Sherlock in Love

24 May

“Sherlock in Love” by Sena Jeter Naslund is supposed to be the story of Holmes’ one great love and how he obtained his Stradivarius violin.

Nice idea, reasonable plot, but it would have helped if the author had actually read ACD’s original stories. In the story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, Arthur Conan Doyle himself stated that Holmes brought his stradivarius from a pawnbroker in the Edgeware Road.  That failure to keep to canon gave the book a major strike against it before I even began to read it.

I also found it hard to believe the great man of mind and intellect could be so swayed by emotion.

However, the plot fairly bounced along and was an enjoyable read in its own right.

The second stroke against it was, for me, the lack of chemistry between Holmes and Watson.  The characters felt more like polite friends than the tight bond of friendship seen in the books.

A non Sherlockian will no doubt enjoy it, but there are too many small niggles for a devotee to be entirely happy with the book.

Apologies

20 May

I have not forgotten my blog or you, dear readers.  What I have got is a nasty bloody cold.  Stuffy in the head.barking like a seal, and generally feeling like crap.  I haven’t even been able to muster up enough energy and enthusiasm to read any new books.

I will be back, just as soon as I start feeling better.  *goes off in search of tissues and honey*

Deadline

10 May

I have to say this, “Deadline”, the most recent Virgil Flowers novel, by John Sandford, was a bit of a disappointment.

It seemed to hold so much promise: dog napping, murder, and a school board running amok.

Unfortunately the promise fizzled out before the book reached the half way mark.  It went from being full of promise to being full of the ridiculous.

The character of Virgil seemed slightly ‘off’ from the other books.  No spiritual speculations for a start.  The character is given, in earlier books, to interesting thoughts of a spiritual nature, but in this one he appeared to be operating on auto pilot with no thoughts at all in his head.

“Deadline” was saved from being a total write-off by the wonderful Jenkins and Shrake.  The BCA’s bully boys were at their pretending-to-be-ignorant, shit-kicker, best.

So called “bad” language doesn’t worry me, I use a few choice words myself when the situation warrants it.  John Sandford does drop the occasional “fuck” in his novels.  However, this time around it seemed to be the Word of the Week for the characters.  Frankly, I got extremely tired of it.

To be honest, I think “Deadline” is only worth reading if you’re a dyed in the wool Virgil Flowers fan.  Steer clear if you’ve never read any John Sandford books before.  There are much better ones to start off your reading.

The Death of Carthage

27 Apr

I won a copy of “The Death of Carthage” by Robin E. Levin on the Good Reads First Reads giveaway.

As I intended to do this review, I meant to make notes as I went.  I was three quarters of the way through the book before I realized I hadn’t so much as picked up my pen.  That should give you an idea of the book’s readability.

“The Death of Carthage” is basically a family saga incorporating the second and third Punic Wars.  It covers the lives of Lucius Tullius Varro, his cousin Enneus Tullius, and Enneus’ son Ectorius.  The book is divided into three sections, one for each person, so naturally there is so duplication of material.  However, as it comes from different viewpoints, it doesn’t detract, but only add to the reader’s understanding of the events.

All the major players of the period are mentioned.  The Scipio family, of course, and Cato the Censor.

“The Death of Carthage” manages to combine entertaining family saga with well researched historical facts, to be one of the more interesting historical novels I have read in recent times.

The only thing that stops it from being a great epic novel is the fact that, apart from Lucius, the characters seem to lack the individuality needed to make the book truly come alive.

Highly recommended for all lovers of military fiction, straight historical fiction, and those with an interest in Republican Rome.

Books and Opportunities

14 Apr

I’ve been doing a fair bit of book shopping at opportunity shops recently.  I think you call them good will stores in the USA, and charity shops in the United Kingdom.

You can get some interesting books, and you are giving someone a helping hand.  Twice, if you donate the books back once you’ve read them.

The thing is, I have started to notice several patterns.

Firstly, there is the collection that has been donated.  Grandma or Great Aunty Phyllis has passed on and no-one wants her entire collection of Barbara Cartland novels, so off to the local op shop they go.  The same goes for Great Uncle Bert’s collection of westerns.

The month or so after Mother’s Day will see a rise in biographies and autobiographies of film stars and celebrity cookbooks.  After Father’s Day the pattern repeats, but the books are biographies and autobiographies of sports stars and rock bands.

The New year sees a systematic dumping of the latest hot novels that have obviously been unwanted Christmas presents.

The main pattern, however, is one that shows just how much longevity some books have.  I have seen the odd Harry Potter book in op shops, but the main stay seems to be Twilight.  Every shop I’ve visited seems to have at least two copies of each of the novels.  The largest shop had an entire book case of them!  They obviously don’t bear re-reading by the hoards of fans who originally swarmed all over them.  The same goes for the Fifty Shades series.  The same large op shop had four shelves of various copies of that series.  Buy it, read it, dump it.

Some authors though, are obviously well loved and collected.  I rarely see Australian author Kerry Greenwood’s books.  And I have NEVER seen any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books.  Some books are read until they fall apart and then new copies are purchased.  I’ve never seen any Tolkien books either, most likely for similar reasons.

I have, from time to time, come across real gems.  Odd books I’ve been looking for for ages, but have been unable to find.  An odd little novel I’d heard about, but never seen, called “Sherlock in Love” turned up at one of my local op shops about three months ago.  It’s sitting in my To Be Read Pile for future enjoyment.

A book I read many years ago by Rosemary Sutcliffe called “Flowers For Adonis” turned up in the same shop.  That was snaffled for a re-read.

Even if you don’t buy much, it is lovely to browse and see what other people have passed on.  The old saying of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is never more obvious than at op shops.  If you are a reader and have an op shop or two in your area, pop in, you never know just what you will find.  Me, I’m hoping for a copy of Dinah Lampitt’s “Pour the Dark Wine” in better condition than my poor old copy.

Bless Her Dead Little Heart

6 Apr

“Bless Her Dead Little Heart” by Miranda James marks the start of a new series by the author.  The sleuths in this new book aren’t librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel.  This time around the amateur detectives are Misses An’gel and Dickcee Ducote, whom we have meet in previous books.

I have to admit I wasn’t sure about the idea, but I have fallen in love with this pair of anti-bellum Miss Marples.

When the Ducote sisters sorority sister comes to them for sanctuary claiming her family are trying to kill her, An’gel and Dickcee are initially skeptical.  Until there is a suspicious death right before both their eyes.

It is now a race against time to work out who is doing the killing and who the real target is before the body count reaches epidemic proportions.

Face paced, witty, and absolutely delightful.  I am eagerly waiting for the next volume in the sister’s sleuthing career.

Jeremy Clarkson – a Few Thoughts

30 Mar

I have been more than a little disturbed by the back swell against Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking by the BBC.  The man committed an act of violence against an employee and people want him to keep his job?

I am going to ask you a question.  I don’t expect you to answer, but I would like you to think about the question a lot and reply honestly to yourself.

Would your attitude towards Jeremy Clarkson be different if the producer he had abused and then hit had been a woman?

There should be no difference, but the inbuilt sexism of the majority will mean that there is.  The sex of the victim should make no difference, but in the eyes of the media and of the general public, it frequently does.  Violence is not acceptable.  A tendency to use fists to settle arguments shows the character of a person quite clearly.  And it is not an attractive picture.  Only brute animals use violence to get their own way.

There is NO excuse for Jeremy Clarkson’s behaviour.  He verbally and then physically abused another human being.  For no better reason than there was no hot food.  There would have been hot food if he hadn’t larked around in a pub drinking for hours.

Actions have consequences.  Most people learn this before they are five years old.

Jeremy Clarkson belongs to that annoying subset of humanity known as the “self entitled celebrity”.  These people think the world should make exceptions for them.  Never mind that the hotel staff were tired after a long shift and wanted to go home.  His irresponsibility kept them there until the manager made an executive decision to send his staff home.  As any good manager would.  Clarkson should have accepted that his actions had meant there was no hot meal.  He had no right to go off at the producer the way he did.  Face it, if your toddler behaved like that, your most likely response would be a smacked arse and time out.

The BBC really had no choice but to sack Clarkson.  Not just because he was on his last warning.  I don’t know what the workplace safety laws are like in the United Kingdom, but if that had happened in Australia Jeremy Clarkson would be in a pile of ordure up to his neck!  Bullying, verbal harassment, physical harassment, physical harm – Clarkson would be looking at huge personal fines and perhaps jail time, as would the BBC for allowing it to happen!  This is without the possible criminal charges that would stem from such an altercation.

Maybe now Clarkson will learn about the necessity of taking responsibility for his own actions.  That every thing that he does will have consequences.  This has been a lesson a long time coming, and only time will tell if it has been thoroughly learned or not.

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