I so wanted to like this book. So many things that interested me: The children of Holmes and Watson! (Respectively, that is. Not, you know, *their* chI so wanted to like this book. So many things that interested me: The children of Holmes and Watson! (Respectively, that is. Not, you know, *their* children.) The Mutter Museum! Mysterious skeletons! Possibly real impossible creatures! What's not to like?
For starters, there is the fact that the book has so many typographical and grammatical errors that I kept checking the cover to make sure I wasn't reading an ARC. (Aside from one my own pet peeves - the use of "should of" instead of "should have" - repeatedly appearing, there was a particularly jarring moment when someone addressed John Watson and his son as "Dr. Holmes" and "Mr. Holmes".)
The uneven characterization and the awkward pacing then compounded a very serious problem of what the book is even trying to be. Is it a mystery? Is it a thriller? Is it a paranormal something-or-other? Is it a romance? Is it trying to be some combination of these and missing the mark on all of them?
I knew that Adelaide would wish to visit the detective and present her case to him as soon as possible. And I would be there by her side, of course,I knew that Adelaide would wish to visit the detective and present her case to him as soon as possible. And I would be there by her side, of course, to support her as she told her story. But I had my own reason for visiting Mr. Holmes and my own story to tell him, and so I had to reach him before she did -- and I had to speak to him alone.
Synopsis: Since losing both parents to typhoid fever four years ago, Dora Joyce has lived with her Aunt Ina, a very proper Victorian matron determined to mold the inquisitive, headstrong girl in her own image. During the day, Dora has been laced into corsets and taught to waltz, but in the evenings, she's been studying the adventures of the Great Detective chronicled in the Strand magazine. Following his methods, she has sharpened her observational skills. She has good reason to believe she might be able to emulate Mr Holmes: a deathbed confession from her mother that the detective is Dora's father. Now, with her cousin facing a blackmailer threatening to destroy her marriage, Dora finally has a reason to seek out the detective in London. The day she arrives at his Baker Street address, however, she is stunned by the headline screaming from the newspapers: Sherlock Holmes Killed in Switzerland
The detective she and her cousin consult leaves Dora distinctly unimpressed, but his young assistant sparks her interest. She learns that he knew Sherlock Holmes, his name is Peter Cartwright, and he seems to find her at least a little interesting, as well. Dora decides that she - with Peter's help - will go undercover to solve the mystery herself, as any child of the Great Detective would.
Review: Scheier's debut novel is a Sherlockian pastiche with a twist of romance in with the mystery. Several mysteries, actually, since the title might refer to a number of letters and a number of secrets, all of which tangle around each other, catching the spirited teenage heroine in the middle. Dora chafes at the restrictions society - by way of her Aunt - places on her, and she longs to be accepted for the person she really is. She finds a true peer in Peter, who looks beyond surfaces just as she does. Class distinctions of the period are explored through Dora's disguise as a house servant at Hartfield Hall, a role she manages to fill surprisingly (if perhaps a tad unbelievably) well while ferreting out clues.
The first few chapters have to introduce a lot of material about the characters and the setting, but the action picks up pace after that. Plots and sub-plots intertwine as ulterior motives abound above and below stairs at Hartfield. Sly nods to the original stories pop up here and there - little Easter eggs for those familiar with the Canon. This is a satisfying blend of mystery, adventure, and romance, with just enough comedic moments (usually resulting from Dora being a bit too clever for her own good) to balance the more serious elements.
Recommend to: Historical fiction and mystery fans, ages 12 and up.
Review for Twitter: Historical mystery with a touch of romance, perfect for the budding Holmesian.
Source: Checked out from my public library....more
Girls should never be born in the year of the Fire Horse; they are especially dangerous, bringing tragedy to their families.
Jade Moon dreams of leavinGirls should never be born in the year of the Fire Horse; they are especially dangerous, bringing tragedy to their families.
Jade Moon dreams of leaving home, of escaping the tiny Chinese village where she lives alone with her father, her grandfather, and their faithful servant, surrounded by gossiping "Aunties" who are all too familiar with her many faults: clumsiness, stubbornness, and - perhaps worst of all - a longing for independence. All she can see is a future married off to a local brickmaker, but that changes with the arrival of a stranger. Sterling Promise arrives from Hong Kong with news that an uncle Jade Moon never knew she had passed away recently, leaving behind papers that could allow Sterling Promise and Jade Moon's father into the wide open promised land of America. If she could just get to that new country, Jade Moon thinks, what possibilities could await her?
