Book Review: House of Silk

I read this book a while ago when I was looking for an escape – for something to suck me in and transport me to another realm where I could relax and unwind.

I have to say, this book really did the job.

House of Silk

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel

If you love Sherlock Holmes, you will love this book.  Written in the true tone of the original Sherlock mysteries, the story weaves in and out of two different mysteries – keeping you guessing and enthralled throughout.

The story is actually one of the only Sherlock Holmes novels to be officially sanctioned by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate, which, I think, says something about how true it is to the original Sherlock-ian style. It is written from the point of view of Dr. Watson and he is writing the story about Sherlock’s greatest mystery. It’s a story he didn’t feel he could tell until long after Sherlock was dead.

It was impossible before – and I am not just referring to Holmes’s well-known aversion to publicity. No, the events which I am about to describe were simply too monstrous, too shocking to appear in print.  They still are. It is not exaggeration to suggest that they would tear apart the entire fabric of society and, particularly at a time of war, this is something I cannot risk.”

Makes you curious, doesn’t it? What exactly DID go on in this story he’s about to tell?

The book is actually two stories in one ~ The House of Silk and The Man in the Flat Cap ~ and how these wove together and unfolded as I read kept me enthralled throughout the book.

As the book opens, a London art dealer asks for Sherlock’s help in tracking down a mysterious man in a flat cap who he feels is threatening him.  Sherlock takes the case and through tracking down the mystery of the man in the flat cap, he finds his own life in jeopardy as he is accused of murder, his own life is put in danger, and he finds that some of his methods are not always fool-proof.

Add in a mysterious Flat Cap Gang, art thieves, opium dens and other assorted bad guys and you have quite the tale.  Watson, as usual, is a few steps behind Sherlock in most things, but this loyal friend does his part to assist in bringing the mystery (mysteries?) to a conclusion.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you – I want you to enjoy it, to savor it like a rich, dark chocolate confection – and so I’m not going to tell you much more.

This book is perfect for a rainy day with a cup of tea and a comfy chair.

What I’m Reading Right Now

I’ve just finished a really good book that I was asked to review: Searching For Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe. I have to say, I felt very lucky to have been given the opportunity to read the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The baseline of the story revolves around a young woman named Sophie Elliot who is adrift in life and in her career and hoping to restart her writing career by staying in Bath, England in the townhome owned by her family. She is fascinated with Jane Austen and when she learns that the townhome is next door do the one that the Austens lived in when they were staying in Bath, her decision is finalized.

What follows is an interesting journey backwards and forwards through time as Sophie mysteriously passes back into time in the body of her cousin who is living next door to the Austens and has befriended the young Austen ladies.  Sophie becomes more and more entwined with the story of her cousin and her friendship with Jane and her sister – and brother, Charles.

In modern times, she befriends her neighbor, Josh Strafford, who happens to be working on an exhibit about Regency Bath, including displays on the Austens.  As Sophie bounces back and forth between time, she begins to have feelings for both Josh and Charles, which she fears will lead her to heartbreak on both fronts.

The story is cleverly woven between the past and present and quickly draws you into both times.  You hope that Sophie finds love with Charles Austen in the past AND with Josh Strafford in the present. You wonder how the events in the past have shaped the current and what changes may occur based on Sophie’s actions in the past.  Will she affect the future?  What will happen with Charles?  What does Josh feel about her? Is she just a friend or more to him?

Odiwe does an excellent job of portraying Regency England and the customs and challenges young women of that era faced.  I was enchanted by her portrayal of Jane Austen as a spunky, creative young woman bound by duty and honor – and most women of that age were.  I’ve visited Bath before and the descriptions she used in the book were true to my memories and took me back to the visits, wandering the streets and walking through the Pump Room.

She handles the time-travel relatively well, and I think, does a good job of portraying Sophie as someone who tries to sort out whether what is happening is a dream or if it is real – and which reality is really real?

I would most definitely suggest you read the book, even if you are not a Jane Austen fan, you’ll enjoy the story line and be enchanted by the characters.

This review is also part of the Layered Pages book review team. Hop on over to find more great books and reviews.

What I’m Reading Right Now

Or, rather, what I just finished reading.

‘cause it was so good I couldn’t stop.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Such a cute, cute book. And a quick, light read. Which is what I needed right now.

The story reminded me of growing up in the South and of living in a small town (which isn’t so small anymore) like we have for the last 20+ years. Living in communities where everyone knows everyone, everyone has an opinion about what you do and what you don’t do – and they usually share whether you ask or not.

It’s the story of a young girl, the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher who was the son of a preacher and the grandson of a preacher… all having tended to the same flock in the same small town of Ringgold, Georgia. Catherine Grace Cliine’s mother drowned when she was just a little girl.  She and her sister grew up in the shadow of her daddy’s preaching and constantly missing their momma and wishing things were different than they were.

The girls are loved and cared for, both by their daddy (who is doing the best he can) and by their neighbor, Gloria Jean Graves, a divorcee whom her father doesn’t exactly approve of, but he allows her to fill the gap left by their mama’s death.

