Top 10 Tuesday – Sherlock Holmes

I’m kind of struggling with my blog this month. I’m so focused on NaNoWriMo and writing my book that I don’t have much brain left for anything else! But lists are always fun, so I decided to come up with some list today, and since I’m reading a Sherlock Holmes book right now I thought I would create a list of my 10 favorite stories about Sherlock Holmes.

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  1. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Always start with the original. There are problems here, that’s for sure. Doyle didn’t do rewrites so there were plenty of errors that didn’t get fixed. When it comes to creating an iconic character, though, Doyle got it exactly right.
  2. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. The only retelling that created an original character who can stand up to Holmes and Watson. Mary Russell makes the perfect transition from the Victorian world into the modern. I love the whole series, but start from the beginning.
  3. The House of Silk by Antony Horowitz. He sticks close to the original but comes up with a new story. Great job.
  4. The Seven Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer. Amazing twist on the whole Moriarty thing. Confronts one of the most troubling aspects of Holmes’s story.
  5. The West End Horror by Nicholas Meyer and —
  6. Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye. Both of these take advantage of the fact that Holmes worked during the time when Jack the Ripper was operating.
  7. The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer. This kid’s book is not so much about Sherlock Holmes as about his younger sister, invented cleverly here by the author. Very fun series.
  8. Sherlock Holmes through Time and Space, edited by Isaac Asimov. There are so many short stories that revolve around Holmes that it’s hard to pick one. But I *loved* the idea behind this one. Why limit such a great character to Victorian England? Even to Earth. Holmes as a robot, Holmes in space – why not!
  9. Moriarty by Antony Horowitz – I already reviewed this one here. Amazing. Amazing! You have to read this one. Listen to this one instead of reading it.
  10. A Three Pipe Problem by Julian Symons. This one takes on an actor who plays Holmes. He starts having a few problems with telling reality from the role.

Hope this list has given you Sherlock Holmes fans some ideas for further reading. If you’re not a fan already, I’d say start with the short stories. They are lots of fun.

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10 Spooky Stories

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It’s dark and spooky out there. And only going to get darker and spookier.

Why not stay inside in a nice warm room and read? I’ve got some suggestions here for some perfect books to fit the season. Let’s start with the family friendly stuff before getting into the truly terrifying, shall we?

  1. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Honestly, my kids found this much less scary when they were young. But when they got older – that sewing on buttons instead of eyes?! Pretty freaking horrifying.
  2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, also by Neil Gaiman. More atmospheric than truly scary, but a lovely ending. Perhaps more late summer than fall.
  3. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker. All four seasons in one day. Sounds charming, but maybe a little too possessive?
  4. 163919 Full Tilt by Neil Shusterman. An evil carnival. Still appropriate for this time of year, and as a bonus, let me include Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury if you’ve never read that one. Both get right inside your head.
  5. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Odd sees ghosts. Mostly it’s guys like Elvis. But sometimes they’re not so friendly.
  6. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. This one makes you think more than scares you, but it’s so good that it’s worth reading.
  7. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Timely and terrifying.
  8. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. Who are they and why do they come in winter?
  9. The Keep by Paul F. Wilson. When even the Nazis are afraid, you know there’s trouble.
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker. If you haven’t read the original, you’ve got to do it. So. Creepy.

That’s my list for this time of month. None of them are very new, with the exception of Lovecraft Country, but there good scary reads all the same. What’s on your list?

September Wrap-Up

September is over! I’m so glad summer is over! I feel like this year has flown by. It’s definitely been a better year than last year for me. And this was a pretty good month, for reading and other stuff. Here’s a look at what I read this month, and best of each category.

Audiobooks

It has been the year of the audiobook for me! And this month was no exception.

  • Frogkisser by Garth Nix – 4 stars, review here
  • Newt’s Emerald, also by Garth Nix – 4 stars, review here
  • The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner – 5 stars!!!
  • American Colonies by Alan Taylor – 3.4 stars, review here
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – 5 stars, review here
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon – 4.2 stars
  • The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton – 4 stars, review here

Lots of great choices this time. I actually have 2 books with 5 star ratings, and I’m torn between the two. TQOA was a reread, but AMCO was new to me. Still, I love Eugenides the Thief so much, I have to give the award to that one.

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Graphic Novels

Only one this time, Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon. Only rating it 3 stars, although it got higher marks from other folks. Still, I’m glad I read it. Review here.

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ARCS and Review Books

Two finished this month, and I didn’t like either one.

