Monday, January 27, 2014

Why I Love Sherlock Holmes

Hello Bookworms,

            If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been reading through the Sherlock Holmes canon (the original stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). After I read each one, I provide a review and my thoughts on each story. It occurred to me recently however, that I have never explained why I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories or why I want others to read them, so here goes! J

Why I love Sherlock Holmes

            I love a good mystery story, however writers of books and television programs have a tendency to get too cookie cutter with their stories. You know what I mean, after a while you can sit down to any episode/book that you’re enjoying and go “that character is going to die either by being shot stabbed or poisoned, those three characters are going to be suspects, and the third suspect did it.” And then you sit back and watch exactly what you predicted unfold. All too often, when writers try to “think outside the box” they turn to the “spy theme” or to blood and gore to an extreme. 

            When I was young (around nine or ten) I was shown an episode of what I have seen termed as “Granada Holmes”. I am talking about the Sherlock Holmes series featuring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. The episode was The Speckled Band. Never before had I seen a story so intriguing. Even that young I remember thinking “okay, the girl died of something in her room so let’s just see where the person could have entered from” I remembered thinking that, at best, there might be a secret hidden panel in the wall. But when Sherlock Holmes declared that no one could have entered that room and that that wasn’t the explanation, I was hooked. I won’t spoil the end for those of you who haven’t read/seen it but the conclusion was unlike any mystery I had ever encountered before. I remembered that episode. I didn’t remember Jeremy Brett’s name, or Sherlock Holmes for that matter at that age, but I remembered the show I saw and wanted more. Soon I had found a children’s classic of Sherlock Holmes with about five of the most famous cases in it, and I sat down and read the whole thing that night.
Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke "The Speckled Band"

            I saw on Twitter that someone asked the Baker Street Babes (I love their account and recommend that if you love any incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, old or new, that you follow them @BakerStBabes ) what story would you use if you wanted to hook someone on the original Sherlock Holmes stories. They said The Speckled Band. I couldn’t agree more, that’s what did it for me. Over the years Sherlock Holmes had taken a back seat, but I never forgot about The Speckled Band and that series. “Granada Holmes” coupled with the new series on Masterpiece PBS and the BBC, Sherlock, has given me an interest in the original writings and now I’m reading through the whole series.  I recently had the pleasure of reading The Speckled Band again and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with all of you.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in "Sherlock"

Why do I think the Sherlock Holmes series is good for others to read?

            There are two major reasons why I think Sherlock Holmes should be on your bucket list of books:

            First, the stories are short. There are 56 short stories all together in the Sherlock Holmes stories and none of them are incredibly long. These are stories that you can read while travelling, on your lunch break at work, waiting in a doctor’s office, and more. You get an entire mystery and an epic conclusion in a lot less time making them ideal to read in all sorts of places without getting bored. I love to read but sometimes I don’t have enough time for a full novel during the college semester so they are a great way for me to get to read during when my schedule gets hectic.

            Second, the stories are exciting. And not just exciting for a person who likes to read! Moms, wives, sisters, friends, lend me your ears (or eyes since your reading this  J ). I know that it is difficult getting our sons, husbands, brothers, or male friends to read, especially younger boys because they like to get up and get moving. But we also know that their development is furthered if they can enjoy reading something. Usually, if a book isn’t written on a subject they already like, such as sports or cars, it needs to be exciting to keep their attention. Not only are the short stories a good length, but the conclusions are exciting. Things happen that you will never see coming. The explanations of these problems are like nothing they’ve ever read before. I think that these will help the male reader in your life learn to enjoy reading just a little bit more.

A word of caution

            Parents, I urge you to allow your kids to read the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I also urge you to pay attention to which ones their reading. Remember that Sherlock Holmes was written by an adult largely for other adults to read. Some of the stories have details that aren’t suitable for children such as one story I have read that takes place largely in an opium den, or the fact that Sherlock Holmes uses drugs and it becomes a topic of conversation. That being said, for your children I STRONGLY recommend that you start them on books of Sherlock Holmes that are specifically geared for children like the one that I read when I was young, because their editors have done the work for you. They have chosen the stories that leave out themes that aren’t suitable for children and edited out any other part that may be unsuitable for them as well.

