Category Archives: books

Catching up on Sherlock reading

Long time no posts here, eh? I know, I know.

I’ve been reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books this year, spurred on by Mari. I posted about the first two books I read for the challenge way back in August. Since then I’ve read the next three, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

After the longer-form stories of the first two books (one story per short book), The Adventures was a bit disappointing in that the cases were all so brief, so quickly dispatched.

And then when I read Memoirs, I was convinced that I’d picked it up out of order (even though I’d attempted to check). But nope. It was in order of publication date. It had already been clear that the stories weren’t conveyed in chronological order, but this one was a bit jarring.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Hound of the Baskervilles; it really is the most masterful of the stories, at least so far as I’ve read, so far.

Thanks for the nudge, Mari! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying these books, I plan to continue with them into the new year. Next up: The Return of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1905!

(I got these ebooks from Project Gutenberg.)

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

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Mini-reviews: Mysteries

Warning: Some of these reviews contain spoilers.

leaving everything most lovedLeaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (March 2013, Harper), 352 pages

I loved the color and spices of India that infused this novel, the tenth in the Maisie Dobbs series.

I felt a little manipulated by Winspear. I wondered if she was delaying a decision on Maisie’s relationship with James just to prolong the series (ugh!). On the one hand, I just want to see them together. I think they’ll work well, and I want to see that. But on the other, I think Maisie still acted within her very independent nature. So mostly I’m just sitting here wishing and hoping. And a little sad.

Another great installment in one of my favorite historical mystery series.

doors openDoors Open by Ian Rankin (Reagan Arthur (Little Brown), 2010), 368 pages

I’d heard lots of great things about Ian Rankin’s books, so I was glad to get the chance to pull this one from its lingering spot on the TBR shelf. Mostly, though, I was disappointed by this one. If I hadn’t heard such great things, I probably would have put it down mid-read (and I maybe should have abandoned it regardless).

I did enjoy the Edinburgh setting, though.

I plan to give Rankin another try, starting with book one of his Inspector Rebus series, Knots and Crosses.

missing fileThe Missing File by D.A. Mishani (Harper, March 2013), 304 pages

This is another one that didn’t really live up to my expectations. Again, I enjoyed the setting (Israel this time). But most of the book really plodded. The protagonist’s low self-esteem seemed to pervade the book. We have this supposedly great detective, who doesn’t do or learn anything really. It’s like he’s living in an allergy fog like those commercials, except we’re given no explanation for his inaction.

The twist at the end is pretty great, though, I thought. And how the main points are never really, truly, nailed down.

red herring without mustardA Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (Bantam, 2011), 432 pages

This third Flavia de Luce mystery was the needed rebound after the sophomore slump that was The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (my review). Our precocious protag is back at it, and I quite enjoyed this one. I hope it’s not too long until I can return to the series (I think I’ve got books four and five on my shelves waiting patiently).

I received some of these books from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Board Book of the Week: Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton

Books can be hard to talk about. And children’s books — especially ones with less than 20 pages — can be particularly tough, at least for me, so far. But I think I found a way to make this work.

I finally started taking A to the library. And when you go once, there’s a pretty strong pull to go back — the books have to be returned at some point, and the drive through drop box seems almost cruel when there’s so much fun to be had inside (there’s some seriously great play areas set up, let alone all the books).

I brought home a stack of books this week, as you do. Seven books last time, nine this time. Most I considered quickly but somewhat carefully, and a few I added to the pile after A pulled them off the shelves.

Some books I like, but he either doesn’t get or doesn’t have the patience for, or something. And others he insistently brings me over and over, but they make me want to gouge my eyes out. You know how it is.

This post highlights A’s hand’s down favorite, which is one I really appreciate, too. (Which is not to say *I’m* saying “again, again,” once he tires of it, but still.)

red truck

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton, illustrated by Valeria Petrone (2008, Viking Penguin, board book) is a delightful book.

A likes:
• Pointing at all the trucks and making truck sounds.
• Also the “Vrooom,” “Sploosh,” and “Zoom” exclamations usually elicit big smiles.