  • Trust in Axion by Bruce Meyer, 1.5 stars, review here
  • Darkwater: Xenkur Chonricles by DW Johnson, 1 star, review here

 

Challenges

This month was my Off the Shelf Challenge, to clear out some of my TBR books around the house and off my Kindle queue. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped – those darn library books were just so tempting. (Maybe if I actually stayed out of the library it would have helped, right?)

  • Passage by Connie Willis, 4.3 stars
  • Enchanted by KM Shea, 4 stars
  • The Dragon Man by Garry Disher, 2.2 stars, review here
  • The Pierced Heart by Lynn Shepherd, DNF
  • Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen by Bill Crider, 3.75 stars, review here
  • Something New by PG Wodehouse, 3.5 stars

Not bad, but not great. Still, the winner was Passage, solid sci-fi by the master. I haven’t done a review yet, but it was really good.

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Library Books

Yeah, I meant to stay out of the library all together, but I sneaked in at the end of August and didn’t get around to reading the books until this month, so here they are.

  • Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews, 3.5 stars
  • Die Like an Eagle, also by Donna Andrews, 3.3 stars

It doesn’t matter much, here, but I liked the Halloween setting of the first book slightly better than the second. Still, both are recommended if you like funny mysteries. Reviews here.

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So that was my month in books! I’m currently STILL reading The Queens of the Conquest (it’s going to kill me!), plus Nation by Terry Pratchett on audio, and a fantasy/myth anthology. No definite plans for October other than maybe some spooky fare. We’ll see. What was your favorite book this month?

Update on Book Riot Challenge

*1. Read a book about sports. Done! Psmith in the City, cricket. by P G Wodehouse.

*2. Read a debut novel. Done! Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

*3. Read a book about books. Done! End of Chapter, mystery about publishing company.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. – still looking!

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. A Hope More Powerful than the Sea

*6. Read an all-ages comic. Done! American Born Chinese

*7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. Done! Cakes and Ale, published 1930

*8. Read a travel memoir. Done! Three Singles to Adventure, to Guyana.

*9. Read a book you’ve read before. Done! Murder Over Easy, read first in 2007

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. – Desert Solitaire, Utah

*11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. Done! The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, Malaysia/China

*12. Read a fantasy novel. Done! The Spirit Thief by Rachel Bach

*13. Read a nonfiction book about technology. – currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about medicine and cell therapy

*14. Read a book about war. Done! Valiant Ambition, about American Revolution

*15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. Done! Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig

*16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.  Done! Animal Farm, by George Orwell

17. Read a classic by an author of color. – Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley or Native Son by Richard Wright

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead. – either Spider Woman or Daughters of the Dragon

*19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey Done! The House of the Scorpion

*20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean) Done! Also Last Seen Leaving

*21. Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay) Done! Future Worlds, A Science Fiction Anthology, published by Future World Publishing

*22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng)  Done! Miss Marple by Agatha Christie

23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan) Beowulf

*24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi) Done! Black Panther, Number 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates

How about you folks? Is anyone else doing this challenge? If you are, what books have you read for the challenge? What do you have left?

10 Writing Mistakes That Really Bug Me!

I’ve been reading more indie fiction, and one thing about indie books, they don’t always have great editing. I get it; editors cost money. If you’ve signed with a publishing firm, they pay for all that. But if you’re self-published, you have to pay for it for yourself.

I’m sure it’s hard to come up with the money for that before anyone has even bought a single copy of your book. But it’s money well spent. Having a good editor can be the difference between a book that makes me want finish so I can recommend it to all my friends and one that I am happy to put off reading for something better.

In the spirit of helping, here are 10 writing mistakes that I have noticed that really mark your work as something that could have used an editor.

  1. Typos. These are so obvious, but they are so very annoying. It’s one thing on the internet, but when you’ve released a book? They make it look like a junior high project.
  2. Spelling mistakes. This goes along with the first one, but it has to be said again. This time I’m including the mistakes that spell check doesn’t pick up, but are still wrong.
  3. Forgetting a character’s name. Hello! Make a cheat sheet or something. But calling a character by one name in one page and something else on another page? That’s sloppy.
  4. You’re/your, it’s/its. Contractions are for when you leave a letter out. If you’re (hint) not sure, look it up. Or get that editor to do it for you!
  5. Too many dialogue tags. Oh, and using something besides “said” when you do use one. Occasionally replied, or asked, or complained, is acceptable, but mostly use said. And mostly leave it off. We don’t need it.
  6. Overusing characters’ names. Obviously you have to do it sometimes but there’s a balance. Too much and it becomes awkward and clunky.
  7. Either too much action or too much dialogue or too much interior monologue. The best books have a mix of all three. Readers want action, but they need a slow space to catch their breath, to think and figure stuff out, to bond with the characters, and to figure out what the characters are thinking. But too much of any one of these three elements and the book doesn’t work.
  8. No subplots. That’s a real difference I see between beginning writers (like me, I admit it) and more polished writers. Beginners are focused on just one plot. But that can make a book too predictable. The best writers create depth by adding subplots and characters with back stories that engage the reader.
  9. Black and white writing. Characters that are all good or all bad. People in real life are very seldom like that, so reading about people like that is just boring. Give your characters reasons to behave they way they do and people will love them more.
  10. Not listening to your editor. Once you have paid your editor, or begged your friends or writing group, to read and reread your work, take their advice. I’m not saying everything they say has to be adhered to, but if you ask someone for help, take the help they offer. Make the changes. Even if it means starting over. Your work will be stronger in the end.

