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In my mailbox

 

I am still good at not buying anything. But when I saw the following non-fiction book available on Netgalley I could not resist.

For review

  • Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
    I have read about Huguette Clark a few times in news magazines and always wanted to find out more about her.

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

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The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This is a completely new take on Sherlock Holmes. Instead of making Watson the buffoon, they do it with Holmes. Even though Matt Frewer might be a good Holmes as far as looks go, but he plays him in such an exaggerated way, gesturing wildly, rolling the eyes, jumping back and forward like a complete nutcase, that I found that this movie’s only saving grace is that you see Holmes much less than in other versions.  Even though the other actors are not bad at  all I just couldn’t get over the fact that Holmes was a complete loonie.

In the hotel room scene where Holmes shows his excellent deducting skills with the anonymous letter and “The Times” Watson keeps on smiling benevolently as if his favourite pet monkey had just done some extraordinary performance. Their relationship was rather strange and I could not imagine that those two are friends. Holmes would have fit perfectly into a Black Adder episode as the idiot friend of Black Adder, I especially can envisage him as Prince George who was so splendidly brought to life by Hugh Laurie.

Really, a completely disastrous Holmes adaptation, thanks to Matt Frewer. The first 4 minutes should give you a good idea. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb.com

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The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Button

Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

Hopefully you are enjoying your stay at my blog and have a look around. Lately I have been reviewing a lot of cozy mysteries and cook books, but if you look at earlier posts you will find a variety of genres and topics, my reading taste is rather eclectic. If you would like to know about future giveaways and new posts in general please consider subscribing to my RSS feed or follow me on twitter. You can also add me on Google+.

With the beginning of summer we are all thinking about vacation, sun, heat and (possibly) the odd lonely island. To put everybody in the right mood I chose “Robinson Crusoe” as my giveaway. It is a used copy in the sense that we had it on our shelf, but it is unread.

Cover Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

From Goodreads:

Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being.

Enter the giveaway:

To enter just leave a comment telling me what books you would take on a lonely island (no books on how to make a boat/raft etc. or how to catch fish, please!). If you comment without answering I will delete your comment in order to make it fair for all participants.

The other participants

Don’t forget to hop on to the other participating blogs! You will find the complete list on Judith’s Leeswammes’ blog. Have fun and good luck with all the giveaways.

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The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

 Cover The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Insurance investigator tries to prove a murder (or three)

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Absolutely. I loved it.

For people who: old fashioned like detective novels, modern detective novels, epistolary novels


My thoughts:

The Notting Hill Mystery is said to be the first detective novel (published 1862-1863), even though some claim otherwise. Whether it is or not is irrelevant. I was so mesmerized by it I couldn’t put it down. Even though the crime and the perpetrator are clear from the start the suspense comes from finding out how the murderer did it and how the detective finds evidence. Not that we ever accompany the detective on his investigations, the whole book is a presentation of evidence in the form of floor plans, letters, statements and testimonials from witnesses and I can only begin to imagine how much time and effort it cost poor Henderson to track down people and get them to cooperate. There are dubious circus managers, insurance clerks, maids fired for petty theft, there is no end to the list of people who have something to contribute.

Things that nowadays take 5 minutes to find out with the help of an email to Australia, must have taken months then, but Henderson perseveres. A word of caution: In order to go with the flow and accept the solution to the mystery you need to be open to rather esoteric (or mumbo jumbo, depending on your point of view) topics,  but, really, the story is so well told and from so many different perspectives that it hardly matters whether you believe in animal magnetism or not.

Baron R** deserves a place among the top fiends in detective fiction.  He achieves the results he wants in such a casual way that people who do his bidding actually do not even realize this and rather think he wanted them to do the opposite. Very admirable, when you come to think of it. Even at the end of the book it is more than questionable whether his crimes can ever be proven and whether he can be prosecuted (let alone convicted). It is obvious he did it, but nailing him down is another matter. Brilliant!

