Bohemia, Red-Heads, Speckled Bands and more…

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Some of these stories are more obscure or I have actually never read them. The stories span a good amount of years, including some in which Watson lives away from Holmes, happily married to Mary and running a doctor‘s practice. He very much leads a life of his own, but frequently accompanies his friend Holmes on his cases. 

This Holmes, the real one, is never as aloof or downright dismissive of others as he has become on the screen. There are many visuals know from the many screen adaptations though and sentences and remarks that have made their way into the shared consciousness of Holmes‘s fans.

Contains: A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes & Watson meet The Woman / The Adventure of the Red-Headed League / The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle / The Adventure of the Speckled Band / various other stories 

Listened to in audio as part of Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry.

Dewey‘s 2022 Reverse Readathon > Hour 14 (9am EST): Audiobooks

Do you like listening to audiobooks?

I struggled at first with audiobooks, because I kept nodding off, when sitting still and listening to them. I have to do something else, that doesn‘t engage my mind, while I listen. 

I still do more eye-reading, my average for audiobooks is one per month. I always listen to a sample first, it is very important for me that I like the narrator. I even have some favourites and I sometimes even pick a book purely based on who narrates it. Case in point: I am a Sherlock Holmes fan, but the deciding factor for picking up my current audio, Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection: it is narrated by Stephen Fry.

I read faster than a narrator usually reads out the books, so I tend to listen to audios at a speed of 1.5. 

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection
by Arthur Conan DoyleStephen Fry (Narrator)

I am reviewing this 72-hours monster in chunks, the first part you can read here. For this readathon I am currently making my way through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

I have listened to these stories today: A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes & Watson meet The Woman / The Adventure of the Red-Headed League / A Case of Identity / The Boscombe Valley Mystery / The Five Orange Pips / The Man with the Twisted Lip / The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle ★★★★☆

Some of these stories are more obscure or I have actually never read them. The stories span a good amount of years, in which Watson lives away from Holmes, happily married to Mary and running a doctor‘s practice. He very much leads a life of his own, but frequently accompanies his friend Holmes on his cases. This Holmes, the real one, is never as aloof, hurtful or downright dismissive of others.

There are many visuals know from the many screen adaptations though and sentences and remarks that have made their way into the shared consciousness of Holmes‘s fans.

More reviews to come, as I slowly progress through this audio.

Reading the real deal

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection
by Arthur Conan DoyleStephen Fry (Narrator)

A Study in Scarlet 
The very first Sherlock Holmes story. John Watson meets Sherlock Holmes. The mystery wasn‘t terribly exciting. Two Americans turn up dead. Obviously there is a back story. Utah, Mormons, romance… ★★★½☆

The Sign of the Four 
The sequel. Holmes & Watson meet Mary Morstan. And Toby, the dog with the supernose. The backstory takes us to the Andaman islands. I have read this one several times and so far it is my favourite.

I still astonishes me how (relatively) human and social Holmes comes across in the original. TV has a lot to be answered for.

This audiobook monster is narrated by the adorable Stephen Fry, who did his usual stellar job. Some interesting forewords are included.

More reviews to come, as I slowly progress through this audio.


The last time I read The Sign of the Four was in 2016. Here is what I had to say about it back then:

Re-reading a classic.

This is my favourite Holmes story. I was fascinated about the description of his drug use, when I read this first as a teenager.

With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks.

The plot is (mostly) fun. We meet Mary, Toby, Wiggins and get to read many immortal sentences from the Sherlock Holmes universe.

I know the plot so well that I find it hard to be critical about it. The only part I truly do not like, is Jonathan Small’s story. It drags and I find it a little boring. It’s too long and feels like an afterthought, that got stuck on to inflate the page count. 

And from today’s point of view Doyle’s description of Tonga comes across as pretty offensive. But this was published in 1890, so I can acknowledge that and live with it.

And even back then they wrote bad insta-love! It also struck me as strange during this re-read, how jovial Holmes is and how often he laughs. Should I blame the BBC for that?

Top Ten Tuesday, counting to 10…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

 This week‘s topic / September 13: Books with numbers in the titles

Let‘s see if I manage from one to ten on my shelf of read books…

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)
by Ilona Andrews

I first read this as an online serial on Ilona Andrews’ website, which took most of 2016. I had fun reading the weekly bits and agonizing over them with my reading buddies. However, reading a finished book in one go is a more cohesive affair. It runs smoother, you can read as long as you want, no waiting for the next gripping bit. Also more editing and small improvements on various details. Plus a maturer rating.

