The Friday 56: Beowulf

The Friday 56 is a blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Each week, you choose a book quote (preferably from page 56) to talk about! So, here goes:

Friday 56

Rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56 (or 56% in an eReader).
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil anything) that pulls your attention.
  4. Post it!

I absolutely love the idea behind this challenge because I love quotes!

This week’s book is…

Beowulf

Written in verse, Beowulf is a tricky book to read, even in translation. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic story, particularly if you like tales about kings, dragons and demons. If you don’t know much about this ancient story, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Quote:

[O]ne began to dominate the dark, a dragon on the prowl from the steep vaults of a stone-roofed barrow where he guarded a hoard.


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My Week in Review

In case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week, or would like to know what I’ve been up to since last Sunday, here’s a brief overview:

My Week in Review.png

My Blog Posts This Week:

What I’ve Been Reading:

  • She by H. Rider Haggard (I have been slowly working my way through She this week and will hopefully finish it soon).
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (I was listening to this book on audiobook, but just finished it today! I’ll post the review next week).
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (I am revisiting a chapter of the Harry Potter books every Saturday for my “revisited” posts).

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to this week! Thank you for reading. Have you been up to anything out of the ordinary? Let me know!

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My Confession: Book Ratings

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post that explained my issues with the book review system. In this post, I suggested that giving a book a numerical score was an unfair way of judging its quality, especially as many bloggers do not define their review policies. By this, I mean that one blogger may be rating a book on how much they enjoyed it, whilst another may be rating it on how sophisticated the writing seemed.

Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyI’m telling you this because I have a confession to make: I am now including book ratings in my reviews.

This is something that I have done before on Goodreads and Amazon, where numerical book ratings are expected, but, up until now, I have avoided including these ratings on this blog. This is because I honestly didn’t feel the need to degrade my review by sticking a rating on it.

However, I have since gained some experience in the book blogging community, and have come to appreciate the importance of these ratings. For the reasons that I have already mentioned, I still don’t like them, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate why they are needed. These ratings are not meant to be an alternative to the review; rather, they’re meant as a guideline, so that readers of these reviews will know what to expect. If the reviewer has only given a rating of 1/5, then readers will expect some severe book slandering. Yet if the book is given 5/5, it is easier for them to see that the reviewer is recommending this book.

I hope that you can understand my reasoning for adding book ratings to my reviews, because it is something that I have put a great deal of thought into. I also plan on backdating my previous posts, adding ratings where there were none. Nevertheless, I want to make two things clear about these ratings:

  1. They are meant as a guideline. Just because I didn’t enjoy a book, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good. I also tend to be quite harsh with my ratings, which is why very few books will be receiving a rating of 5/5.
  2. I will be rating books based on my overall enjoyment. This means that a book may be superb, but I will still give it a low rating because it wasn’t to my tastes.

What I’m basically saying is that, although I will now be including these ratings in my reviews, I don’t want anyone to discount reading a book simply because of that rating. It is a guideline based on my own experience, and it may not correspond to your opinion, or even the popular opinion.


What do you think? Are book ratings a good idea? Let me know!

You can check out my A-Z list of book reviews (which will soon all include numerical ratings) here.

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“The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes”: Book Review (Part One: Stories 1-6)

Over the past few months, I have been attempting to read the entire Sherlock Holmes series, which was begun in 1880 by Arthur Conan Doyle. I have been using Audible’s definitive collection, a fantastically long audiobook that is narrated by the wonderful Stephen Fry. I have already written reviews for A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the latter of which I broke up into two reviews.

I’m going to do the same thing for my review of this fourth book in the series, simply because I find it much easier to keep these posts a little bit shorter. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the first half of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

2TitleThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle.
Publication: 1893, George Newnes.
My Edition: 2017, Audible.
Length: 4 hours, 55 minutes (for this half).
Genres: Classic, Mystery, Crime.
My Rating: 4/5 (overall).

Story #1 – “The Adventure of Silver Blaze”

This first story was a fantastic opening to the collection. Holmes and Watson rush to the aid of an agitated colonel whose prized racing horse, Silver Blaze, has disappeared. This case has already received a lot of publicity, especially as the rider of Silver Blaze has been found murdered in a nearby field. Nevertheless, the police detectives must, once again, rely on the help of Sherlock Holmes.

When I was reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I mentioned that I wasn’t too keen on the stories which took us away from Baker Street. I like the regularity of the client-Holmes relationship that takes place in the detective’s front room. “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” is based on the outskirts of Exeter, but I still really enjoyed it. The different setting was actually quite exciting, and I loved picturing Holmes and Watson following various trails of muddy footprints through the fields.

Story #2 – “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”

Here is a story with a lot of history. Interestingly enough, “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” is often omitted from publications, especially in US editions. The reason for this (or so I think) is that it involves adultery, and so, during Conan Doyle’s time, it wasn’t deemed suitable for younger audiences.

