Monday, 15 April 2013

My Blathering and a review of 'A Study in Scarlet' (Sherlock Holmes #1)

Last week definitely didn't fall into the category of a 'regular old week'.  On Thursday we got hit with the beginning of an ice storm forcing the schools to close.   Things were slick with black ice but {barely} bad enough that the school board closed things down in case it got worse quickly.  To parents it meant a mad dash to find child care.  To kids this was a piece of heaven!  This 'day off' ended up being two days because once the storm really hit late Thursday night (yowzers!!) we lost power pretty much all day Friday.
That first day off my kids were jumping for joy. 
A 'rain day'??  Unheard of!!  Snow day, sure.  We occasionally get them, but rain!?!  Who thought this up??  We shall praise them!! 
That first day at home was nirvana for my kids. They lounged in their jammies and vegged to their hearts' content while I went to work in the afternoon. Nice.
Parents were less than thrilled at this sudden wrench in our daily lives.  We're made of strong Canadian stock, rain shouldn't scare us and stop us from sending off our spawn for their education! 
But once Friday morning came we knew that this was no ordinary rain.  With the 20-30mm of rain that fell Thursday night came a blast of cold that resulted in freezing rain covering everything with a 1/2" of ice.  Oh ya.  Our grass looked like it was covered with cryptonite (said Boy 2) and my dog took a rather harsh face plant as he skidded across the patio on his way to his morning constitution.  Poor lad!
Great pieces of ice began falling from trees, houses and hydro lines.  Large and small tree branches (including whole trees) were snapped due to the weight of the ice.  Ice also covered and downed power lines and poles resulting in a mass power outage to thousands and thousands of homes.
This chaos that ensued from the storm resulted in another day off of school for the kids on Friday.  At first my kids were thrilled at the idea of yet another day off of school (who wouldn't be?!).  They got up and did the requisite happy dance at the thought of another day sans school ... and then they tried to make toast for breakfast and turn on their computers and NetFlix.  The shocked and confused looks on their young faces put a smirk on my face. 
"What's wrong, my darlings?  Aren't you happy that you don't have to go to school again?", I asked knowing full well the reason for their shock.
"But, but, but .... there's no power!  What are we going to DO!?!", they asked me, appalled at the thought of no electronics or TV.
"Buck up, my sweets, for today you get to spend it with your Mom and we're going to do "Project Pioneer!!", I joyously regaled to their shocked and concerned faces.  "We'll play games -- you know, the kind kind that doesn't require power and has an actual board to play on.  We'll read, build forts, colour ... we can talk to each other!!"
Slowly, ever so slowly, they remembered what life was like without being plugged in.  It was like a fog lifted and they sluggishly got into the 'no power' mode of thinking.  It took awhile for it to sink in though.  My daughter thinking that she got one up on the power outage thought she'd just use the iPad to watch NetFlix.  Ha, ha!  Take that, power outage!!
"No, dearest, you can't get on to NetFlix because the modem is down.", I explained to her, unfortunately bursting her bubble of happiness.
"But the iPad is fully charged!!", she said knowingly with a smile.
The poor girl got my genes when it comes to electronics and understanding them so I did my best to explain it to her.  It was like the blind leading the blind.
"Please don't ask me to explain how the modem works because I have no idea, honey.  Daddy has tried to explain it to me many times before but we don't want Daddy to get a concussion from hitting his head on the wall before he heads out to work, do we?  Let's just say that we're all out of the magic juice that runs our connection to the internet."
I'm a total techno geek, no?  I'm sure that MIT will be knocking on my door any moment.  Either that or Steve Jobs has just rolled over in his grave. :(
Thankfully our house is quite bright so we were able to hunker down and play some games at the kitchen table, and bring up the bean bag and lounge in front of the gas fireplace.  Games were brought out that we hadn't played in a long time.  Raucous games of chess (oh yes, they can get out of HAND, people!), Blockus and Snakes and Ladders were played.  Lunch was a fancy affair of crackers, FreeNut Butter, fruit salad (from cans) and cheese strings.  Glamourous it was not.
Did they have fun?  Oh ya.  A day without being plugged in is a great family bonder and results in my not having to ask time and again to 'Get OFF your electronics!!' making it a much calmer experience for all.  Nothin' like playing Laura Ingalls Wilder for 8 hours to cause the kids to play WITH each other not beside each other on various iPods etc.
Note: During the outage I was able to write down a bit of a book review based on my first foray into the wonderfully quirky world of Sherlock Holmes {review to follow this blathering}.
Luckily we got our power restored late Friday afternoon but sadly residents of a small town near us may still be without power after 3 days! 
If anyone has seen Spring, can you please send her our way.  We're so through with winter!!

