The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Pages: 317
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Hi there! As of October 2013, I have upgraded to a new site – The Blithering Bookster – where I have posted all of my old reviews and continue to post new ones. Hoist yourself over to join the fun!

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All hail, Holmes!

The Stories.

A Scandal in Bohemia. The King of Bohemia has come to Holmes in great distress. Unless Holmes is able to recover a compromising portrait from one, Irene Adler, not only will the King’s marriage be jeopardized, but all of Europe will suffer from the repercussions. Will Mr. Holmes take the case?

The Red-Headed League. Mr. Jabez Wilson is in some distress. He was accepted into the League of Red-Headed men and appointed a job in the club – with a tidy remuneration – only to receive word this morning that the club has been dissolved without a trace. What is this league all about, anyway?

A Case of Identity. Miss Mary Sutherland is entirely confused. Against her domineering step-father’s will she has become engaged to marry a Mr. Hosmer Angel. But on the morning on which they were to be married, Mr. Angel disappeared and has not been seen since. Where can he have got to?

The Boscombe Valley Mystery. A man, Charles McCarthy, has been found lying in a pool of his own blood. The obvious suspect – indeed the man the police have arrested – is McCarthy’s own son, James, who was engaged in a savage argument just minutes before McCarthy was killed. But Miss Turner, who has known James since he was a boy, is convinced that he could never commit murder. So Holmes is called in to sift the clues, to weigh the facts, to name the murderer…

The Five Orange Pips. John Openshaw is scared. Scared out of his wits. And the horror of it is, he doesn’t know exactly what he scared of. All he knows is that it exacts death – mysterious death – of its victims. See, his uncle died shortly after receiving an envelope containing five orange pips. The experience was repeated with his father. And now, he has received five orange pips of his own…

The Man With the Twisted Lip. Several days ago, Neville St Clair disappeared. His wife is frantic to find him and is certain that she saw him in the upper story of a shady business. But when she entered there, fully expecting to see him and demand an explanation from him, he wasn’t there. Instead, an old, decrepit beggar greeted her. Has St Clair been murdered? Or is he still alive?

The Blue Carbuncle. ‘Tis Christmas – the season of happiness and goodwill. But it’s also the season of mystery and robbery. For a shabby hat and goose have thrust upon Mr. Holmes – complimentary of a squirmish in which the owner of both took to his heels – and a priceless blue carbuncle has been stole from the Hotel Cosmopolitan. Will Holmes be able to draw any connection between the two?

The Speckled Band. Two years ago, Julia Stoner stumbled out of her bedroom and collapsed upon the floor writhing in pain. The only words she managed to utter before dying were these – “the speckled band!” All of her doors and windows had been locked from the inside at the time that she was seized, and the only clue to her mysterious death was her previous mention her hearing whistles in the night. Imagine then, her twin sister, Helen’s, horror when, after being moved to Julia’s now vacant room so that repairs may be done in her own room, she hears whistles in the night. What does it mean, Mr. Holmes?

The Engineer’s Thumb. It is not often that Watson is able to bring an interesting case to Holmes’ attention. But in this instance, the case is not only interesting, it is unforgettable! It involves a mysterious mansion, a gang of very clever forgers, and an engineer with a missing thumb…

The Noble Bachelor. Holmes never bothers to read the society papers. But this case comes straight out of society gossip. It seems that Lord Robert St. Simon has been deserted – jilted – by his wife just hours after their wedding ceremony was completed. She has completely disappeared! Can Mr. Holmes track her down?

The Beryl Coronet. Mr. Alexander Holder of the banking firm, Holder & Stevenson, is distraught. He was entrusted by an illustrious client with the invaluable beryl coronet as security for a loan. But several of the gems have been stolen from the coronet while in Mr. Holder’s possession – and the only suspect is his own son!

The Copper Beeches. A young lady, Miss Violet Hunter, wants to consult Mr. Holmes on a very important matter. She wants to know if she should accept a position as governess at the Copper Beeches. Although Holmes is initially disdainful – considering such a problem to be below him – he changes his mind when he hears what is troubling her. It seems that amongst her employer’s requirements are that she would cut her beautiful hair quite short and occasionally wear a dress of electric blue. Holmes foresees danger in Miss Hunter’s future!

Discussion.

I love Holmes. I love his world. I love his art. I love his cold calculation, his indefatigable spirit, and his mysterious languid spells. I love his sometimes snobbish but ever companionable relationship with Watson. And, of course, I love 221b Baker Street.

It was so good getting back into the Holmes canon. I’ve watched so many adaptions of his character in the past few years that I’d somehow lost sight of the real Holmes. Because every adaption only presents a facet of the true Holmes – the full complexity of his character somehow eludes the screen.

