A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet  by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  description:

‘There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.’

From the moment Dr. John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge…

A Study in Scarlet   3 STARS

While I have read a few Sherlock stories, it’s been years, and so I figured I should start at the beginning. This was exactly the sort of story you expect from such a detective, and I loved how Watson and Sherlock came to be together. How they seem to get along, even as Sherlock is strange, Watson acknowledges his own quirks. The case itself was exciting right from the beginning. It was fast paced, and interesting how the police detectives were going about solving it in comparison to Sherlock’s own means. However, once it got to the part of giving background to the perpetrator the story slowed considerably. While it was nice getting a thorough account of why this man had done what he did, Doyle really dallied there a bit too long, and with far more detail to everything than there needed to be. I found myself just scanning over paragraphs describing the landscape and such, and even once we got to the final bit of the killers own testimony I was just ready to have it over and done with. Still a good start for the stories, but rather prefer the shorter tales to this.


Catching a Man

Catching a Man  by  Elizabeth Corrigan   description:

Kadin Stone’s life is finally going according to plan. She’s starting her new job as a homicide detective’s aide at one of the premier criminal investigation companies in Valeriel City, the capital of a 1950’s-style kingdom. Kadin is certain her new position will introduce her to any number of eligible men, so she’ll finally be able to get married and stop burdening the brother who insists on supporting her.

On Kadin’s first day, the royal family calls in her team to investigate the murder of gossip-rag cover girl Queen Callista. Kadin’s superiors think it’s an open and shut case. The queen’s jilted lover Duke Baurus DeValeriel had motive, means, and opportunity, but Kadin can’t help but spot holes in their theory.

After checking into a few leads of her own, Kadin inadvertently ends up in the confidence of Duke Baurus. When she tries to share what she knows with the rest of the team, she finds them unwilling to listen to the opinion of a girl who they know is only after a ring on her finger. In order to see justice served, Kadin finds herself doing the last thing she expected when she started working for a homicide detective—solve a murder!

BOOK 1: Catching a Man   5 STARS

I’ll admit, I went into this book thinking it’d be a fluff romance with a murder mystery in the background for a bit of plot. Instead it was an intense and very well developed mystery, that had twists you never saw coming, and an ending that left me completely surprised and yet the most logical. I loved that this was set in a 50’s style world, you get the clothes and the technology that is familiar to us for that era. Even the misogynistic views of women, where the only stable life for a girl is to find a man and get married while she’s still young and pretty. However, that is where the similarities to this world ends. Corrigan has built an entirely different society and government that vividly brought this world to life, and left so much to be discovered. I found it fascinating that here the medical field is run by the government, and so easily accessible to all, while investigations is the service you need insurance for. Meaning if a family member can’t afford or chooses not to pay for an investigation a criminal just goes free. Even the way women are rated, and what they go through to stay employed or to receive benefits, just shows how much thought Corrigan put into this. The mystery itself was also well calculated, and I loved how Kadin became a woman not just looking for a man, but one looking for justice. She was never the ditzy sort willing to do whatever to get married, she’s just a reasonable woman that understands the rules of this world, and doesn’t want to be a burden on her brother anymore. But more so, she’s clever and observant, and is willing to put her career and life in jeopardy in order to find the truth. Absolutely hoping there are more in this series to come, and it better come soon.

Crystal Kingdom

BOOK 1: Frostfire  by  Amanda Hocking

BOOK 2: Ice Kissed

Crystal Kingdom   description:

The kingdom she loves has turned against her. Can she save it before it’s too late?

Bryn Aven—unjustly charged with murder and treason—is on the run. The one person who can help is her greatest enemy, the gorgeous and enigmatic Konstantin Black. Konstantin is her only ally against those who have taken over her kingdom and threaten to destroy everything she holds dear. But can she trust him?

