Thirty Day Challenge: Day Three

Day Three: A Book I Love

SUCH A HARD QUESTION! Mainly because I love so many books. I’ve recently been jonesing to reread the Harry Potter series.

Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. ― J.K. Rowling

However I will always have to go back to the first literary character I fell in love with: Sherlock Holmes. (Not a new subject for me, my ‘love’ has been documented a handful of times on my blog, most notably here). My favorite book, however, isn’t by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Although it may not be ‘cannon’ I still love it. A book I keep coming back to time and time again is The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King (you may recall that I pulled a sentence from the book for yesterday‘s post and have referenced it several times (1 | 2 | 3) in my blog as my favorite book, at least I am consistent in this). I first came across this audiobook when I was in my teens (12-15 and it was on a cassette tape). I was happy, a couple of years later, when I came across the physical book in a book store and thoroughly delighted when, upon reading the book, I realized I had only ever listened to the abridged version. So many more adventures to experience with Russell and Holmes!

TheThe Beekeepers Apprentice Beekeeper’s Apprentice was the only book I took with me when I moved to Rome for the semester. It’s my go to book when I go to venues or have some downtime for some reading (and am not in the middle of a book). As a result there are a handful of ticket stubs and memories from past musicals tucked away. It’s fun to flip to a random stub and start reading from that point. I’ve read it enough that it only takes a paragraph or two for me to remember the back story up to the point that I’m reading. Like I said, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but this book will always be up at the top of list.

Until tomorrow
~ Q

Previous 30 Day Challenge Posts:
Five Ways To Win My Heart | Something I Feel Strongly About

The world is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man can invent…

But what about the subconscious? Conan Doyle said that the world is infinitely stranger, but doesn’t the subconscious take what it sees from the world, twist it and spew it into the mind in the form a Freudian slips and dreams? That’s for philosophers, psychiatrists and people who may be bored to debate.

As for me I’ve had a rather weird dream (nightmare really) recently.

Sadly it’s really really fuzzy but here are the few bits I can recall:
I was in an unknown house/neighborhood and I was there for the night. The house was actually inhabited by five different spirits and I couldn’t escape the house. Not all were malevolent, but for some reason two kept coming after me. I remember when I woke up (in real life) I was being corneredgoldfish by two. I forgot the first one but the second one shook me more for some reason. It was a giant gold fish that gave of light. It projected a blue atmosphere that looked like light shining in the water. If the gold fish’s beam touched you something terrible happened to you and he couldn’t be stopped by any ‘normal’ means (he could cross salt and iron since he was swimming through the air). I woke up from this dream at three in the morning and had to stay awake until 9 am before trying to sleep again. During that nap I had a second jolting nightmare so I gave up on sleep for that day.

What do I think this means? I have no idea. I have a thing about water where I can’t see the bottom, but I could clearly see through the ‘water’ the fish was projecting to see the monstrosity. Besides that I don’t know why the only corporeal form I’d remember from that nightmare was a giant innocent looking fish. Perhaps that’s why I remember it. The fish was the only source of light in that dream and it was the thing I was running from the most? If anyone has any suggestions on what that means feel free to share because I am not very good at interpreting dreams.

As a side note has anyone had a dream where someone touched them in a dream (hand on the shoulder, pat on the back for doing a good job, the like) and you could still feel it when you woke up? Just wondering if I’m alone in that.

