Sara Habein’s #CBR5 Post #36: MASTERMIND: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

mastermind-sherlock-holmes-konnikovaI confess a weakness for the most brilliant person in the room. People who are great at what they do, whatever their “thing” may be, are my favorites. Excellence is dead sexy, especially when it comes to intelligence and the desire to improve. For this reason, I’m interested in the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Oh, sure, he’s maddening to deal with — abrupt, insensitive, and distant at times — but the skill with which he gathers and assesses information is why his character has endured since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created him in 1887. In Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Maria Konnikova examines what goes into Holmes’ process, the way he can block out all other distractions in order to solve his cases, and how ordinary people can use these skills in their everyday life.

(Read the rest of my review at Glorified Love LettersPlus enter to win a copy of the book.)

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #127: A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

3.5 stars

Disclaimer! I was given an ARC of this book from Random House via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and impartial review. A Study in Silks is out now. The sequel comes out at the end of this month, and the concluding volume in the trilogy will be out in December.

Evelina Cooper is the niece of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Her mother ran off with a circus performer, and Evelina grew up in said circus. Her mother got sick and died, and eventually Evelina’s grandmama Holmes tracked her down, fetched her home from the circus, did her best to gentrify Evelina, and sent her to a posh boarding school. There Evelina befriended Imogen Roth, daughter of Lord Bancroft, and although he doesn’t really approve of his daughter’s boon companion, the two girls are set to start their first Season together. Evelina just has to keep secret her interest in mechanics, as that’s unladylike, and that she can do magic, as magic users are persecuted and arrested. Best case scenario after arrest is death, but they may also be sent to Her Majesty’s laboratories, where very nefarious things might happen.

With me so far? Evelina is in love with Imogen’s brother Tobias, Lord Bancroft’s heir, but knows full well that he is far above her station. Also he’s a total rake. Unexpectedly, her childhood sweetheart Nick shows up in her room. He still works at the circus, and has magic abilities of his own. Magic that when he and Evelina get close to each other spark so strongly that it would be impossible for them to ever hide it. Hence they are doomed as a couple too. A servant girl is murdered, and Evelina tries to investigate, hoping that the case might be solved before scandal befalls her friend’s family. Lord Bancroft orders Tobias to seduce Evelina to keep her from investigating, but he refuses, because he genuinely likes her, and won’t ruin her reputation.

More on my blog.

loulamac’s #CBRV review #42: The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


‘Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.’

Sherlock Holmes’ second adventure opens, aptly enough, with a chapter entitled ‘The Science of Deduction’. By now, we’ve met Holmes, and been amazed by his logical mind. In this opening chapter, with cocaine-induced energy, Holmes explains his deductive process to a disapproving Watson. Watson doesn’t like it when Holmes takes drugs (‘”Which is it today?’ I asked, ‘morphine or cocaine”’), but Holmes doesn’t like it when his brain lacks stimulation. Thank goodness then that before the chapter is out, the lovely Miss Mary Morstan arrives at 221b Baker Street, bringing an appetising mystery with her.

Miss Morstan is the daughter of an officer in the Indian regiment. Ten years before, on his return to London after many years abroad, he disappeared without a trace. Six years later, Miss Morstan began receiving, every year, ‘a very large and lustrous pearl’ in a small box. Holmes’ interest is piqued, and the twosome now a three (with Watson very much smitten with Miss Morstan), they start their investigations with the son of Morstan’s friend and colleague, Major Sholto. Before long, Holmes is travelling through the netherworld of London’s docks disguised as a seafarer, hunting a pygmy savage and a one-legged convict who have made off with Indian treasure.

Holmes is of course accompanied (not hampered on this occasion, not quite) by a member of the London constabulary, who as ever he holds in complete disdain: ‘When Gregson, Lestrade or Athelney Jones are out of their depths – which, by the way, is their normal state – the matter is laid before me.’ This time it’s the blustering Athelney Jones who is along for the ride, and we also encounter Holmes’ unofficial detecting assistants the street Arabs.

The story itself isn’t as gripping or emotional as A Study in Scarlet, but as with the earlier book, Holmes’ observations and Watson’s exasperation with him are a joy to read. As Holmes says of himself; ‘there are in me the makings of a very fine loafer and also of a pretty spry sort of fellow.’ When he’s spry, and on a case, he’s the most fun.

loulamac’s #CBRV review #28: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes was a huge part of me and my brother’s early years. What a genius that man was (Basil Rathbone not my brother, he’s a dope). So it is with some embarrassment that I admit that this is the first time I’ve read any Holmes. I can confirm that the source material more than lives up to the witty entertainment brought to us by Jonny Lee, Benedict, RDJ et al. Conan Doyle’s Holmes has all the aloof, peculiar, edgy, cunning charm you could hope for, and then some.

