Sherlock Homes: The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

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When Sir Charles Baskerville is found suspiciously dead, his friend, Dr. James Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes to look into the death. While the cause of death is determined to be a heart attack, Mortimer suspects foul play and fears that Sir Charles’s nephew and sole heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, may be in danger next. At the center of the investigation is the curse of the Baskervilles, which dates back to the time of the English Civil War. Supposedly the family’s ancestor, Hugo Baskerville, sold his soul to the devil, and the family has been haunted by a large spectral hound ever since. Because Sir Charles was found with a look of horror on his face when he died, appeared to be running away from something, and large paw prints had been found near his body, there is reason to believe that the “Hound” may have returned. The details of the case spark the interest of Sherlock and he agrees to take up the case. “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” is the third of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and is widely regarded as one of his best. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Review

This is by far my favorite book by Sherlock Holmes and a true tour de force. I absolutely love the gothic and eerie feeling of this book. The narrative is based on Watson’s letters and diary, and through Watson’s eye we witness the implied threat of the moor, the foggy and gloomy weather, and the spectral hound.

Doyle creates this gothic and supernatural atmosphere that seems to give explanation for all the terrifying things that are happening on the moors. And it is this very atmosphere of doom that makes this such a suspenseful book.

It is hard to believe that Doyle got tired of writing this wonderful character. This book is a classic. Hard to imagine a world with Agatha Christie or her beloved detective, Hercules Poirot, without the contribution that Doyle and Sherlock Holmes made to this genre.

This book is on my list in The Classics Club Challenge.

 


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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Review

I just realized this book was first published in 2011. Oh, how I wish I had known about this book back then! Luckily, it’s never too late to find a gem–and this book is truly a gem! Even if you have never heard the expression Achilles’ heel, or known that you have a tendon named after the guy, or maybe you are not into Greek mythology, or never heard or read the Iliad, you can still enjoy this book.

That’s the magic that Madeline Miller brought to these pages. She has made a classic story accessible to everyone, young and old. Her prose is lyrical, poetic, and beautiful–but never in a snobbish way.

The plot revolves around the Trojan War, and we learn about Achilles from Patroclus’ eyes. That, my friend, makes all the difference in this book.

Patroclus is Achilles’ closest friend and because of his love for Achilles, we see a more humane version of the Greek hero.

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

This book has left me crying and wishing for more. I highly recommend this delightful book about love and friendship.

“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” 


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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

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Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember.

Review

Alias Grace is a work of fiction based on a historical event. Grace Marks was a notorious figure in the 1800’s who was sent to prison for twenty-eight years for the murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his mistress Nancy Montgomery. Atwood recreates Grace’s years of incarceration. The story is told in first -person, with Grace narrating her thoughts as well as the story she tells Dr. Simon Jordan, her psychologist in prison.

Grace is really the powerhouse in this story. Her telling of the events is what makes her human, sympathetic and believable. She is not really a warm and fuzzy character. She is very complex and unpredictable. This novel touches on many important themes. Atwood told this story from the point of view of a woman in the twenty-first century. Many of the themes explored in this novel are familiar to Atwood’s fans because the author has explored these themes in other novels. Feminism, abandonment, abortion, child abuse,  mental health, human worth, suffering, trauma, and sexuality.

“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”

The important point about this novel is that Atwood is not so interested in figuring out this mystery as she is in just telling the story and what it meant to be a woman in the mid-nineteenth century.

I’m yet to read a Margaret Atwood’s book that I don’t like. Alias Grace is a masterpiece and a must on any bookshelf.

“Gone mad is what they say, and sometimes Run mad, as if mad is a different direction, like west; as if mad is a different house you could step into, or a separate country entirely. But when you go mad you don’t go any other place, you stay where you are. And somebody else comes in.”

This novel is part of my list of books in The Classics Club Challenge


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The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Remains of the Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving “a great gentleman.” But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness” and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he served.

Review 

Such a beautifully written novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve never got to watch the movie version of this title and I’m glad I haven’t. I read this book with no pre-conceived expectations and I believe that has made a big difference in the way I experienced this novel.

This is a story about Stevens, a British butler who after years of service at Darlington Hall is offered his first vacation. He sets out to explore the English countryside and meet Miss Kenton, who had worked with him in the heyday of the Darlington Hall.

“A ‘great’ butler can only be, surely, one who can point to his years of service and say that he has applied his talents to serving a great gentleman — and through the latter, to serving humanity.”

Duty and dedication are at the heart of this novel and although in today’s day and age it’s hard to conceive the role of such a dedicated butler. This is a very bittersweet recollection of a life full of sacrifices and missed opportunities. I have to say I ended this novel feeling pretty sad. My heart ached for this man who spent his entire life in pursuit of service to this house and this employer and in doing that he lost his opportunity for true love.

“I do not think I responded Immediately, for it took me a moment or two to fully digest these words of Miss Kenton…their implications were such as to provoke a certain degree of sorrow within me. Indeed — why should I not admit it? — at that moment, my heart was breaking.”

