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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Balance of April

During the month of April, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "The Hound of the Baskervilles"  by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Old Souls" by C.G.Garcia. Read my review.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book "Old Souls" by Cristina G.Garcia

About the Book: Issai has had enough. For the past five thousand plus years, he has been successively reborn hundreds of times with all his previous lives’ memories intact, all the while relentlessly compelled to wander the earth in pursuit of an elusive something he has yet to even identify. Over the centuries, whispers of others similar to him began to surface, and his kind became known as Old Souls.
Unable to find answers for his seemingly endless existence and no longer willing to play in what he fears is just a game for the gods’ amusement, Issai abandons his wanderings and questions and settles in an isolated town in the kingdom of Sarim, determined to resist the strong urge to be on the move that has dictated his entire existence. However, he is attacked shortly by the Shi, hunters of Old Souls that believe they can steal their “immortality” by consuming parts of an Old Soul through various rituals.
Forced to flee, Issai soon encounters Hahri, a loud-mouthed Old Soul with the same compulsion and inhuman speed to rival Issai’s own, inadvertently triggering a painful reaction to each other that is aggravated by the distance between them. When escaping Hahri proves futile and the other offers him a hint to the mystery behind their compulsion, Issai not only reluctantly finds himself once again in pursuit of the very answers he had forsaken, but also running from a relentless enemy whose unprecedented numbers suggest that immortality may not be their only goal.

About the Author: C.G. Garcia lives in a small West Texas town whose claim to fame is having the world's largest Rattlesnake Round-up. She has a degree in computer science, but due to life's twisted sense of humor, ended up working in a pharmacy. A lifelong lover of all things fantasy and science fiction, The Supreme Moment is her debut novel.
To learn more about upcoming titles, ask questions, or just to chat, visit her blog at http://CGGarciaAuthor.blogspot.com

My Review: This is a very interesting book, very well written, with characters very well developed and an interesting idea that runs on the assumption of the existence of reincarnation. Our heroes are Issai and Hahri, two young boys that carry a heavy load of remembering all experiences of their previous lives. They consider that to be a curse or a game played by the gods, instead of being a blessing. Initially living independently, they ended up finding each other and start a very tense relationship and they become dependent of each other in a way much more intense than they thought it would be possible. They have special powers (like healing) that they not fully understand and when they are together, new manifestations of power happens. The story develops after their encounter and they go in a quest to find more people like them. But there are enemies that want to hunt them down to acquire their "immortality" at all cost, through strange old rituals from old tales about the Old Souls, as they are known. They find Korin, the Watcher, in their search for others like them and Korin, another Old Sould, has knowledge of a young girl that seems to be like them. And they try to unite the four of them, but that is not in their enemies' plans.
The plot develops very fast and the book is full of action. Very entertaining reading, the book does not contain grammar errors or typos like a lot of recent self publications I have been reading. Kudos to the author and the editor and their review team. That definitely makes the read much more enjoyable.
Considering that this is not a religious book, but a work of fiction (so no heresy was intended), I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers, in special young adults, that want to be entertained for a few hours and at the end stay with that desire to read more from this young author. I definitely intent to read more, in particular the second volume of this series that now got me hooked. It took me around twelve hours to read the entire book.
Thanks to Cristina to send me the book. 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.

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.