This particular collection of short stories – one of five – is, I think, the happiest of them all. It occurs before Conan Doyle kills Holmes, and presumably while he still likes him. Holmes isn’t quite as light-hearted as he was in A Study in Scarlet, but neither is he so brooding as in the later stories (His Last Bow, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes). And the stories themselves are fine.

I don’t mean fine as in ‘okay’. I mean fine as one means ‘fine china’. These stories are finely crafted and populated with believable characters. One thing that I love about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes canon is that it proves that a mystery need not be based around a murder to be intensely fascinating. Of the twelve mysteries contained in The Adventures, only three deal directly with murder.

In fact, the whole book is remarkably clean. Really the only story of the lot which parents need be concerned with is the first, which concerns the indiscretions of a king. But even here, the word mistress is used only once – the relationship is referred to as an ‘entanglement’, not an affair. It is, considering the topic itself, clean.

Various forms of God’s name are used a total of eighteen times, most in serious situations which could be considered forms of prayer.

Conclusion. Excellent! Buy it – read it.

Whopping on Goodwills

This past week, my mother and I visited my grandmother, who lives in Louisiana. Along the way we stopped at four different Goodwills – one had the horridly steep prices of forty-nine cents for children’s books and ninety-nine cents for adults, but the other three were much more reasonable. 4 hardcovers / $1 and 8 softcovers / $1!

When We Were Very Young – $ .49 I love, love, love A. A. Milne’s darling British style. Thus far I have only read a few of his Winnie-the-Pooh stories, but I am eager to read this collection of his poetry.

And on the Eighth Day – $ .99
The Player on the Other Day – $ .99
I’ve read books by other authors from the Golden Age of mystery fiction – Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, & Margery Allingham – but never Ellery Queen. These two books are from later in the Ellery Queen series, but I hope are nevertheless indicative of Queen’s work.

Saturnalia – $ .49 Set in 17th century Boston, Saturnalia is the story of William, a printer’s apprentice, who is searching for his lost brother.

Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego – $ .49 This installment in the Carmen Sandiego series actually has the collectible cards intact. Yay! This will make reading the book WAY more interesting…

Maigret and the Loner – $ .99 I recently purchased Maigret and the Apparition at a book sale, and, although it contained a few indiscretions, I enjoyed it. Hopefully this volume will maintain the intriguing story-line without the romance.

Encyclopedia Brown Collection – $ .25
Encylopedia #15: Sets the Pace – $ .49
The boy detective returns. The first book, Collection, is a snazzy hardcover with four different Encyclopedia Brown books buried inside.

Peak – $ .25 This is the story of Peak, a fourteen year old who loves climbing and is given the opportunity to climb Mount Everest with his father.

The Untamed West – $ .12 ½ This book contains three stories by Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, & Max Brand. I’ve read L’Amour before, but never Grey or Brand.

McDuff Comes Home – $ .12 ½
Sleddings – $ .12 ½
Two picture books. McDuff Comes Home, the story of a little terrier, looks especially cute.

Christmas Tidings – $ .25 Quotes by classic and other famous authors on the subject of Christmas.

The Wizard of Oz – $ .12 ½ I never watched the movie as a kid, but I know the basics of the story. This will be an interesting experience…

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – $ .12 ½
The Golden Fleece – $ .49
Two Newbery Medalists. The rats one seems to be about an advanced race of rats. The fleece one is a collection of stories about Greek heroes.

The Tenth Man – $ .12 ½ This story, written by Graham Greene (author of numerous espionage novels), is set during World War II. It concerns a group of men who is held hostage by the Germans.              

Anne of Green Gables # 4: Anne’s House of Dreams – $ .12 ½
Anne of Green Gables # 5: Anne of Windy Poplars – $ .12 ½
I’ve read these online, but did not own copies of them myself.

The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael # 2: One Corpse Too Many – $ .12 ½ The second installment from the Brother Cadfael series. It appears to be set during a medieval war and concerns the appearance of an extra body after the public hanging of a gang of men.

The A.B.C. Murders – $ .25
Murder on the Orient Express – $ .25
These two volumes are from the beautiful Bantam black padded-hardcover set. I would love to own the complete set!

The Treasure Principle – $ .25 I’ve read Randy Alcorn’s book Why Pro-Life?, and found it entirely satisfactory. This slim volume is on the subject of joyful giving.

The Elements of Style – $ .25 A hardcover version of the classic by E. B. White and William Strunk, Jr.

Turn Homeward, Hannalee – $ .12 ½ Remember Who Comes With Cannons? Written by the same author, Turn Homeward, Hannalee is also set during the same era – the War Between the States.

Sense and Sensibility – $ .25
My Antonia – $ .25
Treasure Island – $ .25
Nice hardcover copies of books I already owned. My Antonia is a Barnes and Nobles hardcover. Sense and Sensibility is from the darling Barnes and Nobles miniature hardcovers collection.