This is the book I have been reading through:

What’s good about it:

It was about $10 and it prints the stories the way you would have seen them in the original Stand Magazine prints including the illustrations by Sidney Paget. I love getting to see the stories in this context and for that reason I am glad that it is a part of my collection.

What Does it lack?:

This collection is missing some of the stories and three of the novels. You remember that earlier I mentioned that there are 56 short stories and 4 novels in the Sherlock Holmes series. This collection only features 37 of the short stories and 1 of the novels.

You can buy this one on Amazon here

This is the recent addition to my collection that I am planning to use:


What’s good about it?

This book is fairly cheap. You can buy it online at a whole range of prices, but I got mine on Amazon from PBS’s selling account for about $7.48. I’ve seen it through the Amazon sellers for about $12 (still not a bad price) just shop around a little and you’ll find a copy and a good price for you. This collection also has all 56 stories and all 4 novels. There are two volumes in the box to make this possible and both books are travel size making them easy to take with you anywhere.

What does it lack?

The only thing that I have seen as lacking in this book set thus far is that the illustrations have been removed.

You can find it on Amazon here

I was also able to find the book I used as a child for those parents who want to start their children on the Sherlock Holmes.


What’s good about it?

The editing that I mentioned earlier has been done for you. It’s cheap. It’s slim to it’s easy to take in a travel bag or backpack.

What does it lack?

There are only a few stories in it, but it’s a great starter book for kids.

You can buy it here


Until next time,

            Lizzie <3

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Hello Bookworms!,

          Today I have a new review of the first book in a three book series. Book 1 was published this year and books 2 and 3 are going to be published in 2014. The first book is called Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta.


          Julia’s never had a good father in her life. Her father was an abusive, hatesome man that was an outspoken atheist (which brought much condemnation to his family). Especially from the church. After his death, Julia’s favorite entertainment was to go spend time with her best friend Elizabeth and their favorite pair of brothers, Edward and Henry. Julia’s hope for a happier life came in the form of a secret engagement to Edward…but when her mother caught wind of it, she wasn’t allowed to see him. Julia held hope, however, that her and Edward’s love was strong enough to weather the storm. Besides, they kept in touch through Elizabeth’s letters.

          When Julia’s mother suddenly dies, Julia’s world is thrown into turmoil and she must depend on Elizabeth and her…interesting mother. What Julia did not count on was that everything else in her life would fall apart and the host of colorful, and sinister, characters that will take advantage of her and her friends….Can Julia survive the whirlwind? And what of Edward? Was their love strong enough?


          I enjoyed the Born of Persuasion. It was fast-paced and intriguing thrill-ride through the good, bad, and ugly of society and the imperfect people that inhabited it. I think that most young adults and adults would like it. I must admit that there were twists and turns that I never saw coming in this book and I love that. Its not as much fun to read a book that is always predictable. Predictability is shattered in Jessica Dotta’s writing.

          I will say that there is a fair amount of adult content (nothing graphic) that makes the book mostly suitable for young adults and older. I wouldn’t really give it to a middle school or junior high students or anyone younger than that.

          This book was a wonderful reminder about how Christians should not act when approaching non-Christians. Especially those who have different beliefs from our own. The conflict that Julia faces in connection with the judgmental, condemning, unforgiving attitude of her former parish pastor is something that I think most Christians could learn from. As Beth Moore put it, “In a world of hammers looking for nails, a little gentleness can be breathtaking”.

          This book is an emotional whirlwind. There is anger, fear, passion, tears, joy, and more! I read this book in a hurry (just a few days in a row) and felt like I had been dragged through the emotional wringer! If you are one who gets really emotionally invested in a book, you may want to be prepared to put the book down periodically, shift your focus for a while, and then come back to it.