The United States of 1923, though, is wary of admitting more Chinese immigrants, and Jade Moon's long sea journey is followed by detainment on Angel Island. Getting to San Francisco will take cunning and bravery, and surviving there will be even harder.
Fire Horse Girl is a complicated piece of historical fiction. Honeyman explores the life of a girl in early 20th-century China, the San Francisco of the 1920s, and the Chinese immigrant experience on Angel Island, a bit of American history little known outside the West coast. The stories aren't so much woven together as tacked onto one another, which may be why the pace drags in places. Jade Moon is a likeable character because of - rather than despite - her prickliness, as the independent nature that seems to offend her contemporaries has strong appeal for twenty-first century readers. Story-telling is a theme that recurs throughout her narration, and she is determined to tell her own story.
A lengthy author's note tells how Honeyman came to the tale and provides further information on the historical events, people, and places that inspired her, as well as a paragraph on Chinese astrology. "The next Fire Horse girls," she notes, "will be born in 2026."
Recommend to: teens who like strong heroines and a mixture of action and history with a dash of romance.
Stealing a car had been much more fun than stealing a credit card. But stealing a toddler!
Janie Johnson was 15 when she recognized the photo of herStealing a car had been much more fun than stealing a credit card. But stealing a toddler!
Janie Johnson was 15 when she recognized the photo of her three-year-old self on a milk carton and discovered she was really Jennie Spring, whose family had been hoping she would come home ever since she was kidnapped from a mall. Now in college, Janie just wants to put the past behind her, stop being known as "the kidnap kid", and move on with her life. But as her friends and family are pestered by a true crime writer and his researchers to turn her story into a best-seller, she realizes that someone out there does not want to let things go.
When The Face on the Milk Carton was first published, in 1990, it was a different world. It was a world without the Internet in every home, or a cell phone in every teenager's pocket, or, for that matter, the Internet on a cell phone in a teenager's pocket. Even when the fourth book in the series - What Janie Found - hit shelves in 2000, cancelled checks could still play a major part in the story. While 13 years have passed since that book was published, only a few years have passed for the characters when Janie Face to Face begins, with the action of the novel spread over the next several years. Because of this, Cooney spends some time allowing Janie and her friends and family to catch up, pondering the rapid changes since the day Janie used a public pay phone during her search for answers. The tendency to tell, rather than show, what is happening bogs down the pace a bit, already an issue with characters mentally recapping the first four books.
Janie's story is only part of this fifth (and final) installment of the series. Before each chapter - where the third-person narration is squarely focused on the perspective of Janie or one of her friends or family members - is a vignette from Hannah's perspective (though still third-person), beginning with "THE FIRST PIECE OF THE KIDNAPPER'S PUZZLE" and counting upward. This is the first time readers get inside Hannah's mind and find out what really happened that day in the mall. Of course, Hannah's recollections are neither unbiased nor, perhaps, wholly reliable, although Cooney gives no reason to doubt the sequence of events. Fans of the original series should find satisfying closure.
The first four books in the series have remained popular with a new generation of teens, and they were re-released in 2012 with new coordinating cover art.
Recommend to: Teens looking for suspense without gore, and adults who fondly remember the original series and always wondered about Hannah
But how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?
Three stories weave together here, all of them fascinating in their own right: the stBut how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?
Three stories weave together here, all of them fascinating in their own right: the story of the scientists at Los Alamos, including Robert Oppenheimer, the man who would become known as the father of the atomic bomb; the story of the Russian spies, including the unassuming Harry Gold, who were hard at work attempting to steal the secrets to building the atomic bomb, and the efforts of Allied forces, including Knut Haukelid and a few other dedicated Norwegian resistance fighters, to prevent the Germans from building an atomic bomb themselves. The names are important, because what Sheinkin does so splendidly is put human faces to the historic events. Literally, in fact, since each section of the book begins with a scrapbook-style double-page spread of photographs. This is an epic story, and Sheinkin lists a number of consulted sources in the back matter, but he picks out details sure to capture and hold interest all the way through.
This is a fascinating read, with appeal for older kids and teens as well as adults. It has great potential for classroom use, perhaps paired with Ellen Klages' The Green Glass Sea. MacMillan even has a Teacher's Guide (.pdf) already prepared with pointers to the Common Core State Standards. Also check out the post at Reading to the Core, which says of Bomb, "This is the kind of book you could build an entire curriculum around." Suggestions for how to begin to do so are included, of course. Don't limit this book to the classroom, though. After all, who could resist a true story of international spies and "the World's Most Dangerous Weapon"?
Recommend to: Older kids and teens (and adults) who would like a "true story" that reads like a spy thriller.