Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book "The Adventure of The Second Stain" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Second Stain", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle ranked "The Adventure of the Second Stain" eighth in his list of his twelve favorite Holmes stories.

About the Author: Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1876 to 1881, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and in Sheffield, as well as in Shropshire at Ruyton-XI-Towns. While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, "The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe", was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood's Magazine. His first published piece "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first non-fiction article, "Gelsemium as a Poison" in the British Medical Journal. In 1882 he joined former classmate George Turnavine Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 (£900 today) to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including "The Captain of the Pole-Star" and "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", both inspired by Doyle's time at sea, the latter of which popularized the mystery of the Mary Celeste and added fictional details such as the perfect condition of the ship (which had actually taken on water by the time it was discovered) and its boats remaining on board (the one boat was in fact missing) that have come to dominate popular accounts of the incident. Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, was taken by Ward Lock Co. on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle £25 for all rights to the story. The piece appeared later that year in the Beeton's Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. The story featured the first appearance of Watson and Sherlock Holmes, partially modeled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes ... Round the center of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man." Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?" Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet was commissioned and The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott's Magazine in February 1890, under agreement with the Ward Lock company. Doyle felt grievously exploited by Ward Lock as an author new to the publishing world and he left them. Short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the Strand Magazine. Doyle first began to write for the 'Strand' from his home at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, now marked by a memorial plaque. In this period, however, Holmes was not his sole subject and in 1893, he collaborated with J.M. Barrie on the libretto of Jane Annie. Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." At the time of his death, there was some controversy concerning his burial place, as he was avowedly not a Christian, considering himself a Spiritualist. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden. He was later re-interred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire. Carved wooden tablets to his memory and to the memory of his wife are held privately and are inaccessible to the public. That inscription reads, "Blade straight / Steel true / Arthur Conan Doyle / Born May 22nd 1859 / Passed On 7th July 1930." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: "Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters". Undershaw, the home near Hindhead, Haslemere, south of London, that Doyle had built and lived in between October 1897 and September 1907, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer and stood empty while conservationists and Doyle fans fought to preserve it. In 2012 the High Court ruled that the redevelopment permission be quashed because proper procedure had not been followed. A statue honors Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Doyle was born.

