Monday, April 29, 2019

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes" by Loren D. Estleman

Yes, you read that title correctly.  This book puts Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson into the world of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I picked this book up a couple of years ago when I was teaching my niece literature.  We read both The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Strange Case... that fall, and she said she wished someone would write a story where Holmes solved the case.  I said I bet someone had, and lo and behold, I was right.  I found a copy of it, but never got around to reading it until now.

As Holmes pastiches go, this one isn't bad!  I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it.  I think I'll send it to my niece, because she might enjoy it more.  

Estleman's characterizations of Holmes and Watson are faithful to the canon, if a little bit... fanfic-y at times.  Like, using soooo many of their mannerisms and their phraseology and going to great lengths to describe their flat accurately and cram lots of canon characters into it.  We don't gain any new understanding of Holmes or Watson... but that's not terrible.  It was a fun book to read, right when I needed something fun and light, so I did enjoy it.

I find it weird, though, that the cover art inset of half Jekyll, half Hyde looks sooooooo much like Thomas Edison.


If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for violence and dangerous situations.  No cussing or "adult" content.

This is my sixth book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The #CoverLove Tag

Movie Critic tagged me with this :-)  Months and months ago, but hey.  At least I'm finally finishing it up and sharing, right?

All these pictures are ones I've taken myself and shared on Instagram.  I've linked the titles to my reviews of each book, if I've reviewed them.

A book cover featuring a gorgeous dress:

Five Poisoned Apples by Skye Hoffert, Jenelle Hovde, Courtney Manning, Maddie Morrow, and Rachael Wallen

A book cover with no people, just a pretty scenery:

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

A book cover that's ''well-loved'':

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

A book cover that just makes you smile:

Samantha's Surprise: A Christmas Story by Maxine Rose Schur

A book cover that is your favorite color:

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

A cover of a book with fond memories attached to it:

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

A book you wanted solely for the cover:

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I'm not going to tag anyone because I'm tired and lazy tonight.  If you want to do this tag, have at it!  And let me know if you do so I can enjoy your post :-)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: The First Ten

Today's prompt for Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl is "First Ten Books I Reviewed."

I started doing book reviews on other blogs of mine about eight years before I started this book blog.  I've been blogging at Hamlette's Soliloquy since 2002 and, in 2004, I started tossing an occasional book review into my mix there.  Later, I had a writing blog called Inscriptions and a crafting blog connected to my Etsy shop, and I posted book reviews on them as well.

But in 2012, I was becoming friends with a lot of book bloggers, and I decided that I was tired of having my own book reviews scattered around at all these different places.  I wanted my own book blog that I could use to discuss all bookish subjects, and where I could collect all my book reviews.  So I started this blog in September of 2012, but I kept it private for a few months while I worked at collecting up all my reviews from all my various blogs and posting them chronologically here, with links back to the original posts and what dates I'd originally written them.  I kept posting book reviews on Hamlette's Soliloquy through the end of 2012, and then made this blog public at the dawning of 2013.

All this is to explain why the following reviews have little tags at the end of them that say "Originally posted at" and then another blog name and a date and so on.

All titles linked to my reviews, and I've included a line from each review here too.  Okay, here we go:

1. Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl -- "Heyerdahl is conversational while being creative. He writes about the everyday things, like whether or not he got tired of drinking coconut milk. Yet he keeps things fresh, using precisely the right words and descriptions."

2. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde -- "It's incredibly hard to describe, but I'll try. It's set in 1985, but not the 1985 we this 1985, things like time travel and pet dodos are common. The main character, Thursday Next, is a literature detective, and she eventually winds up inside the book Jane Eyre, helping Mr. Rochester rescue Jane from the evil genius who kidnapped her."

3. I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson with Alfred Duckett -- "While I know that most autobiographies need to be taken with a grain (or shaker) of salt, this one contained far less hubris than most I've read."

4. John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth by Michael Munn -- "It's the first biography of John Wayne I've ever managed to finish reading."

5. Zorro by Isabelle Allende -- "The voice of the novel is great too, like some friend of yours is telling you all the stuff that happened when they went on a vacation. Only they had a fun and fascinating vacation, not the kind where you spend most of the time in the car trying to get somewhere interesting."

