Real books, Kindle books, audio books and all that jazz + The Emma Graham Mysteries by Martha Grimes

A bookshelf says a lot about a person. Pictures, knicknacks, mementos–and books. wpid-2015-04-06-22.24.49.jpg.jpegHopefully, if you’re in my life, lots and lots of books.

My husband is not a reader. But he had a lot of books when I met him, and fell in love with him. Lots of cookbooks, and his favorite novels (the few that he read). He hung onto what was important.

We’ve moved many places, and books have had the moves with us. Across the country, or once, across the street. When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately went out and bought all the children’s classics I loved; many that wouldn’t be read for years. Real books hold a certain power, a magic that nothing else in the world (at least my world) holds.

Here’s my thing, though; I mostly read on my Kindle. When I want a new book, there’s one at my fingertips. Immediately. And it’s incredibly portable; I can take hundreds of books with me wherever I go. It takes up very little room in my purse. Basically, it’s the convenience of it.

And I listen to a lot of books, as well. Certain books have to be read, but many I’m just as happy to hear someone else read. And I’ve come to find I like certain narrators, getting picky about who reads what book. It adds a certain nuisance to the book, setting up for me a very important part of  the main character; not the looks (which I can create just fine in my own head, thank you very much), but the voice.

But real books!!! I love them. Such a dilemma. I wasn’t buying them in the volume I had before my Kindle. In fact, I was hardly buying them at all. I was still buying quite a few for my girls (we have an awesome children’s bookstore, Fundamentals, here in town, and I can’t stay away for very long), but my bookshelves were looking a little stale. And again, I love real books.

This conundrum forced me to make a choice; get rid of all books, or start buying new, real books. And I wasn’t going to get rid of all my real books.There was no was I was going to get rid of real books in my life–but suddenly a light went on.

I had an opportunity to make my bookshelves into what I wanted them to be, without spending a fortune. I started with local thrifts shops; I started buying books I had LOVED, buying them in hardback.

I have been hitting the local thrift stores and used bookstores. My criteria for buying a book? It has to be one that I want to lend to someone. I have purchased a few trade paperbacks, but am trying to stay with hardback.

I get a lot of Digital Reader’s Copies, which is WONDERFUL. That has freed up my budget a bit; the money I used for digital books on Amazon now goes for real books. I will sometimes buy ‘real’ books from Amazon, some from our local bookstore (Fundementals also has some adult and YA books, and she will order for me), sometimes used. Barnes and Noble isn’t too close, but I’ll buy there, too. I’ve been freed, in a way. I don’t have to buy every book I want to read, just the ones I’ve read and loved.

So yes, the Kindle changed my world. And it gave me a better bookshelf. One a little more discriminating, a little more ‘me.’

And here’s a taste of a series I loved: Martha Grimes’ Emma Graham series.

I fell in love with Emma Graham the minute I heard her voice. Well Kim Mai Guest’s voice. She was the perfect narrator for Martha Grimes’ series.

I read a couple of Richard Jury books (the series that Grimes is best known for), but it is such a voluminous series, and I haven’t wanted to jump into it with both feet. But the Emma Graham books, I wish so much that Grimes would write more.

The Premise

Emma Graham is a precocious 12 year-old living in the once beautiful but slowing fading, Hotel Paradise, on the beautiful Spirit Lake , Maryland. I’m not sure of the time period, but I would say somewhere between 1930-1950.

Emma’s father died, but her mother manages the hotel, using her cooking skills to run the kitchen. Emma’s brother, the family musical prodigy, runs wild with his creative juices flowing, and Emma is basically left to her own devices, after she serves in the dining room and helps with her great aunt, a slightly batty, very reclusive old lady who lives in the Hotel Paradise (and is a constant source of information for Emma, plied with any number of alcoholic concoctions Emma creates).

Also living in the hotel is Emma’s mother’s business partner and her spoiled daughter, Ree-Jane (who is also Emma’s sworn enemy). Many kids would be sullen and bored with this life (including Ree-Jane), but not Emma Graham.

Emma is a budding reporter, forever on the search for a story. She is great friends with the sheriff in La Porte, the town near Spirit Lake, as well as the favorite waitress, Maud (of course) at the local diner. She also has a very adult vocabulary, which some reviewers have had trouble with, but I find to be spot on when discussing an incredibly intelligent girl who reads a lot and spends her time talking to or listening in on her genius brother and other, adult conversations.

Any way, to quell her boredom, Emma takes on old, mysterious happens at Spirit Lake and surrounding areas. Because she is an inventive child, she has a way of blending in and asking the right questions, although this can also lead to some danger for young Emma.

My Thoughts

I loved this series, and it is definitely a series. It is written in an adult manner, and only after about the third one did I realize that Grimes meant these books for a younger audience. I would definitely let my daughter read them, although who knew they were for kids?!

Emma reminds me of Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Harriet (Harriet the Spy), or Nancy Drew. Grimes paints a beautiful picture, and Emma is a wonder. The third book, Belle Ruin, ends horribly (or really doesn’t end), but the visions of that beautiful resort are some of my favorites of any book. (For some reason, Belle Ruin is not available for Kindle).

I wish someone would take a look at this series and think about a movie. The two books could be split into two movies beautifully.

I give this series four stars. Emma Graham is a wonder.


2 thoughts on “Real books, Kindle books, audio books and all that jazz + The Emma Graham Mysteries by Martha Grimes

  1. I just started my own library collection and I would say that it has been a fun ride. It is becoming difficult to control my impulse of buying more books even when I still have lots of books in my reading list. But, I still prefer of having a real book than a digital one as it have a certain feel when reading.


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