As Bryn fights to clear her name, the Kanin rulers’ darkest secrets are coming to light…and now the entire troll world is on the brink of war. Will it tear Bryn from Ridley Dresden, the only guy she’s ever loved? And can she join forces with Finn Holms and the Trylle kingdom? Nothing is as it seems, but one thing is certain: an epic battle is under way—and when it’s over, nothing will ever be the same…

BOOK 3: Crystal Kingdom  4 STARS

Hocking definitely knows how to end a trilogy. I was very excited when we got to see the other tribes more. It’s the first time really going to the Omte tribe, and they’re definitely a different sort, but I was happy getting to see the Trylle and Vittra more, and knowing how the characters we came to know in the Trylle series are doing now. There was a fair amount of surprises, and it was interesting to see how they came to really knowing the truth of the plots that had been against the Kanin kingdom this whole time. The only thing that bothered me was Bryn. She’s intelligent and well trained in defending herself, and has now gone through so much, but obviously she was never really a soldier so I get her not exactly having been used to dealing with the things that were coming about in having to bring down Mina. Yet, even as no one would want war, and no one would want to hurt people who are simply being manipulated, I also think Bryn was just a bit too naive about a lot of things. As well as being very reactive, constantly trying to go on what would’ve amounted to suicide missions, which repeatedly led to Konstantine having to talk her down. That part got a bit old at times, but the rest of it was really well done. The war and dealing with those just trying to serve their kingdom, and those that are simply dealing with greed, and sadly the innocents who are caught in the crossfire. She didn’t wash over the bad side, and it made for a heart wrenching but realistic and worthy ending to the story.

Murder in Little Shendon

Murder in Little Shendon  by  A.H. Richardson  description:

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

BOOK 1: Murder in Little Shendon   3 STARS

This book has an interesting premise, and a mystery that enjoys its’ share of twist and turns. The cast of characters are varied, which helped move the story along. It’s failings, though, begin with the setting. I’m not really sure when it is. The further you get in the more you can figure it’s some time right after WWII, I’m guessing, but it was rather odd not having an exact way to know. Which is even more strange, considering how factual the style of writing is, for it to not give you this one fact that would help create the image of the world better in your mind. And yes, the writing style was very matter-of-fact. You meet a person and the author gives you a detailed description of their looks along with little habits they might have and their level of intelligence all right off the bat. It’s a lot of tell and very little show. You don’t really get other characters perspectives of whoever you’re dealing with. It makes for a rather one-dimensional view, because the author just tells you exactly what is happening in a straight forward manner that can make it almost monotonous. They hang up the phone, they let their hand linger, they think about the conversation and then they turn to do whatever action they’re about to do. It’s very precise, but it’s not exactly the sort that brings things to life. And in being precise, Richardson also gets repetitive. Information that is in no way important will be repeated ad nauseam, and after a while it just feels like filler to stretch the story out. An okay book that could’ve done with better editing, and a little livening up.


Rosehead  by  Ksenia Anske  description:

Misunderstood and overmedicated, twelve-year-old Lilith Bloom finds the prospect of a grand family reunion decidedly dull… That is, until she discovers that the rose garden surrounding her grandfather’s Berlin mansion is, well, completely and utterly carnivorous. Armed with Panther, her talking pet whippet, and the help of the mute boy next door, Lilith must unravel the secrets behind the mysterious estate, all while her family remains gloriously unaware that they are about to be devoured.

Rosehead  2 STARS

In many ways this reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Where it’s only Lilith and Ed who see the truth of the sinister garden and her grandfather, while all the adults are oblivious and think the children are lying, and toss in Lilith’s use of “big words” and you can’t help but see the similarities. In most ways this really reads like a Young Readers book. It’s fun and fanciful with a possibly murderous garden and talking dogs, and it’s kids saving the day. However, it’s almost like Anske isn’t sure if she wants it to be for young readers or adults as she delves into topics that seem a bit too mature and out of place for the tale. Such as Lilith’s parents putting her own medications and arguing over what they see as a mental disability. It’s practically borderline abusive. Then the talk of suicide and so much death. Even how Lilith talks, while it’s nice for her to sound intelligent for her age, it’s off putting how much she just doesn’t sound like a kid at times. What ultimately dropped it stars was in part the typos, which aren’t too many, but they’re noticeable. And the somewhat repetitiveness of the characters going over the same ground again and again, both figuratively and literally. But more so, it’s basically solved from the get-go, there’s no real build, there’s no spooky hints to create a sense of mystery, it’s more about Lilith knowing what’s really going on and everyone thinking she’s completely insane. It makes it a bit frustrating to get through.