“Look, it can be fast, good, or cheap. You can have any two but never all three.”

― Ilona Andrews, One Fell Sweep

Two Ravens and One Crow (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4.3)
by Kevin Hearne

You read that right. I purposefully did not pick The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien… 😜 Instead I picked a short story from The Iron Druid Chronicles. A fun series, if you manage to ignore that a 2000-year-old druid is this dumb and juvenile.

Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1)
by Kelly Meding

Great fun! I almost read it in a day. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey… Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.

The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume Four
by Chuck Dixon, Robert Jordan

Another attempt to make headway with this series. I got a very nice hardback edition. Starts with chapter 27 of the book, Shelter From the Storm, and ends with chapter 34 of the book, The Last Village.

Very close to the book. The artwork is nothing breath taking, but well done. Especially the cover gallery in the back has some very nice images.

This takes place roughly in the middle of The Eye of The World, which dragged for me. The pacing of the comic is not much different. I liked it, but it didn‘t tempt me to get another volume right away. If I saw some WoT comics in a second hand store at a reduced price, maybe…

Five Quarters of the Orange
by Joanne Harris

Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story….. Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling.

Rainbow Six (Jack Ryan Universe, #10)
by Tom Clancy

Unusual, as it is one of the rare books where Jack Ryan is not the main character. John Clark is not as black and white and makes for an interesting character. There is the usual body count and a lot of gadgets, all in all a solid thriller.

Sherlock Holmes: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
by David Tipton,  Scott Tipton,  Ron Joseph (Illustrations) 

I have the seen the movie several times, it is one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes movies. 

This is a very close retelling of the story. The dramtic chase and the big reveal of Holmes’ secret at the end are well done, as well as the artwork. An enjoyable read and a surprising take on the life of the great detective. Sherlock Holmes fans should not miss this.

Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule from Ecuador to Cuzco
by Dervla Murphy

I really wanted to like this, but after spending ages getting past the first 50 pages I decided to give up. The great thing about travel literature is the things that happen on the way. But as far as I got, the main thing was going up the mountain, over the mountain, down the mountain…. And I did not think the descriptions of the most likely stunning scenery were very good either. Very disappointing.

Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
by Daryl Gregory

Free short story on Tor.com.

“When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely.“

https://www.tor.com/2018/09/19/nine-last-days-on-planet-earth-daryl-gregory/

I‘m Groot! Interesting. I liked it, fascinating take on evolution and alien invasion, great character development. I felt with LT and almost cried with him at the end. Not sure if I am a fan of that quasi open ending. 

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That Will Improve and/or Ruin Everything
by Kelly Weinersmith,  Zach Weinersmith

My NetGalley version only consisted of the introduction and the first two chapters: How to get into space cheaply and asteroid mining. Once I realized that, I mostly skimmed and just perused a bit here and there.

Entertaining, amusing style, that borders on slightly silly. Amusing, very simple comic strips—I recommend reading the ebook version on something that allows colour. Easy to understand explanations of complex topics. Space elevators, reusable rockets, Elon Musk and the odd Star Trek joke make an appearance.

It‘s ok, if you are looking for something light to flick through, when you have a few minutes to spare. Coffee table reading, mostly decorative.

Elementary, my dear Wyndham

The Affair of the Mysterious LetterThe Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A book trying very hard to present a magical Holmes & Watson and using all the right cues. An overly amusing and mocking first person narration by Dr. Watson Captain John Wyndham. A Scandal in Bohemia lurks somewhere in the background.

The amusing tone got old pretty fast. About two hours into the audio narration I started to seriously loose interest. The microscopically small plot barely managed to hold the story together. It was a slog. I only continued, because I wanted to find out who was the culprit.

Actually, on second thought, the plot wasn‘t bad. There was just too much fluff in between.

And really annoying? „Oh, she used a bad, bad word, but my publisher told me not to repeat it!“ Funny the first three times. After that, not so much!

Nice resolution at the end and there was something truly well written just before it that caught my interest.

In summation too much amusing vapor, too little actual story. A lot of talk, trying to create a Sherlock-Holmes-apropriate atmosphere. Some great ideas, smothered in the overly quaint narration. Kudos regarding the cameos of various gothic horror novels. Pretty nice Dracula rendition.

Best part of this novel: The excellent audiobook narrator, Nicholas Boulton. His tone of voice reminded me a bit of Stephen Fry.

The author has written some romance novels that look like they could be fun…. Other than that I will definitely not continue with this, if there should be a sequel. I will look up the audiobook narrator though.

The author on Sherlock Holmes: https://crimereads.com/sherlock-holme…

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