Ashes, Ashes we all fall down

“Daddy why can’t I go in too?” she could overhear Cristy asking her dad as she cautiously walked up what was left of the stairs. The physical structure of the house was fine, the contents, not so much. It had been a few days since the fire and it still smelled like it could rekindle any moment. She stopped at the top of the stairs to looked at the once pristine family photo. The glass had warped and rippled fusing the picture to it and distorting the faces. Miraculously though, her mother’s face was left untarnished. Comforted the girl carefully made her way to her bedroom to grab what she could before they would leave for Aunt Michelle’s home. As she approached her room she was stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of the blackened door. She was right to have gone out the window, attempting escape through this ash would have been a death sentence. Taking a deep breath she pushed the door open and beheld what was left of her room. She bent down the crusted bed and felt around until she felt the waxy plastic of the case. Pulling it towards her a half charred notebook came sliding along the floor with it. With a pang she flipped the remaining half open. The edges cracked off as she held it but still there were half finished sentences and bits of photographs of her friends. Remembering her other journals she walked to the closet and was relieved to find that although the box was singed and burnt the contents inside had been, for the most part, spared. Her thoughts and memories were intact and safe. Looking back at the bed she realized the case was so mangled that she’d have to break in to it to see what state her beloved violin was in. Her eyes gloss over her desk, where all that remains of her drawings are ashes . Likewise her pencils have been reduced to mere cinders. She doesn’t even recognize her book shelf, mistaking the rubble on the floor for some part of the wall or ceiling that must have fallen down. Sighing she returned her focus to the closet and opened the bag her father had sent up with her and started packing what clothes she could. A few minutes later with a nearly empty duffel she headed out of the room with the box of journals under one arm and the case in the other.

_________________

Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

I have lots of trinkets here and there around the apartment:

  • A chess set one of my sister’s gave me
  • a box of journals (from college only really, I’ve never been much of a journal-er)
  • art projects from school
  • a painting from a friend
  • guitar
  • notebooks of ideas

any of which I would be quite sad to see burnt to a crisp. I’m sure there are other things I’d miss but only going through the experience would tell me, and I’ll pass if I can. Kind of like in A Scandal in Bohemia (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) when Sherlock stages a fire to discover where Miss Adler has hidden some blackmail items, her most treasured belonging at the time. Foolishly she gives away the location but before homes can retrieve the photos she realizes what has happened and removes them. Apparently fire reveals what we value the most. Oh, click here for yesterday’s entry.

Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss vs Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Comparing A Study in Scarlet and A Study in Pink

So since I apparently can’t have enough posts on the subject I have one last thing for now. While I was reading the book I kept running into similarities in the show Sherlock. I figured since the book was fresh (and I just watched Sherlock while writing this) I’d do it now. So I whipped up a venn diagram comparing the two. As a designer I probably should have made it look, well designed, but I feel I’ve already spent to much time on it. There’s lots of writing so you should click on the image if you want to see it clearly. Also I’m positive there are more things that could be added to all lists, but like I said, too much time. Hope you enjoy, until next time~Q.

*Update* thanks to rozzychan for reminding me that in the ending bit of dialouge between Sherlock & Watson in Moffat’s recreation they chat about him being hurt in the shoulder as well. The diagram has been fixed to reflect this.

Book Review: A Study in Scarlet

So I finally have finished one of my summer reading books. I realized, after making my list, that I’d have to finish a book a week…which usually wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve done it in the past, but apparently I’ve gotten busier or something because its been tricky. However that is neither here nor there. On to the book.

I just finished A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoyed this story, although I was thoroughly confused as to the second half of the book. It seemed to crop out of no where. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so as fair warning SPOILERS AHEAD. The first half introduces us to the odd man that is Sherlock Holmes and a returning war veteran Dr. John Watson. Watson observes Holmes’ various acquaintances and is with him when he is summoned to a crime scene. There they discover a dead man whose face is contoured in anguishing fear. Sherlock methodically scours the scene, both the immediate area as well as out side. Then he quips off some facts that no one else as gleaned. Such as the murderer’s tall and sturdy frame and that they knew one another. Sherlock, after sharing some conclusions with Detectives Lestrade on Gregson heads out to conduct some of his own inquires. After a scene with a woman’s wedding band and a second murder both detectives are back in Homes’ flat. There, after a short while, Holmes’ delivers the murder – much to everyone’s surprise (the murder included).

Then the story shifts to several years before and across the ocean. The narrative picks up in John Ferrier’s point of view as he and a little girl, near death, are found in the Nevada dessert by passing Mormons who are on their way to the promise land. The story gets kind of odd after that, dealing with the Mormon lifestyle and beliefs. Long summary turned short, the girl was adopted by Ferrier and was the prize of all Salt Lake City. Ferrier promised her to Jefferson Hope whom the girl had fallen in love with. The leader of the town didn’t like that and decided that Ferrier had to either give her to his son or another Elder’s son. Ferrier is murdered while he, the girl, and Hope try to flee and the girl is brought back to Salt Lake. She died a month later, from despair. Hope vows then and there to seek vengeance again both of the sons. (One married the girl and the other killed Ferrier.) Of course the two murdered men were the sons. Then the story jumps back to London and ‘present’ time (Sherlock’s time that is) where Hope fills everyone in on what happened after he left Utah. That very night, after being brought to custody Hope dies of an aneurism.Then Watson and Holmes are chatting and he explains analytical thinking versus narrative thinking. Which, seemingly, is his secret. END SPOILERS