Narrated by John Watson, the story opens as the army surgeon searches for London lodgings, ‘comfortable rooms at a reasonable price’. This search leads him to Sherlock Holmes (described as ‘a little queer in his ideas’) and rooms at 221b Baker Street. Holmes’ work is something of a mystery to Watson, until Lestrade and Gregson of Scotland Yard call Holmes to an address in Brixton. Watson, having ‘nothing better to do’ accompanies him. The body of an American man has been found in an empty room, with little physical evidence and fewer clues. And so a legendary detective partnership is born. Within days, Holmes has deciphered the mystery of ‘Rache’ written on the wall in the victim’s blood, a woman’s wedding ring beneath the body, and a further killing.

A Study in Scarlet is Holmes’ first outing, and introduces all the Holmes idiosyncrasies we know and love. His intriguing habits include frenzied activity interspersed with bouts of stupor, complete ignorance of politics and philosophy but expertise in sensational literature and sword-fighting. While he doesn’t seem to be interested in it, he’s not bad at the violin. And of course he can tell what you do for a living, why you have a limp and the name of your childhood pet just by looking at you. Just one chapter in, I already had goose bumps. I was hanging out with Sherlock Holmes! The book is funny (Holmes describes himself thus: ‘I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather’), clever and touching. The story that culminates in the murders forms the middle section of the book, and is a heart-breaking tale of lost love.

It’s no secret that the Watson of the novels is a far cry from the bumbling boob made popular in some film and television adaptations. He is an insightful and droll narrator, who is in awe of Holmes while very aware of his short-comings. Holmes is proud and vain, and not averse to a bit of soft soap. Early in their relationship Watson has ‘already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty’. Watson provides that flattery when he records Holmes’ exploits in his journal. I’m just glad there are many more instalments to come.

Katie′s #CBR5 Review 1: Mastermind by Maria Konnikova

Title: Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Author: Maria Konnikova
Source: from publisher for review
Fun Fact: Motivation can improve IQ test results and memory formation.
Review Summary: Not the most useful as a self-help book, but a fun and inspiring way to learn about psychology.

Can you learn to think like Sherlock Holmes? Drawing on both anecdotes from Holmes stories and exciting studies in psychology, author Maria Konnikova suggests ways in which you can. She’s clearly familiar with and enthusiastic about both her topics – Homes and the psychology behind his way of thinking – and she does a great job making you feel her enthusiasm too. As someone who understands loving a good book, she had me from her description of her first experience with Holmes. She also integrated real-world, relatable examples with her Holmes/Conan Doyle anecdotes and the psychology studies in a way that constantly piqued my interest.

Read more at Doing Dewey.

Beletseri’s #CBR5 Review #1 A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

All right CBRV! I participated in CBRIII and failed miserably, I’m only signed up for a half so let’s see if I can make this work. I’ll be posting my reviews in my blog, on my goodreads acct and here. Thanks for reading guys!

A Study in Scarlet is the first Sherlock Holmes novel. It introduces the famous detective and his roommate Watson. I’m completely obsessed with the BBC’s Sherlock staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and my dad is a big Holmes fan. One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I never read Little Women despite my mom’s repeated pleading, so I’m trying to share more things with my dad.Image

The book is good. It starts out with introducing Holmes, he’s a war doctor who was injured. He has a meager army stipend and can’t really work because of his injuries so he needs a roommate. And old colleague of his introduces him to Sherlock Holmes. The book is written in first person and is set up as if Watson has just transcribed parts of his personal journal into this short novel. It’s a very good format and allows the reader to watch Sherlock along with Watson. That is the most enjoyable part and what makes Sherlock a timeless character. This genius man who is a bit mad but terribly clever. Doyle is careful to keep Sherlock a bit of mystery, he’s always one step ahead of everyone else, but at the same time Sherlock will explain what has happened to you. It means that the reader can feel clever alongside Sherlock. It’s really a marvelous format.

The television show actually follows the book well. It’s not a faithful adaptation, by any means. There are blatant deviations, the murder has extremely different motives from each version. But they really capture the character Sherlock and they do use big plot pieces from the book. If you’ve watched the show or the Robert Downey Jr. movies you won’t be spoiled for books. It’s really interesting to see the choices the adaptation made.

Speaking of what they took from the book. The second half of the book is the whole long story of why the murderer wanted to kill these two men. It is totally different than the show and really there was no way that it could ever be adapted. Now I guess this is a touch spoilery but it has to do with Mormons and makes the Mormons out to be these terrible bad guys. It’s actually pretty inflammatory. Doyle really depicts the Mormons as a manipulative cult and just harps on polygamy. (Brigham Young himself makes an appearance!) It’s like all Mormon stereotypes rolled together. I just never knew that happened in the Sherlock Holmes books. I thought it was all London and pipes and whatever but yeah there is this whole other story in the book and it takes place in Utah. It’s not a bad story, it’s actually quite action packed. I just could help but be amazed at how badly it portrayed Mormons.

Anyway, I enjoyed it. It was well written, super fun and I will be reading some more Sherlock Holmes this year.

ETA: You can get the book on Amazon or download it for free from Project Gutenberg or get it from your local indie. If you live in Los Angeles try my local indie, The Book Frog.