          This three book series started at a level of intensity that many series’ end. I was actually physically tense while reading the climactic ending! I think this book could give you the adrenaline rush that a good thriller can give! I’m really interested to see to what new levels the next 2 books will be taken! I recommend Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta to all you young adult and adult adrenaline junkie bookworms out there!


Links to buy:
Until Next Time,
                 Lizzie <3

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Birds of the Nile by N.E. David

Hello bookworms,

            First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I hope you all had very merry Christmases and happy new years celebrations! This year there are going to be reviews, interviews, interest articles, and more! In between my classes and internship I will be reading, reading, reading! I hope you all will be reading too!

            I personally have begun the Goodreads reading challenge for 2014 and have pledged to read 25 books! J I hope I can make the goal and will update you on my progress. But for now, let’s look at the first review on the new year! Birds of the Nile by N.E. David


            Michael Blake has had a long career with the British embassy, but now he is turning 60 and must retire. This isn’t really what Blake had planned for. He knew it was coming yet he hadn’t really planned for all the extra time. So, to help pass the time, Blake decides to take a boat trip up the Nile and do some bird watching.

            Blake did not expect to become attached to anyone on this boat trip, least of all a Malaysian girl in her twenties…but he did in a BIG way. Michael Blake who has done his best not to get overly involved in the affairs of others is about to find himself right in the middle of a bloody political uprising all in the hopes of seeing travelling twenty-something smile.


            Birds of the Nile is not my usual type of book. It has heavy political themes and is set in the modern day. However, I was interested in giving it a try.

            For those who love to travel or bird watch Birds of the Nile may be of interest to you. Nick (the “N” in author N.E. David, for those who don’t know ;) ) describes the Egyptian landscape, landmarks, and exotic birds of the Nile area in a way that I think will be fun for travellers and bird-watchers. Not to mention that ninety percent of the book takes place aboard the cruise ship (which may also appeal to travellers and those who have taken long boat trips before).

            There is a wonderful cast of characters including Blake, Carpenter, Miss Malaysia, Reda Eldasouky, Ira and Mrs. Biltmore, Joan, David, Janet, Keith, and many more. And the thoughts that go through Mr. Blake’s head as he encounters the ships passengers and all their eccentricities models what many people think in real life. (Which I think is a particular specialty of Mr. David’s).

            I do have one major complaint in reference to a particular character. Mrs. Biltmore from Baltimore. She and her husband Ira Biltmore are the only Americans in Mr. David’s story (no that’s not the complaint J I’m about to explain). It seemed to me that, in many parts of the book, N. E. David went out of his way to write hateful comments in reference to Mrs. Biltmore. He ridicules her appearance, makes her an annoying character for much of the book, and makes many statements to the effect that her husband Ira is pretty much whipped and subjective to her every whim. That being said, I understand that there are people like this everywhere, including America (I’ve met a few myself), but it seems that out of all his characters N.E. David particularly attacks the American couple, especially the wife. When he gives reference to them, his writing, at times, takes a tone of disgust. While the character Michael Blake first feels superior to many including his own countrymen, he seems to accept all the other characters, but there is always a certain tone towards the American couple. Not to mention that every time America as a country is mentioned it is mentioned in a negative light. As an American woman myself I have to admit that several times I was offended and hurt by the comments. I like Mr. David and his stories and I hope this does not reflect his attitude towards Americans in general. Every person, American or otherwise, has a right to be accepted or not by others on a case by case basis rather than to be totally rejected by any failings of their counterparts.  (I’ll get off my soapbox now ;) )

            Mr. David told me in an interview once that his inspiration comes from what he sees around him such as a newspaper article about a WWII soldier’s bag that was found with a letter inside. To write about things that actually happen in life in a story format is a style of writing that N.E. David seems to enjoy. That being said I think he can be proud of this novel because he has done just that. BIRDS OF THE NILE is available for e-readers and in paperback online and in stores.



Until next time,

            Lizzie <3