My Review: In this story, Lord Bellinger, the Prime Minister, and Trelawney Hope, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, come to Holmes in the matter of a document stolen from Hope's dispatch box, which he kept at home in Whitehall Terrace when not at work. If divulged, this document could bring about very dire consequences for all Europe, even war. They are loath to tell Holmes at first the exact nature of the document's contents, but when Holmes declines to take on their case, they tell him that it was a rather injudicious letter from a foreign potentate. It disappeared from the dispatch box one evening when Hope's wife was out at the theater for four hours. No-one in the house knew about the document, not even the Secretary's wife, with whom he will not discuss his work. None of the servants could have guessed what was in the box.
Holmes decides to begin with some spies known to him, and is then astonished to hear from Dr. Watson that one of those that he names has been murdered. Eduardo Lucas of Godolphin Street, near Whitehall, was stabbed to death at his house last night. Holmes is sure that this is beyond coincidence.
Before Holmes has a chance to act, another piece of the puzzle arrives at 221B Baker Street in the form of Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope, the European Secretary's wife. She asks Holmes about the stolen document's contents, saying that it is in her husband's best interest for her to know. Holmes will only reveal that there would be very unfortunate consequences if the document were not found. Holmes reads terror in Lady Hilda's eyes. Lady Hilda also begs Holmes to tell her husband nothing of her visit.
Holmes's spy hunt does not go well. It lasts days without result. As for the murder, the police arrest Mitton, Lucas's valet, but soon release him as he has a solid alibi.
Four days after the murder, a newspaper report from Paris connects Madame Henri Fournaye to Lucas's death. A woman matching her description was seen in London, where Mme Fournaye has recently been. She is, it seems, Lucas's wife, Eduardo Lucas and Henri Fournaye having been the same person, as established by photographs. She is of no use as a witness, however, as she has gone insane.
Inspector Lestrade calls Holmes to the murder scene to examine something odd. Lucas bled over a drugget, and the blood soaked through it, but curiously, there is no bloodstain on the floor under the drugget. However, there is one under the opposite edge of the carpet. It can only mean that the constable guarding the crime scene has been foolish enough to let someone in, and leave them alone while they moved things in the room, including the carpet. Holmes tells Lestrade to take the constable to a back room and obtain a confession, which he does, vigorously.
While Lestrade is remonstrating with his wayward constable, and therefore cannot learn anything about the other investigation involving the document, Holmes pulls the unfastened carpet aside and quickly finds a hiding place in the floor, but it is empty.
Lestrade and the constable come back, and the latter tells Holmes that the unauthorized visitor was a young woman. She apparently fainted at the sight of the blood, and the constable then actually went out to get some brandy to revive her, but she had left before he got back. As Holmes is leaving Lucas's house, he shows the constable a photograph, and he recognizes it as the visitor.
Holmes now knows where the stolen document is, but not why it was stolen. He goes to the Hope household and confronts Lady Hilda with the evidence. At first, she denies everything, but is forced to admit her wrongdoing under threat of certain scandal. She was a blackmail victim. Eduardo Lucas had got hold of a compromising letter written by Lady Hilda years earlier, and demanded the contents of her husband's dispatch box for the return thereof (an unnamed spy within her husband's own office had made Lucas aware of the document). She went to his house to do the business when, as it happens, his wife from Paris showed up and confronted him about his affair, believing that Lady Hilda was his mistress. Lady Hilda hurriedly left.
She returned, however, to fetch the stolen document after her visit to Holmes convinced her that she needed to do this. She hands the document to Holmes. Her only problem is how to return it. Holmes suggests putting it back in the dispatch box using Lady Hilda's duplicate key.
They do this, and when Hope arrives back home with the Prime Minister, Holmes pretends to believe that the evidence has convinced him that the document must still be in the box. It is soon found, and Hope rejoices that it was only a mistake.
In this way, the lost document is restored without Lady Hilda's part in the affair being revealed - though at the possible price of making her husband look a bit stupid. The Prime Minister, however, is no fool. He can see that there is an underlying story, but Holmes simply responds, "We also have our diplomatic secrets."
Nothing is mentioned furthermore about the unnamed spy in the office of the European Secretary of State.

Another excellent plot! I recommend this book to all readers who enjoy a well written mystery.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book "Tales from Gunderland" by Hank Quense

About the Book: Laughter is like free health insurance: you can't get too much of it. This book will give you enough laughs to boost your health.
It's filled with delightful entertainment. Without commercial interruption!
Gundarland is populated by humans, dwarfs, elves and other races; it's the backdrop for unique adventures, brilliant heroes and cunning villains.
There are six short stories and two novellas in here. All are new. You'll meet some of Shakespeare's most famous characters, a warrior-cook, vigilantes, a trio of beautiful, lusty princesses to mention just a few of the memorable characters in the stories.
Here is a list of the stories and a brief synopsis of each:
Romeo and Juliet: Romeo, a dwarf miner, and Juliet, the elfin daughter of a rich gem merchant, have a rocky courtship because Juliet's brothers are avowed enemies of Romeo's family.
Chasing Dreams: This novella tells the story of twin yuk brothers on their journey from strong-armed thugs to highway robbers to bawdy house owners to politicians. The brothers are plagued and harassed by vigilantes.
Boggerts Blue: A warrior-cook seeks to rescue a kidnapped princess. She refuses to be rescued by someone who isn't noble-born.
The Big Bang: A wizard has to eliminate a dragon and his minions. Along the way to complete his mission, he is tested by a shape-changer and a pair of trolls.
The Queen's Hero: This novella is about a young tinker-warrior as he struggles to save his Queen from a pirate admiral trying to overthrow her and become king. The Queen's three beautiful daughters have their own plans for the young hero.
Merchant of Venison: A dwarf butcher borrows money to help his best friend and soon regrets it. The dwelf money lender has bloody ideas about the default payments.
Inter-Racial Musical Playoffs: A few greedy wizards attempt to fix a musical competition. Other wizards try to protect the band leader who is favored to win the competition.
Tactical Surprise: A general develops unusual tactics to defeat a rebel army. The enemy leader is a close family friend making the general's decisions more difficult.

