Sunday, January 31, 2016

New World, New Time

Open me to your arms. I am one with the sky. Were it not the auroras of night bleeding onto my arms I would be exhaling rose petals. The light is our music. The sky is our dance floor. The moon is our singer and as you trace rose petals across my cheeks I kiss you. My kiss is made of light, the fires of the sun that had finished his dance of day long ago. For here it is always night. It never storms, but snows, and I watch as the flakes float down to dance with us. It is a clear night despite the snow and we are children. We are children entangled in this everlasting time. A time that never stops. A time whose meaning will be forever eternal in the fires that dot the night sky. I am alone in your arms, but being alone in your arms is the only loneliness I want. It is a lesson in spirituality. You are the lesson. It is impossible to be alone in the arms of another, and the beauty of the world often shows itself in moments like this. So, yes, I am alone, but I am one with you. And though that may be alone, as we are one, it is the most enlightening alone. The moon is bleeding stars as the song of crickets dies down and the sun bleeds onto our storybook page from another world. I take your hand. I will not go alone. Our kiss is one of farewell as we chase the light into the new world and a new time.

Review: The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls

The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls by John R. King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This novel fought hard for the position as my favorite Holmes pastiche - a position that currently belongs to a novel commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate (of which there are two books and I'm not revealing which one is my favorite) - with all of the hold-your-breath and heart-rending moments. It clearly was trying so hard and it just.... fell flat for me.
When you want to write a good tribute to a classic character, it has to be believable. It was believable, in the beginning. But if you want to write a Holmes pastiche, it's a really good idea to not let your imagination completely take over. The only Holmes story that had even a hint of ghosts turned out to have a perfectly logical explanation, and was true to the Holmes style, and this story veered off of the face of common sense and was no longer a feasible tribute to the great detective.
I enjoyed the return of Holmes and Moriarty, and I enjoyed Harry Silence - even though after a while I felt that that character was being a bit overused and I hoped Holmes would be fully restored.
I enjoyed Moriarty's memoir and understood why it had to be told and I liked the appearance of John Watson, though I would have liked to see Holmes reunite with him. (I understand why it didn't happen, but it bothered me that they were literally just paces away from reuniting and it didn't go through.)
A bit too fantastical to be a true Holmes story, but it kept me turning the pages, always anticipating what was to happen next.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sea of Words

I am floating in a sea of words. You are there, centered among the stars. The moon is alive and breathes light into the stars. Why us? For you are twirling in the wind as the moon sings lullabies. Why us? For there is a trail of stars as l climb the twilights of night, the auroras, as it rains rose petals made of stars. You hold me and I feel alone in the arms of another, for I am one with you. Why us? For we are children learning the waltz of the wind as the world dances along with us. As I sip the ever sweet drink of twilight you are beside me. For as we sleep in each other's arms the song of night bleeds into the song of day. The bird sings. The night lifts, yet the stars remain. We are one in this dance, this everlasting song.
And I kiss you one last time, and my kiss is made of stars. The world sighs as the birds depart with the receding night and bid us farewell.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Just a quick update!

You know, I was going through my goodreads reviews under Project Sherlock and I think I'm going to create a list of the best pastiches. I think I'll post them and invite opinions on how I rate and what even ends up getting rated. So far, I know which tribute is winning, but that could change.

I'll keep updating as this project continues to unfold!

Review: Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well. The crime was the of the darkest nature I've ever seen Holmes take on. I don't think I'll be able to keep anything down for a while.
Joking aside, this was good, but it missed the mark of perfection, at least for me. I was not surprised when the Ripper's true identity was revealed and I was repulsed by the nature of the crimes. I feel that the narrative was trying too hard to be exactly Conan Doyle, and the only mark of uniqueness on that part was the brutality of the crimes. I was not surprised when Holmes disappeared *cough* Anthony Horowitz *cough*. I've seen that angle and was not surprised when it turned up. I liked Miss Monk, however, and I was glad to see Holmes and Watson treating her with respect and concern, something not likely to be seen in this time period.
Despite all of these flaws, the novel did keep me turning the pages and eagerly awaiting whatever came next, and for that I am awarding it three stars.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I definitely enjoyed this. Mary Russell, a dauntless heroine, is likable despite her character flaws when matched up to Sherlock Holmes. It took her longer than I expected to decipher a message left by the antagonist, and I see that as a flaw that led up to the climax beautifully. I can't say much about the secrets revealed at the end, but I can admit that they shocked me. There were hints, ever-so-subtle hints, that caused the revelation to throw me completely off guard because they were so few and far in between.
And I loved her relationship with Holmes. Partners, yes, and maybe something more akin to family, albeit a strange one. At first I felt that the university chapters were annoying, but I liked the way King tied them into the overall mystery and how it added to the relationship of Russell and Holmes.
A suspenseful mystery with twists and turns abound and the ultimate, totally satisfying revelation that left me reeling.

