Oct 23, 2011

Book Reviews : Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes; Dreaming in Chinese; The Guilded Shroud

What did you think of the books you read on Saturday for the Read-a-Thon?

Here are my comments on the ones I read:

Title: Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes: Life Lessons from the Master Detective by David Acord
Paperback: 208 pages, Perigee Trade
Publication date: November 1, 2011
Rating: 4/5

I liked the descriptions of the working habits and methods of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, that made him so famous. Acord applies Holmes' rules for detecting to general success in life in this remarkable little self-help manual on how to reach your goals. There were also a lot of very interesting tidbits about the character Holmes and his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.

Title: Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language by Deborah Fallows.
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Walker & Company (September 13, 2011)
Rating: 5/5

I didn't expect to be chuckling and laughing out loud reading this book on language and linguistics. Deborah Fallows writes about the three years she spent in China, diligently learning more about Mandarin and other Chinese languages and  about the culture - linguistic and otherwise. Misunderstandings because of pronunciation problems put her in amusing situations, such as when she asked for takeout in Chinese at a restaurant but mistakenly told the waiter she wanted a big hug. A brief overview of the history of Chinese language, oral and written, past and present, given in an easy and down to earth way, for the general reader.

Title: A Gilded Shroud (A Lady Fan Mystery) by Elizabeth Bailey
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1 edition (September 6, 2011)
Rating: 3/5

The book started out with a promising situation - a young woman  in Georgian England is hired as a temporary companion to Dowager Lady Pollsbrook and is urged to solve the murder of her employer's daughter-in-law and the disappearance of a valuable jeweled fan. However, the archaic language used at the beginning of the book made it hard to read. The unusual names of the main characters also were a distraction. The lady's companion Ottilia, the butler Cattawade, Mr. Triplow, and Lady Pollsbrook all triggered blips in my mind each time their names appeared on a page. I wanted to change Ottilia to Lia and Cattawade to Wade, or something much simpler. I also thought the book was a little too long.

Review copies of the books were sent to me by the publishers. A review copy of Dreaming in Chinese was sent by LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.


  1. Well, two out of three isn't too shabby!

  2. Well done Harvee! Great job on the Readathon. I enjoyed reading these reviews.

  3. Wow, you got a lot of reading done during the readathon! Dreaming in Chinese sounds like a must read.

  4. Dreaming in Chinese has been on my wish list for a while. I need to double check my paperbackswap list and make sure it's on there too. I love language books. :)

  5. I've studied Chinese so have to read Dreaming. It's so easy to make mistakes in the tones.

  6. Hi Harvee,

    What a diverse range of genres you managed to get through for your readothon.

    They all sound like great reading, however the one that caught my eye the most, was the one that you least liked 'The Guilded Shroud'.

    I am a great fan of the murder/mystery genre and whilst this is a new author to me, I would willingly give this book a try, just to see whether I like her style of writing, or whether like yourself, the many names and characters detract from a good storyline.

    Hope that you didn't miss out on too much sleep.


  7. I may have to pick up the Success Secrets of Sherlock Hlomes, even though I'm not sure how successful a person he would have been in real life.

  8. Your comments on Dreaming in Chinese got my attention since my son has recently learned Chinese and married a lovely Chinese lady. It is a difficult language!

  9. Thank you very much for reading my book and taking the time for your nice comments. You can probably tell how much I enjoyed the experience of living in China, and how valuable it was to use the language as a way in to the culture and everyday life.
    Deb Fallows
    "Dreaming in Chinese"


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