The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg

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BOOK BLURB

Dr. John Watson, his son Dr. John Watson Jr, along with the help of Joanna Blalock, the daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, solve the mystery behind a man Joanna and her young son saw falling from a building. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #1 in The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries
  • References to cases of Sherlock Holmes
  • Light reading

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️

This was a book I was excited to read. I thought a mystery with the daughter of Sherlock Holmes was a great premise. It is a great premise and it is a good book for light, easy reading. I was hoping for a bit more substance and found myself rolling my eyes often. My first eye roll occurred when I realized that all of the original characters’ children went into the same careers as their parents. Even Detective Lestrade’s son is a detective and the murderer is a son of a murderer from Sherlock’s time. As the detective work progressed everything came so easily to the trio. Every person they interviewed gave them the information they needed and they didn’t really seem to come against any obstacle. I found these characters lacked substance and I found myself not interested in them at all. 

His Majesty’s Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal

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After going through training Maggie is ready to start her first assignment as a spy where she will be dropped into Germany and gather information from top Nazis. But is she really as prepared as she thought she was? 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #3 in the Maggie Hope Mystery series
  • World War ll
  • Historical mystery
  • Woman spy
  • Nazis euthanasia of those they saw as defective, including children
  • Ongoing storylines from past books in the series

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

I had about an even amount of things that I loved about this book and things I didn’t.

I had trouble connecting with the characters even though this is the third book in the series. Many of the characters, old and new, seemed to do things out of the blue that didn’t really fit with the rest of their actions and there wasn’t any explanation for it. There was also a storyline with a very side character that didn’t really fit with the rest of the book and I’m not sure what the point of it was. The plot moved a bit slowly for me and when it would pick up something would very conveniently happen that then slowed it back down. 

I did really love the historical aspects of the book. I had no idea the Nazis were killing children that were ill. There were many other mentions of things the Nazis were doing that had me doing research to see if it was true. I love learning about things I didn’t know before especially with the many World War ll books there are. I enjoyed the unique looks into some of the things happening. 

The things Maggie experiences in Germany leave her broken. I do look forward to the next book to see how, and if, Maggie recovers. 

Penny For Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber

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BOOK BLURB

Verity and her husband, Sidney, continue to adjust to the end of the war. While their relationship is sturdier now, Sidney continues to struggle with demons. They soon find themselves involved in investigating two deaths. First, is the death of Verity’s friend Ada’s husband, Lord Rockham. Then the death of a former Secret Sister colleague’s sister. Though the two deaths seem to have no connection, Verity begins to wonder if they are in fact connected. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #3 in Verity Kent series
  • Look into upper class England in 1919
  • Historical fiction/ mystery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I found Penny For Your Secrets engaging and fun to read. I loved the look into what life is like after a war.  Not just for individuals but also society as all have changed and people must decide if things will go back to the way they were before or if the changes are good changes that should continue. 

I continue to enjoy Verity and Sidney and their relationship. Because of the war they have both changed and were not together as those changes happened. I enjoy watching them as they navigate who they each have become while also adjusting to who their spouse has become. 

The mysteries were engaging and had me guessing and I really loved the historical looks into 1919 and learning about a British cargo ship whose crew vanished during the war. 

I received a copy of Penny For Your Secrets from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Tale of Two Takes

Michele

In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster makes the point that you can make your everyday reading experience more rewarding and enjoyable by looking more closely at what you are reading and finding symbols and themes, along with other similar devices. Foster writes that when the average reader reads a book they focus on the story and the characters. They respond to their reading on an emotional level.

“Writers tend to be men and women who are interested in the world around them. That world contains many things, and on the level of society, part of what it contains is the political reality of the time – power structures, relations among classes, issues of justice and rights, interactions between the sexes and among various racial and ethnic constituencies.”

When a reader takes the time to read more closely looking for significance, symbolism, theme, meaning, pretty much anything except character and plot the reader has an added depth to the experience.