Catherine Grace decides that she is leaving Ringgold as soon as she is 18 – the story follows her as she grows up, anticipating and planning for that great Exodus.  The storytelling is poignant and beautiful, the language true to a Southern girl – especially one from this neck of the woods. It felt genuine and real. I could imagine this was Catherine Grace telling me the story in real life, not a fictional story.

She finally makes her escape and heads to the big city of Atlanta only to be forced to return home because of a tragedy which changes her life forever.

It’s the story of finding happiness where you are, of how everything we do affects others (whether we intend for it to or not) and of the power of community.

I would highly recommend it – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What I’m Reading Right Now (2011 Recap)

What I'm reading right nowI’m reading a great book right now- it’s a monster (700+ pages!) but it is so good I don’t even mind the fact that it is quite a project to read.  I’ll share some thoughts about it in an upcoming post, but I thought that today I’d share a recap of some of my favorite reads from 2011.

You will recall I do a monthly “What I’m Reading Right Now” post.  You can check those out for more detailed reviews of the books.

Here are my top five favorite books for 2011: (in no particular order)

  • The Cupcake Bakery Mysteries.  These were sooo cute.  I am looking forward to #4 in the series.
  • A Discovery of Witches.  This was an awesome book. I believe there is another one coming out for this series, too. Can’t wait.
  • The Peach Keeper. I love anything by Sarah Addison Allen. She is such a talented writer.
  • Juliet. Romeo & Juliet reinvented. Very engrossing.
  • Prayers for Sale. This one was so, so good. Great characters, great story.

And one more for good measure:

  • Game of Thrones (I’m reading it right now, but started in 2011, so it counts, right?  REALLY good. More on this one soon.

What about you? What were your favorite books in 2011?

Are you planning any good reads for 2012?  I’m hoping to read the next installment of Game of Thrones and I’ve got these books on my to-read wish list on my Nook:

Well, that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll be adding more books to my wish list…

I’d love to hear from you on any suggestions you may have!

What I’m Reading Right Now

I haven’t had as much time to read since school started a few weeks ago. I’ve been busy with after school activities, homework, and the like – wait, I’m not the one who went back to school! What’s wrong with this picture? Winking smile

What I'm reading right nowI have been getting up before the sun comes up, though, which means that I’ve been going to bed a whole lot earlier – as early as 8:30 or 9:00 most nights – and which translates to less time to read.

In spite of all that, I have managed to pick up a few books. I am currently in the middle of two books – neither of which have really “grabbed” me.  They are good, but not spectacular.  I think my fatigue and busy-ness also have contributed to the fact that I have not been as engrossed in the stories.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier: Book Cover

Remarkable Creatures

by Tracy Chevalier

I picked this up in a buy one-get one special at a bookstore near my mom’s house this summer. I’ve been saving it for a day when I didn’t have anything handy to read – and that day came just a few weeks ago.

The story is based on a young girl who finds “curies” – curiosities – which are fossilized creatures found on the beaches of southern England.  Also a part of the story is a young spinster who moves to the area and becomes focused on finding curiosities as well.  The story touches on the differences in their social classes and the similarities of their love of finding fossils.

It’s a little slow – which is why I can’t tell you much more about the story – and I haven’t gotten too deep in the story yet.  It looks like a good story, I just need to sit down and read it!

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes: Book CoverThe Last Letter from Your Lover

by Jojo Moyes

The Last Letter from Your Lover opens with a young woman in the hospital suffering from amnesia and recovering from a terrible car accident.  As the story unfolds, you discover her unhappy marriage, a happenstance meeting with a journalist that turns into something more, and her rediscovery of her life.

The book is broken into two parts – the first is focused on Jennifer as she recovers from her accident and deals with the amnesia.  The second focuses on a young journalist who stumbles across letters from Jennifer and the journalist and tries to discover what happened to them.

I  have gotten through the first part – just started on the second part.  I got so aggravated with Jennifer in the first part that I had to put the book away for a few days to get some distance from the story. (guess that means it is a good book!) I’m ready to pick it up again, though, and see how things transpire in the second half and find out what happened to Jennifer and Anthony.

I’ll let you know what my final verdict is…

What about you? Reading anything good these days?  Share with us in the comments!

What I’m Reading Right Now

What I'm reading right nowI thought I’d share with you another installment of the books I’ve been reading this summer. My reading has slowed down in the past few weeks – mostly because it’s been so busy around here that by the time I finally sit still in the evenings, I’m too sleepy to read for more than a few minutes and then I crash!

I’ve been into some mystery/crime novels this summer. Not sure why, except that I can’t seem to stomach any romance novels right now. The escapism of the mysteries seem to be what I’m looking for – and enjoying – right now.

I have read a few good books and I wanted to share them with you ~

The Black Echo (Harry Bosch Series #1) by Michael Connelly: NOOK Book CoverThe Black Echo, by Michael Connelly

This was a Barnes & Noble promo book – I can’t remember if it was a Free Friday or 99 cent promo, but I grabbed it because it looked good… and it was. Really good.

