Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Image result for the hound of the baskervillesThis is my 3rd book for the 2018 Back to the Classics challenge – I’m actually ahead for the first time ever! Plenty of year left to either keep up or crash… here’s hoping I achieve it this time around!

After I read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in February, a friend and I got in a conversation about the reading she requires of her homeschool students. She highly suggested I read this one, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, next. Believe it or not, I’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes novel. I know VERY little about the character, except for an episode of some spin off show my mom was watching. It was past time to educate myself on this corner of the literature world. I’m counting this novel for the category, “Classic by a New-To-You Author.”

An ancient curse haunts a wealthy family: due to an ancestor’s terrible deeds, a massive hound from hell exacts revenge upon the family. After the untimely death of Sir Charles, the new heir visits Sherlock Holmes to hopefully avoid the same fate. Things go missing, people sneak around, and Holmes sends Watson off to keep an eye on Sir Henry while he remains in London handling other matters. Until the critical night arrives and all becomes clear at last.

The novel is interesting to me for how little Sherlock Holmes is actually in it. He’s around in the beginning and the end, but the entire narrative is told by Watson. Watson is present in Dartmoor; Watson is finding clues and following leads; Watson is taking risks and writing Holmes about them. Holmes is only noticeable by his absence. Obviously he is the one to pull all the threads together – his name is on the cover after all. But I believe Watson deserves far more credit than he receives!

I’m torn on this novel. Although it was engaging and well written, I think I’m just not a mystery novel fan. Once again, the “debriefing” at the end really annoyed me (It bothered me in And Then There Were None as well). I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads but I’m not intending to grab any other mysteries for a while. Two is enough for one year.

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Book Review: And Then There were None

Image result for and then there were none

I just finished reading And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. This is my second review for the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge, in the category Classic Crime Story.

I’ve never been much of a mystery reader but Christie is convincing me I should keep trying. Murder on the Orient Express was my first novel of hers and I deeply loved it. When I saw Crime Story on the list this year, I knew I’d pick another by her. This was a captivating story. 10 strangers arrive at a mysterious island. A disembodied voice accuses them of crimes – murders, but those outside the scope of the justice system. Guilt.

One by one they’re killed themselves, following a pattern set out in a Ten Little Indians poem framed throughout the house. One by one they come to terms with their own guilt. One by one they succumb to fear and finally death. It’s the perfect mystery – 1o dead bodies and no one else could possibly have been on the island.

I binge read this book in a way I needed. I’ve been reading a lot of theology lately, plus I just finished Dickens. I needed something engaging and quick to pour through and “reset” in a way. And now I’m ahead on my BTTC Challenge! Maybe I’ll actually finish this year.

On Goodreads, I gave And Then There Were None four stars. It would have been five stars if I had just skipped the epilogue. For some reason, finding out how it all went down spoiled it for me. I was much more enthralled when the mystery was unsolved. But then I would have been wondering for the next several days…

Book Review: Great Expectations

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was my 1st book for Back to the Classics 2018 – A Classic that Scares You. Why this one? I’ve been intimidated of this read since a bad experience freshman year of high school. First, I’m not sure I actually read the book when it was assigned – that was a bad season of using Cliff Notes instead. Then we watched a terrible film adaptation. And THEN my teacher stepped out of the room during the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire. Bored teens + no supervision = watching that awful scene on repeat for several minutes until the teacher came back. Needless to say it left a horrible taste in my mouth. I’ve been saying I really should re-read it due to it’s classic value for 3 years now. I never got around to it out of fear. But I conquered my fear and I’m so glad I did!

Basic recap: Pip, an orphan living in poverty with his abusive sister and wimp brother in law, has nothing to look forward to in life. Until he enters a complicated web of wealth and crime and lies and expectations. From nothing, to everything, back to nothing, Dickens leads us on a whirlwind of emotions. Dickens does a particularly brilliant job building believable characters – even the weirdest minor ones. My favorite is Wemmick with his Walworth sentiments. I love Pip’s journey. The ending is especially powerful as he moves past his Great Expectations into a life worth living.

I’d call this a coming of age novel, but it’s the best one I’ve ever read to the point it blows every other coming of age novel out of the water. Beautifully done.

Back to the Classics 2018

So, um… it’s January! Time to set ambitious reading goals I’ll most likely fall off on, but I accomplish more when I DO set them than when I DON’T. Even if my goal isn’t actually achieved.

I didn’t finish Back to the Classics last year. I’m not even sure how far I got. But I read books I never would have picked up without it – namely, my gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho. My first Anthony Trollope was only because of the challenge as well. I actually read 36 books last year but I got on a heavy YA novels kick that accounted for something like 11. I love a well written YA novel! I started using GoodReads more heavily this year – if you’re on there, please add me. I’m toying with dropping the blog and just posting over there…

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/19746539-jenny-preston

So! 2018! Filled in titles are from my own shelves. Blanks are TBA from the library as I get rolling. Here’s a link to the sign up:  https://karensbooksandchocolate.blogspot.de/2017/12/back-to-classics-2018.html

  1. 19th Century
  2. 20th Century
  3. Woman Author: A Modern Mephistopheles, Alcott
  4. In Translation
  5. Children’s Classic: Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, Dodge
  6. Crime Story, fiction or non: And Then there were None, Christie
  7. Travel or Journey Narrative: Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Verne
  8. Single Word Title: Walden, Thoreau
  9. Color in Title: How Green was my Valley, Llewellyn
  10. An author new to me
  11. A classic that scares/intimidates me: Great Expectations, Dickens
  12. Reread a favorite!: Something Austen