The Sherlock Effect by Raymond Kay Lyon – Book Review

 

33654988I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2 stars but only because I DNFed at the third story – around 50% – and therefore don’t feel entitled to give 1 star.

I really wanted to stick with this until the end, it was 215 pages – I feel like a failure for not being able to. I wish I could say I will try to go back to it but I probably won’t. This book just wasn’t for me and I might be alone in this since generally the reviews seem good but no, just no.

My first impression was that Christopher Sherlock Webster is a spoiled, ungrateful brat that couldn’t just indulge his father for the sake of human decency. Your dad loved Sherlock, just read one of his stories with him won’t you? They aren’t long, and as you found out (a bit too late) they’re actually pretty good. My dad loves zombies, I personally think the concept is utterly stupid but I watched Shaun of the Dead and a few episodes of The Walking Dead and when his birthday came round I still bought him tickets for a zombie apocalypse experience. I’m sure Mr. Webster didn’t want to watch Barney or Teletubbies or whatever little Sherl watched in his childhood but he did. It’s just what you do for family.

Then, as the first story kicked in, I realised not only was he spoiled and ungrateful, he was also a pretentious prat that had achieved nothing of significance prior to having his rich friend drop a business into his lap that he does such a mediocre job of contributing to I think I’d have been able to do a comparable job. I knew exactly what the ending of the ‘The Fur Trade’ was going to be approximately 2 minutes into it and just to see if I was being overly analytical gave my partner the basics of the case since he’s a big Sherlock fan (listened to all the audiobooks as read by Stephen Fry) and see what he thought, this was our conversation:

‘I’m reading this modern-take Sherlock book, they’ve got this case: rich and famous singer’s boyfriend has been kidnapped for a second time by an animal rights group and they’ve asked for more money in exchange for his release again. What do you think is going on?’

*Not even really listening to me* ‘What? So her boyfriend faked his own kidnapping?’

Bingo! Got it in one, now my boyfriend is a clever sort so maybe it’s just us but I’m inclined to think this conclusion isn’t such a stretch for anyone. The second and third stories seemed weirder and more in the realm of Holmes but I still guessed the culprit in two and couldn’t get far enough into the third story to care to make a guess.

This book isn’t technically a modern adaption since the Sherlock Holmes books and canon exist as fiction in this world as they do in ours, so the Baskerville Agency is technically an overly zealous fan club with a gimmick to make money rather than an actual detective consultancy. Sherlock Holmes is not a PI he’s a consulting detective – which is explicitly stated in the original texts several times.

I’m by no means a veteran Holmes reader – full disclosure I’ve only read the first two books (I’m getting round to the rest) and watched the BBC adaption but what I specifically remember about those books was that the writing surprised me.

I had expected something more in the realm of Dickens or Dumas where you expect the writing to be overly flowery as standard, accept it as part of the story itself even, but actually found that Doyle had a very simple writing style, simple but effective. He didn’t need all the hyperbolic phrasing or unnecessarily long or archaic words to create the feel the books have. Now, to be fair this could be because Doyle writes his stories from the stoic and comparatively simple perspective of Dr. Watson as oppose to Holmes himself. Lyon writes this story from the Holmes archetype character so, you know, theoretically it could be argued that it is not the writing that’s pretentious is the character and had Doyle written his stories from the original Holmes’ point of view his writing would have resembled this. You could argue that, I wouldn’t but you could.

The benefit from telling the story from Watson’s perspective is that everything Holmes does is only shown from a third party and it’s easier to maintain the mystery and trickle feed the clues until the big reveal. The clues are still attempted to be revealed in this way in The Sherlock Effect but since you are reading from the perspective of the ‘Sherlock’ character you can’t really hear their thought process because it would give it away so what you end up with is quite a lot of dialogue.

The book was well-written despite this but these issues just meant I didn’t enjoy reading it. I’ll stick to the originals I think.

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An Open Letter to Netgalley and Goodreads

I didn’t even know this was happening but completely agree with the points made below.

I am not really a veteran blogger and don’t plan to make any sort of career out of this so cannot complain from this perspective as it would hold little weight. However, I do read. A lot. I research the books I plan to read through reviews to help me decide and don’t think this evident bias in the choice of reviewers is fair to publishers, bloggers or readers in any way shape or form.

Sadly, I feel like Goodreads and NetGalley will not change their decision but I’m confused as to how this effects the British NetGalley site and the books given there? If you know please help me out and explain.

Edit: I had a thought after reblogging this that I commented on the original post.

‘I’m curious, in regards to NetGalley and their policy. I know that they have released nothing official but I am currently listed as a consumer reviewer on NetGalley as though I very recently began a blog I don’t think I’m really deserving of the title book blogger since I don’t go out of my way to advertise or promote my blog or draw readers into it or put in nearly as much time as others – it’s just for me.