This novel is part of my list of books in The Classics Club Challenge


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The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

Review

I absolutely loved this book. I have been reading Louise Penny for quite some time and one of the things that really impress me about her books is the richness of her characters. I love that all the characters have so many layers. This book reminded me a little of Umberto Eco’s The Name of The Rose. Probably because it’s set in a monastery. Unlike Eco’s long and drawn out novel, Penny’s novel is full of twists that keep you guessing until the end. Don’t let the theme of a monastery full of monks and Gregorian chants scare you away from this novel. This is a very well-plotted mystery! I highly recommend it.

 

The End of The Affair by Graham Greene

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According to the narrator, Maurice Bendrix, this book tells a story about hate much more than about love. Bendrix is an author who decides to write a true story and he decides how much of it he will tell, at what point he will begin, and at what point he will end it. The tale begins with the night he encounters Henry Miles, the husband of Sarah, the woman with whom Bendrix had an affair. Henry, however, has no idea that Bendrix was once involved with his wife. Henry reveals to Bendrix that he believes his wife is seeing another man. Pretending to be a friend to Henry and jealous of the fact Sarah may be seeing someone rather than him, Bendrix offers to hire a private investigator to find out the truth.

Bendrix narrates in first-person for the majority of the story and by interpreting situations according to his personal feelings and bias renders Bendrix a very unreliable narrator. He allows his negative feelings to color his telling of the story. The remainder of the narrative is flashback allowing readers to gather more information to interpret the story.

Loved this book. I absolutely loved the writing, and what Greene did to the story and the characters.

“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”

“Love had turned into “love affair” with a beginning and an end.”

“She had always called me ‘you.’ ‘Is that you?’ on the telephone, ‘Can you? Will you? Do you?’ so that I imagined, like a fool, for a few minutes at a time, there was only one ‘you’ in the world and that was me.”

“So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days.”

I highly recommend this classic.

Review: Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno

 

Malcolm Graves lives by two rules: finish the job, and get paid. After thirty years as a collector, chasing bounties and extinguishing rebellions throughout the solar system, Malcolm does what he’s told, takes what he’s earned, and leaves the questions to someone else—especially when it comes to the affairs of offworlders. But his latest mission doesn’t afford him that luxury. After a high-profile bombing on Earth, the men who sign Malcolm’s paychecks are clamoring for answers. Before he can object, the corporation teams him up with a strange new partner who’s more interested in statistics than instinct and ships them both off to Titan, the disputed moon where humans have been living for centuries. Their assignment is to hunt down a group of extremists: Titanborn dissidents who will go to any length to free their home from the tyranny of Earth.Heading into hostile territory, Malcolm will have to use everything he’s learned to stay alive. But he soon realizes that the situation on the ground is much more complex than he anticipated . . . and much more personal

Review

Wow! Rhett Bruno’s Titanborn was a real breath of fresh air for me. After having gone through a series of fiction and mystery books, I had forgotten how much I love a good Sci-Fi book. Titanborn begins with a post-apocalyptic future where long ago a meteorite hit Earth leaving humans nearly extinct and forcing them to colonize other planets and solar systems. Malcolm Graves is a bounty-hunter, or collector, who spends his days collecting bounties and controlling rebellious activities throughout the solar system. Most of the plot surrounds a rebellious group from Titan, one of Saturn’s moons and one of the places humans (earthers) colonized after the meteorite hit. This rebellious group is made up of decedents of the original settlers, or Titanborn, who seek independence from human control of Titan.

“Titan, the orange moon of Saturn… the most promising celestial body in all of Sol for human expansion due to the resources offered…a pale-orange orb dappled with pockets of shadow that gave it the appearance of a windswept skull. I found it fitting for a place where the locals were as icy as the temperature.”

I absolutely loved the way Bruno constructed this world. The narrative is fast-paced, action-packed and smart. Malcolm is a character that reminded me of a cross between Hans Solo and Dick Deckard. He is sarcastic, smart, and believable. I also liked his side-kick, Zhaff. This is a high-speed, thrilling novel that is really going to appeal to fans of the genre as well as people who don’t necessarily read Sci-Fi novels. I felt the ending left me hanging a bit and that might be due to a possible sequel. If that is the case, I’ll be anxiously waiting for book number two.

The author has provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

Rhett Bruno grew up in Hauppauge, New York, and studied at the Syracuse University School of Architecture where he graduated cum laude. He has been writing since he can remember, scribbling down what he thought were epic short stories when he was young to show to his parents. When he reached high school he decided to take that a step further and write the “Isinda Trilogy”. After the encouragement of his favorite English teacher he decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to him could enjoy his early work. While studying architecture Rhett continued to write as much as he could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn’t until he was a senior that he decided to finally pursue his passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating himself to reading works of the Science Fiction author’s he always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) he began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising”, The first part of what he hopes will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series. Since then Rhett has been hired by an Architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to work on “The Circuit” and all of the other stories bouncing around in his head. He is also currently studying at the New School to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.

