Thursday, January 19, 2012

Words Devoured: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

This was my first foray into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series. I've always intended on reading these novels, I just hadn't had a chance to get around to it until I got my Kindle Touch. As one of the many free classics on Amazon, I was eager to download any of the Holmes novels I could find.

While this was my first of Doyle's novels, I have always been a fan of mysteries--including the fantastic Vish Puri series of mysteries by Tarquin Hall. Hall's rotund Indian crime is often called the Indian Sherlock Holmes, and I definitely see a resemblance now that I have read some of the Holmes series.

Sherlock Holmes is an instantly recognizable character. Many people know him through various movies, etc. Others know of him because he is such an iconic character. That I knew of him before I read the novel really helped me get into the work easily. He was already quite familiar.

Holmes is perspicacious, witty and incredibly smart. He notices things that his friend John Watson does not. It's incredibly astounding when Holmes wraps up his cases, and explains exactly what happened, and how it happened. I also greatly enjoy Holmes' analyses of the people he meets; his ability to tell what the person does and where he or she might be from. I wish I could be so astute!

For many of the stories--this is a collection of short words--I had no clue how Holmes figured out what he did, but when he explains it all it seems...well...not obvious... I enjoy that the stories are short within this novel. It allows for many mysteries in one handy package!

Something else I enjoyed is that these stories are case files, compiled by Watson. To the reader, this fact gives a nice insight into someone who spends his time with Holmes. It allows us to view Holmes through someone else's eyes, and gives us another viewpoint of him.

My favorite case in the novel is hard to narrow down. It is either "The Five Orange Pips" or "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". "Pips" was interesting because it was never truly solved as most of the cases have been. "Speckled Band" is truly mind-boggling, that is, until Holmes solves the case.

I have two other Holmes novels to read, and cannot wait until I have a chance to start them! I look forward to further adventures with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My new-found (and completely awesome!) friend Sorshanik, author of Ginger Girl Geek, and one of the only people who comment on this blog, have started a co-authored blog that allows us to delve into some geeky goodness together.  This blog is entitled Pickle Spectrum, and is a place for the two of us, and hopefully (eventually) some of our like-minded friends to show our love/hate of certain geeky properties.

The name Pickle Spectrum (defined expertly by Sorshanik on the "About Us" page) was something I came up with as the two of us chatted about...well...pickles. It seems like a silly name for something, but the deeper meaning (especially if you read "About Us" as I mentioned) really gets at the heart of what the two of us are trying to do.

What does that mean for Devourer of Words? Nothing. I will still review books I have read here. While Pickle Spectrum will have posts in which we geek out about books, it'll be something more of a debate there. A debate between Sorshanik and I--which can, and will, get silly--as we read through some of our favorite (and some new to us) novels together.

We already have a few posts there. Basically outlines of what you lovely readers can expect to see from us in the upcoming year. Yes, we even have a month-by-month (at least tentative) schedule of movies we plan to see and profess our loves/hates for, and squabble over. It should be a fun ride, even if just for us two and our friends! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Words Devoured: Archon: The Books of Raziel

Angela Mathers is plagued by visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night. Newly released from a mental institution where she was locked away for two years, she hopes that her time at the Vatican’s university, the West Wood Academy, will give her a chance at a normal life. Unlike ordinary humans, Angela is a blood head — a freak, a monster, the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy of overwhelming death and destruction. Only in Luz, the Vatican’s wondrous enclave, are blood heads accepted and encouraged to discover what kind of powers or special abilities they might possess.

But within West Wood, a secret coven plots, and demons and angels roam the streets searching for the key to open Raziel’s book — a secret tome from a lost archangel. Some are determined to destroy Raziel, while others, like the beautiful Supernal Israfel, one of the highest of the high, wish to free him. And when the Archon — the human chosen to possess the spirit of a dead angel — rises as foretold, they will control the supernatural universe.

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, Angela holds the key to Heaven and Hell — and both will stop at nothing to possess her.
(book description from its entry at Goodreads)

Normally I would describe the novel myself but, to be honest, I was a bit confused at the beginning. Of course I got less confused as I read, but the description above is a hell of a lot better than I could do in describing what the book was about.

I have no religious faith, so this book was tough for me to get into. It was a well written story, no matter how tough I found it to get into. It was an original premise at a time when there are so few really original ideas out there these days.

My issue with the book--and it's semi-big here--was that most of the characters were... kind of flat. I wanted to care about them more than I did. I just couldn't, for some reason...the investment on my part just wasn't there.

All-in-all I enjoyed the book for what it was: a nice diversion. Would I read other entries into the Books of Raziel series? Perhaps, if I found time to. I am not telling you to stay away. There may be people that enjoy on a different level than I do. Seek it out, and see what you think.

You can purchase Archon: The Books of Raziel at Amazon, or other retailers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Words Devoured: Demi-Monde: Winter

When I received the e-mail from Morrow Publishing (part of Harper Collins) to choose novel(s) for review, the first one that caught my eye was this one.  The Demi-Monde: Winter.  The blurb offered to reviewers reeled me in, and I couldn't wait to start reading.

Having just finished it (last night) I am thrilled that I did get a copy.  Author Rod Rees has an well thought out, well written, and expansive story here.

The Demi-Monde: Winter takes place in the not-too-distant future.  The United States of America has created a cyber world for the Army to train in.  This world, the Demi-Monde, is populated by sentient copies of some of the worlds most brilliant--and some of the most evil--historical figures.

The Demi-Monde is a scaled-down version of our world.  Split into sectors--such as The Rookeries, which contains Berlin, Washington and London--different beliefs are rampant in the entirety of the Demi-Monde.  However, the SS under the command of Reinhard Heydrich (a copy of the man behind the Holocaust in our world) is intent on cleansing the Demi-Monde of all undesirables.

When Norma Williams, daughter of the President of the United States, is trapped there it's up to an 18 year-old woman, Ella Thomas, to save her.  Thomas is an African American girl (because she is a dead ringer for a backdoor programmed Dupe--the name for the Demi-Monde avatars) who is thrust into a volatile world, set with a near-impossible task.

Rod Rees has created a believable world for his characters to inhabit.  The Demi-Monde itself (represented by a map in the novel) is a steampunk, shrunken, version of the world we live in today. Just a handful of cities set into different sectors is all that makes up the world. The decision for the Demi-Monde to be...restricted (development-wise) to the late 1800s helps to fuel the steampunk atmosphere.

That the Demi-Monde is a copy of our world, not one that is fantastical--set in another world somewhere--really made me believe in its characters.  They weren't uber-powerful super humans, they were normal human everyday humans.  Very easy to believe in.

The story itself is well-planned.  Rees keeps a number of plot lines running throughout the novel, and they intertwine, and separate, and intertwine again.  Eventually, they all come to their own conclusions.  Or, in the case of the end of the novel, they all come to a point where a conclusion will eventually come.  Say, in the form of the next novel.

Also, there are a lot of terms created by the author for use in Demi-Monde: Winter.  They all have some sort of real world basis, and can usually be easily figured out.  He does include a glossary at the end, which I didn't know about until I was nearly done with the novel itself.

I reiterate, I was glad I actually received a copy of this novel to review.  It was a well written story, and it left me wanting more, and caring about its characters.  I will be sure to pick up a copy of The Demi-Monde: Spring when it is released.  Perhaps it will even come up as a review copy!  That would be wonderful!

The Demi-Monde: Winter is available for sale now.  You can find it in local bookstores, or order it from Amazon here: The Demi-Monde: Winter, a novel by Rod Rees