Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book "The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: At Baskerville Hall on the grim moors of Devonshire, a legendary curse has apparently claimed one more victim. Sir Charles Baskerville has been found dead. There are no signs of violence, but his face is hideously distorted with terror. Years earlier, a hound-like beast with blazing eyes and dripping jaws was reported to have torn out the throat of Hugo Baskerville. Has the spectral destroyer struck again? More important, is Sir Henry Baskerville, younger heir to the estate, now in danger? Enter Sherlock Holmes, summoned to protect Sir Henry from the fate that has threatened the Baskerville family. As Holmes and Watson begin to investigate, a blood-chilling howl from the fog-shrouded edges of the great Grimpen Mire signals that the legendary hound of the Baskervilles is poised for yet another murderous attack. The Hound of the Baskerville first appeared as a serial in The Strand Magazine in 1901. By the time of its publication in book form eight months later, this brilliantly plotted, richly atmospheric detective story had already achieved the status of a classic. It has often been called he best detective story ever written. It remains a thrilling tale of suspense, must reading for every lover of detective fiction.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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 particular adventure, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson deal with a legendary hound who kills Baskervilles family members, a curse that Holmes and Dr. Watson are not buying into it. After the death of Charles Baskerville from pure terror, the legend get strength and the heir of the state (Hugo Baskerville) asks for Holmes help to solve the mystery involving his uncle's death. Dr. Watson accompanies Hugo at Baskerville Hall in Devonshire, as Holmes have to stay in London so finish some other cases he is working on. While there, Watson hear on the moor the creepy sound of a hound... All the relationship with the neighbors and the employees of the house are well developed and the surprising appearance of Holmes just in time to prevent another crime is superb. 
If you enjoy reading mystery stories, definitely you cannot miss this one, a classic among mystery stories. Very entertaining and with surprising twists on the plot, it took me around 4 hours to read the whole book.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Balance of March

During the month of March, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "The Sign of the Four"  by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "A Quest of Heros" by Morgan Rice. Read my review.
- "Savior" by Anthony Caplan. Read my review.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book "Savior" by Anthony Caplan

About the Book: A father and son stumble into the secret world of the Santos Muertos, a crime cartel bent on global domination. The son must find his father and keep the secret of the ancient Mayan code underlying the creation of matter in the universe from falling into the wrong hands. A story of sacrifice and love set in a contemporary, dystopian America.

About the Author: Anthony Caplan is a teacher, farmer and writer living in New Hampshire. He is also the author of Birdman, French Pond Road and Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home. He teaches high school Spanish. Formerly, he worked as a reporter in Central America, Venezuela and the UK for the Associated Press and United Press International.

My Review: This is a very intense book, describing all the sufferings of a young boy (Ricky Lyons) trying to save his father (Al Lyons) from the "Los Santos Muertos". The author did a superb job on creating the characters, going deep into the psycho analysis of their behavior. The plot is very well constructed. Father and son are spending some vacation days together, surfing at the beaches of Guatemala, trying to bond after Mary (Al's wife and Ricky's mother) died. Going into a gift shop type of store, Rick found an ancient Mayan tablet that reminds him of his late mother. He purchase the tablet and his adventures begin, as there is a group called Los Santos Muertos who is looking for the tablet and will stop at nothing to put their hands on it, including murder and kidnapping. They believe the tablet contains a message that will allow them to destroy the world. After barely escaping alive from an attack where his father is kidnapped, Rick search for help from different sources trying to rescue his father. The story develops from Ricky's perspective with updates from Al's captivity in parallel, as well as some flash backs from the time when Mary was alive, all the family conflicts and mainly Al and Ricky's relationship. The plot is very intense and it is guaranteed that you will be hooked from the first page on this incredible adventure, showing that a love between father and son has no limits.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that enjoy a very well written novel and want to be entertained for some hours. It took me about 11 hours to read the whole book.
I received this book from the author for reviewing and I was not requested to post a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book "A Quest of Heroes" by Morgan Rice

