Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life

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Title: Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

A somewhat funny collection of short stories about Dahl’s time living in the English country side and some friendships he made there. If you only know him from his children’s books, like Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, then you’re in for a shock. The first story is about a cow he owned that needed to be serviced by a bull. Quite funny, but definitely not for kids! The last story about pheasant poaching was the funniest.

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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.

Currently reading

I’ve been so focused on my writing that I haven’t been reading much this month. But I do have my current books I want to tell you about!

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This one is a true crime story called Goat Castle. It’s about the murder of an heiress in Mississippi. I got it from Net Galley and it sounds really good; however, I haven’t gotten far enough into it to tell for sure. Here’s the description though:

In 1932, the city of Natchez, Mississippi, reckoned with an unexpected influx of journalists and tourists as the lurid story of a local murder was splashed across headlines nationwide. Two eccentrics, Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery–known in the press as the -Wild Man- and the -Goat Woman—enlisted an African American man named George Pearls to rob their reclusive neighbor, Jennie Merrill, at her estate. During the attempted robbery, Merrill was shot and killed. The crime drew national coverage when it came to light that Dana and Dockery, the alleged murderers, shared their huge, decaying antebellum mansion with their goats and other livestock, which prompted journalists to call the estate – Goat Castle.

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The second book I’m reading is by an author I first found through book club. If you follow my blog you know I’m not always a fan of our book club picks, but we read The All Girl’s Filling Stations Reunion by Fannie Flagg and it was so much fun. This one is called Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven and it is set in the fictional town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri and I’m loving it. I’m about 1/3 of the way in. It was one of my thrift store finds this month and I’m glad I picked it up. These are great books for when you’re in the mood for a light, funny read. They’d be a lot of fun on audio too.

Combining southern warmth with unabashed emotion and side-splitting hilarity, Fannie Flagg takes readers back to Elmwood Springs, Missouri, where the most unlikely and surprising experiences of a high-spirited octogenarian inspire a town to ponder the age-old question: Why are we here?

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Which brings me to my last book, The Execution of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a collection of five Holmes-inspired short stories. The first one has Holmes kidnapped and awaiting his execution on “crimes” against a criminal gang. Basically it was a locked room escape story, and I really liked it. I didn’t like the second story about cracking some code – boring to listen to – but the rest have been good. I’m listening to this one in the car and it’s been very interesting.

 

 

That’s what I’m reading. I have a few I need to get to soon, including looking through MY book club pick, Daughter of a Pirate King. What are you reading? Are you liking it? Let me know!

Monsters I Have Known: Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

35534791 Title: Monsters I Have Known: A Collection of Short Stories

Author: Jess Hartley

Genre: paranormal, thriller, and horror short stories

Synopsis:

Come take a walk in the shadows alongside award-winning writer/editor/novelist, Jess Hartley, as she leads you through 13 intriguing tales of monstrous beings – supernatural or otherwise. In this, Hartley’s first solo anthology, readers will find a broad offering of genres – horror, romance, steampunk, fantasy and more – including her never-before-published murder mystery novella – Love Never Dies. Monsters I Have Known collects both well-loved favorites from previously published anthologies and never-before-seen fiction, presenting them with insightful introductions to share with readers some of the circumstances surrounding each story’s creation. A must-have introduction for those new to Hartley’s work.

My review:

Wow, what a great collection of stories. I’m not normally a fan of horror, but I love a good spooky ghost story. When I was approached to review this book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I’m glad I took a chance.

It’s hard to pick which story I liked best, but the first one, Love Never Dies, was the longest. In this one, the main character finds herself walking up the beach to her house. Nothing feels right, but it’s only her and her husband. What could be wrong?

My favorite story was Immaterial Witness. Liz gives tours in Bisbee, Arizona, the most haunted town in America. She gets a chance to be on a podcast, but the slimy host has plans of his own. He wants all the dirt, but Liz has a big secret. She can see ghosts, and she’s not about to expose them to a third-rate journalist looking to exploit the dead. Really good story.

This month is a perfect time for this collection. You should totally check this one out. It’s available on Amazon.

Nice Assortment

jeevesandwoosterYou know those boxes of assorted chocolate candy you get? You never know what’s in there – could be a chocolate cream, could be a caramel, could be a nougat. You can’t tell until you bite into it.

That’s a lot like this book I just read, Death at the Excelsior and Other Stories by PG Wodehouse. I figured I would enjoy it, since after all, it’s PG Wodehouse. For you folks who are new to the author, he writes the brilliant Jeeves and Wooster series which has been so perfectly acted by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Jeeves is the perfect “gentleman’s gentleman” and Wooster is the happy go lucky guy who gets into trouble as easy as breathing. I’ve read J & W books, and loved them, but a book of short stories was more my speed this week.

I’m so glad I did read it. The first story, Death at the Excelsior, was actually a mystery. I’ve never read a mystery by Wodehouse, so this was a first. I enjoyed it. The rest were more or less romantic comedies, including two features Jeeves & Wooster which I had seen on TV before, but never read.

If you are stressed, or need a laugh, I completely recommend this book. Even better, I got it for FREE from Amazon here. And if you want to watch the show, this link will take you there. Check your library to see if they have it for free.

Still by CM Bohn

Original story by me

It was after visiting hours when Karen pulled into the parking lot, but she knew no one would say anything. They hadn’t said a word when she brought a treat yesterday. What did it matter at this point?

The room was quiet and dim when she got there. The light from the silent television gave the room a strange moving glow. As she looked at the still figure on the bed, Karen felt her pulse throb in her throat. She couldn’t move from the doorway. Her fingers went icy cold. Then he stirred and opened his eyes, and Karen almost fell over.

“Hey, Karrie-Girl. How’s my pretty girl?” Dad asked. “Come in and sit down.”

She entered, scooting a chair closer to the bed, and sat. “Hey, Dad. Did I wake you?”

“I was just resting. You can turn that damn thing off if you want to. The nurses keep turning it on when they come in.”

Karen found the TV remote and turned it off.

“That’s better. Just you this time?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to see my Daddy.”

He smiled then, but it was a pale imitation of his old grin. Her stomach clenched a little, but she ignored it.

“How are you feeling tonight?” she asked.

“I’m fine. Kind of sleepy.”

Karen looked around the room. The cookie crumbs had been cleaned up. Yesterday she had been taken with an urgent need to make oatmeal raisin cookies. She’d eaten half a dozen as they came out of the oven, still warm and tasting of cinnamon. When she brought the kids to the hospital that afternoon, her son had insisted they bring cookies for Grandpa.

But when they got there, Dad shared the plate around, urging the kids to help themselves. The kids were happy to dig in. Karen watched her dad until he finished one cookie, the last one on the plate. She knew he wasn’t eating the hospital food. But he seemed to enjoy the cookie.

“Are you thirsty, Dad?” she asked, handing him a mug of water. He managed a few sips.

“My Karrie-Girl.” He patted her hand.

She clasped her fingers around his. His hand felt dry and shriveled, like it was withering away. She clung to it as they talked.

They talked about old times and laughed a little. Their voices were nearly lost in the murmur of machines, the conversation in the hall, the sounds from the parking lot. After a few minutes chat, the room grew quiet. Everything important had been said long ago. Karen laid her head down on his chest and he stroked her hair with his feather-light hands. She closed her eyes and prayed. But no tears.

In the days to come, when the phone call came, through the funeral and the lunch after, during the cleanup; she knew that half of herself remained there in that room, still sitting in that chair, still feeling the feather-light touch of his hand, still stroking her hair.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

22304616._SY540_Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy/Horror Novella

Silence is an innkeeper, but if you’re thinking of a friendly, garrulous sort who likes to gossip with the patrons, you’re far off. Silence is grim. Most folks are pretty grim, here on the outskirts of the forest. She’s also a bounty hunter, and between both jobs, she’s barely making enough to provide for her 14 year old daughter and her ward. Now she’s heard of a fat bounty on a known criminal, currently sitting downstairs in her tavern.

Silence and her daughter William Ann wait for the right moment, then follow to get the bounty. They’ll have to track a whole group of men, kill them, and bring back the body of the one they want, all without getting killed by the men or attacked by the shadows who dwell in the forest.

Of the two, the forest shadows are far more deadly. One touch and you’ll start to wither. Only silver can stop you from becoming like them. There are rules to keep you safe, but even when you follow the rules, there’s never any guarantee. But Silence needs that bounty.

Sanderson is really one of my favorite writers. I loved how he painted such a vivid picture of a grim world and a tough woman determined to keep her family together no matter what it took. Haunting and mesmerizing, you have to read this one.

Review: London Road

Title: London Road, Linked Stories Volume 1

Author: Tessa Smith McGovern

Setting: London, present day

Theme: second chances, family, mental health, love

This little book starts with Janice, recently released from prison for manslaughter with no plans and no friends. She’s heard vaguely about a boarding house that will take in people like her, so she heads that way. It turn out to be a lucky break.

All these stories are short, each focusing on just one person, and just little glimpses into one day of the life of the residents of the London Road boarding house. But together, those glimpses add up to a complex picture. I quite liked this book and I would love to read more by this author.

Review: The Tuesday Club Murders

Title: The Tuesday Club Murders or The 13 Problems (Miss Marple #2)

Author: Agatha Christie

Setting: England 1930s or so

Format: physical book

Plot: Author Raymond West is staying with his aunt in the country. One evening at a dinner with friends, he proposes that they each relate a mystery, then see who can come up with the best solution to the story. To his surprise, sweet little Aunt Jane wins every time.

Reaction: I love Miss Marple. I always pictured her as a sweet, white-haired lady with “a mind like a steel trap,” as a police acquaintance says. Now that I’ve seen the mysteries with Joan Hickson in the role, I can’t imagine anyone else. She’s deceptively mild, but oh, what a wicked tongue she has when she wants to. Miss Marple was always very much a gentlewoman, but not always a gentle woman.

While I prefer the longer books like The Body in the Library, the nice thing about the short stories is that you can pick them up when you just have a few minutes to read and then put it down again without worrying about remembering where you were in the story next time. I’ve been working on rereading this one for a couple of months, and I never felt any rush to finish, just a bit of happiness every time I picked it up.

My favorite story is the one told by glamorous actress Jane Hillyer of a burglary. If you haven’t read Miss Marple before, I think I’d recommend starting with the first one, Murder at the Vicarage.

Read Harder Book 1

Title: Future Worlds: A Science Fiction Anthology

Authors: Various, my favorite was Michael Darling

Read Harder Challenge Task #21: Read a book published by a micropress: Future World Publishing

This was a collection of several short stories that I got through Kickstarter, and I have to say I found it disappointing overall. The only story I really loved was by Michael Darling. It features a couple of performers traveling together on tour, when Harry meets an audience member who won’t play along.

The rest of the stories were a mixed bag, and while some of them were good, there were all basically commercials for full length series. Why did I pay so much for this when it was mostly advertising? I would recommend this one mostly for those who want to discover a new series without reading a whole book. I did find a couple I want to read more of.