Tag Archives: Classics

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle


I went on a Sherlock Holmes kick around the holidays (yes, I know I’m quite behind with my book reviews) and I ended up grabbing a few audiobooks for some quick and fun reads! Sherlock Holmes novels are some of the few classics I truly enjoy and the audios were on sale and cheap! I really enjoy how clever these books are and they’re also quick!

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: November 30, 2009 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 14, 2016

As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation - which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog and a love affair - even the jaded Holmes is moved to exclaim, 'Isn't it gorgeous!'


I’m not sure if I was too distracted for this (which I was), but I just really didn’t click with it. Whereas I picked up on the writing techniques with A STUDY IN SCARLET, I either didn’t pick it up here or just wasn’t in the mood for it with THE SIGN OF FOUR. Surprisingly (for not having read much Sherlock Holmes yet), the “telling” style continues with this novel and there’s a unexpected amount of recounting stories instead of witnessing action. I love the characters as I always do but this story wasn’t a hit for me.

I also just didn’t find this story line as intriguing as I had with A STUDY IN SCARLET. I think it felt a little more “out there” and I felt some disconnect with the end game. It didn’t quite hold its appeal for me but I do always love Watson dearly. I honestly barely remember what happened (although I’m writing this months later) except for the parts that I remembered were a little strange. This one just wasn’t a stand-out for me at all, and I was really bummed because I had become so convinced that I adored all of Sherlock Holmes because I enjoyed A STUDY IN SCARLET so much and I enjoy so many adaptations so it’s kind of a let down to feel so meh about this one. I guess I need to keep reading and see if the styles change any as the mysteries continue!

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Red-Headed League (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: November 30, 2009 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 13, 2016

In The Redheaded League, Holmes is engaged upon two seemingly unrelated cases, a daring bank robbery and the disappearance of a pawnbroker's assistant. Using minute details of the small mystery, he is able to solve the larger one. "Depend upon it," says Holmes to Watson in A Case of Identity, "there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace." Holmes is as fascinated by the story of a common young woman whose groom has vanished on the way to the altar as he has been by the woes of kings. He sharpens his powers of detection by putting together scattered facts to form a powerful and unexpected accusation. Holmes tells Watson about one of his first cases, The Musgrave Ritual; one that helped make him famous. Two servants of an English nobleman disappear. By following a trail of obscure clues left behind in an old parchment, Holmes discovers the crown of a former King of England.



THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE was just a quick, short story but it was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the quick and concise mystery and it was a little silly in theory but of course, it all works out in the end. I like that it was wrapped up so quickly and I think I enjoy the Holmes short stories more than the full-length novels in that respect. Whereas THE SIGN OF FOUR felt a little dragged out, THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE was obviously zippy due to its short length. Even though it was also a little silly, it was also just more fun in nature.

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #7) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: December 6, 2012 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 26, 2016

In this holiday-themed short story, Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, follow the trail of a lost hat and a Christmas goose through the streets of London and into a rapidly expanding mystery.



Another quick Holmes adventure via audio for my car ride to work. A perfect little holiday novella for the day after Christmas was a fun and festive ride. I’m starting to notice that all Holmes stories have a bit too much “tell” to them where either Holmes reveals everything through a narrative or the culprit tells all at the end, so it’s not as much fun as having some more things revealed bit by bit, but I always do love the clues jam-packed into a story that only Holmes can point out. This one was fun with holiday theme at the right time and I actually did like the Holmes reveal a bit more in this one since it was such a short story.

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Short, Spooky Classics (Sabrina from Steakuccino)


Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Sabrina from Steakuccino is sharing some book recommendations! Check out her recs below for some short and spooky classics!


It’s getting to be the spooky time of year and if you’re anything like me, I bet you’re looking for something a little spooky to read to match the atmosphere. If you are even more like me, you might be kind of a slow reader and therefore looking for something shorter that you’ll be able to read within the next two weeks or so leading up to Halloween. Have I got the thing for you! I’ve compiled a short list of equally short stories and books that I love and that happen to match the season!

Now, I really love to read classics and I am of the firm belief that classics can be for everybody. You’ve probably heard of these but you may not have had the chance to read them yet. I hope you’ll give them a chance and see what makes them so timeless!