About the Book: Bestselling author Morgan Rice comes the debut of a dazzling new fantasy series. A QUEST OF HEROES (BOOK #1 IN THE SORCERER’S RING) revolves around the epic coming of age story of one special boy, a 14 year old from a small village on the outskirts of the Kingdom of the Ring. The youngest of four, the least favorite of his father, hated by his brothers, Thorgrin senses he is different from the others. He dreams of becoming a great warrior, of joining the King’s men and protecting the Ring from the hordes of creatures on the other side of the Canyon. When he comes of age and is forbidden by his father to try out for the King’s Legion, he refuses to take no for an answer: he journeys out on his own, determined to force his way into King’s Court and be taken seriously.
But King’s Court is rife with its own family dramas, power struggles, ambitions, jealousy, violence and betrayal. King MacGil must choose an heir from amongst his children, and the ancient Dynasty Sword, the source of all their power, still sits untouched, waiting for the chosen one to arrive. Thorgrin arrives as an outsider and battles to be accepted, and to join the King’s Legion.
Thorgrin comes to learn he has mysterious powers he does not understand, that he has a special gift, and a special destiny. Against all odds he falls in love with the king’s daughter, and as their forbidden relationship blossoms, he discovers he has powerful rivals. As he struggles to make sense of his powers, the king’s sorcerer takes him under his wing and tells him of a mother he never knew, in a land far away, beyond the Canyon, beyond even the land of the Dragons.
Before Thorgrin can venture out and become the warrior he yearns to be, he must complete his training. But this may be cut short, as he finds himself propelled into the center of royal plots and counterplots, ones that may threaten his love and bring him down—and the entire kingdom with him.
With its sophisticated world-building and characterization, A QUEST OF HEROES is an epic tale of friends and lovers, of rivals and suitors, of knights and dragons, of intrigues and political machinations, of coming of age, of broken hearts, of deception, ambition and betrayal. It is a tale of honor and courage, of fate and destiny, of sorcery. It is a fantasy that brings us into a world we will never forget, and which will appeal to all ages and genders.

About the Author: Morgan is author of the #1 Bestselling THE SORCERER'S RING, a new epic fantasy series, currently comprising twelve books and counting, which has been translated into several languages. The newest title, A LAND OF FIRE (#12) is now available!
Morgan Rice is also author of the #1 Bestselling series THE VAMPIRE JOURNALS, comprising ten books (and counting), which has been translated into many languages.
Morgan is also author of the #1 Bestselling ARENA ONE and ARENA TWO, the first two books in THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY, a post-apocalyptic action thriller set in the future.
Among Morgan's many influences are Suzanne Collins, Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer, along with classics like Shakespeare and the Bible. Morgan lives in New York City.
Please visit www.morganricebooks.com to find links to stay in touch with Morgan via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, the blog, and a whole bunch of other places. Morgan loves to hear from you, so don't be shy and check back often!

My Review: This is a wonderful start of a series that promise to be very exciting. Here we have a young boy (Thorgrin) from a poor family in the country trying to follow his heart and going against his father's will into the Court of his Kingdom to become a member of the King's Legion, the almighty warriors that defend the Ring against all enemies. But his journey is not simple. He makes a lot of enemies upon his arrival and he falls in love with the king's daughter. While trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs, some strange power emerge from him and suddenly he becomes very popular and a protegee from the king. But this is just the beginning of his adventures. This book has all the ingredients to be an instant success, like plots, counterplots, mysteries, valiant knights, beautiful women and a blossom relationship with broken hearts, deception and betrayal. 
I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that appreciate a fantasy tale, in a package that is guarantee to satisfy all ages and keep you entertained for hours. It took me about 12 hours to read the whole book. 
I bought this book from amazon.com and opinion expressed here is my own.

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book "The Sign of the Four" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: In this classic novel, Sherlock and Dr Watson receive a visit from Mary Morsten, who offers up a particularly cryptic puzzle for them to solve. Her father went missing six years ago and since then she has received a pearl for every year he has not re-appeared. Now, the treasure's sender has requested a meeting and she would like Sherlock and Watson to accompany her. Finding the mystery benefactor is only the start of this adventure, that puts Sherlock and Watson hot on the trail of cold-blooded killers and thieves, and a lost Indian fortune.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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: Another tale involving Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In this episode, Sherlock is visited by a young and attractive lady, claiming that her father disappeared six years ago and she has been receiving one pearl per year since then. Finally someone contacted her to give news on what happened to her father, but she wants Sherlock and Holmes to accompany her in this meeting. When they reach the place for the main meeting, the brother of the "hostess" was murder and an incredible story develops from there, with Sherlock using his incredible reasoning to figure out and ultimately capture his suspect. Genius! I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader that enjoys a very well written book in the genre of mystery. This is a classic!

I bought this book from amazon.com in its electronic version. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment.