Must-read: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Image result for a study in scarletToday is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday (22 May 1859), so I thought it was the perfect time for this post!

Title: A Study in Scarlet

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Publication Date: 1888 (1887 in annual)

Brief Synopsis: From the moment Dr John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet , Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge . . . (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 flowers!

Why I think this is a must-read: The birth of a legend – A Study in Scarlet introduced the world to one of the greatest literary duos of all time: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This story is also the first known fictional novel to feature the magnifying glass as an investigative tool. Also, who doesn’t like a murder-mystery involving kidnapping, enslavement, and revenge? It’s the perfect plot for the world’s most famous detective that never lived.  And, with so many television and movie adaptions, reading this story will help you decide which adaptations do the original justice.

A Favorite Quote: “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

Have you read A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? What did you think?




Must-read: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

IMG_20170116_102749_004Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: 29 September 2015

Brief Synopsis: Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

  • Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached)
  • Retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
  • Survive long enough to collect his reward (and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first. (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 flowers! If you want to read my full review, click here!

Why I think this is a must-read: This book reminded me why I love reading. The story followed me around long after I had finished it, and I rushed out to buy the sequel the day it was released. I hadn’t done that since the Harry Potter series. Leigh Bardugo did an amazing job creating a wonderfully complex cast of misfits perfect for this epic adventure. Her attention to detail and skillful manipulation of the written word will draw you in and hold you hostage even after the last page has been turned. And even if fantasy normally isn’t your thing, this is the perfect book with which to try something new!

A Favorite Quote: “Some people see a magic trick and say, “Impossible!” They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, get into bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night’s sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the trick again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they’re the kind who won’t rest until they’ve mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I’m that kind.”

Have you read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo? What did you think?

Must-read: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

IMG_20170416_142615_974.jpgTitle: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Publication Date: Originally published in two volumes – 1868 (Little Women) and 1869 (Good Wives). Published as a single work in 1880.

Brief Synopsis: Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters–Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth– and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War. (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 flowers!

Why I think this is a must-read: Some may call it old-fashioned or outdated, and the author herself famously described it as “moral pap for the young,” but there’s no denying the timelessness of this great classic. First published nearly 150 years ago, Little Women has taught generations of young girls that internal grace is more important than external elegance, that it is better to give than to receive, that sisterly love is stronger than any force known to man, and that everyone, even young ladies, should strive for independence and work diligently towards success in whatever they most desire.

To those who are quick to point out all of the outdated messages throughout the story, especially those detailing a woman’s place in society, I suggest doing some research about the life of Louisa May Alcott and then giving the book a second chance. It may read like a totally different story. And, if your daughter/sister/niece has questions about this book—written in the 1860s—it’s a great time for a history lesson.

Favorite Quote: “I don’t pretend to be wise, but I am observing, and I see a great deal more than you’d imagine. I’m interested in other people’s experiences and inconsistencies, and, though I can’t explain, I remember and use them for my own benefit.”

Have you read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott? What did you think?

Must-read: Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

Image result for asking for it louise o'neill

Title: Asking For It

Author: Louise O’Neill

Publication Date: 3 September 2015 (UK), 5 April 2016 (USA)

Brief Synopsis: It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes… (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 flowers! You can check out my full review of this book here, if you want to!

Why I think this is a must-read: This book is a powerful story about rape culture in the digital age, and 1) it will make you angry; 2) it will probably make you feel uncomfortable; 3) it will force you to confront your morality; and 4) it brings to the forefront issues our society tends to hide in the shadows: rape culture, slut-shaming, and sexual assault. Louise O’Neill knows these topics can no longer be taboo if we are truly to move forward as a society. And she didn’t pull any punches, practically slapping the reader in the face to start the conversation.

Favorite Quote: “I am not falling apart. I am being ripped at the seams, my insides torn out until I am hollow.”

Have you read Asking for It by Louise O’Neill? What did you think?

Must-read: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

IMG_20170308_083954_617Title: The Lord of the Rings

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Publication Date: Published in three parts between 1954 and 1955.

Brief Synopsis: Through the urgings of the enigmatic wizard Gandalf, young hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an urgent, incredibly treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. This ring — created and then lost by the Dark Lord, Sauron, centuries earlier — is a weapon of evil, one that Sauron desperately wants returned to him. With the power of the ring once again his own, the Dark Lord will unleash his wrath upon all of Middle-earth. The only way to prevent this horrible fate from becoming reality is to return the Ring to Mordor, the only place it can be destroyed. Unfortunately for our heroes, Mordor is also Sauron’s lair. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is essential reading not only for fans of fantasy but for lovers of classic literature as well… (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 flowers (I’d give it more if I could)!

Why I think this is a must-read: For my first “Must-Read Monday,” I thought I’d start with a book (or books if you buy it in the 3-volume set) that has sold more than 150 million copies, has been translated into more than 40 languages, has influenced the likes of George Lucas and Led Zepplin, and is the most widely-read fantasy epic of all-time. It’s a classic tale of friendship, love, heroism, and the eternal struggle between good and evil (both in the greater world and within us as individuals). The Lord of the Rings is my first “must-read” pick because this is one of those books that once read, will stay with you forever. At least it has for me. I’ve never tired of re-reading it, always finding some new detail that I missed in years before. And, it’s a tale rife with powerful messages, my favorite of which comes at the conclusion of the novel, where the reader must accept that even though good has triumphed, evil left it’s mark on the world, and it has been forever changed.

Favorite Quote: “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” – Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Shadow of the Past

Have you read The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien? What did you think?