Blog Tour: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog your stop for THE VALIANT by Lesley Livingston! Thanks to the amazing team at Penguin Random House for having me be a part of the tour and share some of my favorite parts of any book… the scents! Being a candle-maker, I’m obsessed with the different scents described in books and there were a few lovely aromas in THE VALIANT that caught my eye. On today’s stop, I’m sharing some of those and have a special candle giveaway too!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston | Book Scents + Giveaway!Title: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Publishing Info: February 14, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 18, 2017
Related Posts: The Valiant (The Valiant #1)

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.


ABOUT LESLEY LIVINGSTON

Lesley Livingston is the author of Once Every Never, winner of the inaugural Copper Cylinder Award and shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the BC Stellar Book Award. She is also the author of the Wondrous Strange and Starling trilogies. She lives in Toronto. 

BOOK SCENTS: THE VALIANT

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THE VALIANT! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

 

“Now. Into the cold pool and scrub off as much of that travel muck as you can. Gruoch will be back to assist you once she’s disposed of those rags. You’ve probably both got fleas so use the sopa — it’s got rosemary and lavender to kill the little buggers — and lather it through your hair. Thoroughly. More than once. And don’t dawdle.”

Inspiration: Roman baths
Fragrances: Lavender, rosemary, clean soap smells

When I got to the practice yard, I saw it had been decorated for the occasion. Garlands of green leaves and sheaves of lavender and lemon verbena hung between the pillars of the courtyard colonnades, perfuming the night air with heady scents that mingled with the smoke from the braziers.

Inspiration: Huntress Moon Oath
Fragrances: Lemon verbena, lavender, greenery, smoke

With the door to the hallway open, the subtle perfume of lilacs on the window sill was displaced by a heavier, cloying haze of incense.

Inspiration: House of Venus
Fragrances: Lilac, musk, cloves

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE VALIANT!

Week One
2/13 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Gladiator Makeup
2/14 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Interview
2/15 – Alexa Loves Books – Weapon Spotlight: Bow & Arrow
2/16 – Novel Novice – Review
2/17 – Arctic Books – Review + Book Look
Week Two
2/20 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post
2/21 – What Sarah Read – Review + Mood Board
2/22 – Mundie Moms – Weapon Spotlight: Shield
2/23 – ButterMyBooks – Author Interview
2/24 – Fiction Fare – Weapon Spotlight: Dimachaerus
Week Three
2/27 – Oh the Book Feels – Author Interview
2/28 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Weapon Spotlight: Gladius
3/1 – No More Grumpy Bookseller – Review
3/2 – The YA Book Traveler – Weapon Spotlight: Trident & Net
3/3 – My Friends Are Fiction – Author Guest Post
Week Four
3/6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Weapon Spotlight: Spear
3/7 – A Page with a View – Like/Try/Why
3/8 – The Young Folks – Author Guest Post
3/9 – Icey Books – Quote Candy + Review
3/10 – Book Addict’s Guide – Bookish Scents

GIVEAWAY

There are TWO exciting giveaways for my stop on the blog tour today! The first is through Penguin for a chance to win a copy of the book! See rules and details below and enter the first Rafflecopter form for you chance to win!

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 13, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 15, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The second giveaway is my own personal contribution to this blog tour stop because I turned one of these book scents into a VALIANT-inspired candle! The candle giveaway is for one 8oz tin of “Huntress Moon Oath” with scents of lemon verbena, lavender, fern, and smoke. Open to US entries only. Must be 13 years of age or older to win. Candle giveaway open from 3/10/17 through 3/17/17. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

The Valiant Candle

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Redesign Reactions [9]: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Welcome to Redesign Reactions, where we talk about books, covers, and what happens when new cover designs take over a series!

On this edition of Redesign Reactions, let’s talk about
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The paperback version of CARRY ON is coming out in May and the cover got a redesign! I feel like most paperbacks come out with new cover designs and I like the marketing behind this decision! It’s a chance to give the book a fresh look, grab new readers who weren’t grabbed by the original cover, and collectors will want to add these new beauties to their collections. Let’s take a look at the new paperback cover for CARRY ON!