5 People You’d Like to Meet

2626492Has this happened to you? You’re reading a book, and suddenly, you find a character that becomes more than a character, they become a person. They become real. You know what they look like, what they sound like, how they act, even how they think. And you think, ‘Yeah, I’d totally like to meet that person.’

So I’ve come up with my list of 5 people – and it was not easy to get it down to just five – that I need to meet. I don’t know if it’s a dinner party thing, or hanging out, or a long heart to heart conversation, but I need to meet these people. Like, really.

 

  1. Carswell Thorne, Cress by Marissa Meyer. You know you wanted to add him to your list, but I got him first. OK, you can add him too. Yes, Wolf is fiercer, Scarlet is more bad ass, Cress is more adorable, but Carswell is the one we all want to meet.
  2. Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter series by J K Rowling. She’s tough, but she has such a dry sense of humor. I’m dying to know what she really thought about things. If she would let her hair down and really open up, you know she has some great stories to tell. I would LOVE to hear them all.
  3. Hermes, Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan. He doesn’t get as much ink as Ares or Poseidon, but he seems like a fascinating guy. What makes him tick? What’s it really like there on Olympus? I want to know!
  4. Sazed, Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Sazed is this awesome figure in the series who supports everyone and learns and studies and plans and goes through all this stuff and then his story just takes this astounding turn right at the very end! I loved him so much.
  5. Rapunzel, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale. I love steampunk, and this feisty version of our heroine is so much fun. She’s just so real and so much more believable than the Brothers Grimm version who just waits in a tower for some dude to come rescue her. This one rocks and I love her!

So I’m tagging anyone who wants to use this meme because I really want to see what someone else comes up with! Have a great weekend, readers!

 

Top 10 Tuesday

Inspired my recent read, A Lady in the Smoke, which features a railway doctor, I thought I would give my Top 10 Books on Medicine that I would recommend. These are mostly non-fiction, but include some fiction as well.

  1. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This one is about cancer, and it’s a truly impressive book from start to finish. I was amazed at the amount of research that went into this. I read it after my dad passed away from cancer, and yet I found it an inspiration to read about all the people who are working so hard to find treatments and one day, even a cure.
  2. In Reckless Hands: Skinner V. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of American Eugenics by Victoria F. Nourse. If the last book inspired me, this one enraged me. Eugenics was a big movement for a shockingly long time which culminated in Nazi experiments in the prison camps. But it was big here in the US as well, and could have become law if not for a landmark court case.
  3. The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby. I’ve read a lot of epidemic books, and this is my favorite on yellow fever. I tell you, you’ll be swatting mosquitoes a lot harder after this book!
  4. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic by Gay Salisbury. This is another great one to read this summer when you’re sweltering in the heat. Read about the race through blizzards to get a diphtheria antidote to an isolated community in Alaska and you’ll feel so thankful for vaccines and for air conditioning both.
  5. Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug by Diarmuid Jeffreys. From its discovery to Bayer’s shameful Nazi connections to modern research, this covers everything.
  6. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. I really liked the way this book organized, a chapter for every pair of chromosomes, and a gene from every chromosome. It’s not even a little comprehensive, but it was compelling reading.
  7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Lacks was a poor Black woman who died of cancer, but her cells live on in research that has saved hundreds of lives. However, that raises questions about the rights of patients in this book that’s now a movie.
  8. The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters. I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries, but this one is my favorite in the series. Not only is the mystery compelling, but the description of the nursing among the lepers in England, of the disease and its effects is truly moving.
  9. An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. This one is big. But it’s my favorite look at 17th century medicine. It was a time of great discovery, but also a time of superstition and prejudice. Told from multiple POV, it makes the story more complex.
  10. The Physician by Noah Gordon. An orphan is driven by an urgent need to know how the body works. He makes his way to medieval Palestine so he can study medicine and learn what there is to know.