A Girl in Black and White

BOOK 1: A Girl Named Calamity  by  Danielle Lori

A Girl in Black and White   description:

My once upon a time didn’t end with happily ever after—but with blood-stained hands and cold blue eyes. The story of my life had been laid beneath my feet since childhood, but until death, I’d never known that road was paved with stones called lies.

In this city of sun and heat, cloaked in dark, both inside and out, I became somebody other than Farm Girl. There was no assassin behind my back. No, my shackles were just as tight but came in a different form.

Like Death’s icy fingers running down my spine, the ones that had gripped me for months, my past haunted my present in the guise of nostalgia. My old chains still left marks on my skin, their owner’s gaze following behind. But he didn’t know I lived. He didn’t know I was so close, that I heard his name spoken every day. That I still hated him. Until my hate started tasting suspiciously different.

One mistake and everything I’d created unraveled. A liar. Corruptor. He stood in front of me now. The air was heavy with expectation, tense with the possibilities of how this would unfold, of what he would do.

But there was always two sides to every story, and maybe in this version, the corruptor wasn’t him, but me.

BOOK 2: A Girl in Black and White   5 STARS

I really enjoyed the first book, but wow this one was a total step up. It’s nearly a year after the end of the first book, and a lot has happened in this time, and during such Calamity has clearly matured. She’s also started figuring out her powers, as well as the truth about her life, her mother, and all the plans her grandmother had for her. While it initially bothered me how much of the first book turns out to be a facade, hiding basically all of the truth and everyone’s intentions to the extent that by the end of this book it feels like everything was just a lie. It’s also sort of amazing to read a book that pulls it off so well that by the end you’re just stunned into silence and wondering where the hell you can get the next book, because you need it right now. Everything, from the Sisterhood she’s being forced into, the return of the Untouchable Prince, as well as Weston who is still just such a psycho murderous dreamboat, is all so perfectly laid out and balanced to make for a book you can’t put down. I glad so many of the characters that I loved from the first book make an appearance, but I also enjoyed the fact that since this all takes place in one city this time we get a full new cast of different sorts of people and all the interactions and relationships that have formed around Calamity. It makes for a very involved plot with so many possibilities. But mostly I loved the development of her relationship with Weston, and how it no longer feels like a silly girl with a crush, but an actual woman dealing with feelings she has for a man she knows she shouldn’t have feelings for. Altogether a great book.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker description:

‘Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window’

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

Dracula   5 STARS

You know that scene in a horror movie when it gets dark and ominous music begins to play and you know that at any moment the killer is going to suddenly appear and murder everyone in a horrible fashion. That intense build up, and the anxiety of wondering exactly when you’re going to be scared, because you already know it’s coming. That’s this entire book. I had to take breaks at times to read some short stories that were a bit lighter, because the unnerving fear for the characters, as we the reader know what’s happening, could be a bit much at times. However, it’s easy to see why this is a classic, and how it has inspired others to delve into the dark world of vampires. Though, considering I’ve mainly read paranormal romance, it’s a bit disconcerting to see how the original was so completely evil. The vampires in this are soulless, not misunderstood, and kill children and anyone that gets in their way without remorse. More so, it’s incredible all the powers they are given, not just immortality and strength, but real mystical sort of powers, that I wish hadn’t been pushed off to the side in the other stories I’ve read. Beyond all of that though, I don’t believe I have ever come across a story written in this style, and it was this style that really made the tale such an intriguing one. Sure there have been plenty who have done rotating first person, but this is told in pieces of people’s diaries, the letters they’ve written to others, and even newspaper clippings. You’re getting the events after the characters have experience them and have pondered over them, as they try to understand what exactly is going on. Because of this you get to see how it all slowly melds together, and what each character really is thinking, and a much more personal aspect of the story that allows you to really feel for each of them as if these were actual historical letters that someone has stitched together. And I do so hope people were ever like this, this goodness and bravery and the way in which they talk so passionately about everything. It’s really a wonderful book. Though I would advise getting a version that has footnotes to explain certain things. Such as words that are no longer used in this way. As well as some of things that are referenced. I’m sure you could easily enjoy this book without such, but it was rather nice to have.

The Silkworm Book vs Show


After The Cuckoo’s Calling diverged from the book as much as it did, I really didn’t know what would become of The Silkworm, a book which was even better than the first. Upon hearing it would have only 2 episodes when at least Cuckoo had 3, my expectations dropped even further, for this book was far more complicated than the first. However, while it definitely doesn’t follow the first book from beginning to end in the same manner, it did keep the important parts and simply melded events into a more efficient manner. While Strike might have got different information from the same person at different times, they instead would have it happen in one conversation. And of course the things the characters would’ve simply have been thinking about and worried over are brought out in conversation in different ways, so that the viewers could get hints of the same issues the likes of Strike and Robin were dealing with.

Though I find it strange they still find a reason to do silly things like change names. Michael Fancourt from the book is now Andrew Fancourt in the show. I’d really like to know the logic behind such changes. Yet that’s a small complaint that can be overlooked, even if it’s strange. I think the most interesting part is how they did flashes of what one would be envisioning while reading Bombyx Mori, and if you recall what it was about you can imagine how disturbing it would be. But they did it in a way where you get the idea of how twisted the book is, while not overdoing it. Though they definitely didn’t shy away from the grisly murder scene.

It’s also a bit of a switch up how they’re making Matthew out to be so much more sympathetic and nice, when in the books he’s not exactly the best and often shows how little he thinks of her job and Cormoran. Of course if Galbraith goes against my wishes, and Robin and Matthew stay together, perhaps it’d be better to shine a good light on him. However, the biggest change there really was from book to show was the cutting out of characters like Pippa, which alters a lot of the story, and Nina, which wasn’t as big a deal. As well as diminishing Kathryn Kent’s role to barely a conversation. It makes it much less likely that you would get the little clues that lead to the killer. Even, if I’m being honest, I didn’t quite catch them until my second read through the book. So while I think the ending of the story does appear to come out of left field at you from the show’s point of view, altogether I think it was a much better representation of the book than the last episodes were.

Betrayal (Sea Assassins)

Betrayal by Danielle Hardgrave  description:

On a calm November evening, a ship disappears off the coast of Washington without a trace…

When Darcy Davies finds a handsome man washed up on the beach, he’s three things: injured, naked, and rude. And he’s got a few demands. Somewhere safe. No hospital.
Tell no one.

While Darcy takes him in, she’s no fool. She knows he was involved in whatever happened at sea that night. But is he a victim or a villain? One thing’s for certain—even if he’s not a danger to her person, this sexy stranger is a danger to her heart.

Gabriel Barnes can’t tell which is more of a pain in his side—the curvy brunette who plucked him off the beach, or the literal pain in his side.
Gabriel’s secret will be hard to keep in such close quarters, especially with injuries that are healing much too fast. But he’s got bigger problems.

It wasn’t an accident that brought him here.
It was a betrayal.

BOOK 1: Betrayal   3 STARS

The best part of this book is how it steps away from the pack. It’s not the same ol’ werewolf and vampire sort of books, though it is in the same world as those stories that Hardgrave has already told. I have definitely never read about shark shifters before, and I liked that they’re not even like other shifters out there. It makes sense as they point out that others are changing from one mammal to another, while they’re basically turning into a fish. This makes for an interesting new look into the world of myth and magic. The biggest step away is that this isn’t like some misunderstood vampire or giant fuzzy werewolf that has the loyalty of a dog. These sharks are cold blooded killers and are raised to be such from the beginning. They don’t even like each other, and have a hard time understanding the softer side of humanity. Gabriel is a killer, and Hardgrave does lessen the severity of such a life style by having him go after folks who are just as bad as him, but it’s still a whole other world and not exactly one anyone would want to get mixed up in. Which is probably why I did like Darcy so much, because she’s a no-nonsense sort of woman. She helps him, in what he sees as greed, because she knows money will help get things that need doing done. She isn’t some sweet damsel in distress wooed by the bad boy vibe, even if she finds him attractive. She’s got her own plans that she’s striving for, and it really does make for a good match. My main problem is that this story is short, and so you don’t get the development or view into this world that would really help make it more real and understandable. Worse though, was the typos and grammatical errors. No they’re not horrible but they do stick out like a sore thumb, and another read through would’ve really helped this story out a lot.

However, it was nice to learn that permie is short for permanent, as in a human that’s always a human.