About the Author: Award-winning author Hank Quense lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. He writes humorous fantasy and scifi stories. On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun. A member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, he refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news.
His most recent project has been to write a series of books to explain the publishing and marketing processes involved in self-publishing. There are four books in the series. He decided to stop work on a novel to spend almost all of 2013 writing the Self-publishing Guides. His motivation was two-fold. One was to dispute all the nonsense he saw on the internet claiming that self-publishing is easy; all you have to do is upload the file. His second motive was to warn inexperienced self-publishers about the scammers and sharks who swarm toward new authors with offers to provide "help" in publishing and marketing a book.
He loves to write parodies of famous works. A recent novels is Falstaff's Big Gamble which he describes as "Shakespeare's worst nightmare. It takes two great tragedies, Othello and Hamlet, and turns them into comedies set in a fantasy land. His Wotan's Dilemma is a parody on Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas. Instead of taking place in the Dark Ages, Wotan's Dilemma is set in the future with fantasy creatures replaced by aliens.
Hank often lectures on fiction writing, self-publishing and book marketing.
He has a number of links where you can follow his work and his occasional rants:
Hank's blog: http://hanquense.com/wp
Strange Worlds website:http://strangeworldsonline.com/wp
Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99
Facebook fan pages: https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline

My Review: Mr. Quense nails it again. In this new book he comes with 8 stories, one more creative then the other. Hysterical. My favorite is the last one, Tactical Surprise. The end of the story is delicious. I loved it!
I have been following this author for a while and having read most of his books I can say that he is a master of satiric humor. You have to read his stories slowly and savor every subtle humor. It will light up your day.
His characters are taken from Shakespeare and fairy tale stories and they are placed in a new world called Gundarland. With very fruitful imagination, the author creates situations that will make us remember the real story, but with twists very particular to his style.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader who is up to a good laugh. Very well written book, it will keep you entertained for hours.

If you read my review, feel free to leave a comment!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book "The Adventure of The Abbey Grange" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

About the Author: Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1876 to 1881, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and in Sheffield, as well as in Shropshire at Ruyton-XI-Towns. While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, "The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe", was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood's Magazine. His first published piece "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first non-fiction article, "Gelsemium as a Poison" in the British Medical Journal. In 1882 he joined former classmate George Turnavine Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 (£900 today) to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including "The Captain of the Pole-Star" and "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", both inspired by Doyle's time at sea, the latter of which popularized the mystery of the Mary Celeste and added fictional details such as the perfect condition of the ship (which had actually taken on water by the time it was discovered) and its boats remaining on board (the one boat was in fact missing) that have come to dominate popular accounts of the incident. Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, was taken by Ward Lock Co. on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle £25 for all rights to the story. The piece appeared later that year in the Beeton's Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. The story featured the first appearance of Watson and Sherlock Holmes, partially modeled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes ... Round the center of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man." Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?" Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet was commissioned and The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott's Magazine in February 1890, under agreement with the Ward Lock company. Doyle felt grievously exploited by Ward Lock as an author new to the publishing world and he left them. Short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the Strand Magazine. Doyle first began to write for the 'Strand' from his home at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, now marked by a memorial plaque. In this period, however, Holmes was not his sole subject and in 1893, he collaborated with J.M. Barrie on the libretto of Jane Annie. Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." At the time of his death, there was some controversy concerning his burial place, as he was avowedly not a Christian, considering himself a Spiritualist. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden. He was later re-interred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire. Carved wooden tablets to his memory and to the memory of his wife are held privately and are inaccessible to the public. That inscription reads, "Blade straight / Steel true / Arthur Conan Doyle / Born May 22nd 1859 / Passed On 7th July 1930." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: "Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters". Undershaw, the home near Hindhead, Haslemere, south of London, that Doyle had built and lived in between October 1897 and September 1907, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer and stood empty while conservationists and Doyle fans fought to preserve it. In 2012 the High Court ruled that the redevelopment permission be quashed because proper procedure had not been followed. A statue honors Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Doyle was born.