All that said, I will not be continuing this series, at least not under Project Sherlock. There are way too many books in this series for that, and it wouldn't be fair. I want to see what other authors have done in tribute to Holmes.

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Review: Sherlock Holmes End Justifies?

Sherlock Holmes End Justifies? Sherlock Holmes End Justifies? by Cavenagh Tom Cavenagh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well. I did not see that ending coming, and that redeemed the book significantly in that I was able to award it one more star. I wish I could say that this book is on-par with the likes of Anthony Horowitz, but no such luck, I guess. It was a fun read, I enjoyed it, but I was far from in love with it. I pretty much knew the solution to the first mystery for the entire book. However, I did enjoy how Cavenaugh wrapped the second mystery up with the first one, so the crime was punishable and the loose ends were tied up nicely.
Overall, a quick, fun read that is enjoyable despite its flaws.

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Project Sherlock

I'm very excited - I honestly don't know why this didn't come to me when I read The House of Silk. I present Project Sherlock. I will first file Anthony Horowitz's fabulous tributes under the project (because the first novels to be endorsed by The Conan Doyle Estate in over one hundred years deserve as much). I don't know how far it will go, but I will do my best to get my hands on any Holmes tribute I can find.

Please keep in mind that I will not include ACD's original works in this, out of respect for the original creation of Holmes and Watson. That being said, I leave you with Sherlock and John.

"Come, Watson, come.... the game is afoot!" 

Review: Biplane

Biplane Biplane by Richard Bach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"What shall I be, this moment?"
I've been an avid Bach reader lately. I've read everything from Johnathon Livingston Seagull to A Gift of Wings.
Bach's Zen-like prose touches someone like me and seduces me into following the story through to the end. There is always some gem I find that I savor. Even when nothing seemed to occur in certain chapters of this book, I read on, entranced still by words, even if nothing significant happened in the codes of those words. I can't say that about many books I read, that the words alone entranced me, and that's why I enjoyed this as much as I did. A simple story of a journey, yet so much more at the same time.
However, I do not believe that this story is for everyone. Impatient readers may not enjoy this, because there's no action, mostly reflection. Those who practice mindfulness may enjoy this book more, due to Bach's highly spiritual views.
Overall, I enjoyed it and I think that a spiritual novel like this is one that can teach you great lessons - as long as you're willing to slow down and listen.
Highly recommended for the spiritual reader.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Nothing by Chance

Nothing by Chance Nothing by Chance by Richard Bach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unlike Richard Bach, I may never know the true freedom of flight. I used to think that flying was mainly commercial, that there was no way it was a hobby for anyone. Yet if you have the good fortune to fly a small, simple Wright, I consider you lucky. I'd never have the courage to do that.
Bach does his best to impress upon his readers the spirituality of flight, the freedom of the open air, and why the earth is not free in the same sense.
When I was younger and much more naive I thought that, as long as I was free, so was everyone else in the world. I now understand that I am not free, not really. Society has pinned me down and forced me, a nonconformist, to fulfill society's expectations. Yet, like Bach, I want to fly, even if I can't actually fly.
This book teaches us that real freedom can be found in what you love, whether it's flight, writing, or skydiving. I believe that this book can teach you to embrace your inner calling and just go with it, even if society tells you otherwise.
Another great one by Bach.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review: Moriarty

Moriarty Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Internal screaming
No, wait. Give me a moment. I'm not done yet. Screams more.
What the heck did I just read?
I'm afraid this review won't do the book justice.
This story is like a rollercoaster with twenty loops. I felt sick on it.... and I loved every minute of it, just as I did The House of Silk.
We are introduced to Frederick Chase, an American from Pinkerton's detective agency transferred to England from America to investigate the body of James Moriarty just days after his final confrontation with Holmes. Holmes is hinted to have disappeared and as a result is only mentioned in passing in this story.
That doesn't make this story any less interesting.
Chase investigates Moriarty's body along with Athelney Jones, one of Scotland Yard's top detectives.
They find out about Moriarty's connection to another criminal, Devereux, who takes on the role of the professor as head of the criminal network. The story unfolds beautifully as they chase down Devereux and his thugs as Devereaux's true intentions become clear...
A dark, twisted tale that I'd recommend to anyone who read The House of Silk.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Review: The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I keep reading the preface in Martin Freeman's voice now. Oh, God...
A novel that takes a beloved character and puts a different twist on him/her can be tricky territory. The readers scrutinize the character and make sure it stands up to its original source. That said, this novel did that perfectly. It had Holmes' methods of deduction perfectly mastered.
Holmes' methods aside, the story was fantastic. It kept me guessing to the very end and gasping aloud whenever Horowitz threw in another wonderful twist. As someone who read the original Holmes stories and didn't enjoy them as much as I'd liked to, this novel was perfect for me. But something made it falter, just a little.
The faltering comes in Holmes' arrest. While that part of the novel definitely engaged me and kept me guessing, I felt that it distracted from the original mystery. The solution to the mystery, then, had me wondering briefly, "How did Holmes arrive at that conclusion?" although the conclusion was very satisfying.
All in all, a fantastic tribute to Conan Doyle's celebrated sleuth that kept me guessing to the very end.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review: Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not an avid Neal Shusterman reader. The only other novel of his that I'm familiar with is Bruiser . I've read a couple of novels with mental illness as the main subject (one fiction, one memoir) and I can't call myself an expert, but I think that this is a pretty good read on the topic and what it can be like to spiral down into the darkness of a mentally ill mind. It was a serious topic, but somehow Shusterman made the topic almost fun to explore. The pirate ship was a very interesting angle to the story. I would have liked to see some sort of sword duel on the ship between Caden and the captain, but let's not talk about that here.

Because let's face it. It's not real and it's not boring. The whole fantasy with the ship was honestly the best part of the book for me. And while reality is nice, I can see the appeal of this fantasy. As a teenager struggling with physical disability and striving to get colleges to notice her, I can understand why Caden prefers his fantasy to the reality of things. We all carry around baggage that we don't want. I can see why this book is listed as YA, but I can see it sitting well with adults, too. Life never gets easier just because someone grows up.

My only real complaint about the book is that I don't feel that Caden's family played a big enough role in the story. I can understand an adolescent trying to branch out into the world, but I wish his family had been a bigger value for him. Maybe I feel that way because I read Nic Sheff's Schizo, but I digress.

Overall, a good read that I highly recommend for the reader interested in mental illness and willing to see a mature, raw, and real take on the topic.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Review: Rules for a Knight

Rules for a Knight Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I honestly do not know what to say... and unfortunately in this case, that's not a good thing. I liked it, it was touching, but it didn't blow me away like I expected it to. I wanted to learn something I hadn't known before, and while there are important lessons in here, they are rather simplistic for my taste. This is the kind of novel that should be read to children who are still learning the basic principles of being kind and happy and understanding the purpose of pain. That's really what it's best for in my eyes.
I write this with regard to the fact that I've been reading Richard Bach. I think reading Bach has caused my expectations to rise a bit. I still think this book will be a great story for children, but as for me, as someone who reads important spiritual and philosophical works, it didn't amount to my expectations.

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Review: A Gift Of Wings

A Gift Of Wings A Gift Of Wings by Richard Bach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am no pilot. I don't know about fuel gauges, aviation, airports, or turbulence. I'm not a mechanic. Nuts and bolts are just objects to me; meaningless objects. Yet somehow this book grabbed me and refused to let me go until I'd finished.
A collection of very nice short stories indeed. Some I liked more than others. Some were just so philosophical I automatically understood and loved them ("Letters from a God-fearing Man"). It's not Bach's best; it's one of his most interesting, though. It packed something that even those who do not know the joy of flying could understand. It makes me want to ride a biplane into a golden sunset, and that's saying something.
All in all, an enjoyable read that will make those on the ground feel as if they are in the air and a part of it.

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