Better yet, because they are all classics, they are all public domain and can be found on Project Gutenberg’s website for free! Let’s get to the books!

The Legend of Sleepy HollowPublished in 1820 and written by Washington Irving, this fairly short story (about 100 pages depending on the publisher) tells the tale of Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster of the small town of Tarrytown, New York. Ichabod wants to marry the lovely Katrina Van Tassel but he and the town are plagued by a terrible Headless Horseman. This one has inspired a lot of movie and television adaptations so you may feel like you already know the story. Why not read the legend that started them all? 

The Cask of Amontillado: This short story by Edgar Allen Poe is a tale of envy and revenge. Our narrator, Montresor, meets Fortunato, a man he knows who has terribly insulted him, on the street. He then invites him back home to try some delicious amontillado wine but the offer is not all that it seems. *If you’d like to hear this read aloud, I made a video of it last Halloween!

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeThis 1886 short book (about 140 pages) by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic story of good versus evil. Kind and gentle Dr. Jekyll has created a secret potion which, to his horror, unleashes unspeakable evil upon the world in the form of Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll doesn’t know how to stop him! **Many abridged versions are available for middle grade readers. 

The Adventure of the Speckled BandThis is a suspenseful locked room mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes. Sir Grimesby Roylott and his stepdaughter Helen live on the vast estate of Stoke Moran. Two years ago when she became engaged, Helen’s sister died mysteriously and not that Helen is engaged, she, too, fears for her life. Holmes is enlisted to help her discover the meaning of the strange things she has been experiencing. 

CarmillaThis precursor to Dracula written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872 contains absolutely lovely prose, overt lesbian subtext, and what we modern folks might consider some silliness. The ‘twist’ ending is really not at all unguessable but that doesn’t detract from how classically thrilling and really fun it is. If you wish Dracula read slightly more like Northanger Abbey, this is for you. 

The Monkey’s Paw: This particular story has been told and retold in plenty of movies and tv shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and it remains superbly spine-chilling. The original is a tale of a gift that turns into a curse. The titular monkey’s paw grants the main characters three wishes but they come with horrible unexpected consequences. 

The Haunted Hotel: Finally, if you’d like to read something a little longer (about 250 pages), you could check out The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins. I don’t know much about it because this is what I’ll be reading this season and it’s a new one for me. It’s the story of, well. . . a haunted hotel. In Venice, there is a hotel supposedly haunted by the ghost of Lord Montberry. Mysterious things happen to the people staying there and foul play seems to be afoot. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty creepifying and I’m definitely excited to learn more about The Haunted Hotel! 

This list was compiled by Sabrina who has a booktube channel at Steakuccino and is trying her none-too-deft hand at sharing her book love blog-style at https://steakuccino.wordpress.com/

All pictures in this post were found on Goodreads and do not belong to the writer or poster.

Thanks, Sabrina! These are great! I’m not HUGE on classics but I love Sherlock Holmes and I’ve read a bunch of the shorter stories so this is perfect for me! Thanks for the great recs!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington IrvingTitle: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Publishing Info: September 9, 2014 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Classics
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 11, 2014

    In the secluded Dutch territory of Sleepy Hollow, nebbish schoolmaster Ichabod Crane competes with the town hero for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, the 18-year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. As Crane leaves a party at the Van Tassel's farm one autumn evening, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, an apparition said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper snuffed out by a stray cannonball during the Revolutionary War.


I’ve been a big fan of the Sleepy Hollow TV show ever since it originally aired (one of the few shows I’ve actually watched from the beginning) so when I heard that one of the stars of the TV show Tom Mison narrated THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW for a free Audible audiobooks, I immediately went to download it. (I mean, have we heard his voice, friends?)

Obviously I have a basic understand of what THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW is about but I’ve never actually read the original book. For whatever reason, we always used to watch the cartoon around Halloween-time when I was in elementary school so I was pretty well-versed on how it went, but since I was getting a free audiobook, I figured now would be a good time to listen to this classic and actually get the original story written by Irving.