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Mystery
Type: Kindle e-book
Source: Own
First Published: 1887
First Line: "In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army."

Book Description:  "A Study in Scarlet" is the first published story of one of the most famous literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. Here Dr. Watson, who has just returned from a war in Afghanistan, meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time when they become flat-mates at the famous 221 B Baker Street.

In "A Study in Scarlet" Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder at Lauriston Gardens as Dr. Watson tags along with Holmes while narratively detailing his amazing deductive abilities.

My Thoughts:  I'm a little embarassed to admit that I have never read a Sherlock Holmes book until now.  I have not been living under a rock for the past 40 years so, of course, I know of Sherlock Holmes.  I recognize his catch phrases like "Elementary" or "The game is afoot!".  But, I have to admit that I never really had any interest to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books until, well  ... until I saw Benedict Cumberbatch portray Sherlock on NetFlix.  He is perfection in the role.

If you haven't been introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch {I love saying his name, by the way}, he is the amazingly talented actor who portrays Sherlock on the show named after the infamous sleuth.  While others (Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Downey Jr) have portrayed Sherlock on film and TV, in my humble opinion, Benedict is the king when it comes to this quirky sleuth.

Ok, enough of my homage to Cumberbatch, back to my book review ...

A Study in Scarlet is the first book in the infamous series so it introduces the reader to Sherlock and Watson.  Sherlock is a very unique character.  He has exceptional deductive abilities and has the uncanny ability to read a person's body language and other cues like no other.  He is brilliant when it comes to facts about medicine, psychology and forensics but has no interest in learning 'trivial' information.  Like facts regarding the solar system or anything that won't help him solve crimes.  He's a quirky bugger.  He's king of intellectual snobs and makes no apologies for it.

Dr. Watson is no weak, bumbling underling and holds his own with Sherlock.  He is an experienced doctor just returned from Afganistan.  Needing to find a roommate he is set up with Sherlock and there begins their unique relationship.  While he is a little surprised at Sherlock's idosyncracies at first, he is able to keep his feet firmly on the ground and balance out Sherlock's frenetic intellect and help him solve the case.

While I had a vague recollection about what the mystery was about (due to seeing the TV show) what I noticed was that the show lacked the depth that Doyle went into as he described his suspects. Never before have I had a mystery that went into that much detail regarding the back story of the suspects.

I only have a couple of critiques regarding this book.  First, when the story segued from the happenings in England back in time to 1847 in the Utah territory it took me awhile to figure out who the new characters, John Ferrier and a young girl named Lucy actually were.  All of a sudden the reader is presented with these characters that, as far as we know, have nothing to do with what we just read.  It just made the book feel disjointed and more than a little confusing.

I also feel that Sir Arthur really put a negative slant on Mormonism which may offend some readers.  I have little to no knowledge of Mormonism but to me it was portrayed as more of a fascist cult than a religion.  Granted this book was written back in 1887 so I'm not sure how well informed people were of this religion.

Otherwise this was a good read and a good mystery.  Will I read another Sherlock book?  Perhaps.  Will I keep watching Benedict Cumberbatch in all his quirkiness?  Ohhhh, yes.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


Beth said...

Project Pioneer - I love it! We did this on a much smaller scale on Earth Day.

I'm sorry about your bad weather, though and hope things are mostly back to normal by now.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks, Beth. The weather is cooperating more now but, I have to admit, it was kind of nice to spend some quality time with the kids hunkered down at home. Here's hoping that spring is on it's way. I'm itching to get gardening!

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