In the Bookcase

12.11.2017

Book Review: The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (5 star review)


The Return of Sherlock Holmes

written by Arthur Conan Doyle

474 pages // published in 1905 // Victorian crime




BOOK DESCRIPTION

The Return of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of 13 Sherlock Holmes stories, originally published in 1903-1904, by Arthur Conan Doyle. This was the first Holmes collection since 1893, when Holmes had "died" in The Final Problem. Having published The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901-1902 (although setting it before Holmes' death) Doyle came under intense pressure to revive his famous character. The first story is set in 1894 and has Holmes returning in London and explaining the period from 1891-94, a period called "The Great Hiatus" by Sherlockian enthusiasts.




My Review


5 Star Rating


Sherlock Holmes is back in London after his assumed death back at Reichenbach Falls. It's not long though, and someone is trying to put him six feet under once and for all ('The Adventure of the Empty House')...

Now, I was extremely impressed with the story 'The Adventure of the Norwood Builder', in which forensic fingerprinting is put to the test. Pretty intriguing, and this is where Conan Doyle is really strutting his scientific mind.

'The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton' is another that stands out to me... because Sherlock Holmes gets engaged! Oh, what a funny idea! This relationship only comes about due to Holmes' need to milk out information, and of course (to relieve your mind), there is no marriage. Whew! Crisis averted.

And one other story worth mentioning is 'The Adventure of the Second Stain'. I liked it because Holmes shows grace and kindness. Usually he comes off as seemingly callous. He has so logical a mind, it's sometimes hard for him to let soft emotions come through. But he pulls it off in this story.

So, those are some of my favorite moments of The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Most of the stories, it seems, I could breeze through in about 15 minutes or so. Each provided a pleasant mystery to puzzle out.

In the last story, I was very amused that Watson states that Holmes has forbidden him to keep publishing any of the stories – and yet, we know this promise is not forever kept.



Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and ebook format.


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This is book #12 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Set in a Place I'd Like to Visit: LONDON]





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12.08.2017

Book Review: To Live Again

To Live Again by Catherine Marshall (5 star review)


To Live Again

written by Catherine Marshall

336 pages // published in 1957 // Christian Biography




BOOK DESCRIPTION

Catherine Marshall's world caved in when her husband Peter died in his sleep. Suddenly it appeared as if her own life had ended--as all alone she faced a future seemingly devoid of hope and love. This is her own story of how she emerged triumphant to live again.




My Review


5 Star Rating


I'm so impressed with Catherine Marshall's book To Live Again. There's way more to her and her husband's story than just what appears in the famous book A Man Called Peter. So much more.

There's another whole tale that follows Peter Marshall's death, one of Mrs. Marshall finding herself again after the tragic loss. His story isn't over yet, and neither is hers. She shares more stories of Peter, and their life together. She's shares every emotion she went through after his untimely (or so it may seem) passing at the age of 46. Her memories of grief can be sad or even depressing to some readers who have experienced similar loss, I'm sure. But what Mrs. Marshall shares with us is that there's hope. And hope can grow into unimaginable and amazing things, if God is in it. I even liked how she told of stories of life after death, some supernatural occurrences, and how she connects with Peter, even though he is in heaven.

What I really loved about To Live Again is that she starts telling all about the entire publication process of A Man Called Peter. It's like behind the scenes bonus material on one of my favorite books. How lucky am I to have gotten to read more about the making of that wonderful book that touched the lives of so many? Even I could start to see how his death wasn't the end of his legacy, for his legacy had only just begun.

And then? We get to the part where Mrs. Marshall tells all in relation to the making of the 1955 film based on A Man Called Peter. Even MORE fun, I tell you. She shares all about her hesitancy at accepting the idea of a Hollywood movie... to the screenwriting process... to the final fanfare. For me, it was a lot of fun to read about. (And to that one lady who wrote to Mrs. Marshall saying that Clark Gable would been a good fit to play the titular character in the film, I say no. No, he would not have. Richard Todd filled the role perfectly.)

NOTE to the discerning reader & to parents: One chapter in particular deals with subject matter of the “mature” adult nature. It came out of the blue for me, but the topic was obviously one that bothered Mrs. Marshall during various stages of her grief. For this reason, I have to raise the age level of readers who could enjoy the book to at least high-school age or adult.

Overall? Catherine Marshall has a clear, simple voice in her writing. It's as if she is having a conversation with someone in the same room, instead of through the context of the printed page, decades after the ink has dried. And now I need to both re-read the book A Man Called Peter, and re-watch the movie again.

Highly recommended to read as a sequel to A Man Called Peter. << See my review.


"....our God can handle even the worst that can happen to us as finite human beings. Since Christ is beside us, no troubles that life can bring need cast us adrift. This is knowledge that can release us from lifelong bondage to fear."
-Catherine Marshall, To Live Again (Chapter 1)



Available on Amazon in paperback format.


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This is book #11 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic by a Woman Author]





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12.06.2017

Book Review: The Christmas Bus

A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com


The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson (4 star review)


The Christmas Bus

written by Melody Carlson

176 pages // published in 2006 // Christian fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

The people of Christmas Valley always celebrate Christmas to the fullest extent. The mayor plays Santa, every business is holiday themed, and there's a nativity for the kids each Christmas Eve. This town knows Christmas. But this year nothing goes according to plan.




My Review


4 Star Rating


A charming Christmas-themed story. It's a delightful holiday read, with a cozy small-town feel. There's barely any romance. It stays right on track with a lot of festiveness, faith, and fun.