I am based in the UK (so that might have an effect) and have to ‘Wish’ for a book every now and then but usually, I can request them just fine and get accepted far more than rejected and more than I ever expected to on pretty highly anticipated books – and cards on the table my feedback ratio is not brilliant because I like to take my time with a book. Perhaps due to the amount of additional labour there is involved in recon-ing book bloggers and their amount of followers/sphere of influence many publishers don’t accept requests from this type of reviewer? Star ratings alone on sites like Goodreads and Amazon get authors into charts and higher in search engines and algorithms but a book blog will only reach a set number of people.

I’m not saying this is fair but if this theory is right, and if NetGalley and/or publishing houses are pitching the system against non-American book bloggers specifically (because it’s not confirmed they are) then why not play the system to your advantage and just change your reader status on NetGalley or set up another account with this status.

I know it does not really address the issue here since any kind of discrimination is wrong but ‘When a sign says don’t walk on the grass, one hops.’’

Dear Netgalley and Goodreads, 

Today I discovered that your sites will no longer be providing services (or limiting services) to international readers and I am absolutely devastated.

Contrary to popular belief, America is not the only country in the world.

For those who are unaware of what is happening, Goodreads will, from January 2018, prevent authors from creating giveaways for international readers. Basically, authors will have to pay $119 for a giveaway base package, and $599 for the premium. Previously, all authors had to pay for was shipping. Read more here.

Netgalley, on the other hand, has severely limited the amount of…

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WaR: Wizards and Robots by Will.i.am and Brian David Johnson – Book Review

9780141365961

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars

Okay, so this book really surprised me. When I first saw the title in NetGalley my first reaction was:

‘Wizards and Robots? That sounds stupid.’ Stupid enough for me to want more information and request it just for the hell of it – figuring if they accepted it’d be an interesting experience and if they didn’t, no real loss.

I probably should have read the description since it explicitly states one of the co-authors is will.i.am – a fact that threw me a little since I knew he had recently branched into graphic novels as he appeared on Good Morning Britain with his book ‘Black Eyed Peas Presents: Masters Of The Sun – The Zombie Chronicles’ but didn’t know he’d gone into YA prose too. I’m kind of ashamed that I went into the book with low expectations because of this – I don’t really even know why I just did – because this is hands down one of the best written YA (though I feel like this could be shelved at a middle school level too) books I’ve read in a long time.

The writing itself was great, and not in an overly descriptive flowery way but just in the simplicity of the writing and the variety of vocabulary at this level of reading is just great and would appeal to young adults. The characters were all great and relatable in a big way and they all had their own arcs and development. I was also really impressed by the world-building mainly because I didn’t even know it was happening until I was in the world.

The story jumps around to 3 time periods in the first half of the chapters and usually this kind of storytelling confuses the heck out of me and I can only piece it together fully at the end (I’m looking at you The Night Circus ) but since the characters and settings in each one were so distinctly different from one another I didn’t have this issue.

Overall it was a really fun read, I liked all the characters and their personal development and the story was interesting and made me care about the outcome. The concept could have produced something silly and pointless but it worked in a weirdly wonderful way and most importantly this is the kind of book I can imagine encouraging primary/middle school kids to read more which is always a great thing in my opinion.

Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo By Crystal S. Chan – Book Review

51fmzzsq8ql1334064964..jpgI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars

If you have read the Count of Monte Cristo, you obviously don’t need me to give an overview of the plot, if you haven’t then what the hell are you doing reading reviews on this book? Go and read the original. Now. It’s amazing and you will not appreciate this book or the story unless you have read it. And not the abridged version, the whole 1300 page monster.

The Count of Monte Cristo is easily my favourite classic novel – perhaps even favourite book in general – of all time. I read it for the first time at the end of last year and fell in love with it. I was just sad I was unlikely to have the time to read it again anytime soon because, as I’ve said it’s a monster of a book and really I think everything in it is important to the story – at least in prose form.

I have read a few other Manga Classics as a way to almost experience the classics in a consolidated way, and also out of curiosity to how they will be depicted. Generally, I have liked them all and this was no exception as it allowed me to experience the story in only 400 beautifully illustrated pages. The way the characters were depicted was brilliant and I love how this team adapts classic stories to the manga style. That being said, being only 400 pages it does gloss over large portions of the book – Edmond’s time in prison for example and the majority of Heloise de Villefort’s whole scheming, treacherous arc. I understand why this is done but if you have not read the original, and don’t know how to fill in the blanks, it loses something.

Either way, it’s impressive how concisely they cut it down, and I also think it’s clever how they changed the perspective slightly so that some of the ‘insider info’ or dramatic irony that the reader experiences in the novel is removed and then revealed with more suspenseful way, like an unravelling mystery, in this adaption.

I will most definitely be adding this to my hard copy collection, along with Pride and Prejudice.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

JumanjiI just got back from seeing Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (a few weeks late) at the cinema and though it’s not strictly book related (or is it? Is there a Jumanji book? Mental note to research that later) I wanted to write something about it because I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Who knew I all I needed in my life was Jack Black pretending to be a popular teenage girl learning to pee as a guy?

A little context; even though it was released years before I was born, Jumanji (1995) joins films like Goonies, Gremlins, and Labyrinth in the group of films I have particularly fond memories of from my childhood. It is also, by far my favourite Robin Williams film. So needless to say,  I had high expectations for any film claiming to be any sort of sequel. The cast was promising: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart all in one film?! And Karen Gillen was the Companion of that Doctor I refused to watch because of my David Tennant coma, so she’s probably good too!

But alas, I’ve been lured in with supposedly amazing casts before only to leave the cinema despondent and disappointed having found out all the funny and entertaining parts were in the trailer.

Thankfully, in this case, Jumanji did not disappoint. I was worried they would try to change the parts I loved so much about the original in an attempt to drag this nineties classic into the 21st century but they didn’t!

They did evolve the concept for sure, but I loved how they did it – though I did trip over the part where the board game inexplicably changes into an imaginary games console – and the idea that instead of the game spilling into our world, the players were dragged into the world of the game. The many references to the original – the game pieces, Alan Parrish’s name carved into a tree in the Nick Jonas’ hideout and so on were fun Easter Eggs to find, the soundtrack was pretty good and the action sequences were actually some of the better ones I’ve seen in films of this genre.

It’s not a film with a lot of depth in plot – which I think is what made it fun to watch – and parts made me cringe and others annoyed me (the smartest female character being taught to forget all that and just use her looks to get things done, for example) and is far from perfect but it was definitely watchable and I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

All that aside, the real star of the whole thing was Jack Black’s performance. I mean, I love the Rock and Kevin Hart but they pretty much play the same character (themselves) in everything. Jack Black is guilty of this also but in this case, but not for a second did I forget he was acting the role of a teenage self-obsessed girl in the body of a middle-aged man for the whole of the film and he genuinely had me laughing so hard I choked on my popcorn and my face hurt at times.

There is also a scene at the very beginning where Bethany (Madison Iseman/Black’s character) goes through the grueling and lengthy process of taking an effortless selfie that I thought was just priceless and summed up the issues I take with Snapchat and Instagram in less than 30 seconds (bare in mind Bookstagram doesn’t count).

If you can, go down to the cinema and see it (or if you’re reading in the future buy the DVD – if they’re still a thing)- it’s a real laugh.

Edit: There is a Jumanji book, the one the original film was based on by Chris Van Allsburg – Jumanji meet my TBR list …

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – Book Review

23197837I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A solid 3.75 stars

At the start of the book as the concept was revealed the idea really struck something with me but I knew because it was such an important issue that if it wasn’t dealt with well in the book it could easily send a harmful message. Going in I was really hoping that the Belles – who bring beauty to the kingdom of Orléans with their magical arcana – would somehow convey a message about true beauty being within or something whilst also beating their villains and saving the day and so on. I really hoped this because the world, whilst a beautiful idea just seemed as though that was the message it was needing.

Maybe they’ll tackle that in the next one, who knows, but for the moment the books resounding message is: ‘Society is way too concerned with physical beauty and will go to deadly lengths for it.’

And?

I had really high hopes for this book since I first heard about it in a tweet by Rick Riordan (https://twitter.com/camphalfblood/sta…) and heard many good things. I don’t disagree with Rick, it is certainly a brand new idea and world that will definitely take off in the YA genre, but the whole book just felt like an orange: the last 100/150 pages were really great, but I wasn’t sure the hassle of getting into it had been gratified.

I did generally enjoy it, the world was a brilliant idea I personally have never come across. The heroine was relatable I’d say, as were her relationships with her sisters and the rivalry caused between them by the choice of the favourite. I especially loved the fall out afterward because it rang so true because that is just how 16-year-old girls react in competition and if it had gone any differently I’d have probably put the book down there and then.

[Minor spoilers ahead: but doesn’t really give away plot points, just hints at a few]

My only issues were that I saw the betrayal coming a mile away and it annoyed me the otherwise intelligent heroine didn’t: I can’t decide whether this showed poor character development or was just representing the love-triggered blindness. I got a strong Chaol/Dorian/Aelin vibe from the start and I was pretty much right I think though it is going to happen in the next one I’d assume.
I also struggled with the description at the start, the incessant food similes made me hungry and I was kind of sick of the word ‘Belle’ by the 200-page mark.

I will likely read the next installment as I loved Edel so much and want to see how it pans out because the cliff-hanger was pretty great, if cruel.

First Ever Post

Hi!

I wasn’t sure what to write in my first post as I’m mainly going to be reviewing books and writing about other things I enjoy as they come to me so I thought I’d just lay out a skeleton plan for the next few posts and see where they take me, sound good?

*cricket chirps* *tumbleweed*

Thanks, I’m glad you agree!

At the moment I’m reading an ARC of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton and Stacy King’s Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo. They should be finished with any day now and I’ll get on my reviews – they were both issued through NetGalley so I’ll probably get them done pretty sharp-ish as my backlog for reading for them is getting out of hand.

I also bought my boyfriend tickets to Manchester Comic Con for his birthday so I’m going to starting to plan and bring my costume (or cosplay if you prefer, I just don’t find myself worthy of the word) together for that and I might post about it.

That’s probably all for now – until we meet again!

J