The protagonist is Harry Bosch, an LAPD detective who is a bit of an outcast in the Police community and yet has a very strong sense of right and wrong and in getting to the bottom of things.

Harry is called out on a Sunday for a dead body that is found in a culvert pipe at Mulholland Dam.  He recognizes the body as a fellow Vietnam Vet and his determination to get to the bottom of things is set.

As Harry digs into the mysterious murder, he tangles with the FBI, the Internal Affairs division and a number of thugs out to ensure he doesn’t figure out what happened to his friend.

It was very engrossing and kept me awake quite a few nights as I read and read trying to get to the end of a chapter, or at least a stopping point, before going to sleep.  It wasn’t something I probably would’ve picked out in a bookstore, but I really enjoyed it and plan to read more of his books.

The next in the Harry Bosch saga is The Black Ice, so that is on my to-read-soon list.

Trust No One by Gregg Hurwitz: NOOK Book Cover

Trust No One, by Gregg Hurwitz

This was a really, really good book. So engrossing – it grabs you in the first 20 pages and doesn’t let you go until the very end.

The main character is Nick Horrigan, who has worked to build himself a quiet, safe life.  All of that changes when his apartment is invaded in the middle of the night by a SWAT team who snatch him out of his house and take him to a waiting helicopter.

Nick is whisked off to a nuclear reactor which has been overtaken by a terrorist who has asked specifically to speak to Nick.

Thus begins a whirlwind in which Nick is embroiled in a web of lies, deception and half-truths which hearken back to the death of his step-father when Nick was a young teenager.  In order to survive, Nick must determine what is truth, what is real, and who is good and who is evil.

The only thing that Nick knows for sure is his step-father’s dying words – “Trust No One.”

I have to say, this was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Certainly not one, again, that I would’ve sought out, but so, so good.

Definitely one I would recommend to anyone looking for an engrossing mystery/adventure/action story.

Another mystery, but certainly a non-traditional telling of a mystery, was my next read:

Dog on It (Chet and Bernie Series #1) by Spencer Quinn: NOOK Book Cover

Dog on It, by Spencer Quinn

I picked this up at a local bookstore on my vacation. It was in a bin of B1G1 books, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

It was so cute.

The mystery is written from the perspective of Chet, the happy-go-lucky pup who belongs to Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator.

Bernie is called in on missing persons case and he and Chet work to find the missing teenaged girl, getting into all sorts of scrapes and tight squeezes as they go along and yet their partnership remains strong and they triumph (as you know they will) in the end.

The most charming part of the book is the perspective from which it is written.  Watching events unfold from Chet’s perspective is a little like talking to someone with serious attention deficit issues – one minute he is describing the “perp” and the next he is distracted by the enticing she-bark of some mysterious female pup off in the distance. And while it is sometimes a little distracting, it is mostly entertaining – especially if you are an animal lover. I couldn’t help looking at my own pups in a little different light and wondering what was really going on in their heads when I chat with them during the day.

A cute, light read that was definitely worth the B1G1 price. I will be picking up the next one in this series sometime soon, too.

Any good books you have to share?

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What I’m Reading Right Now

What I'm reading right nowI told you I’ve been reading a lot lately!

I have pretty much given up TV completely. I don’t miss it at all. And, when I do sit down to watch something, I get bored pretty quickly and turn the TV off to go do something else.  It just doesn’t hold much appeal for me these days.

But I have really been enjoying reading.

So much so that I’m running my batteries down on Beatrice pretty quickly – she’s supposed to have 8-10 hours reading time per charge. I’m having to charge her every day or so. I just plug her in at night before I go to bed to be sure she doesn’t lose her charge. I had the experience one day of (trying to) turn her on in carpool to find she was dead, Jim.  Dead. Horrors! I don’t let that happen anymore, no-sirree-bob.

Anyway.

image

I read this book in about 36.5 hours.  Not really, but I know that I read it pretty quickly.  I just couldn’t put it down once I started.  I spent most of Saturday reading – partly because I wasn’t feeling good and partly because the book was just so darn good.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, but it’s full of mystery, a little forbidden romance, history, plot twists and turns, evil villains (or are they?) and a lot of magic.

I loved it. Every.single.page.

I can’t wait for her to write another book. As a matter of fact, I went downstairs to the computer (around midnight) when I finished the book to see if there was another one to download.

There isn’t.

Boo.

So, I must wait for her to write another. (Get busy!)

I’ve picked these two as my next choices for reading:

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The first one I read just a little bit of the sample and was hooked – It’s about a girl living near Niagara Falls around the time of WWI.  She’s from a privileged family who has to make some major adjustments as the father is fired from his job.  I really liked the writing and think it will be a good read. I’m only on the first 20-30 pages, though, so I don't know too much more yet.

The second one is Sarah Addison Allen’s newest. I just love her and all of her books, so I was anxiously waiting for the release of this new book. I think I may save it to read next week while I’m on vacation. Her books are like sweet confections you want to savor…

So, what are you reading these days?