6. An Antic Disposition by Alan Gordon -- "This is a book full of intrigue, humor, and more than a little violence. Even if you're not obsessed with Hamlet the way I am, if you like suspense and mystery stories, try to find this book. You will be entranced."

7. John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet by Richard L. Sterne -- "This book was so delightful, so crammed with thoughts about the play that I'd never even considered, that I simply had to buy my own copy. I have a feeling it's one I'll return to often."

8. Keeping Watch by Laurie R. King -- "I couldn't imagine what each new page would bring, but I couldn't wait to find out."

9. A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh -- "If nothing else, her words assured me that I'm not the only woman who needs alone time, who needs to create things to feel more complete, be they stories or books or afghans or pumpkin pies."

10. The Ninth Configuration by William Peter Blatty -- "I saw The Ninth Configuration in a film class in college and liked it right away. It's twisted, it's weird, it's off-beat, it's creepy, and it's very unlike most of the movies I like. But I dug it anyway."

Okay, there are my ten!  Have you read any of these?  Did you do a TTT post this week?  Share in the comments so we can chat!

Monday, April 15, 2019

"Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol Ryrie Brink

This book is every bit as fun as I remembered it being!  I chuckled aloud more than once.  And my two oldest kids thoroughly enjoyed it too.  In fact, my 9-year-old promptly read the sequel, Magical Melons (recently retitled Caddie Woodlawn's Family).  My 11-yr-old liked it so much, he said he'd like it if I read it out loud to everyone on vacation this summer.  Warmed my heart!

Also, this solved a semi-mystery for me.  For all of my adult life, the phrase "If at first you don't fricasee, fry, fry a hen" has popped into my head whenever someone says "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  And I knew it was from some book I read as a kid, but I could NOT figure out which one!  Well, it's totally from this.  Which makes sense, as I read this over and over.

Caddie Woodlawn is a spunky pioneer girl living in the woods of Wisconsin.  Think of 11-yr-old Laura Ingalls Wilder if she was still living in the Little House in the Big Woods and had brothers to pal around with.  Caddie's family moved to Wisconsin when she was very small, and she was a sickly child, so her father convinced her mother to let her run around outside with her brothers until she was ready to be "ladylike."  She has lots of adventures, like saving her Indian friends from being killed by angry settlers, racing her uncle down the river on a raft, and fighting a prairie fire.

I can see now why I loved this book as a kid.  I was also a tomboy.  My dad also let me run "wild" as often as I liked, and I thought the description "ladylike" was a pejorative.  So I know I identified strongly with Caddie.  Also, the whole book is a lot of cheerful fun, and I think it'd be hard not to enjoy it.

I did not know until reading this to teach it to our homeschool co-op that this is basically a true story!  Caddie Woodlawn was really Caddie Woodhouse, the author's grandmother, who really did grow up a tomboy in the Wisconsin woods.  Published in Caddie's lifetime, with her assistance and approval, it won the Newbery Medal, and deservedly so.

Reading this with my 9-yr-old :-)
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Good, clean, cheerful fun!

This has been my 31st book read and reviewed for the Classics Club on my second go-round with them!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

"Murder at the Mikado" by Julianna Deering

I have mixed feelings about this one.  I had a great time reading it because of all the stuff about Gilbert and Sullivan productions, but the mystery itself dragged in places, and I got very, very frustrated with Madeline all through the book.  So it's probably my least-favorite Drew Farthering Mystery so far.

Drew and Madeline are putting the finishing touches on their wedding plans when a woman from Drew's past shows up and asks him to clear her of the suspicion of murder.  We learn lots of stuff about Drew's past, which is cool.

The reason I enjoyed all the stuff about the Gilbert and Sullivan productions is that I was in three of their light operas when I was in college!  I was only in the chorus, never one of the named characters, but it was incredibly fun.  So when I took a Bookstagram photo of this book, I hauled out my scores to serve as a backdrop :-)

Particularly Good Bits:

Life was fleeting and unsure, how well she knew that just now, but she couldn't be afraid to live it.  She couldn't be afraid to take those blessings God had sent her (p. 314).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for non-racy discussions of a young man spending one night with a woman he's not married to, discussions of children conceived out of wedlock, mild kissing scenes, and non-gory scenes of dead bodies.

This is my 5th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Challenge this year.