I really connected well with the main plot of how this December is so different for Edith and Charles, not being with family like usual. Instead they're booking up their inn, entertaining strangers for Christmas -- in a way, giving up something of themselves -- and they may just receive back some gifts they didn't expect. They just have to put up with a wildly-colored bus stranded in front of their inn, a cantankerous old lady for a guest, and all the thrills and surprises of the Christmas season.

I loved everything about how the Shepherd's Inn is described... I'd just love to visit it myself. Christmas Valley seems like a lovely town to drive through and visit all the special stores and holiday-themed places.

Looking for some Christmas cheer and warm hospitality? Take a stop at the Shepherd's Inn, and read "The Christmas Bus".



Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and ebook format.


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12.04.2017

Book Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (5 star review)


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

written by Victor Hugo

448 pages // published in 1831 // Classic French classic




BOOK DESCRIPTION

A mad priest, a vagabond playwright, a social-climbing soldier, and a deformed bell-ringer — all are captivated by a gypsy girl's beauty and charm. Two of them will betray her, but the others will remain loyal, even in the shadow of the gallows. These outlaws find sanctuary within the walls of medieval Paris' greatest monument, the grand Cathedral of Notre Dame.

"What a beautiful thing Notre-Dame is!" declared Gustave Flaubert of Victor Hugo's 1837 novel. Originally published as Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris), it was conceived as a story of the cathedral itself, which functioned as the passionate heart of fifteenth-century city life. But Hugo's human drama rivals the Gothic masterpiece for dominance. Drawn with humor and compassion, his characters endure, both in literary history and in readers' imaginations: Frollo, the sinister archdeacon; Quasimodo, the hideous hunchback; and the enchanting outcast, Esmeralda.




My Review


5 Star Rating


A beautifully romantic story of a one-eyed, deaf, physically deformed, and publicly rejected hero. Love comes in all shapes and sizes though...

Quasimodo is ringer of the bells. Although he is now in his twenties, he is deaf due to the clamor of the bells in his ears, day in and day out. Nonetheless, he takes pride in his work, for it is an art to make those bells sing in just such a way as he. And for a man with deformities, he doesn't let it limit him, for he has such an agile body, easily swinging and leaping to and fro. He is fond of his 15 bells, “but big Marie was his favorite”.

After I got about halfway through the book, sometimes frustrated because I wasn't seeing too many scenes about Quasimodo (I mean, he's the titular character, the reason why I'm reading the book, obviously)... I came to the realization that the story just isn't about him. Perhaps we could say the book is about him, but the story itself? It's actually about Esmeralda, the gypsy girl. The common threads running through every chapter... it's all about how it connects with her. And yes, Quasimodo plays a big part in her story.

NOTE to the discerning reader & to parents: I'll give you a little caution; there are some “mature” topics alluded to, so for your vivacious younger readers, they may not be ready for it. Plus there's attempted murder, suicidal thoughts, and public hangings. A novel for high-schoolers and adults.

This is a story of loss, recovery, hope, treachery, humbleness, redemption, heroism, and not the least of these, love.

That ending? I love it. It has to be one of my favorite classic literature endings, ever.



Available on Amazon in paperback, ebook and audio format.


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This is book #10 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic in Translation]





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12.01.2017

2 Short Story Reviews: For Your Good & Hartly Manor

A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge // inthebookcase.blogspot.com


I have TWO short stories I want to share with you today.


I hope you check them out --
and LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU'RE READING THIS DECEMBER in the comments!


First up is a brand new holiday release...
published just this week!



For Your Good by Sarah Holman (5 star review)


For Your Good
A Christmas Short Story

written by Sarah Holman

31 pages // published in 2017 // Christian YA fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

It is Christmas time, but nothing is like it is supposed to be. Can a chance encounter help Janet to find joy and meaning despite her pain?

A short story of Christmas, finding hope, and faith.




My Review


5 Star Rating


Janet is a young woman, suffering in silent emotional pain – and it's the holiday season. She's striving to make ends meet by keeping up with her job at the mall – while feeling miserable inside from her parents' divorce and the distress of having the family and siblings all living separately now.

This Christmas takes a turn that Janet is blindsided by. It involves thieves, FBI agents (yep, the plot thickens and gets pretty intriguing!)... and a reminder that God is always on your side.

So the story deals with adult problems, but is packaged for anyone to enjoy. Teens and young adults would probably get the most out of it, but any age could.

It's truly a sweet story with touching moments in it. I would reeeeaaalllly love it if the author wrote a few more short stories that are very similar to this one. It's one of my favorite short ebooks. If you're familiar with Sarah Holman's “Kate” series, then you already know you'll definitely enjoy this short story too.



Available on Amazon in ebook format.


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And now for today's 2nd review...
published earlier this year...


Hartly Manor by Amanda Tero (5 star review)


Hartly Manor
A Children's Short Story

written by Amanda Tero

23 pages // published in 2017 // Christian children's fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

There were six of them…

And these six children have an important lesson to learn when it comes to Mr. Hartly and his manor. Is he the scary man that Rees says he is? Or will the children discover something else as they get to know him?




My Review


5 Star Rating


A little winter story with a charming tale to tell. It really works well as an allegory of our faith in God. It would only take a few minutes to read aloud with your family, and it's perfect for a conversation-starter on finding Him and leading others to Him. I think young kids will be able to easily connect with the children in the story (they're such a cute bunch!).

Ages up to 10 would best enjoy it.



Available on Amazon in ebook format.


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