Book Review: The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match (The Great Shelby Holmes, #2)
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what worried me more: that there was something the great Shelby Holmes didn’t know, or that she marched right up to the new teacher and dropped to the floor to start examining him from the shoes up.

Synopsis: It’s been three weeks since eleven-year-old John Watson moved to Harlem with his mom and met their nine-year-old genius neighbor, Shelby Holmes. It’s also the first day of school at Harlem Academy of the Arts, where they are both starting the sixth grade. While John is trying to settle in, get a handle on his homework, and spend at least a little time playing basketball or video games with some other guys, Shelby senses a mystery that needs solving. Someone needs her help, and John is immediately in for the adventure (and the material for his writing class). It quickly seems he’ll get more than he bargained for, as the case is more complicated than it appears, and it looks like there might be someone in the world who is a match for even the great Shelby Holmes.

Review: Like the first book, this novel is told in first person from the perspective of John Watson, an eleven-year-old African-American boy who has recently moved to New York. After a lifetime of moving from base to base as a military brat, he is adapting to life in a city apartment with his mom and adapting to life apart from his dad, who has remained in Kentucky. He has a strong narrative voice, witty and often self-deprecating, an average kid who finds himself in some not-so-average situations. He is a likeable, friendly kid, and his friendship with Shelby – which could seem very unlikely indeed – is understandable when seen through his eyes.

The story is peppered with Canonical references, from character names to plot twists. As an adaptation of the Holmes stories for kids, this is a knock-out. The characters are more diverse, the setting is modern, and the cases tend to involve fewer murders, but Holmes and Watson remain Holmes and Watson. Eulberg nails the friendship between Shelby and John, making it clear why these two opposites will always come back to each other.

Personal Thoughts: I adore this series. A third book is said to be in the works; I can’t wait!

Source: Checked out from my public library.

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Episode 10: “Other Theories Possible”

October brings a new Nerdopolis Tournament and new projects, so there’s plenty of yarn talk. There’s also a new issue of that Mycroft Holmes comic, an upcoming Con at which I have volunteered to be on four panels, and that book I’ve been hyped up about all year is now available.

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD] aboutsixty_cover

The Hinge that the Whole Team Turns On [MISS]

We Progress, My Dear Watson, We Progress [MISS]

Contest Between the Two [FINA]

Outside the Conventions and Humdrum Routine of Everyday Life [REDH]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

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Book Review: Moo by Sharon Creech

MooMoo by Sharon Creech
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The truth is, she was ornery and stubborn, wouldn’t listen to a n y b o d y, and selfish beyond selfish, and filthy, caked with mud and dust, and moody: you’d better watch it or she’d knock you flat.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Reena has always been a city girl, and she doesn’t know what to expect when her family moves to rural Maine. She certainly doesn’t expect, along with her seven-year-old brother, Luke, to be volunteered by their parents to help out a cranky elderly lady. Mrs. Falala lives alone, except for a pig, a cat, a parrot, a snake, and a cow. The cow is Zora, and Reena and Luke are tasked with grooming her for an upcoming fair.

Review: There are a few short chapters written in prose, but most of the book is in free verse and concrete poetry. This writing style, packed with sensory details, brings the reader well into Reena’s experience. Reena and Luke are believable city kids plunked down in an unfamiliar rural setting, and Reena’s thoughts and feelings will resonate especially with (sub)urban kids who are curious about life in the country. It’s a quiet book, focused more on emotions and personal growth than action. The poetic style and short chapters make it a faster read than it appears at first glance. There is a good deal of gentle humor, but be prepared for some realistic sad moments.

Personal Thoughts: I wanted to read the book based on some information given at a Book Buzz segment at an ALA Conference. By the time I got it, I mistook this book for another book that I also heard about at the same presentation, with left me a little bit confused for a chapter or three! But I was quickly engaged by Reena’s story. I grew up in the suburbs, and I clearly remember the first few times I encountered a real, live cow; Reena’s reactions rang true. I also loved the moment Reena and Luke realize where hamburgers come from, as well as the follow-up discussions with local boy Zep, their tutor in things livestock-showing-related, and with their parents. This would be a great choice for a parent-child book club.

Source: Borrowed from my public library.

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Tea Review: “Turkish Slipper”

I really bought this one because it had pumpkin spice in it, and I was (and am) in a pumpkin spice kind of mood. It is part of Bran Mydwynter’s set of Sherlock Holmes – as in the Canonical stories of Arthur Conan Doyle – fandom blends.

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Name: Turkish Slipper (Sherlock Holmes Fandom)
Creator: Bran Mydwynter
Source: Purchased from Adagio.com

Description from Site: Pipe tobacco, set alight with spices. This robust blend of Rooibos Vanilla, Spiced Mate, and Pumpkin Spice is highlighted with whole cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pods, creating something warm and fragrant. It’s the perfect accompaniment when you need to solve those difficult three pipe problems.

My Preparation: Steeped 4 minutes at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

My Impressions: Just a little bit spicy, this is a very smooth blend. It smells autumnal, cozy, and comforting. I might try it with a drop of honey sometime, but it’s so perfect as is, I don’t want to mess with it. I prepared it as Bran’s package note recommends, despite the lower temperature recommended on the site, and there is no bitterness or “stewed” flavor to it. (The packaging actually says 220F/100C; I assume that 220 is intended to be 212.)