IMG_5741I first read How to Read Literature Like a Professor probably about 5 or 6 years ago. I was very intrigued by the idea of getting more out of my reading and  becoming a “serious” reader. As I picked up this book to read again, now 6 years after the original reading, I started the book not quite as intrigued at getting more out of my reading because I realized in the 6 years since the original reading I am not any closer to employing any of the skills he taught. I didn’t feel that during that time my reading had suffered, I felt that I had read some great books and had gotten a lot out of them. So on my second read I was much more skeptical. In reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor I have discovered that I read a book for the emotional experience I have. I love having all the emotional responses that reading often brings, rage, laughter, crying, peace. I read to get a look into other people’s lives. I love to people watch and I feel a book is just like people watching only you get more than what you are observing in one moment of time. I love to read to learn more about people that are different then I am and try to understand them. I feel that reading helps me to develop empathy for people whose lives are different than my own because I can see why people make the choices they make and I realize I don’t have all the details so judging is pointless. These are the some of the reasons I love to read.

As I read How to Read literature Like a Professor I kept thinking that reading for depth over the emotional journey takes all the fun out of the experience. Instead of going along for the ride you have to keep stopping and figure out why the ride is there in the first place. I also am not convinced that in writing a book an author isn’t also writing to provide an emotional experience but is wanting the reader to dig through every word to find meaning that is hidden. I don’t think authors always hide what it is they want to say. Also reading closely takes too much work. I don’t watch very much TV. Reading is the way I relax. I don’t want to be working when I relax. When I read a book and someone drowns, I don’t want to stop and wonder what that means. If someone drowns, then I get to experience the emotions that come with the drowning. If the character is able to get out of the water then I get to experience the emotions that come with a rescue or maybe it just means the character can swim. A great book for me brings out emotion, makes me feel. I think that looking for meanings, reading closely, is forcing that emotion to happen.

Kennerley

As both a casual reader and a future professor, I enjoy How to Read Literature Like a Professor  by Thomas Foster because it is the basis of how and why I read.

“When an English professor reads, on the other hand, he [or she] will accept the effective response level of the story, but a lot of his [or her] attention will be engaged by other elements of the novel? Where did that effect come from? Whom does this character resemble? Where have I seen this situation before? . . . If you learn to ask these questions, to see literary texts through these glasses, you will read and understand literature in a new light, and it’ll become more interesting and fun.” (xxvii)

I first read How to Read during the summer before my high school AP Literature course, back when I thought I knew everything about literature. So it was interesting to return to the revised edition just months after my graduation and see if Foster held up after I learned directly from professors how to read. And it does, so much so that I wished I had reread the book more seriously for my introductory English courses, because the concepts I had such a difficult time are laid out clearly. These concepts include ideas like what Fosters calls “the grammar of literature,” that literature, like any art form, has a kind of code or set of conventions which can be identified and then analyzed for meaning. It was understanding literature on a deeper level that took me from a casual reader who didn’t know what was so important about a wheelbarrow in the rain to a scholar-of-sorts.

IMG_5742 (1)This being said, not everyone reads like this, and that’s okay. Foster, while being an engaging and lively voice, is an academic and values analysis as a fundamental part of his reading style. Not everyone wants to read the Greek classics just so they can understand something they’re reading from this decade or use words like “intertextuality.” Not everyone needs to recognize every allusion the author makes in a work, or understanding the minute historical underpinnings of a text. And that’s okay. We need different kinds of readers, just as we need different kind of writers and artists and consumers and so on. However, I read the way that I read “like a professor” (though that probably gives me more credit that I deserve) because I enjoy it. I enjoy consuming a text, and then picking at the bones for the hidden bits of meat. I enjoy finding a snag in a booksomething that doesn’t make sense to me—using that to formulate a question, and then trying to find the answer to that question in the book (and it is my fervent belief that the best of literature poses difficult questions). I enjoy experiencing the emotions a poem gives me, and then going back to understand how the poem impacted me the way that it did. I enjoy finding meaning in works that reflect a world that sometimes feels meaningless.

So if you find yourself in my camp of close readers, Foster may have something new to show you about the (not-so) secretive world of literary criticism. Or, at the very least, some patterns he reveals may conjure up new meaning in a familiar book and set you on a fulfilling path of closer reading.

Have you read How to Read Literature Like a Professor?How do you read, more like Michele or Kennerley? What book captures your personal reading philosophy? What books from high school English would you revisit? Let us know in the comments! And stick around: book reviews to come every Tuesday and Friday.