2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge · Book Reviews

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros

It is not often that I give one cheese reviews, but I did not like this book. I have nothing against the author or anything like that, I simply did not like it. I think it was more that I was not able to understand it as it was meant to be. I couldn’t relate to the characters. I couldn’t get in to the mindset of the characters even though I was reading their thoughts. I couldn’t emphasize with the characters through similar experiences because I haven’t really experienced anything like the women in the book did. I also didn’t like the way it was written. I should preface that by saying I don’t get poetry because I felt the book was almost written prose and poetry – a lot of short sentences, sentence fragments, lists and descriptions abound throughout the book. Granted, this is how we often think, especially as women, but it is difficult to read. It is just not a style I like. Furthermore, the jump from story to story threw me off because there wasn’t really a common link in them. Some of the stories link together, but not all. They also don’t really flow in any particular manner.

All that being said, I would like to highlight what I thought was good about the book. There is a wide variety of themes – love, loss, magic, cheating, domestic abuse, beauty, the Mexican revolution, living on both sides of the border, religion, sex, and life. It is a female dominated book, so it will appeal primarily to female readers. Furthermore, it empowers women, doesn’t make them subjects to a fate out of their hands. It provides interesting windows into the lives of Mexican women and Mexican-American women. It is realistic and believable  (at least the stories that don’t involve magic). My favorite story was Little Miracles, Promises Kept.

I would recommend it to Mexican-American women particularly and any woman in general. It is an empowering book for women if you like it. Anyone studying the Mexican-American culture should read this as well. There are some interesting insights into that culture and the lives of the people in it. I can see the value of the book, I personally just didn’t like it.

My  rating:

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2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge · Book Reviews

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I didn’t realize until after I started listening to this set of stories that there were four actual novels before hand. I didn’t know that there are a series of 56 short stories that follow the novels and I happened upon the first set. I will be looking in to reading (or listening to) the actual novels soon. I think they will be much more satisfying than these brief snippets. But for now, here are my thoughts on the short stories I listened to. I may seem a little harsh sometimes, but I usually prefer the longer, more in-depth stories.

A Scandal in Bohemia

I was somewhat disappointed in this story. It is the first Sherlock Holmes story I had read, and it turned out not to be one of his mysteries. It seemed to be a segue story for the reintroduction of Watson after his marriage. The story follows Holmes as he helps a German Count retrieve a compromising photograph of himself and a woman. The story is very short and all Holmes does it manage to find the photograph, but he is outwitted in the end by a woman. There were a few interesting sections where Holmes was making deductions and wearing disguises, but all-in-all not a very impressive story.

The Adventure of the Red-Headed League

This is more of what I was expecting from a Sherlock Holmes story. I did guess a couple of things, but not all. The story follows Holmes after he is approached by the most recent employee of the Red-Headed League. The man had worked solidly and happily for eight weeks when all of a sudden the league dissolved. The man wanted to simply know what happened, but no one else seemed to have ever heard of the league and so he went to Holmes to find out more. I liked the twist of the story and listening to how Holmes deduced what was going on. It really is an interesting way of seeing the world that I hope to start picking up. The smallest thing can trigger his mind into a new conclusion that will solve a mystery.

A Case of Identity

Again, another not to bad short mystery. Holmes is asked to find a missing fiance by a young woman. The woman is currently living with her mother and step-father and would like to begin her new life with her husband. However, he went missing on the way to the church. I was able to figure out what was going on fairly early on in the story, but I was completely off on the motive. I have read similar stories, not quite as short, but with the same idea and I think this is the original idea for the others.

The Boscombe Valley Mystery

This story followed Holmes and Watson as they head to the west of England to help solve a murder. Right away Holmes is certain the suspect the police have, the man’s son, has not committed the murder, even though there is a large pile of circumstantial evidence. This was a great way to showcase Holmes’s skills and interesting insights. I had guessed who it was, however, I had no clue about how Holmes would like the person back to the murder. I loved the evidence process that Holmes used and determine the who and why. I was quite surprised by the end conclusions and motive. A good short mystery.

The Five Orange Pips

This story was just depressing in my opinion. Two men in a family had fallen victim to what appeared unfortunate accidents after receiving five orange seeds in an envelope with KKK written on the inside flap. Yes, it is the Ku Klux Klan. The third man goes to Holmes for advice on how to avoid the same fate as his father and grandfather. Holmes uses his standard skills to determine who is killing the men. The story never really comes to a close. It just made me sad.

The Man with the Twisted Lip

I was delighted by this story. Watson stumbles across Holmes in an opium den while looking for one of his patients. He soon is pulled into the mystery of a missing husband. The wife had seen him in a building in London and went in to see him, but he was nowhere to be found. Holmes investigates, but doesn’t use the detail oriented studies that have fascinated me. This was more of a general idea than focusing on details. I had an Aha! moment right before the mystery was solved. Clever little story!

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

This was another story I wasn’t particularly fond of. The mayor had attempted to help a man being attacked by ruffians, but all of them fled, including the poor man. He left behind a hat and a goose he had been taking home for dinner. Holmes worked hard at determining the hat’s owner, which was fascinating to listen to, but the mayor took the goose to cook before it spoiled. Lo and behold there was the Blue Carbuncle hidden in the goose’s stomach, a precious gem that had been stolen shortly before in a highly  publicized robbery. Holmes sets out to find the original robber. It ended quite quickly and without great mystery. Not bad, but not great either.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

This story followed Holmes as he helped a young women escape the same fate of her late sister, who had died shortly before her wedding of unknown causes. As she was preparing to marry soon and had begun to hear the strange whistling that had preceded her sister’s death, she quickly went to Holmes for help. I knew who had done it, but I could not figure out how. The descriptions of the different rooms and such were important, but not to the untrained eye. It was one of the more suspenseful tales in the book, and I liked that. Holmes deductions of the mysterious whistling and death of her sister were quite good. I should have been able to figure it out sooner!

The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb

I’m not sure how I felt about this story. Mostly I felt bad for the young man who had lost his thumb. Watson brings the young man to Holmes to help bring his attackers to justice. The young man tells a story about visiting a house in the country to fix a small mechanical problem, but there are strange happenings going on. I figured out most of the story line, but was disappointed by the ending.

The Adventure of the Nobel Bachelor

This was a more run of the mill story line than some of the others. Holmes is enlisted to help find a bride who had gone missing during her wedding breakfast following her ceremony to a nice older gentleman. No foul play seemed to have occurred, so it was baffling to everyone what could have happened to her. Through a series of interview questions of the new husband, Holmes was able to deduce what had happened to the lady and question and was able to re-unite the two for a discussion. I didn’t like this one as much as some of the others, but it was not too bad either. Definitely suited for a short story, and it would have been tough to draw out.

The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet

This was a fairly good little tale. It looked cut and dry at first, but of course it was not. I was rather surprised by some of the events in the story. I had guessed who the culprit was, but I was only half correct. There were a few more false leads in this story than in the others which I liked quite a lot. The story follows Holmes as he helps a banker recover a piece of lost jewelry that he believes his son has stolen because he caught the gentleman wrestling with the coronet in the dead of night. However, the jewels were nowhere to be found and his son had been arrested. It was important that he be able to restore his honor with the return of the jewels, so he hired Holmes to find them. I was surprised by the ending, although I should not have been. It was an interesting investigation and one of my favorites from this collection.

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

This story was slightly disturbing in its central idea. Probably the most disturbing part of it was that it could easily happen in real life. A young governess approaches Holmes about a questionable job offer she received in which should would have to cut her hair and occasionally wear certain clothes and sit certain places. Holmes advises her it is not the best situation, but should she take it she would have leave to contact him at anytime to help her. It is shortly after her hire that she contacts Holmes with a strange story of occurrences in the house. Holmes devises a way for him to come to the house and investigate. When they get there, most of the issues come to a head in a frightful scene. In the end all ends well, but it is still an unsettling story.


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