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AudioBook Review: A Sudden Crush by Camilla Isley

Written by: Camilla Isley

Narrated by: Tami Leah Lacy

Length: 7 hrs and 25 min

Release date: 06/23/16

Publisher: Pink Bloom Press

Joanna Price is a city girl with the perfect life. She loves her job as a book editor, she just married Liam, high-profile, best-selling author and the man of her dreams, and she’s headed to the Caribbean to enjoy two weeks of paradise for her luxurious honeymoon. Connor Duffield is a gruff, grumpy rancher from the Midwest. He is a country boy who has a no-nonsense approach to life, more scars than he’d like to admit, and he hates city girls. So it’s just a misfortune they have to sit next to each other for a six-hour plane ride. Even more so when their flight is caught in the perfect storm and Joanna wakes up stranded on a desert island with Connor, the very man she hoped she would never have to see again. Why are they alone on this forsaken island? What happened to Joanna’s husband? When her dream honeymoon turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare, Joanna’s first thought is survival. However, she and Connor will quickly discover just how boring paradise can be. As the days turn to weeks, and then months, this mismatched pair will have to learn how to coexist and how to resist the sparkles of an attraction they weren’t prepared to feel. When they are finally rescued, will Joanna’s marriage be saved as well, or will the life she knew and loved be in ruins?


Review

Joanna Price is this sassy, book editor from Chicago who just married Liam, a best-selling author. Wow! A match made in heaven, right? Unfortunately, fate has a whole different plan for this couple and when Joanna experiences a plane accident and is left stranded on a deserted island with a grumpy rancher, Connor, the fun is about to start. One of the things I really liked about this novel was the fact that this book was not as predictable as I thought, nor was a book just about a couple stranded on an island. I really loved the narration by Tami Leah Lacy. Her interpretation of Joanna was perfect and really helped to bring that character to life. I loved grumpy Connor! The scenes on the island were fun, and Isley kept the suspense going. I really enjoyed listening to this book on my way to work. This is a lovely, romantic, witty, and funny summer read. I highly recommend it.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for my honest review.


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Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay (Tour Stop)

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her fourteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace in the woods of a local park. The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend his disappearance. Feeling helpless and alone, their sorrow is compounded by anger and frustration. The local and state police haven’t uncovered any leads. Josh and Luis, the friends who were with Tommy last, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock— rumored to be cursed. Living in an all-too-real nightmare, riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. She believes a ghostly shadow of Tommy materializes in her bedroom, while Kate and other local residents claim to see a shadow peering through their own windows in the dead of night. Then, random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear—entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the woods of Borderland; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connected them all and changes everything. As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened becomes more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

Review

Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is not your usual horror book. I’m not sure I would really classify it as a horror novel, and although I don’t usually review this genre on this blog, I do read horror books quite often. This novel, however, falls under the psychological thriller category because what Tremblay so successfully mastered here was the ability to develop a slow narrative that is both creepy and terrorizing. Psychological stress, frustration, and the unknown are factors much more successful at instilling fear than the flat-out gory and macabre.

The book starts with the dreadful call that every parent fears—that your child is missing. With that premise, Tremblay takes us on a journey with Elizabeth and Kate through the frustrations, the fears, and the pains of having a missing child and not knowing what happened to him. Perhaps because I’m a mother, but also because of the way the story developed, I can say that this is the first book of this genre in which I have felt so much emotion emanating from the pages. I really liked Tremblay’s use of Tommy’s diary entries to give insight into Tommy’s mind and the days close to his disappearance. Without giving too much detail, all I can say is that my heart went out to Elizabeth, to Kate as well as Tommy, and although parts of the plot were a bit predictable, this is not a novel so much about whodunit but also about how the events shape the people involved.

The hallmark of a great novel is the ability to remain on your mind long after you’re done with the book. The disappearance at Devil’s Rock is ultimately a sad novel, but it is a great novel. By far the best book I’ve read in this genre this year.

I’d like to thank TLC Book Tours  for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

5 star

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About The Author

Paul Tremblay is a multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist and the author of the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. He has served as the president of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous year’s-best anthologies. Find out more about Paul at:

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Review: Lowcountry Stranger by Ashley Farley

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There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay. The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year-old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity. Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.

Review

This is book number two of the Sweeney sisters, and I received a copy from Kimberly the Caffeinated Book Reviewer in exchange for my honest review. I was a little hesitant to read the second book in a series when I still had book one, Her Sister’s Shoes, on my TBR list. I’m glad I did. This is my first book by Ashley Farley, and I really loved the way she writes. It seems to me that there’s a strong family element of love, bonding, and loyalty between the sisters that truly fascinated me. I’m an only child, so I’m always amazed at stories about sibling love. This is definitely one of those stories. Another great thing about this novel is that as you read the blurb of the story you might get a feel that this is going to be one of those books that are predictable, and what I loved about Lowcountry Stranger is that it is full of twists and surprises. When you think the story is going one way, Farley adds another twist to make it even more interesting.

I absolutely loved some of the characters. I want to go back and read Her Sister’s Shoes to get to know a little more about Faith and her ex-husband. I loved their mother Lovie, the character of Moses, and obviously the sisters Sam, Faith, and Jackie. I really enjoyed meeting the Sweeney sisters, and I’m looking forward to reading her next books in the series.

This book is scheduled to be published July 1, 2016.

5 star


About The Author

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Ashley Farley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. SAVING BEN is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.


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