My Review: In this story, Holmes wakes Doctor Watson up early one winter morning to rush to a murder scene at the Abbey Grange near Chislehurst. Sir Eustace Brackenstall has been killed, apparently by burglars. Inspector Stanley Hopkins believes that it was the infamous Randall gang, a father and two sons, who have committed several other burglaries in the neighborhood.
Holmes and Watson arrive at Abbey Grange, where Lady Brackenstall is resting with a purple swelling over one eye, the result of a blow during the previous night's incident. There are also two red spots on her arm. Her maid, Theresa Wright, who has been with her mistress since she was born, later tells Holmes that Sir Eustace stabbed her with a hatpin.
Lady Brackenstall tells Holmes that her marriage was not happy. Sir Eustace Brackenstall was a violent, abusive drunkard. Moreover, Lady Brackenstall found it hard to adjust to life in England after the freedom that she enjoyed in her native Australia, which she left 18 months before. She had been married for about a year.
She then tells what happened. She says that about 11 o'clock, she walked around the house to check it was secure before going to a bed. In the dining room, she encountered an elderly man coming in the French window, followed by two younger men. The older man struck her in the face, knocking her out. When she came to, she was tied to an oaken chair with the bellrope, which they had torn down, and gagged. Then Sir Eustace came into the room, and rushed at the intruders with a cudgel. One of them struck and killed him with a poker. Lady Brackenstall fainted again for a minute or two. She saw the intruders drinking wine from a bottle taken from the sideboard. Then they left, taking some silver plate.
Sir Eustace's body is still lying at the murder scene. The poker has been bent into a curve, suggesting a strong attacker. Hopkins tells Holmes some unsavory things about Sir Eustace: He poured petroleum over his wife's dog and set it alight, and once threw a decanter at Theresa. Theresa says Sir Eustace physically and verbally assaulted his wife, especially when he was drunk.
Holmes examines the knots in the bell-rope, and the frayed end. He notes that if the bell-rope was tugged hard enough to tear it down, the bell would have rung in the kitchen, and asks why nobody heard it. Hopkins answers that it was late, and the kitchen is at the back of the house, where none of the servants would have heard. This suggests that the burglars must have known this, indicating a link between them and one of the servants.
Oddly, the thieves did not take much, only a few items of silver plate from dining room.
The half-empty wine bottle and glasses interest Holmes. The cork had been drawn with the corkscrew of a "multiplex knife", not the long corkscrew in the drawer, and one of the glasses has beeswing dregs in it, but the others have none.
Holmes is already annoyed at being called to investigate a case that apparently has a ready-made solution, so he and Watson catch the train back to London. On the way, however, Holmes thinks better of his haste, and pulls Watson off the train at a suburban station, announcing that they are going back to the Abbey Grange. Having mulled things over while on the train, Holmes has reached the following conclusions:
The Randall gang was clearly described in the papers, and anyone making up a story about burglars breaking into the house could use the descriptions;
Burglars who have recently made off with a rich haul don't usually do another job so soon after;
It was an uncommonly early hour for burglars;
It is odd that they struck Lady Brackenstall to stop her screaming, as this would most likely start her screaming;
It is odd that they resorted to murder when the three of them could have overpowered Sir Eustace;
It is odd that they did not ransack the house;
It is odd that they didn't drink the entire bottle.
Holmes also draws Watson's attention to the wineglasses. The presence of beeswing in only one indicates that only two people used the glasses; they poured the dregs into the third to make it look as though there were three. Holmes deduces from this that Lady Brackenstall and her maid lied.
Upon returning to the Abbey Grange, Holmes climbs on the mantelpiece, examining the severed end of the bellrope, and a bracket upon which he must kneel to reach it. Holmes has now developed the killer's profile: 6 ft 3 in (191 cm) tall, active, dextrous, and quick-witted. He cut the bell-rope with a knife, and frayed the loose end to make it look broken. But he could not reach the end still hanging from the ceiling, which is cut clean. Sir Eustace's blood is on the seat of the oaken chair. How could a splatter have landed there if Lady Brackenstall was bound there before her husband's murder?
Holmes confronts Lady Brackenstall and Theresa. He tells them he knows they are lying and demands the truth. But Lady Brackenstall stands by her story.
On the way out, Holmes notices a hole in the ice on the pond, and writes a note for Hopkins.
Holmes searches for the killer: almost certainly a sailor (indicated by the knots and the active physique), who was previously acquainted with Lady Brackenstall, and whom she and Theresa would protect. Her only contact with sailors was on her voyage from Australia, and only with the officers of her ship (her social equals).
Lady Brackenstall traveled by the Rock of Gibraltar of the Adelaide-Southampton Line, which is now halfway to Australia. However, the ship's first officer, Jack Croker, has been promoted to captain. He has remained in England and in two days will take command of the company's new ship, Bass Rock. His employers describe him as a splendid fellow - hot-headed ashore, "but loyal, honest, and kindhearted."
Holmes takes a cab to Scotland Yard, but does not go in. He tells Watson he is reluctant to name the criminal to the police until he knows more.
That evening, Inspector Hopkins calls at 221B Baker Street, with two items of news. As suggested in Holmes' note, the stolen silver was found at the bottom of the pond. Why should the burglars have put it there? Holmes suggests that the theft was a blind - a deliberate false clue. But Hopkins rationalizes that the pond was chosen as a temporary hiding place.
The other news is even more problematic. The Randall gang was arrested in New York that morning, so they couldn't commit a murder in Kent the previous night. But there are other gangs of three burglars; Hopkins will look for them. He asks Holmes if he has any hints to offer. Holmes reminds him of his suggestion of a blind, but Hopkins pays no heed, and leaves.
Later that evening, Captain Croker comes to Baker Street, summoned by a telegram from Holmes. Holmes demands a full account of what happened at the Abbey Grange that night. He warns Croker that he has already deduced most of it: if Croker lies or conceals anything, he will summon the police.
Croker met Mary (Lady Brackenstall) on the voyage from Australia. He fell in love with her, but not she with him. He was even pleased to hear of her marriage to a wealthy gentleman. Then he happened to meet Theresa, who told him of Sir Eustace's abusive behavior. He met secretly with Mary at the house; the last time on the previous night.
They were in the dining room when Sir Eustace burst in, insulted Mary, and struck her with the cudgel. He then attacked Croker, who killed him with the poker, in self-defense. Croker adds that he has no regret whatever, for he would not leave Mary in "in the power of this madman".
To avoid the scandal that could ensue, Croker and Theresa concocted the cover story of burglars caught in the act. He cut down the bell-rope exactly as Holmes deduced; he opened the wine bottle with his pocket knife's corkscrew; he took some silver plate, and dropped it in the pond.
Holmes tells Crocker that the police don't yet know the truth, and that he will wait 24 hours before revealing it, allowing Croker to get away. Croker indignantly refuses the offer - he will not leave Mary to "face the music" as an accomplice. He offers to agree to any version of the case that will leave Mary out of it.
But Holmes was only testing him, and is impressed by his loyalty to Mary. He has given Hopkins "an excellent hint" and doesn't feel he must do more. He designates Watson as the "jury", and asks him to "render a verdict". Watson declares Croker "Not guilty."
Holmes tells Croker he will keep silent unless someone else is charged, and that he may come back to Mary in a year.
Excellent plot, I recommend this book to any reader who appreciates a well written mystery story.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Balance of November 2014