 

OLD COVER: Rainbow Rowell is a BIG name nowadays, so I remember being very disappointed when the original cover reveal happened. Messy silhouettes? Funky type that also looks disorganized? Yellow and light blue and red? It was all just so boring and pretty lack-luster for a Rainbow Rowell cover. I’ve loved the simple and yet adorable covers of her previous books and I understand that CARRY ON is very different and doesn’t need to look the same, but this was a total miss for me.

NEW COVERS: When I saw the new cover for CARRY ON my first reaction was YEAHHHH!! Okay, so I still haven’t read the book (oops), but this is everything I was expecting for a major author with an epic new book coming out. Dudes! Wands! PURPLE! A dragon! A badass scarf and blazer and this is the kind of typography I was looking for! It still looks a little doodled and hand-drawn but it’s not sloppy and all over the place. It’s more structured and placed much better.

Which do I like better? It’s a np-brainer for me. Literally EVERYTHING about the paperback cover is more appealing to me and that’s what would draw me in if I knew nothing about the book or author. I think this redesign was a slam dunk!

So tell me! Which design do you like better? Take the poll below and let me know in the comments which you prefer and why! I’d love to hear your reactions!

Which covers for CARRY ON do you like better: Original or redesign? Take the poll at @bookaddictguide! Click To Tweet

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere – Neil GaimanTitle: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: September 2, 2003 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 21, 2016
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

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NEVERWHERE was such a magical experience! I have Alyssa to thank for introducing me to Neil Gaiman and telling me to listen to the audio of this book and actually buying the audiobook for me! Neil Gaiman is an amazing narrator and I always love listening to authors narrate their own story because nothing is left to interpretation. You know they’re reading it exactly the way they want it told.

As much as the whole experience was magical, the characters really made the book. I absolutely loved Richard who is a sweet little cinnamon roll and just so much fun to follow on this journey. He’s so pure of heart and gets into this whole mess because he stops to help a stranger in need. I loved his sweet disposition throughout the book and he was just so utterly charming. I really connected with his characters so much. I also loved strong yet sweet Door and the quest that she’s on throughout this book. She’s a wonderful mix of confident, independent, caring, and thoughtful. And of course I loved the Marquis de Carabas who is part slick, part mentor, part questionable, and part father-figure. He was that character that I love who seems a little bit questionable and has a lot of gray areas when it comes to morals or doing the right thing but when it comes down to it, he really ends up protecting the other characters and has a soft spot deep down.

I will admit that the journey got a bit fantastical for me (which Alyssa warned me might happen because she knows my tastes so well). It wasn’t a bad thing at all, but I’m very much a rule person when it comes to fantasy worlds (which is why I get along with high fantasy so well!) so in spots where the reader is constantly learning about new places or meeting new people with no added history of what/who they are or why they’re a part of the story, my mind just begins to wander and tries to logic them into place, which isn’t the intent of the book. Again, not a bad thing and not something I mean to critique — just a point of why it wasn’t total 100% five stars for me! But when reading stories like these, I try my best just to go with the story and allow myself to get lost in it. I tried to take on Richard’s mentality of suspending the disbelief, which was fun too because it was a struggle for him!

I absolutely LOVED the ending of NEVERWHERE. I won’t spoil anything of course but it was such a wonderful way to wrap everything up. I loved being able to see Richard really figure out what he wants in the end and the final appearance of everyone just warmed my heart! I’m never disappointed in the endings of Neil Gaiman books and really, that’s such a crucial part for me as a reader. A bad ending could ruin a whole book and Neil Gaiman always wraps things up so wonderfully.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

NEVERWHERE was an amazing audiobook for many reasons. Firstly, because Neil Gaiman himself narrates it. He has such an amazing narration voice and I just love when authors narrate their own books because you know that everything is pronounced right, the inflections are all correct, and nothing is missed. It was also SO COOL because there were some neat sound effects (echoes when in a tunnel, muffled voices and static on the phone, etc) and I was just so giddy to hear them! They really made the experience so special. And if you read this, be sure to get HOW THE MARQUIS GOT HIS COAT BACK on audio too! I paid a few bucks for it but it was the full BBC production with a full cast, lots of sound effects, music — it was SO entertaining and so worth the cost of a cup of coffee for that.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantastical worlds. I do love fantasy but I’ll admit that I’m more of a high fantasy person than books that involve creatures and things like that. I did enjoy this zany other side of London and it was so much fun to experience in this sort of setting!
Left Me Wanting More: Rules. I always love world-building that has a lot of rules. It sets up a great structure for me and I adapt better to rules than to whimsy!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of any type of fantasy, NEVERWHERE is a great read. It’s fun and light and still maintains a world of depth and danger.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWHERE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE MAGICIANS

Top Ten Tuesday – February 28, 2017: Favorite #bookstagram Photos of Mine

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TOP TEN TUESDAY
February 28, 2017

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic was a freebie!

I always come up with these great ideas for some freebies or variations on topics with the best intentions like bookish infographics or the best #bookstagram photos out there! But I neglected to save all of the cool infographics I’ve come across and aside from the fact that I haven’t saved Instagram photos from other accounts, there’s no way I could pick ten favorites from all of the amazingly talented people out there! So once again, we end up viewing personal favorites from my own collection.

I’ve been getting more and more into taking those neat #bookstagram photos and it’s interesting to see how things have come along over the years! Photos that I was proud of last year look totally horrible to me now and I feel like I’ve really worked on my lighting and props to come up with some really solid photos. I’m not photographer and I don’t have the skills that some other bookstagrammers do but I’m pretty proud of some of these photos! I picked my top ten favorites from my Instagram account to share today. (In order from most recent told oldest, for convenience.)

LUNARTIC SHELFIE | January 13, 2017
I had finally gotten around to taking a new selfie after the addition of HEARTLESS and special Owlcrate edition of HEARTLESS… but it’s already outdated because I’ve since added WIRES AND NERVE to my Marissa Meyer collection! OH DARN going to have to take another one…

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

SIMON TEEN ON THE SCENE | December 24, 2016
Simon Teen sent this AWESOME blogger package and I was thrilled to receive these books AND a mug! I really liked the way this photo turned out as far as lighting went and I think it looks nice in more muted tones instead of amping up the saturation. I also loved the pop of the plaid scarf for some reason!

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

CARAVAL, COFFEE, AND COOKIES | November 12, 2016
I did it for the ‘gram when I set up this photo while on vacation and bought two more macarons just so I could get the fancy box for my Instagram photo. What can I say… their packaging totally succeed in getting me to buy more! They were all delicious and to this day, I still miss them and want more. I was reading CARAVAL while in Salem with my BFFs (and I also miss this whole trip to this day because it was glorious) and this all came together for an interesting photo that’s apparently pretty popular on Tumblr.

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

HALLOWEEN AND SERIAL KILLERS | October 31, 2016
I got to interview STALKING JACK THE RIPPER author Kerri Maniscalco for our Fortnight of Fright blog event and so naturally, I had to take another photo of her book with the Foggy Knight candle! The lighting on this one highlighted the blood splatter so beautifully and I love it so.

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

AN ABUNDANCE OF CINDERS | August 29, 2016
I added some new versions of CINDER to my Lunar Chronicles collection and I had to snap a photo of them! I was too tired to drag the whole collection out so I just grabbed all of the copies of CINDER I had instead!

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

THE SUN SHINES ON THE SHELFIE | August 21, 2016
This was the first FULL shelfie I had taken in a while and the sun left a night highlight in the middle. It’s hard to get the whole bookcase in one shot and I liked the way this one turned out!

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

A STACK OF THRONES | August 6, 2016
This photo isn’t very complicated but sometimes those simple, clean photos are the best. I simply stacked my mass markets of A Song of Ice and Fire, popped some color in, and added a candle to complete the scene!

MY SORCERER’S STONE | July 30, 2016
I used a prompt from a photo challenge to come up with this photo. It was a “House Cup” challenge, so I represented my house of Ravenclaw and the other part of the prompt was “Horcruxes versus Hallows”. Secret? My husband and I both had rock collections when we were kids and we both still have them haha! So I went into the basement to sort through our rocks to find one that was Sorcerer’s Stone-appropriate and this was what I got! Also, have you ever included your hand in a photo? Whether it’s holding a stone or a mug, it’s REALLY hard to get your fingers to cooperate and look delicate instead of clunky and awkward.

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

ANGRY IN NANTUCKET | May 27, 2016
This was another photo prompt for some underrated reads and I chose books by Louise Rozett and Leila Howland. Another simple, clean photo turned out be one of my favorites.

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS | May 12, 2016
This photo was a totally random moment that I took after a day on the floor of BEA 2016. I had just stacked up my books on the bed to assess what I had picked up and was chilling out with my delicious Starbucks when I decided to snap a photo of my current view because it looked like the perfect photo opp. I think all I did was make sure the coffee was at a good angle and move that clutch further into the photo frame to round it out and it turned out pretty awesome! I think this is actually the Instagram photo of mine with the most likes ever. Go figure!

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on


Are you a bookstagrammer? Do you take the time to set up photos or is it just more work than it’s worth for you?

Discussion: Spoilers… How Soon is Too Soon?

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SPOILERS: HOW SOON IS TOO SOON?

How soon is too soon to publicly talk about a major book/movie/TV show spoiler? Ah, that’s the age-old question. I think we as a book community tend to be a little bit more aware of how we talk about spoilers because a reading experience is so much more time-consuming than a (single) viewing experience and we understand that not everyone will have finished a book by the time we’ve finished. I feel like it’s also more common to read a book long after its release date, where spoilers will still need to remain secret. And even though I feel like reading has never been more of a social experience as it is now, I feel that it can still be the least talked-about media when directly comparing books, movies, and TV shows.

No matter the form of media, there’s always a window where fans refrain from revealing any spoilers so other fans can also enjoy the experience (well, we hope everyone is so considerate. I think we have a fairly good track record with this in the book community). So how long should fans wait before openly discussing spoilers? A month? A year? Forever? I don’t think we’ll ever have a definitive answer. Personally, I try to avoid all spoilers at all times, because you just never know who is going to be a new member of a fandom that’s exploring these stories for the first time… BUT I’ll also admit to openly discussing major spoilers for major MAJOR series like Harry Potter, where the books have been out for decades and the movies have been out for a number of years so I assume the spoilers have already been revealed to whoever may be exposed to them. That still may not be safe though. I still know quite a few friends who haven’t read or watched Harry Potter and some who just did so for the first time and managed to avoid major spoilers before they did so. That just tells me that it’s really never safe to speak openly about these things because there’s always someone who will be starting this journey for the first time.

I do understand that the media may not feel the same way, but I also feel like some forms of media are being way too cavalier about throwing spoilers around. I’ve read all of the books in A Song of Ice and Fire but I’ve only made it through the first few seasons of the TV show, and as most Game of Thrones fans know, the TV has gone in a few different directions from the series and has also started progressing beyond the books. I personally would rather read the books first, even if they are different (and that’s not the reason I’m still behind on the TV show) because even though the show is different in a lot of ways, it still might have parallels to the book series and I’d rather experience those twists while I’m reading versus watching. I finally came to the point where I knew I was going to get spoiled because I was so many seasons behind so I didn’t go out looking for what happened but if there was something major, I willingly acknowledged it instead of being upset and trying to hide from it.
Where I get upset is the media maybe being bit too jumpy to hang onto those spoilers to use them as attention grabbers. A major magazine had posted about a big show spoiler the day after it aired. Now that was just way, way, WAY too soon. Even if you’re someone who watches the show, maybe you were on vacation, away from the TV, or taking care of something more important the night that it aired and you didn’t have time to watch the show that night. That magazine just took that experience away from many, many fans who happened to not watch the show live and I think that is a definite no-no.

Where the lines blur a bit starts around a few months after a show has aired or a book has come out. I think for a book, I’d tend to wait until around six months to a year before I would even think about revealing a spoiler on social media but not everyone feels the same way. For TV shows, it seems to be even less. It’s been a few months since a big Game of Thrones reveal and a major wireless network used the twist in one of their recent commercials. The “star” of the commercial is quoting lines from major movies and TV shows in his regular life, proving that he’s experiencing the network’s features for movies & TV, but no other quote was a spoiler except for this major Game of Thrones one. He then says to his comrades in the elevator after dumping this spoiler on them, “You guys watch Game of Thrones, right?” Well, buddy, if they didn’t, you just spoiled something major for them. I guess if you don’t watch the show, it doesn’t matter to you one way or another. But if you’re behind and in the process of catching up, then your experience just got ruined. This was one that I found out about shortly after it had happened because people couldn’t stop talking about so it wasn’t a huge spoiler to me, but I also felt like it was still too soon to use in a major commercial.

 

This really all came up because this past week’s Modern Family also mentioned the same Game of Thrones spoiler and even described it in more detail, not just referenced the now-infamous line. Even though I knew that it happened, now I know even more about it that I didn’t get to learn by watching the TV show. To a certain extent, I know it’s my own “fault”. I could find the time to catch up with the TV show and being seasons behind, I logically can’t expect all spoilers to stay hidden forever, especially with such a popular series, but at the same time, I do think more precaution could be taken to at least not reveal spoilers in another form of media as a passing comment.

Spoilers come in all shapes and sizes, and through many different forms of media. Whether it’s a family member who doesn’t understand what a spoiler is and reveals a twist in the new Star Wars movie, a character aesthetic on Tumblr that reveals a character death, or an article in Shelf Awareness spoiling the last season of Downton Abbey for you (and yes, these all happened to me), it may never be possible to avoid all spoilers all the time. I do the best I can to keep the surprises alive. I like to go in blind to most of my books, not looking back at the synopsis before I start it to try to keep the reading experience totally fresh. I try to avoid Goodreads until I’ve finished that super popular series-ender so I make sure I don’t see someone else’s reactions that may reveal a secret or two that I haven’t experienced yet. I try to skip over images, memes, and aesthetics that might have a little too much about a book or show that I haven’t yet experienced… but there’s only so much a person can do to stay totally in the dark when we’re all so constantly connected.

Again, I think the book community has the best track record for keeping spoilers locked up, or maybe it just seems like that to me because I’m so personally invested in this community. I’m not sure how that really differs from a TV or movie fandom — or maybe it’s just because I’ve been spoiled for more movies and TV shows than I have books, even though I read many more books than I watch TV. It’s just a theory of mine with no real details to back it up!

Regardless of which form of media you’re experiencing, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how long you hang onto spoilers before you talk about them! Do you always keep them under wraps, only speaking about them with clear spoiler tags and warnings? Do you feel safe talking about twists after a few months? Or a year? Does it make a difference to you how quickly you talk about a TV show versus a movie versus a book? I’d love to know your general thoughts!

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

MINI REVIEWS

I went on a Sherlock Holmes kick around the holidays (yes, I know I’m quite behind with my book reviews) and I ended up grabbing a few audiobooks for some quick and fun reads! Sherlock Holmes novels are some of the few classics I truly enjoy and the audios were on sale and cheap! I really enjoy how clever these books are and they’re also quick!


Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: November 30, 2009 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 14, 2016

As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation - which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog and a love affair - even the jaded Holmes is moved to exclaim, 'Isn't it gorgeous!'

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I’m not sure if I was too distracted for this (which I was), but I just really didn’t click with it. Whereas I picked up on the writing techniques with A STUDY IN SCARLET, I either didn’t pick it up here or just wasn’t in the mood for it with THE SIGN OF FOUR. Surprisingly (for not having read much Sherlock Holmes yet), the “telling” style continues with this novel and there’s a unexpected amount of recounting stories instead of witnessing action. I love the characters as I always do but this story wasn’t a hit for me.

I also just didn’t find this story line as intriguing as I had with A STUDY IN SCARLET. I think it felt a little more “out there” and I felt some disconnect with the end game. It didn’t quite hold its appeal for me but I do always love Watson dearly. I honestly barely remember what happened (although I’m writing this months later) except for the parts that I remembered were a little strange. This one just wasn’t a stand-out for me at all, and I was really bummed because I had become so convinced that I adored all of Sherlock Holmes because I enjoyed A STUDY IN SCARLET so much and I enjoy so many adaptations so it’s kind of a let down to feel so meh about this one. I guess I need to keep reading and see if the styles change any as the mysteries continue!


Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Red-Headed League (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: November 30, 2009 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 13, 2016

In The Redheaded League, Holmes is engaged upon two seemingly unrelated cases, a daring bank robbery and the disappearance of a pawnbroker's assistant. Using minute details of the small mystery, he is able to solve the larger one. "Depend upon it," says Holmes to Watson in A Case of Identity, "there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace." Holmes is as fascinated by the story of a common young woman whose groom has vanished on the way to the altar as he has been by the woes of kings. He sharpens his powers of detection by putting together scattered facts to form a powerful and unexpected accusation. Holmes tells Watson about one of his first cases, The Musgrave Ritual; one that helped make him famous. Two servants of an English nobleman disappear. By following a trail of obscure clues left behind in an old parchment, Holmes discovers the crown of a former King of England.


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THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE was just a quick, short story but it was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the quick and concise mystery and it was a little silly in theory but of course, it all works out in the end. I like that it was wrapped up so quickly and I think I enjoy the Holmes short stories more than the full-length novels in that respect. Whereas THE SIGN OF FOUR felt a little dragged out, THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE was obviously zippy due to its short length. Even though it was also a little silly, it was also just more fun in nature.

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #7) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: December 6, 2012 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 26, 2016

In this holiday-themed short story, Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, follow the trail of a lost hat and a Christmas goose through the streets of London and into a rapidly expanding mystery.


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Another quick Holmes adventure via audio for my car ride to work. A perfect little holiday novella for the day after Christmas was a fun and festive ride. I’m starting to notice that all Holmes stories have a bit too much “tell” to them where either Holmes reveals everything through a narrative or the culprit tells all at the end, so it’s not as much fun as having some more things revealed bit by bit, but I always do love the clues jam-packed into a story that only Holmes can point out. This one was fun with holiday theme at the right time and I actually did like the Holmes reveal a bit more in this one since it was such a short story.

Discussion: On Being the Black Sheep

discussion

ON BEING THE BLACK SHEEP READER

Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday post prompted bloggers to write about books that they liked more or less than they thought they would. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m the black sheep on a LOT of books! By this point in time in my “reading career”, I know what kind of books I like, what genres I prefer, what writing styles I don’t get along with, etc… but sometimes you just don’t know that a writing style or a character flaw or a huge red flag will throw you off until you start reading. If it’s not a book that’s been getting a ton of attention, I’ll usually DNF or put it to the side and check out reviews some time in the future but for many big-name authors or highly hyped books, I end up asking myself what’s wrong with me and why I didn’t like this book as much as the rest of the world.

Being the black sheep can kind of suck. A lot. I’m okay with being the one that doesn’t like what everyone else does. There are plenty of things that I’m not keen on that the world seems to love and it doesn’t bother me: Football. The color pink. Songs on the radio. Shopping. Makeup. I couldn’t care less to be in the minority there… but when it’s books it’s just… different. I actually don’t mind being in the minority on a book and being the one who didn’t like it when everyone else did but the real sting happens because I actually care about what other people are reading. I want to like the same books as my best friends — I mean, I met them through blogging and books are how we met and something that we bond about every single day — so when my friends love something and I don’t, it’s more personal than me just having a different taste than everyone else. You don’t have to like all of the same things as your friends but when they’re passionate about something and you’re not, being the black sheep feels even worse. (And then I’m afraid my friends are going to dump me.)

Aside from being the odd man out, sometimes I feel just plain uncouth. I’ve tried many, many times and I’m just not a person who connects with certain reading styles or trying to read some classics (again). When I’m the odd person out on a book that had beautiful writing, I can see that it’s there but it’s just not something I connect with. I can certainly appreciate an author’s writing style and I’m not a person who needs action for a book to be interesting or moving, but there are some styles that I just don’t click with and I feel just plain dumb when I don’t. I end up feeling like my friends are so much more sophisticated for enjoying those styles while I allow myself to be swept away in an action-packed fantasy or fluffy contemporary novel. And I know, I know, we all read what we want and no shame in that, and I really don’t have shame in what I enjoy reading. Sometimes I just feel ashamed when I don’t enjoy something and like I really should have loved it too. (Thankfully my friends haven’t left me yet so that’s good.)

Then there are the times where I feel just plain crazy being the black sheep on a book. Or rather, I ask myself, is everyone else crazy? I don’t feel bad when I don’t enjoy a book because of poor plot structure, undeveloped characters, or cheesy romances but then I wonder how so many people loved the same book and rated it five stars when I rated it two or three. These are the moments that stump me the most. I know not everyone will enjoy a book but five stars??? Versus my two/three??? How did these people enjoy this book so much and I didn’t? I guess a lot of it has to do with personal preference, of course, and a lot of my reading experiences really have to do with timing. Books that I read early on in my blogging career were easy, fun, and exciting in many cases because I hadn’t read anything like them.

TWILIGHT was great when I was a teenager because it was popular, dramatic, and I hadn’t read a book about vampires before. SWEET EVIL was like, the best book ever when I read it and as the years went by and I tried to continue the series, I easily fell out of love with writing, concept, and pretty much everything about it, not even making it to the last book. I read these at points in my life that were perfect moments to read these books and if I read them now, they would be cheesy and I’m sure I wouldn’t love them at all like I had all those years ago. And maybe this is the case with all of these books that people are enjoying that I’m not. Maybe these people are reading them at a good time in their life and these are moments when they’re just enjoying a book and not really caring about plot holes or cheesy moments. I know I do that a lot with books — if I’m really enjoying something, I just roll with it and don’t even care if an author uses the wrong scientific term or forgot that something happened three years ago and not five. Then there are the books where a red flag throws me off in the very beginning and I pick everything else apart from there.

It’s not that I need to fit in with every book but sometimes it’s hard being the opposite of a crowd when it’s something that’s so popular! Seeing merch everywhere for the book, raving reviews, reading updates… it’s all just so… blah and makes me wish that I at least liked it a little bit so I could understand where everyone is coming from. Thankfully, I know myself well enough that I like what I like and I don’t what I don’t and I don’t have to “fit in” with the crowd, even if it means I’m the crazy one who didn’t like the new hit release!

The one shining moment about being the black sheep on a book is when you find other black sheep. We don’t need to fit in but there is some validation of your reactions and feelings and it’s like WOOOOO! Someone else who agrees! I know plenty of us are happy to be ourselves or even to go against the grain but deep down, it’s human nature to want to connect with someone and enjoy the same things that someone else does. Find another black sheep to rant and revel with can be a glorious moment when you find it, so there’s always at least one silver lining in those black sheep reads!


Do you find yourself being on the opposite of popular books and reviews? Do you ever feel like the odd person out when it comes to those black sheep reads? Tell me your stories!