Right from the start The Notting Hill Mystery reminded me of another favourite detective novel by Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace which came much later (1930) called “The documents in the case”. In that book the whole case is presented in the form of documents (letters, witness reports etc.) without any detective work as we know it going on.

Absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend it.


Product info and buy link :

Title The Notting Hill Mystery
Author Charles Warren Adams
Publisher The British Library Publishing Division
ISBN 9780712358590
I got this book from John
Buy link Buy The Notting Hill Mystery
More info Read about The Notting Hill Mystery in The Guardian
And some more info Find The Notting Hilly Mystery at the Internet Archive (Links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article)

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Simply delicious Amish cooking by Sherry Gore

Cover Simply Delicious Amish Cooking by Sherry Gore

 

I was a tiny bit disappointed with this book. Not so much with the contents but the presentation. For some reason the lovely cover made me anticipate tons of color photos of Amish life, farms, kitchens and what not, but all it offered was a black and white photograph at the beginning of each chapter. Other than that the contents is exactly what it says on the cover, recipes and short stories or memories told by various people. Interesting but nothing Earth shattering either.

The recipes are organized in various chapters starting with breakfast recipes then going through the usual vegetables, meats, seafood, pies to a chapter called “this and that”, which consists of some rather “exotic” recipes like for example “Dark chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt” or “Hand-dipped chocolate-covered coconut patties”. This surprised me as I somehow thought that Amish meals would be a little more, um, frugal. Obviously I don’t know a lot about the Amish. Anyway, I quite liked the sound of most of them and will definitely try out a few in the course of my NEW52 Foodie Project.

Some of my favourites that I want to try were:

  • Banana sour cream bread
  • Grilled lime fish fillets
  • Shrimp scampi
  • Busy day cookies and probably every other cookie in the book
  • Lemon sour cream pie

I got quite a lot of nice sounding recipes out of this book but all in all it did not quite meet my expectations.


Product info and buy link :

Title Simply delicious Amish cooking
Author Sherry Gore
Publisher Zondervan
ISBN 9780310335542
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy Simply delicious Amish cooking

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

This post is part of

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.

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Spackled and spooked by Jennie Bentley

Cover Spackled and spooked by Jennie Bentley In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Renovating a haunted house can be dangerous.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, quite.

For people who: like cozy mysteries, renovating, lovely settings


My thoughts: 

I don’t know what exactly is going on but in all the cozies I read lately there seem to be long lost kids involved. Kids given up for adoption or kids that lost their whole family in a killing disappear for 20 years and then turn up again incognito. Must be some sort of trend maybe?

Anyway, this mystery is pretty good. I liked the DIY theme and I learned a lot about US houses. Never knew what a ranch house was or a crawlspace. John tells me that a crawlspace is the perfect hiding spot for bodies (and in fact has been used by many serial killers). This book takes advantage of that comfortable disposal location.

The main characters are all quite interesting and/or likeable; there is the usual chief of police, the bitchy ex, the successful entrepreneur, the nerd, everyone you expect in a small town. On top of that there is a ghost haunting the house, always a plus.  Somehow that “spooked” part was rather small, as the ghost seemed to have disappeared after the discovery of the body (maybe scared of the dead?) and only re-appeared at the end in a rather weak explanation.

Speaking of the ghost, the book title as well as the synopsis on the cover totally exaggerated the whole haunting issue. It says for example that the ghost “is not happy with the alterations” implying it acts like some sort of poltergeist toppling over projects and what not, when in reality it does nothing of the sort.   I don’t know why publishers feel the necessity to make the books sound more dramatic than they are. I am not reading a cozy for the drama anyway.

All that being said, this is a nice and comfy cozy with a satisfying resolution; I would like to read more of that series.

Oh, one more thing: All those themed cozies  have an appendix with a few recipes, tips, patterns, whatever is related to the theme. OK, in the case of a coffeehouse mystery I see why a coffee recipe might be of interest for the reader to do next time s/he goes into the kitchen. I might even use a knitting pattern (if I am really desperate). However, nobody, really nobody would look for home renovating inspiration or instructions in a cozy mystery! So why bother? Sometimes those publishers take it a bit too far.