The Cuckoo’s Calling Book vs Show


It’s no secret now that The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith is actually written by J.K. Rowling. Now anyone who read her Harry Potter books and then saw the movies know how well they were kept to the original novels, and so you might be surprised by how much is changed from the book to the TV show in this case. In some cases it makes sense to alter or cut certain scenes in order to get you the information you needed to follow this mystery, but not hear the same repeated information over and over. Also some things have to just be said since, obviously, we’re not in the characters mind like you are in the book. However, the fact that they made it into a TV show should’ve allowed them the ability and time to truly explore this mystery as it was meant to be. After all, a movie can reasonably only be so long, but a TV show can be rather long in length as well as have several episodes to continue the story.

Now there’s the fact that some have complained that the characters don’t quite look how they were described, but that’s not really something to worry about. Robin Ellacott, played by Holliday Grainger, is perhaps the best match there is out of the cast. Not only does she look as she was described in the story, the actress does a great job of getting across the barely contained excitement Robin felt at the opportunity to help a Private Detective actually solve a case. She’s fun and likeable, and does justice to the character. Oddly enough, they diminished her role in solving the case. Such as the fact she’s the one who figured out how to find Rochelle, rather than that scene of Cormoran stealing a file from a previous residence. Which also led to a rearranging of events that had him interviewing Rochelle before he went to Vashti, it’s no wonder she didn’t stick around for questioning, he wouldn’t even have known the right questions to ask. Which is further kerfuffled by the fact they completely leave off his main line of questioning, what was the blue paper Lula was seen with the day she died?

Speaking of which, Tom Burke, as Cormoran Strike, was a casting I wasn’t too happy about when I first heard of it. He’s not the looming giant that takes up too much space and has not too attractively described facial features topped with hair that was likened to pubes. However, Burke does a good job of coming across with a gruff demeanor that’s softened by the few self deprecating smiles. He makes you believe that he has a prosthetic leg in his movements, something they rather flaunt, which is as it should be considering it is an obstacle for him at times in cases where he might attempt to follow someone, or even just struggle to make it up stairs. Altogether his acting has brought the character to life. My one complaint really is that he does on occasion mumble so that it’s hard to understand what he’s saying. Regardless, the two main characters, and perhaps the most important considering they’re the ones that’ll keep popping up, do well. And luckily they didn’t feel the need to add any romance that wasn’t there in the book, and kept their relationship very professional, which is one of the things that I do so love about this duo.

The rest aren’t exactly too far off their marks, at least not enough to really change anything. Though strangely they renamed Kieran Klovas-Jones to Nico, even while they kept his story exactly the same. Then there is Lula’s boyfriend, Evan Duffield, who in no way looks the part of a pretty boy. Once again, his part is so small as to not really detract from the show itself.

However, I was surprised that some characters were cut. Those like John Bristow’s girlfriend, Alison, and DI Carver don’t really make much of a difference to the plot and it’s reasonable to cut characters like that so you don’t have too many cluttering up the show. After all a book has plenty of time to delve into a variety of characters, while a total of 3 hours of TV really don’t. Yet in the case of combining characters like with the actual woman Tony Landry was having an affair with and Tansy, it does cause a bit of an upset to the story for a number of reasons. Such as how Cormoran comes to discover some info and what really is going on in Tansy’s life. As well as they made Guy Some come off as playing the gruff and rude demeanor that was really more of how Freddie Bestigui was set up, especially with how they ended up being able to talk to Guy Some. Once more it was an unnecessary change, and greatly altered the story.

While it’s not a bad thing to not necessarily know exactly what will happen next when it comes to a murder mystery, it does feel like this show hasn’t quite done the best it could to live up to the core of what really made the novel so wonderful. It felt rushed through, and at times it was as if they were just jamming the few characters they kept into random places to help make sense of the story that they’d chopped up and simplified perhaps too much. No there’s no need to have a similar conversation with one character to enforce facts that another character has already given us just to keep true to the book, but in a way they let characters give too much straightforward info that took away a lot of the ingenuity that makes Cormoran Strike such a wonderful detective, because of the truth that he’s able to dig out of the scattered and broken facts he’s given.

On its own it’s not a bad show as many a reviewer has established. I enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely watch whatever more is to come. However, in comparison with the book, it comes up a bit short, and that saddens me.