Showing posts from February, 2017

Sherlock Holmes: "The Beryl Coronet"

Week 9: "The Beryl Coronet"

Sherlock Holmes: "The Red Circle"

Week 8: "The Red Circle"

The Begum's Millions

One day, out of the blue, the unassuming Dr. Sarrasin learns he is heir to an enormous fortune.  It seems he is the only living descendant of a Frenchman who married a begum - "a Muslim lady of high rank" -  and, through her wealth, became rich. 

As it would happen, another claimant to the fortune shows up, a German professor by the name of Schultze.  To avoid an expensive court case, they agree to split the money in half and each spend it on the projects of their dreams.  These projects turn out to be two new cities, both highly regulated but as different from each other as the masterminds who founded them.  Away in the wilds of Oregon state, the cities are built and populated, thriving till one man's sinister ideals threaten to undermine both topias. 

This is quite a page-turner and, in spite of the Vernian themes, a somewhat different read than most other of his novels I've read. The exploration of dystopia vs. utopia in the Pacific Northwest is what could brin…

The Children of Húrin, and their Middle Earth

Courage, resilience, loyalty, and hope.  These themes, among many others, permeate J. R. R. Tolkien'sThe Lord of the Rings and its immediate prequel, The Hobbit.  I think of these ideas to be as much Tolkienesque as the "ring saga" itself: the bleakness in LOTR is well exceeded by acts of bravery and strength of faith.  Yet if you go back further in Middle Earth history to The Children of Húrin, you'll find very different tale, as similar as it may seem in most respects.

Before Sauron, there was another dark lord called Morgoth.  Like Sauron, Morgoth intended to rule all Middle Earth, and he was merciless to any who stood in his way.  Túrin, son of Húrin, is compelled by his mother Morwen to leave the eventual war zone of his home village andfind refuge with the elves in Doriath.  Though a natural leader, Túrin is hotheaded and impulsive, and in a world where all must fend for themselves, he finds it easier to make friends than to keep them.  As he grows from boy to m…

Top Ten Books I Liked More/Less Than I Thought I Would

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is about books that exceeded or did not quite meet expectations.  I feel like I've read quite a few of those, especially recently, so here goes!

Books I Liked More Than I Thought I Would
1.  The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
A surprisingly good read (but don't forget the tissues).

2. The Club of Queer Trades - G. K. Chesterton
This book is a hilarious Sherlock Holmes parody.  I enjoyed it more than I would have thought.  ;)

3. Shirley - Charlotte Brontë
Though it's been a while since I read this, I just remember finding it a lot better than I anticipated.  It's a great historical fiction set in the Regency era, and the romance is completely Brontë.  Any Brontë fans who have not read this one should really give it a try. 

4. Dracula - Bram Stoker
This is one of my favorite Victorian novels now.  It has a few flaws, but overall I was really swept up in the story and characters, beyond my expectations.

5. Under Western Eyes - Joseph Conrad

Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet (review)

A study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn't we use a little art jargon. There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it. 
A Study in Scarlet was the first Sherlock Holmes story in print, written by a twenty-seven-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle about an eccentric detective of the same age. 

Dr. John Watson, an army surgeon with shattered nerves, arrives in London, ca. 1881, looking for respite from his experiences in the Middle East.  By a mutual acquaintance, he is introduced to a medical student and future roommate, Sherlock Holmes, whose mysterious talents seem to point to some greater purpose that Watson can't quite grasp.  A murder, a ring, and a tangle of muddy footprints set them both into the midst of a criminal investigation, where strange signs are leaving the public in fear of secret societies.  In spite of his health, Watson follows his new friend Holmes wholeheart…

Sherlock Holmes: "The Yellow Face"

Week 7: "The Yellow Face"

Sherlock Holmes: "The Speckled Band"

Week 6:"The Speckled Band"

Sorry for the late link-up post, but I figured better late than never (?).  I've been incredibly busy IRL, so I have a bit of catchup to do on my own challenge.  =/