I loved the first cup so much, I immediately made a second, and it’s pretty clear that I’m going to need to order more.

The packaging is an elegant illustration of a pipe (not, let us note, the non-Canonical calabash) under the name of the blend with a Victorian floral flourish. Below the pipe is a list of the teas and accents, along with the recommended preparation of the tea. Evocative and practical – ideal.

Ingredients: rooibos tea, toasted mate tea, black tea, cinnamon bark, natural vanilla flavor, ginger root, orange peels, natural spice flavor, natural pumpkin spice flavor, cloves, marigold flowers, cardamom, cinnamon (accent), cloves (accent), and cardamom (accent).

Includes:Rooibos Vanilla, Spiced Mate and Pumpkin Spice teas.

Suggested Preparation: 4 minutes at 212F (on packaging); 4 minutes at 195F (on site).

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Tea Review: “Man’s Best Ghost”

I’ve loved every one of Bran Mydwynter’s blends that I’ve tried so far, so I’ve been eager to taste more. With Halloween coming, I couldn’t resist ordering a bunch of his Nightmare Before Christmas Blends. It’s still hot and sunny here in SoCal, but with the right cup of tea (and central air), I can curl up in a chair and pretend it’s properly autumn.

Man's Best Ghost Tea
Name: Man’s Best Ghost (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Creator: Bran Mydwynter
Source: Purchased from Adagio.com

Description from Site: Mellow, uncomplicated, and gentle. Decaf Vanilla and Peppermint create a comforting vanilla mint, and Foxtrot contributes a dry, dusty, soothing flavour of chamomile. It’s a blend with zero caffeine—a smart companion for when the sun goes down and the ghosts come out to play.

My Preparation: Steeped 3 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

My Impressions: The strong scent of peppermint was the first thing I noticed on opening the tin. After steeping, that fades and blends in with the vanilla and the vanilla, Ceylon, rooibos, and chamomile. The flavor is a perfect balance of vanilla, mint, and black tea. It’s sweet and light, ideal for relaxing in the evening.

I love the artwork on Bran Mydwynter’s tins from Adagio. It has the name of the fandom, the name of the blend, the ingredients in the blend, and the preparation suggestion, along with an image. This one has a rendering of the ghost dog on a sepia-toned background (not nearly as pink as it appears in my photo). It strikes just the right note of slightly gothic playfulness.

Ingredients: Decaf Ceylon Tea, Chamomile Flowers, Rooibos Tea, Peppermint, Peppermint Leaves, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Candy Canes (accent), and Marigold Flowers (accent).

Includes: Decaf Vanilla, Foxtrot, and Peppermint teas.

Suggested Preparation: 3 minutes at 212 (on packaging); 4 minutes at 212 (on site).

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Episode 09: “Then You Begin To Wonder”

Slightly late for August, and with very little yarn content. Plenty of tea and Sherlock Holmes, and I get to say the words “Oxonian” (once), “Cantabridgian” (once), and “Queer” (a whole bunch of times).

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD]

The Hinge that the Whole Team Turns On [MISS]

Watching the Ever-Changing Kaleidoscope [RESI]

Contest Between the Two [FINA]

Outside the Conventions and Humdrum Routine of Everyday Life [REDH]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

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Episode 08: The Charming Climate of Florida

July means Tour de Fleece, a new round of Nerdopolis challenges, Summer Reading at the Library, ARCs from ALA, and news from Comic Con.

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

My Friend Lomax [ILLU]

A Well-Staged Performance[VALL]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD]

We Progress, My Dear Watson, We Progress [MISS]

The Hinge that the Whole Team Turns On [MISS]

Watching the Ever-Changing Kaleidoscope [RESI]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

Goodies from Florida: Yarn, Tea, and Sherlock Holmes (and also biscuits)

Goodies from Florida: Yarn, Tea, and Sherlock Holmes (and also biscuits)

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Episode 07: My Friend Lomax, the Sub-Librarian

kimono

Irene Adler’s kimono-inspired dress

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

  • Anderson blend by Cara McGee available from Adagio

My Friend Lomax [ILLU]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD]

We Progress, My Dear Watson, We Progress [MISS]

holmes_cottage

Holmes’s cottage in Mr Holmes

Watching the Ever-Changing Kaleidoscope [RESI]

The Hinge that the Whole Team Turns On [MISS]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

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Episode 06: An Opinion upon the Subject

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

We Progress, My Dear Watson, We Progress [MISS]

Watching the Ever-Changing Kaleidoscope [RESI]

The Hinge that the Whole Team Turns On [MISS]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

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Episode 05: Outside the Conventions

A Few Words as of Greeting [VALL]

Traces of the Treasure-Seekers [SIGN]

Mr Soames’s Tea-Time [3STU]

  • Mind Palace blend by Cara McGee, available from Adagio

We Progress, My Dear Watson, We Progress [MISS]

Outside the Conventions and Humdrum Routine of Everyday Life [REDH]

Curled upon the Sofa, Reading and Re-reading [CARD]

One or Two Points of Contact [RETI]

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