Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Review on The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

In his consulting room in 221B Baker Street, consulting detective Sherlock Holmes receives a stream of clients all presenting him with baffling and bizarre mysteries to unravel. There is, for example, the man who is frightened for his life because of the arrival of an envelope containing five orange pips; there is the terrified woman who is aware that her life is in danger and cannot explain the strange whistling sounds she hears in the night' and there is the riddle of the missing butler and the theft of an ancient treasure. In the last story, there is the climatic battle between Holmes and his arch enemy, 'the Napoleon of Crime' Professor Moriarty. Holmes, with trusty Watson by his side, is equal to these and the other challenges in this splendid collection.

As I love the BBC TV show 'Sherlock' I thought that it would be a good idea to read the original stories, as the show is, let's just say very lacking in episode numbers. I had already read A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four and Hound of the Baskervilles, but this was the first time that I had read any of the Sherlock Holmes short stories. Each story is short enough to read in about half an hour, so they are great if you are interested in reading some of Doyle's work but do not want to commit to reading a novel length story.  I was interested in meeting some of the characters that are found in BBC Sherlock, but who I had not yet come across in previous works, such as Mycroft Homes and James Moriarty. As Moriarty is portrayed to be Sherlock's main enemy in many of the TV and film adaptations, I was quite surprised to find out that he was only present in the final story of the memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Instead of being the arch enemy that other media platforms show him to be, his main purpose seemed to be a plot device to enable the death of Sherlock Holmes.

 I enjoyed the stories, but my problem was that the majority of each story was spent with the client sitting in Baker Street explaining their case to Sherlock and Dr Watson. I realize that it is important to explain this, but as the stories are so short, I felt that this was taking up more time than it took for Sherlock to actually solve the case. The longer stories follow the same format, but I did not find them as problematic, as there was still plenty of content of Sherlock trying to solve the case. Overall I preferred the longer stories, as in some of the stories, I found the clients explaining what had happened to them slightly tedious, and the cases were solved in a few pages. The stories are enjoyable overall, but they follow the same basic format, so to avoid getting bored of them, I suggest not reading all twenty three stories in a short space of time.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Review on Mr Locke's Diary

Jane Keyes, a young house maid discovers that her master, Mr Locke seems to have gone missing. She is forced to pose as a gentleman in order to save the house from bailiffs, but in the process she finds she has a taste for the new found freedoms of being a young man. She discovers a dark world of seedy drinking establishments, violence and pornography. Once through the looking glass, she can never turn back.
Her freedom is short lived after her secret is discovered, and she is locked away in the asylum for insane young ladies where her luck only deteriorates. Delusions trap her in a world made of metal, filled with soulless workers loading trolleys with boxes, where you are condemned to eternal punishment to survive in boredom. There is a box, just one will lead you out of this place. Will she choose to exist in this place forever or take the risk of leaving? We all have an ending, we just don't know which it will be until it is too late.

I will admit that when I first started reading this book, I was not too keen on it. My first impression of the protagonist was that she was rather silly, as she tries to pose as her employer, Mr Locke mere moments after the bailiff has seen her as a woman. Although I found this humorous, I did not understand the reason why she thought this could possibly work. There were certain aspects of the story that had me slightly confused, for example Jane says that her literary skills are poor, but then goes on to say that she has read Great Expectations, a book that, from personal experience, I would say would not be something that someone with a low literary level would be able to read and fully comprehend. Jane goes on a journey disguised as a gentleman in an attempt to find her employer, discovering along the way what it is like to be a man in 19th century London. I found her experiences interesting, as she realizes that she has far more freedom as a gentleman than she would ever have as a woman. However, she is horrified at some of the things Mr Locke has been participating in, and there are a few violent scenes against women which could be upsetting for some readers. As women were often treated as items rather than people during this time period, I felt that this was an important subject to touch upon even if it is potentially upsetting.

The turnaround point in this book for me however was once Jane had started to have delusions, and seemed to be trapped inside her own head. There were elements of fantasy in this part, and as fantasy is my favourite genre, I enjoyed the last part of the book the most. I loved the idea of everyone having their own box, and opening it would decide their fate. This part of the novella was both fascinating and terrifying, especially during one particularly violent scene. One problem that I had with the book, which is no fault of the author, was that I found quite a few grammar mistakes. This would be understandable had it been an ARC copy, but as the copy I received was the final copy, I felt this would be a problem for readers in general, as although the story is enjoyable overall, I found myself having to read sentences a few times before I understood what it was trying to say. Therefore I think a review of the book and a release of a second edition would be a good idea, as it seems slightly unprofessional as it stands now. However I recommend the book overall, if mostly because of the second half. It is a quick read and perfect for those who enjoy reading but have difficulty in finding the time to read full length novels.

For UK readers, Mr Locke's Diary is available to purchase HERE

For those of you in the US, it is available HERE

For more information, visit author Joseph Clark's personal blog

Friday, 4 April 2014

Review on Bentwhistle the Dragon #1 A Threat from the Past

Peter Bentwhistle seems like an ordinary man. He works as head of security for a company called Cropptech, he plays for a hockey team at the weekend, and enjoys spending time with his friends. However, Peter is hiding a huge secret. He is a dragon! Disguising himself in human form, Peter spends the majority of his time living on the Earth's surface with the humans, helping to guide them through life and influencing them to do the right thing. Everything is going to plan, that is until Manson arrives at Cropptech. Peter can't quite put his finger on it, but he knows that there is something not quite right about Manson. As things go from bad to worse, with the boss becoming mysteriously ill, and unneeded armed security being installed at the Cropptech facility under Manson's command, Peter, along with his two dragon friends, Richie and Tank, must find a way to overthrow Manson and restore Cropptech to it's former glory.

As soon as I was sent a request to review this book, I was immediately excited to read it. Dragons! Who doesn't get excited over dragons? I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed. This story was both exciting and original, showing dragons in a completely unique perspective, with them protecting humankind rather than trying to destroy it. I found it interesting that Peter was living a double life, one on the Earths surface among the humans, and one underground with his fellow dragons. The story features a number of different sports, and although I was not too keen on reading about the hockey matches, I was hooked on the dragon sport of Laminium Ball. I do not enjoy watching or playing sports, so I was not able to fully understand Peter's love for playing hockey, but I found myself wanting to attend a Laminium Ball match. This sport is definitely up there with my favourite magical sports, just behind Quidditch.

 The only thing I was able to criticize about this book is that I was able to guess one of the big reveals near the end of the book quite early on, and therefore was not surprised when it happened. I thought that it was too obvious, although other readers may not have made the connection as early on as I did. I loved the climax of the novel, and when it came down to around the last one hundred pages, I could not put it down and read on well into the night. The character development for the main three characters was well written, and I loved that we got to know about Tank and Richie's thoughts and feelings, not just Peter's. The writing style is simple and easy to understand, so children will have no problem reading this book. If you are a fan of Harry Potter or The Hobbit, then this book is definitely for you.

Get your free 'Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past' e-book HERE

(For American readers click here)