As excited as I was to listen to Tom Mison narrate the book, I have to say I was less than impressed. True, Washington Irving had a fantastic way at describing things but I felt like that was about 75% of the book. I had great visuals on what the characters looked like, what the setting looked like, and how food tasted/smelled/looked, but there was very little plot to the book and that was a bit frustrating. I was honestly over halfway done before any real plot even began to take shape and the ending was a bit of a let down. (Not like I didn’t know how it ended but there have been so many adaptations that I didn’t know which ones were the most accurate.) Overall, it was just a very dull story and the action didn’t really happen until the very end and it really wasn’t much.

Actually, the thing that I enjoyed the most was my personal connections to the legend. I really enjoyed remembering watching the cartoon as a kid and the feelings connected to it as well as pinpointing spots in the original story to plot lines in the Sleepy Hollow TV show. I love what the writers are doing with the TV show and expanding the legend into what I really hoped it would be when I picked up the audiobook.

The narration was quite good too. I just love British male narrators and Tom Mison has an excellent voice. I felt like his diction was a tiny bit overdone at times, but it was very pleasant to listen to for an hour and a half. If I’m listening to a slightly dull story, at least it was from a good narrator.


Kept Me Hooked On: Classics. I don’t often read classics so this was a fun way to do it! I also liked how short it was haha. I wasn’t really enjoying the story so much so it was nice to know that it was on the shorter side.
Left Me Wanting More: Action & Suspense. For such an exciting concept and re-told tale, I felt like there really wasn’t much there. I do like all of the possibilities it holds with the somewhat open ending so maybe that’s the real winning concept here!

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you want to listen to the audiobook, it’s free. Tom Mison was a really great narrator and the audio is short if you’re afraid you won’t like it! Worth a shot, right?


(Click the cover to see my review!)

 this dark endeavor    unspoken


30 Days of Books: Day 15

30 Days of Books: Day #15

A book that changed your opinion on something…

Okay, so I really like this topic today! Ready… start tangent!

I’m choosing a couple books that changed my opinion on school-assigned books and/or classic-type novels.

All thoughout my academic reading career, I never liked the books they chose for us to read. Summer reading was particularly DULL. I chose to take Honors English my freshman and sophomore year of high school and the books I got to choose from just weren’t my cup of tea…. Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, The Scarlet Letter… All great classics with great messages – But for some reason, I just wasn’t getting it. I always loved reading so it wasn’t like I’d rather be outside playing or something. I just couldn’t comprehend with the writing style most of the time. It was old. It was dull. But most of all, it just wasn’t for me.

I know I may get criticized for “hating” on classic books, but I’ve just always felt like a contemporary kind of person. The only classics I’ve really found I’ve liked so far were Sherlock Holmes (and I think that’s because they’re mysteries!), so I did what I had to do in school to get by, but I rarely enjoyed our reading assignments.

That was, until my senior year (go figure, the last year of school I finally found something I liked!), my sister suggested I take 20th Century British Writers as my English elective course in hopes that I got her favorite teacher in all of high school. Well, I didn’t. I got one of the hardest and (rumored) kind of meanest teachers there was.

How can you not be mean – Look at the place! It doesn’t even have windows…

And then I started his class – Mr. Waddington was not mean. He just wanted his students to try hard, focus, and do their best to really get into the books. He was actually pretty fun! He chose some really nice books for the curriculum which actually enlightened me that 1) Not all the books Glenbard South chooses for their students to read are boring and 2) Hey, classic books can be fun too! So here are my top 3 choices (and yes, I picked three, because it was the combination that really opened my eyes to what kind of literature is out there):

1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: This is definitely the book that stands out the most to me. It’s historical fiction, it’s creepy, it’s mysterious, and for the first time, I found myself readingaheadof the assigned chapters instead of just what I had to read. I was finally interested in something! I also think having my teacher as a guide definitely helped us all get through the book – We got further explanations and breakdowns, but for once, it kept my interest and I was actually looking forward to reading more.

2. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers: Now, I can’t actually remember if this was from my class or if I read it because we had it on our shelves still from my sister’s class, but this is what actually spurred my love for mysteries. Of course I’d read some here and there, but it wasn’t until high school and college that I actually started going to the library in search of a mystery series to latch onto, so I give this book partial credit for that!

3. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh: This is a satire that actually got me laughing out loud. What? They never give you funny books in school! It was nice to have something to break up all the seriousness (maybe that’s why I love cozy mysteries so much…) and it was nice to see that some great classic books don’t always have to have such a serious tone!

30 Days of Books: Day 9

Day number 9 of the “30 Days of Books” challenge…

30 Days of Books: Day #9

A book everyone should read at least once

So I really just don’t even know where to go here. I think I’m stumped for once. Of course the obvious go-to for me here would be Harry Potter, but so many people have read it already and as much as I’d like to think of it as a “must-read”, I really wanted to choose something like a classic or a book that I read in school that I actually took a great lesson out of it… But in all honesty, I didn’t like most of the books from school and most of them I can barely even remember what they were about anymore. I wracked my brain, I scoured all of the books I’ve read, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – probably any book. I don’t think you’d even need to read in order.

With all the hype of the movies coming out the past few years, I decided to actually pick up a book and I was terribly impressed. I loved the logic, deduction, reasoning, and observance that Holmes employs to solve the mysteries that are presented to him. I would hope that would be as enjoyable for other people as well, but since I’m a mystery-lover, the whole concept really appealed to me and I was amazed at how everyone else (reader included) except for Sherlock Holmes was practically in the dark the whole time and then once he does his reveal, it’s almost like, Oh why didn’t I see that? There’s also a nice bit of humor in the books as well so they stay light and moving forward, and unlike usual, I didn’t feel bogged down by older writing styles and vocabulary. I think it’s worth a shot for everyone to try!

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is the only classic that I read in school that I actually found myself enjoying (with the exception of a couple books from my 20th Century British Writers class, but I wouldn’t say any of those qualify as “must-reads”). Although it’s been a long time since I’ve actually read it, I still remember many lessons as well as characters and specific scenes from the book which, let’s face it, I’m not the best person to retain specifics from books – I always get exciting reading books and then I read quickly and then I forgot half of the things I read. It’s kind of terrible, but that’s just how I’ve always been. So to remember so much from a book I’ve read once and to have actually enjoyed a classic, I think this is one definitely worth recommending. I’m sure most people have read this in school by now, but if you haven’t, it’s definitely one worth trying out!

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan DoyleTitle: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: June 1, 1982 by Penguin
Source: Bundles of Books
Genres: Adult, Classics, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 10, 2012
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In the first of all the Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. John Watson, discharged from military service after suffering severe wounds, is at a loose end until a chance encounter leads him to take rooms with a remarkable young man. The arrogant, irracible Sherlock Holmes is a master chemist, a talented musician and an expert on all aspects of crime. And when Watson is drawn into the investigation of a bizarre murder in which Holmes is involved, he is unaware that it is the beginning of the most famous partnership in the history of criminal detection. Here is where it all began for England's super sleuth and his faithful sidekick.


Well, this was the first Sherlock Holmes adventure I had ever read. Not sure if I’m proud that I finally got around to it or ashamed that I’m already in my 20s and never picked one up! Regardless, I have to say that it didn’t let me down at all! As someone who was a fan of the movies and not having read any books, I was not in the least bit disappointed by the literary Sherlock Holmes and his never-ending ability to observe and conclude how the crimes occur.
This story is actually in two parts, which I was not aware of upon beginning so I was taken a bit by surprise. Personally, I’m not a fan of when authors do that because it completely takes me away from a plot and it feels like I’m reading a brand new story. Although I was slightly put off at first, the reward was worth it to hear how Holmes matter-of-factly puts the two stories together to solve the crime and pin down the murderer.


4.5/5 stars
It usually takes a lot for me to give a book five stars. I absolutely loved the cleverness in coming up with Sherlock Holmes’ character. As this was the first episode of Holmes, I think it’s one that keeps the readers wanting more and gives them a fascinating character to root for. The language may trip some readers up, simply because it was published 125 years ago in 1887 and languages evolve so much over time, but if you don’t let the old verbiage and jargon distract you, it’s absolutely worth it to read this mystery!