In terms of the story, it’s probably my least favourite in this collection. It begins interestingly enough; an ageing widow receives a mysterious package containing two human ears. She calls the police and, before long, Holmes is on the scene. The narrative itself is quite interesting, but I really didn’t like the way that it was told. The main case was told in a rush and very few details were offered. At the end, however, the culprit gave such a lengthy explanation that it may have been longer than the actual case!

Story #3 – “The Adventure of the Yellow Face”

In this story, Holmes and Watson rush to the aid of a worried husband who has begun to suspect his wife of some… misdealings. As the case evolves, however, the case turns out to be much more complicated than it originally seemed.

Personally, I really enjoyed this story. It provides some excellent comments regarding race and racial discrimination, as well as marking one of the very rare occasions where Sherlock Holmes gets it wrong. I also loved the ending of this one – it’s really well done and turned out to be truly heartwarming.

Story #4 – “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk”

The fourth story in this collection shares a lot of similarities with “The Red-Headed League” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In both cases, there is a huge focus on identity, as well as on trickery. Holmes and Watson are sought out by a man who was lucky enough to be given a new position with a much higher pay bracket. Yet if there is one thing that I have learnt from these stories, it is that things can be too good to be true.

This isn’t my favourite Sherlock Holmes story, if only because it doesn’t seem quite as original as some of the others. Nevertheless, it was quite enjoyable to read, and I really liked the clever use of doubling in it. In a way, the focus on identity also reminded me a little of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which made it all the more interesting.

Story #5 – “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott

4Here we have a story that is interesting for one simple reason: it is Sherlock Holmes’ first ever case. In his youth, he stayed with a friend and his father, but, quite unwittingly, he begins to uncover a rather dark secret regarding his friend’s father.

It’s not the best story, but it’s certainly interesting, and it really is a delight to think of Holmes when he was a young boy. I particularly liked how Holmes has begun to tell Watson more of his past; through stories such as this, I feel as though the friendship between these two men begins to grow.

Story #6 – “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual”

This story is a real treasure hunt. Having already related his first case to Watson, Holmes decides to tell his friend about the case that gave him fame. Up at a rich manor house, he uncovers a riddle that leads him both to fortune and murder… and, yes, a treasure hunt.

From my description, you may be thinking that this is quite a dark story, but this really isn’t the case. In fact, it’s quite a fun little tale, both in terms of the narrative, and because it allows us to learn still more about Holmes’ past. This is definitely one of my favourite stories; there is a real sense of mystery about it that I really love.


Thank you so much for reading! You can read part two of this review here.

You can click here to check out an A-Z list of all of my reviews (so far)!

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My Week in Review

In case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week, or would like to know what I’ve been up to since last Sunday, here’s a brief overview:

My Week in Review.png

My Blog Posts This Week:

What I’ve Been Reading:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (I finished this book on Friday!).
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (I am revisiting a chapter of the Harry Potter books every Saturday for my “revisited” posts).
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (I’ve been listening to this fantasy story on audiobook, but finished it on Wednesday).
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (This is my current audiobook read; I started it on Wednesday).
  • The Stranger Upstairs by Malanie Raabe (I am taking part in a blog tour for this new thriller. You can see the details of this tour below).

The Stranger Upstairs tour cardv2new.png


Well, that’s what I’ve been up to this week! Thank you for reading. Have you been up to anything out of the ordinary? Let me know!

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My Week in Review

In case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week, or would like to know what I’ve been up to since last Sunday, here’s a brief overview:

My Week in Review.png

My Blog Posts This Week:

What I’ve Been Reading:

  • Circe by Madeline Miller (I finished this on Friday).
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (I am listening to these short stories on audiobook).
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (I am revisiting a chapter of the Harry Potter books every Saturday for my “revisited” posts).
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (I started this today).

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to this week! Thank you for reading. Have you been up to anything out of the ordinary this week? Let me know!

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From the Heart Award

Last week, I was nominated for the “From the Heart Award” by the wonderful the Haunted Wordsmith. This award is a really lovely gesture and I am absolutely delighted to have been nominated! It’s so nice to think that my posts are actually being read and appreciated by all of you – my incredible followers!

From the Heart

What is it?

This award goes to bloggers who primarily focus on personal writing. These posts are often from the writer to the world at large, or from the writer to the writer themselves and they just allow us access to their mind.

Rules:

There are no rules, no questions, no participation requirements for this award. It is given from bloggers to other bloggers. It was designed by the Haunted Wordsmith and is given to other bloggers as a gesture of thanks and appreciation for their work.

Thank you, the Haunted Wordsmith! This is honestly such a lovely gesture and I am so grateful!

My Nominees:

  1. Pensivity101.
  2. Tales from the Mind of Kristian.
  3. But I Smile Anyway…

To my nominees: there is absolutely no obligation to take part in this award if you do not want to. If nothing else, just see it as an appreciation of your wonderful work!


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