Mama likes:
• The writing is clear and engaging, the perfect balance of fun and educational, no wording is awkward or annoying. There are rhymes, but it’s not over the top. There are just the right amount of words, too. I never have to read/recite at break-neck speeds to get all the words in before he turns the page.
• The illustrations are whimsical and clear, cheerful. The background recedes and yet remains fun. The colors are bright and mostly primary without being overtly so. The tow truck driver looks enough like a cross between Mario and Luigi to make me smile but still unique enough to be his own character.
• I like the text treatment, too. Colors and sizes vary some, but it’s still completely legible. And it’s not all caps. Also, there aren’t exclamation points on every. single. page. (Ahem.)

Maybe it’s just the perfect timing in terms of his attention span and vehicle fascination, but this book certainly hits the spot. I’ve enjoyed Hamilton’s YA books in the past (Tyger Tyger (my review) and In the Forests of the Night — ooh, looks like book 3 of that Goblin Wars series is out this week: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears) and I’ll definitely be looking for more of her children’s books now too.

For more on children’s books this week, check out Booking Mama’s Kid Konnection.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

15 months

In the tunnel

In the tunnel

His hair is the color of corn silk. So soft and shiny, and with colors ranging from white to gold to strawberry. And he has a lot of it. It’s getting long in back, but it’s still not nearly covering his forehead. He has his daddy’s widow’s peak.

He understands so much of what we say! It’s awesome watching him act on what I’ve said and begin to communicate in ways I can understand, too.

He says Dad, dog, water, food, yeah, and book (and also the EC form of pee/potty), and there/that/this (and maybe Up?). He signs all of those (except potty) plus please, cat, milk, all done, and bed / lay down. He also waves goodbye.

When asked for a kiss, he’ll lean in to *be kissed* on the forehead. He also leans in to be hugged.

Looking in the toy box

Looking in the toy box

He gets very excited when he sees an animal (including a high-pitched squeal), but he often signs the wrong cat/dog for what he’s seeing (sometimes he even signs cat for Maisie) and basically every kind of animal will be in one of these categories (the bear in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is usually a dog, for example, and a gosling in some other book was a cat, I believe, as was the daddy long legs in The Fathers Are Coming Home).

He’s started to act out the books as I read them to him, sometimes — in Old Bear he did the climbing on each other and the jumping on the bed. In Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop he’s done several of the actions (clap, thump (which is really stomp), stretch, and he mimes jumping).

Early-morning-watching-the-ducks

When I say it’s time to change his diaper, he usually heads to the nursery to get it done, and he’ll go to his high chair when he’s hungry or when I tell him it’s time for lunch.

For the past few weeks he’s been insisting on being read to CONSTANTLY. The same book over and over, but also tons of different books. Even with a trip to the library and a few newly purchased books, I feel like my brain is melting. And not just from all the repetitious reading, but also because this means he’s requiring my attention basically ALL DAY, rather than happily playing by himself for quite a chunk of the day. He especially wants to be read to while nursing. And I’ve spent 20 minutes of him on the potty chair reading. He does pretty good with book handling these days — at least he’s not chewing on them or ripping the pages. We still mostly read board books, though. He does still get them bent backward at the spine or creased in cover or page.

He has successfully told me he needed to use the potty chair *and then actually gone* twice, once #2 and once #1. He asks other times, but we’re not catching anything those times (either we’re too slow or he’s telling us after he’s already gone or asking is just a ploy to get more concentrated reading time).

He was diagnosed with seasonal allergies last week. And he’s been working on his 2-year molars for more than a month now — although they’re still a long ways from coming in, as far as I can tell. Otherwise, he’s only lacking one eye tooth.

He still nurses at lot, although we’ve night weaned (so he doesn’t breastfeed once we’ve gone to sleep until ~6 a.m.).

He opened the lever door at the chiropractor’s office (handle there lower than the one at home). When he has keys, he uses them at a closed door to try to open it (doesn’t get it in the keyhole yet).

He’s definitely begun asserting his independence/will and will shove things/people out of his way and scream (to the extent of folded in half, face on the floor) when he doesn’t get his way.

He’s discovered a love for dipping his food.

He usually cries when Daddy leaves for work.

He loves being outside.

He has a few different car/truck noises, including vvvvvvvvvvv and ththththththththththththth. I’m pretty sure he also has some kind of barking noise, but it’s not completely clear yet.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

8721893974_1f51cdfb67_zFor Mari’s Sherlock Holmes reading challenge, I’ve read the first two books (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of course) so far.

I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read any Sherlock Holmes books before. I mean, surely I have, at some point, especially given my love of mysteries? But at any rate, I’m reading afresh now.

The first one, A Study in Scarlet, introduces the reader to Sherlock and we see him meet Watson. I did get a bit confused when a new second section started and, instead of the familiar London, we’re abruptly in Utah. It took me a long time to even feel confident the chapters of my ebook hadn’t gotten jumbled with another book somehow! It all became clear in time, though.

The second, The Sign of the Four, also had a somewhat similar detour, but it was much less abrupt and I didn’t get confused nearly as much. 🙂

Each is less than 200 pages (somewhat significantly less, actually). They read very quickly. Despite the (very rare) French or German quote that aren’t translated (a sign of a true classic, maybe?), the language is flowing and easy, not too stilted or old fashioned.

Reading these, I’m appreciating the adaptations I’ve been loving (both BBC’s Sherlock and Elementary) even more, both as treatments of the books and as their own, individual works.

I just love these stories!

On to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!

(I got these ebooks from Project Gutenberg.)

Today in bookish thoughts

I finished my first Henning Mankell book a day or two ago (A Treacherous Paradise), and I’m still not sure what I think or feel about it. Has anyone else read it (and/or other work of his)? I’d love to chat about it!

I might be starting a book club soon. Where do I start? I’ve never done this before, so any and all help is greatly appreciated.

A is lately ignoring his toys all day every day (with very few exceptions) and instead insisting on being read to NONSTOP. We bought some more books, we went to the library and borrowed some new books, and the variety is a small improvement, but … my brain feels like it is melting. I don’t think it’s completely true that, at least in this situation, having good, new books will cure my read-aloud woes, as Julie Danielson claims at Kirkus. But, if you have some recommendations for me, I’ll take ’em. (He’s 15 months. We regularly make it all the way through We’re Going on a Bear Hunt — sometimes even 10 times in a row — but Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is usually too long, although he does like it.) Is he too young to appreciate I Spy books?

Some day I really do think I’ll get around to writing and posting reviews, or at least mini reviews or thoughts of some kind on the books I’ve been reading. But that day is apparently not today.

Happy Sunday!

A Sherlock challenge

8721893974_1f51cdfb67_zI’ve been wanting to read some Sherlock Holmes, especially with the recent spate of great screen adaptations (BBC’s Sherlock, I’m looking at you!), and Mari’s challenge is just the impetus I need. I generally have a dismal track record when it comes to challenge completion, but maybe I’m giddy on the heels of my #PinItDoIt success? Whatever the case, I’m signing up for this one.

Mari set forth lots of participation levels:

Inspector
Read all 9 listed above.
Lieutenant
Read 6 of your choosing.
Detective
Read 3 of your choosing.
Officer
Read 1 of your choosing.

I think I’m going for the Detective level, aiming to read the first three books: A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of Four (1890) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892).

Luckily, I’ve got plenty of time; the challenge runs from the beginning of June through December 31st.

Here is where I’ll be linking up reviews, as I get to them.

Care to join us?

Book Spotlight: The Judgment Stone by Robert Liparulo

JudgmentStoneAbout the book:
What if praying became a curse instead of a blessing?

Former Army Ranger Jagger Baird thought he had his hands full with the Tribe — the band of immortal vigilantes working to regain God’s grace by killing those who oppose God. That was before he encountered the Clan, a ruthless group of immortals seeking an artifact that would give them unimaginable power, a piece of the Ten Commandments known as the Judgment Stone. Anyone who touches the stone can see into the spiritual world: angelic warriors, treacherous demons, and the blue threads of light that signal believers’ communion with God.

Read the first chapter of The Judgment Stone, book 2 in the Immortal Files series, by Robert Liparulo.

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.