Showing posts from January, 2017

Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet

Weeks 3-5: A Study in Scarlet

We finish up January with the first Sherlock Holmes story ever written, featuring the first major case of his career.

Till We Have Faces - a story of love

There was a time I might have disliked this book.  Years ago, two things could easily ruin a story for me: harsh protagonists and untidy endings.  Till We Have Faces is guilty of both.  I think I would not have liked it those years ago, so why do I wish I had read it then?  Possibly to become aware of what I was doing.  Experience, however, was the best way to learn, and this is exactly why I felt this novel, tremendously.

Orual is an unattractive young woman - so much so, that her own father, the violent king of Glome, reminds her when he's angry.  Her grim life is changed completely when she adopts her beautiful baby half-sister, Psyche, and raises her with all the affection she can give and has never quite received.  In a world where Orual finds her father, the people, and the gods set against her, it is only a matter of time before tragedy hits.  She lives and strives for just one thing: to hold on to what love she has.

You never comprehend how much you love someone until someth…

Sherlock Holmes: "The Musgrave Ritual" (review)

Ah... the Musgrave Ritual.  While it does not come immediately to mind when I think of favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, nonetheless it is one of those I always enjoy.

An old college acquaintance, Reginald Musgrave, asks Holmes to help him solve the mystery of his missing butler.  Holmes's career is still in its earliest stages, and he is eager to take on the challenge.  The most prominent clue is, in itself, a riddle - the "Musgrave Ritual" that has been passed down in the family for generations.  Holmes believes if he can solve the riddle, all the rest of the mystery will fall into place.

This story gives a lot of great insights on Holmes himself - specifically, his methods.  He is one who focuses on gaining and using practical knowledge that will help him in his work (we'll hear more about that in A Study in Scarlet!).  Sometimes that practical knowledge may seem almost random.  In this instance, he makes use of his knowledge of math, history, and human psychology t…

Embracing routine in 2017

On a recent post, "Dreams & Goals for 2017," I talked about wanting to find a daily schedule to help me reduce stress levels, as well as balance my time between work and personal pursuits.  A commenter, Mari, expressed interest in hearing about my schedule if I found one that works.  It's been two weeks, and I'm happy to report I've created a daily plan and stuck to it, and overall it's been a surprising success.  :)

This is the approximate breakdown, with clarifying notes:

9:30–10:00 PM - Lights Off
I put this first because it is the most important.  I have always - and especially since college - been a night owl, easily staying up till 1:00 AM no problem and even past that sometimes.  I could hardly imagine going to bed early, let alone consistently.  On January 2, I made myself turn the lights off at 9:30, and that was the beginning of the success.  I did not fall asleep for an hour or two, but that was just the first night of the new schedule - it became…

Sherlock Holmes: "The Musgrave Ritual"

Week 2: "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"

Our second week features another story from Holmes's past!  Comment below with your thoughts on the story, or share a link to your blog/vlog review.

If you have any issues with the linky widget, please let me know. I switched over to a different widget hoster that would let me have multiples.

"The Golden Pot" and Other Tales - Hoffmann's mind is a weird place

In my Mount TBR 2016 Recap, I mentioned how much I loved the original Nutcracker and Mouse King, which left me wanting to read more by E. T. A. Hoffmann.  I was excited to find this little collection of some of his other stories waiting under the Christmas tree: The Golden Pot and Other Tales.

How can I describe Hoffmann?  His writing - his bizarre, funny, gruesome, sometimes tedious writing - precedes Lewis Carroll in many ways.  Hoffmann likes to bewilder his characters, make them question who they are, and encounter all manner of strange people and anthropomorphic animals.  He has an idea and runs with it wholeheartedly.  In a general sense (and in contrast to Carroll), I would say Hoffmann's stories are fascinating more than they are likeable.

My favorite was the first one, "The Golden Pot" (5 stars).  Anselmus is a young, fanciful calligraphist who gets a job as copyist for a mysterious man, Lindhorst the Archivist.  Lindhorst's beautiful, yet eerie house is just …

Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes!

By general consensus,January 6th, 1854, is considered to be the birthday of Sherlock Holmes.  You can read about the humorous history of this (somewhat arbitrary) celebration in this 2009 article.  

I'm a firm believer in 1854 as the birth year, since Holmes is described as about sixty years old in "His Last Bow," which takes place in 1914.  As for January 6th, I'm not sure about it, but I don't mind it.  (For one thing, it's the same day as Epiphany, which helps me remember!)

In observation of his birthday, how about a discussion question - What is your first memory of Sherlock Holmes?

When I was about nine or ten, I discovered The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes on my family's bookshelf.  It wasn't the complete stories, but about 2/3 of them, with the illustrations by Sidney Paget.  The first one was "A Scandal in Bohemia," and while I couldn't have told you the definition of some words - like "blackmail" - I was absolutely…

Sherlock Holmes: "The Gloria Scott" (review)

The first in the lineup for our Sherlock Holmes challenge is a flashback to Holmes's college days, where he was a solitary student studying chemistry.  He made a total of (surprise) one friend, as he tells us: Victor Trevor. He was a hearty, full-blooded fellow, full of spirits and energy, the very opposite to me in most respects, but we had some subjects in common, and it was a bond of union when I found that he was as friendless as I. I like this bit; it makes Trevor to be a sort of proto-Watson - opposite personality to Holmes, but lonely like him.  Trevor also genuinely likes Holmes's conversation, to the point he asks him down to his house for a visit during break.
The actual mystery, involving Trevor's father, is a grisly start for our challenge!  Yet I think it summarizes many key points to the Sherlock Holmes series.  It has the mysterious note, the sympathetic villain or anti-hero, and a somewhat lengthy flashback dialogue.  More importantly, it reconfirms Holmes'…

Sherlock Holmes: "The Gloria Scott"

Week 1: "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott"

This is the first check-in post of the Chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge!  Comment below with your thoughts on the story, or share a link to your blog/vlog review.

Kai (Fiction State of Mind)
Keely @ Achaemenids
Ashley @ BookishRealmReviews
Dana @ Much Madness is Divinest Sense
Marian @ noonlight reads

Note: Having some trouble with the linky widget, so please bear with me (and post your links in a comment if there is no widget visible :)).