During the month of November 2014, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "The Book of Zev" by Marilyn Ida Horowitz. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Black Peter" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Time Before Time" by K.A.Manji. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Three Students" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Fallen" by Ann Hunter. Read my review.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book "Fallen" by Ann Hunter

About the Book: "Once upon a time, I fell in love. Madly, deeply. With my whole being. I'd do anything for the girl who robbed me of my heart.
I tried to save her...
But Darkness came. The ban sidhe, Crwys, death herself, wants me for her own. She thinks I am someone from her past, and she will not rest until I submit.
I have secrets. Some I can barely live with myself for, and every night I dream of two women. One I cannot save, the other I cannot escape...."
--Prince Sylas of Killeagh
One prince. One mistake. One... chicken?
A twisted retelling of The Frog Prince, featuring your favorite villain from The Subtle Beauty & Moonlight, Sylas Mortas.
What would YOU do for love?
17-year-old Prince Sylas of Killeagh wants what every one else wants: control over his own life. When he tries to run away from home and escape an arranged marriage, the last thing he expects is to fall in love with a robber in the woods. Hiding behind a mask, the robber girl seems to lead a life of freedom Sylas has only dreamed of. Their adventure comes to an end when the Castle Killeagh guards hunt Sylas down and he's forced to return home. He convinces his parents to allow him to find the girl again and consider her as a candidate for marriage, but he only has until the next full moon to find her, or all bets are off.
Death has a name, and it is Crwys. As a ban sidhe, her job is to visit the great houses of The Summer Isle and keen out the living to prepare them for death. King Sionnach has far outlived his days and it is time he cross to the Unliving World. When she arrives, a young prince named Sylas intervenes and offers to go in his grandfather's stead. This break with tradition, and selfless sacrifice, move Crwys into loving Sylas, who looks so much like a shadow from her past. But when he crosses her to be with his true love, he invokes the wrath of a woman scorned.
Rós is just a little, aura-seeing, red hen whose master believes she is chosen by the gods. Her arrival at King Sionnach's court is insignificant to Sylas at the time, but their destinies are interwoven. Can she help Sylas save himself from the curse Crwys has planned for him? Or will he become a fallen frog prince?

About the Author: Multi-award winning author, Ann Hunter, is the creator of the young adult fantasy series Crowns of the Twelve (including the novels The Subtle Beauty, Moonlight, Fallen, with A Piece of Sky, Ashes, and The Rose In The Briar to follow). She likes cherry soda with chocolate ice cream, is a mom first and a writer second, has a secret identity, and thinks the Twilight movies are cheesier than cheez whiz (which is why they are her guilty pleasure!) She lives in a cozy Utah home with her two awesome kids and epic husband.

My Review: If you think this is just another fantasy novel, you will be surprised by the intensity which this young author deliver in her book. The story starts as a classical tale of a princess trying to escape from an arranged marriage and ended up being captured by some robbers and fall in love with their leader. But from there on, the sequence of events is well elaborated and I guarantee will keep your attention until the last page is turned and you will be begging for more. This is a beautiful tale of love, sacrifice and friendship, that defies even death.
Even a red hen plays an important role in this story. Lovely Rós is a chicken with a mind of her own, and she calls herself a wild chicken. Very inspirational, her attitude is one of the highlights of this book.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of readers of all ages that appreciate a well written fantasy book. They will not be disappointed.

This book is part of a series called "The Crowns of the Twelve". All the books in this series (Fallen, Moonlight, The Subtle Beauty) are on sale from November 28th until December 1st, 2014. The newest member of the family is "A Piece of Sky". Definitely I shall take this opportunity to enjoy more of the writing of this author. It is worth it!

You can also follow her blog at http://annhunter.blogspot.com.

I received this book from the author for reviewing it and I was not requested to post a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.
If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment.