Sherlock Holmes and Flippers, a.k.a. Who killed Czar?

sherlock

Last Friday night, I saw the Sherlock Holmes movie at the mall with my sibs.

(Note to Czar, who is probably reading this: yes, despite all my protests I ended up watching the movie.)

I wasn’t all that keen on watching the movie from the very first time I saw the trailer, which seemed too Hollywood-ized to me, and a few minutes into Sherlock Holmes, I found that I wasn’t wrong on that note.

With the rabble-rousing tandem of Sherlock Holmes (when he’s not raving manically) and Watson, a load of bromance and flashy action sequences, and a plot worthy of a Dan Brown novel, the film is certainly entertaining, but it comes off more like Sherlock Holmes fan fic rather than an adaptation of the beloved classic.

But this entry isn’t really about the movie… It’s about what happened at the Flips Flipping Pages Christmas Party!

Continue reading “Sherlock Holmes and Flippers, a.k.a. Who killed Czar?”

Meet Cliff Janeway, the crime-busting book lover

bookedtodieFlipper and BookMoocher friend Triccie recommended John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway series to me when we were raiding the Book Sale warehouse last year, but it slipped my mind until I got a copy of Booked to Die that my mom brought home from the states, among the load of books she bought from the estate sales she went to.

I was finally able to read it  (and a couple of other books) while I was getting my hair rebonded (the best reading time I’ve had in months!) a couple of weeks ago.

Booked to Die (Book #89 of 2009) is the first book in the Cliff Janeway “Bookman” mystery series by John Dunning. In this book, Cliff Janeway is a homicide detective investigating the murder of a bookscout in his home turf: Denver, Colorado, and the prime suspect is a longtime nemesis whose face he is itching to rearrange. He takes matters into his own hands, and it causes him to lose his badge.

Cliff Janeway is, in all aspects, one tough cookie, but he also happens to be a hard-core bibliophile, an avid collector of first-editions whose apartment could easily pass for an annex of the Denver Public Library.

Finding himself without a job, Cliff Janeway takes on a new career, and does something he has always dreamed of doing: putting up his own antiquarian bookshop: Twice Told Books.

Janeway appears to have settled into a more peaceful life, but as several rare (and outrageously expensive) books turn up, the body count in the local book trade rises, and Janeway’s cop instincts bring him on the trail of a murderer who will kill for a good book.

Continue reading “Meet Cliff Janeway, the crime-busting book lover”

Currently reading: Beyond the Grave (The 39 Clues Book 4)

book4

Squee! Finally Book 4 of The 39 Clues series is here. I’ve been so excited to read this, after reviewing Maze of Bones and One False Note and The Sword Thief. I’m halfway through Beyond the Grave but I am reviewing it for Manila Bulletin so I won’t be able to post the review here just yet.

In the meantime, you’ll find ten things about the book beyond the cut. Don’t worry, no crucial spoilers!
Continue reading “Currently reading: Beyond the Grave (The 39 Clues Book 4)”

Squee for Book Three!

I have always thought The 39 Clues was a brilliant marketing coup on the part of Scholastic, but as I closed the cover on my copy of the third installment in the series (I was reading it for an article for Manila Bulletin, which comes out on Saturday), The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (Book #40 for 2009), I think the it would be safe to say that it has gotten into its groove. 

I’m not sure which factors in more, if it’s Lerangis’ writing that makes the difference (he did ghost-write for my favorite mystery series, The Three Investigators) or if the mechanisms set in place by the first two books were simply put in motion, but I honestly loved The Sword Thief more than I did the first two books (I rated them both 4/5 stars, and not so much for the story but for the reading experience).

For the first two books, as action-packed as they were, I felt a certain detachment towards the text, like I was an impartial witness to the action unfolding throughout the pages. Book 3 fits in with the rest of the series (with no less than Nick and Norah author David Levithan directing the editorial team), with the trademark 39 Clues twisty chase (suspension of disbelief is a given, think National Treasure or Da Vinci Code) but to my surprise, The Sword Thief captured what I felt was lacking in the series: an added depth to the characters, and interesting dynamics between the Cahill relatives, which comes in at an opportune moment, because the cat-and-mouse, left-and-right sabotage can get pretty old after a while.

I guess Lerangis’ writing does deserve to be singled out, as he manages to add more introspection to the characters and keep up with the line of action — 20 pages under the last book, at that — and I feel that this book captured the spirit of 39 Clues most succintly.

I think it can only get better from here on, and I can’t wait for Book 4, Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson, which is out in June. Should be good, set in classic treasure hunt wonderland: Egypt!

That reminds me, I should input the cards onto my account soon and get a move on with the clues in the online game… Arrgh, the problem is the game site is sooo addictive and I can’t limit myself to an hour playing…. And I also need to get an expansion card pack soon before the new set (for the next books) is released. Ohhh, to be a kid again!

P.S. If there are any other Cahills out there, I’m a Lucian.

***
My copy: hardcover (the series is in hardcover)

My rating: 5/5 stars

Before The 39 Clues…

… there was a little book entitled The Westing Game. And although they were written 20 years apart, The Westing Game still trumps The 39 Clues big-time.

 

(I wasn’t able to finish the book I am reading (From Charlie’s Point of View) because I was busy sorting books and squee-ing because of my latest book hoard, so let me share one of my favorite books instead.)

Winner of the 1979 Newbery Medal, Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game is a book I’ve read more times than I can count — I remember a few times I actually read it twice in one day. I’ve also run through 4 different editions of the book — mass market, Puffin Modern Classic, trade paperback, and finally, a hardcover I found at Book Sale last year. It’s original, intelligent and entertaining, and a brilliant whodunit to boot!

Sixteen different people — of different ethnicities, and of no apparent relationship to one another except that all of them either live or work in the same apartment building — are summoned for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will.

All 16 of them are surprised to find out they are heirs to the Westing fortune — Sam Westing is the founder of Westingtown, Wisconsin, and owner of Westing Paper Products. The catch? The will is a contest: one of the heirs has murdered Sam Westing, and whoever finds the culprit will be the heir to strike it rich.

The heirs are a crazy and spirited bunch, among them:

James Shin Hoo, owner of a Chinese restaurant, also an inventor;
Madame Sun Lin Hoo, Shin Hoo’s wife, imported from China;
Doug Hoo, a track and field athlete;
Christos Theodorakis, a kid confined to his wheelchair and an avid birdwatcher;
Theo Theodorakis, Chris’ brother, a high school student, pal of Doug Hoo;
Dr. Jake Wexler, podiatrist;
Grace Windsor Wexler, Dr. Wexler’s idle wife;
Turtle Wexler, the Wexlers’ smart aleck younger daughter;
Angela Wexler, the Wexler family beauty, engaged to be married to
Dr. Denton Deere, an intern;
Flora Baumbach, a dressmaker;
Alexander McSouthers, the apartment’s doorman;
Josie-Jo Ford, a judge;
Berthe Crow, the cleaning lady;
Otis Amber, the messenger;
and Sydelle Pulaski, a secretary.
The characters are full of little quirks that make them all interesting and endearing, and they plod through blizzards, burglaries and bombings in deciphering the clues to get the family fortune. I also like that the female characters in the book are feisty and liberated (or gain liberation along the way). Turtle Wexler rocks!

What’s fun about this book is that it will keep you guessing, with a variety of imaginative puzzles you can solve together with and the characters… and then wham! Revelations throughout the book will make you doubt your original guess. And just when you’re ready to give your final answer… bam! Raskin turns everything around with a twisty plot!

I am getting worked up just talking about it, hahaha. I just love this book :)

***
My copy: hardcover with dust jacket, plus a trade paperback for lending and rereading

My rating: 5/5 stars

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