist Jack McEvoy. 


The setup is really good, and all came together quite nicely. Between the detective work of Terry and Bosch being put on trial and drama in court. Fine writing and good story. 


It is unfair to give it just a 5. It is a 5+ stars read. 




Reading progress update: I've read 276 out of 470 pages.

A Darkness More Than Night - Michael Connelly

Bosch is a key witness on a murder trial. A famous director was on trial for murder of a young actress.


In the meantime, ex-FBI Terry McCaleb was asked to investigate some weird murders. And the clues led him to suspect Bosch. 


Pretty good so far.