Unsolved II: More Famous Real-Life Mysteries – $ .12 ½ CANNOT WAIT to read this book. It contains brief histories of nine ‘unsolved’ real-life mysteries. How fun!

Thunder from the Sea – $ .12 ½ Ever since reading about Seaman, I’ve had a soft spot for Newfies. In this story, thirteen year old orphan Tom Campbell feels less lonely after adopting Thunder, the Newfoundland, whom he rescued from a thunderstorm.

Hamlet – $ .12 ½
The Dialogues of Plato – $ .12 ½
Black Beauty – $ .12 ½
Robinson Crusoe – $ .12 ½
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – $ .12 ½
The Scarlet Letter – $ .12 ½
The Hound of the Baskervilles – $ .12 ½
Pragmatism – $ .12 ½
All of these softcovers were in amazingly good condition. Among their numbers are Bantam, Puffin, Signet, and Barnes and Nobles Classics. I was super-excited to find The Hound of the Baskervilles, as I did not yet own a copy of that outside of a collection. Also, I decided that if I were to ever to pay good money for The Scarlet Letter, twelve cents was the route to go.

On the Way – $ .12 ½ Remember 26 Fairmount Avenue? Well, this is one of Tomie DePaola’s sequels to that book and contains more humorous anecdotes from his life.

Nancy Drew # 4: The Mystery at Lilac Inn – $ .25 I lived on the Boxcar Children series as a kid, but never actually read any of the Nancy Drew stories. This will be my first. :O

The Littles and the Lost Children – $ .12 ½ Remember The Littles Go to School? Same series. Hopefully this one will be more interesting.

Aircraft – $ .25 A pictorial history of aircraft from the Wright brothers’ experiments through the most up-to-date models of the 1990s.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor – $ .12 ½
The Attacks of September 11, 2001 – $ .12 ½
Two children’s history books. Pearl Harbor is from the same series as The Titanic, and is also ‘An Interactive History Adventure’.

William Carey – $ .12 ½ This biography of the great missionary is from the Heroes of the Faith series. I look forward to learning more about ‘The Father of Modern Missions’.

The Truth about Mormonism – $ .12 ½ A slim book which discusses the more bizarre beliefs of the Mormon sect. It looks really interesting.

Muggie Maggie – $ .12 ½ Written by Beverly Cleary, author of Dear Mr. Henshaw and the Ralph S. Mouse series, Muggie Maggie is about a little girl trying to learn how to read cursive.

Peter Rabbit and Eleven other Favorite Tales – $ .12 ½
The Tale of Little Pig Robinson – $ .25
A few stories by Beatrix Potter. The Tale of Little Pig Robinson the original color illustrations, while Peter Rabbit has black and white sketches based upon the original illustrations.

Paddington at Work – $ .12 ½  Paddington Bear, the precocious teddy from Peru, returns to his friends, the Browns, and gets into more mischief than ever!

Who Was Abraham Lincoln? – $ .12 ½ A children’s biography of Abraham Lincoln. I’ve recently read Who Was Ronald Reagan? from the same series and found it thorough, considering its audience.

Pride of the Green Mountains – $ .12 ½
Spirit of the West – $ .12 ½
The Island Stallion’s Fury – $ .12 ½
Unbroken – $ .12 ½
Four random horse stories.

Stephen of Philadelphia – $ .12 ½ This Abeka book is set in Philadelphia during its earliest days. It describes the lifestyle and history of that city and its inhabitants through the story of Stephen, an immigrant to America.   

How I Came to Be a Writer – $ .12 ½ Written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of Shiloh and The Fear Place, this volume outlines how she pursued her writing career.

Total Spent = $ 13.17

Total Value = $ 268.50

Next Book Sale = September 14, 2013

Real Library Sale

So, after the failure (or semi-failure) of Friday, I had an especially rewarding day at the Maud Marks Library Sale on Saturday. I just love Maud Marks’ sales. The books are sorted, priced well, and everything is so…. organized. Anyway, here are the books that I bought.

West with the Night – $ .25 The accounts of Beryl Markham, the female aviatress who made flights over and into the darkest jungles of Africa. Ernest Hemingway says of this book that, “she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself.”

A Nose For Trouble – $ .25 Written by Jim Kjelgaard, author of Big Red, A Nose for Trouble is about a man and his faithful dog, Smoky who work together to uncover a dangerous ring of poachers. I think I’ll enjoy the story so long as Smoky doesn’t die.

Ralph S. Mouse – $ .25 Beverly Cleary’s book Dear Mr. Henshaw was not one of my favorite books, but a friend has told me that her books about Ralph S. Mouse are much more jolly. They are about a mouse who loves motorcycles.  =)

The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse – $ .25 This is the only Hank book I was able to purchase on Saturday, but I’m glad I found at least this one. Hank always offers such a *refreshing* view on life!

Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sandition – $ .25 I was super excited to find this volume; I’ve read all seven of Jane Austen’s finished novels and a few of her earliest works, but I’d never got my hands on her last two, unfinished stories. Now The Watsons and Sandition are mine!

The Arabian Nights – $ .25 I consider Barnes & Noble Classics to be among the most sophisticated softcovers ever published. This super thick book is a collection of stories supposedly told by the wife of a Sultan who hopes by entertaining him with stories to keep him from murdering her.

The Summer of the Swans – $ .25  The winner of the 1971 Newbery Medal, The Summer of the Swans is about summer…. and… swans?

Lily’s Crossing – $ .25 This story looks superb. Of course, I won’t be able to give an actual opinion until I read it, but from what I can tell it seems fresh and happy. It is about a young American girl who makes friends with a Hungarian refugee during WWII.

A Long Way from Chicago – $ .25 Set during the Great Depression, A Long Way from Chicago tells of Mary Alice and Joey’s annual visits to their Grandma’s small town and the less-than-typical adventures they experience there.

The Trouble With Tuck – $ .25 The story of a young girl, Helen, and her Golden Retriever, Friar Tuck. Friar Tuck has always protected Helen, but not his eyesight is failing and it is Helen’s turn to take care of Tuck.

Gone With the Wind – $ 1.00
Lord Jim – $ 1.00
Northwest Passage – $ 1.00
Rebecca – $ 1.00
The Robe – $ 1.00
Mutiny on the Bounty – $ 1.00
You see those six books off to the left side of the picture? Those *drop-dead gorgeous* books are part of the Twentieth Century Classics set published by J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company. Even though I already owned copies of three of the six books, I was willing to pay a dollar each for the covers alone.

Texas and the American Revolution – $ .50 This book looks interesting. It is about Texas and how it influenced and was influenced by the American War for Independence. It is filled with historic pictures and drawings.

Fiddler on the Roof – $ .25 I love musicals, but I have never seen Fiddler on the Roof. Hopefully that will change soon. But in the meantime – or perhaps the aftertime – I can familiarize myself with the script through reading the play.

Inherit the Wind – $ .25 Inherit the Wind is a masterful example of the influence distorted facts can have over audiences. And I don’t mean the facts presented at the trial; I mean the way that Inherit the Wind twists and turns the Christians involved in the trial to make them seem as idiotic and fanatical as possible.

The Children’s Homer – $ .25 I’ve seen this book recommended by several homeschool curriculums as a good children’s introduction to Homer’s literature. I’m not sure I’ll encourage my children to read it, but, as my mom says, “Maybe now, I’LL understand Homer!”

How to Write Poetry – $ .25 I have only read one book about poetry; it was written by a modern poet and was geared toward college aged students. I enjoyed it immensely, but it will be nice to read a book that reasserts the basic principles of writing good poetry.

More Adventures of the Great Brain – $ .50 Having not read the original adventures of The Great Brain, this will be my first introduction to Tom and J. D.’s world of problem-solving. The little bit I’ve read while flipping through looks clever.

The Jungle Book 1 – $ .25
The Jungle Book 2 – $ .25
I only watched the movie once or twice when I was little, but I still remember just how silly – how terribly silly – it was. However, while Rudyard Kipling’s stories in The Jungle Books are filled with charming humor, they have none of the stupidity of the film version. The story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from the original Jungle Book is one of my favorite stories ever.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – $ .25 The classic novel of good and evil bound up in a single soul, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde wasn’t a favorite of mine when I first read it, but at least it recognized the terrible sinfulness of which even the most ‘respectable’ of men are capable. This admission was veiled under the guise of science fiction, but it is the inescapable implication of Jekyll and Hyde’s dual personalities.

The Razor’s Edge – $ 1.00 This book is in the International Collector’s Library. It’s just plain GORGEOUS and I plan on not reading it so that I can keep it on my shelves with a clean conscience. : )

How to Be a Better Writer – $ .25 In my opinion, there’s no such thing as having too many books about how to write well: I need all the help I can get!

Villette – $ .25 Jane Eyre is one of my favorite works of classic fiction, but I’d never even thought of trying Charlotte Bronte’s other, more famous novel, Villette.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – $ .25 I had found this copy of this book at this same library a year ago, but I put it back in an attempt to save money. I then proceeded to daydream about the book for months…… On Saturday when I saw this book again, I didn’t even think. I just bought it. I always enjoy stories of King Arthur and his knights.

The Headless Cupid – $ .25 A Newberry Honor book. I’d rather not try to explain the story line.

Total Spent = $ 13.25

Total Value = $ 127.31
(None of the Twentieth Century Classics had pricings)

Next Library Sale = September 15, 2012