Product info and buy link :

Title Spackled and spooked
Author Jennie Bentley
Publisher Berkley
ISBN 9780425229132
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Spackled and spooked

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Knit one, kill two by Maggie Sefton

Cover Knit one, kill two by Maggie Sefton

 

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Niece inherits murdered aunt’s cottage and learns how to knit in the yarn shop next door. As a side activity she tracks down her aunt’s killer.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: love very cozy mysteries, rather uneventful plots and nice people.


My thoughts: 

This is another really lovely start to a themed mystery series that won’t get your heart rate up at all, but will rather entertain you pleasantly.

Kelly finds her aunt’s killer while at the same time gets her work done via home office, learns how to knit, socializes with tons of new people. The reader wonders how any of the people in the shop get their (house-)work done. They seem to hang out around a big table and knit all day, in between working a little at a cafè, as a realtor or a programmer. Rather unrealistic, but what the heck!

The snooping around is done in a rather moderate way. A confrontation with the murderer that in other books often occurs with no precautions taken and then results in the impending death of the sleuth who is rescued only by a whisker happens here very reasonably with backup and no danger whatsoever. This book won’t have you at the edge of your seat, but leave you happily satisfied and content – and isn’t that the purpose of a cozy? Loved it!


Product info and buy link :

Title Knit one, kill two
Author Maggie Sefton
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425203590
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Knit one, kill two

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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A crafty killing by Lorraine Bartlett

 Cover A crafty killing by Lorraine Bartlett

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Young widow gets thrown into the artsy business world and needs to find her way around. Snooping around included.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like cozies with moderate sleuthing, crafts, antique malls and the like


My thoughts: 

I got this book from Birgit without knowing anything about this series. The crafty/artsy theme appealed to me and I quite liked the atmosphere and the setting. Even though some things didn’t add up or made sense to me, for example, why would a run down artisans’ alley which was completely neglected be crucial for the survival of a Victorian square with lovely specialty shops is a mystery to me. Why shoppers would head for the dark, uninviting artists’ place and then – as a second thought – visit the pretty shops was never explained.

The sleuth, even though not 100% my kind of girl (how often can you say “swell” in one paragraph?), was bearable and not too nosy. Her sleuthing and snooping was also quite moderate, she had her work cut out already with getting that shack back up to par. Quite nice after being around all those uber busybodies who put their noses into everybody else’s business 24/7.

I am definitely curious about what is going to happen to Artisans’ Alley now that Katie is in charge. My remodeling/remaking nature is coming through and I want to see it transformed into a place where I would like to shop as well. The sequels are a must read for me for that reason alone.


Product info and buy link :

Title A crafty killing
Author Lorraine Bartlett
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425239858
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy A crafty killing

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Crafty Tuesday: Balcony update and PRV Challenge

crafty_tuesday

Even though the weather is far from appropriate my balcony project is finished and everything is ready. Now we only need the sun and warmth to enjoy our improved balcony. You remember, this was my first post about my plan of action.

Now our balcony looks like this – and I just can’t wait for summer to arrive.

Table and chairs

Sitting area

Triangle pillow

I LOVE my new triangle pillow from which my view is like this:

View - if you are lucky

Pretty neat, eh?

As I am now in the home decor mood I decided to turn this into a long term project and joined the Post Road Vintage Challenge. I am planning to improve some part of our home every month. The balcony is only the beginning. If you are looking for some inspiration for home decor and a lovely style for the home, check out Heather’s website, it is awesome.

Have you done anything crafty lately? Let me know, I am always looking for inspiration.

This post is part of

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My June reading list and May recap

readinglist

In May I

Also I

This month I am planning to

  • finish a couple of Amish cook books
  • continue with How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran, a book I was looking forward to but am not thrilled about.
    I am at chapter 2 and don’t find it very appealing, neither the topics she covers nor the writing style.

How was YOUR reading month?