Over all I enjoyed the story. The one part that was tricky was the part that took place in Utah. I don’t know enough about Mormon culture to fully understand those parts. I got the gist though, but since I didn’t get it I wish that part of the book  would have been wrapped up quicker than it was, but it was still good. And the deductive bits, by all three detectives were so enjoyable it was worth wading through the Utah chapters. I think what I didn’t like was I had a sinking feeling for Ferrier and his daughter. I knew something bad was going to happen, if two murders were the result years later, how could it end happily? Yet I found myself rooting for Lucy (the daughter) and Jefferson to somehow end up together. My silly romantic side once again giving me false hope for a happy ending. When a person achieving his revenge is the happy ending you know you’re not reading a comedy. However a great beginning to the legend that is Holmes and Watson.

I enjoyed how he somewhat ended it with Watson telling Holmes that he would write Holmes’ story down so that everyone would know that it was he, not Lestrade and Gregson, who was the brilliant one. Holmes’ doesn’t seem to care though, he doesn’t want the publicity, even if he does comment that the others steal the limelight all the time. I guess part of him wants recognition, but not necessarily form the public though. I think he just wants the detectives themselves to not falsly take his credit.

Anyway the story ends with a Latin (or Roman) phrase: “Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.” When I googled it I discovered it was from Horace, Book 1, Satire 1 and translated to “The public hisses at me, but I applaud myself in my own house, and simultaneously contemplate the money in my chest.”
I take that to mean it doesn’t matter what the public thinks, for I will be proud of my own accomplishments and think about the things I have done within myself. A nice sentiment. So overall, a good story, and I’ll be working my way through Doyle’s other works too, I’m sure.

Anyway, until next time~Q

Summer Reading List

When I was a kid I would have laughed at you if you told me that I would sometime have reading as my main hobby. I’m not sure why but I didn’t enjoy it, probably because I was slow. Which was a viscious cycle, I was slow because I never read, and I never read because I was slow, on and on. I’m not sure when the switch to “I love reading” happened, probably when I didn’t have required reading any more. Nothing like being told “you must read this somewhat depressing book” (Animal Farm for instance) to turn you off something. Anywho, since highschool and college I have found myself reading more and more, but oddly I have an affinity for choosing young-adult books – perhaps because I never read them when I was a young-adult…I guess I don’t know where the cut off of acceptability of reading those books is. Not like I’ll let that stop me. Also not like I’m an old adult either…I’m in that weird in between age, where you’ve been out of college a few years but don’t have the life experience yet to– let me stop there. This is getting wildly off topic.

Anyway, with Memorial Day Weekend around the corner it feels like summer will officially ‘start’ now. I don’t go by the calendar, the pool schedule is more accurate – so summer is day-to-day. Memorial through Labor which I think many people would agree. With that in mind even though I read all the time anyway I figured I should probably pick the books I want to for sure read. Having a goal in mind always helps, right?

  1. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Why it’s on the list: If you read my previous post this comes to no surprise. I have a giant book with lots of Doyle’s Sherlock stories in it. I especially like that it has the original illustrations by Sidney Paget in it. Also, they’ve tried to make it look like it would have looked when it was originally printed in The Strand magazine. Complete with an old and imperfectly printed font. Time will tell if this variance in ink coverage/readability will be annoying or not. I’ll be sure to reflect upon the matter. [Update – just checked my compilation book and it isn’t in there! Makes sense I suppose, I thought I’d looked through the book and it didn’t ring any bells. Look like I’ll need to run to the book store for this one. Likewise though that means I’ll be starting with a different book, one that is already on my shelf since I don’t have time this weekend to go]
  2.  1984 by George Orwell – Why it’s on the list: I started reading this while I was nanny-ing my nephew last summer. What a shock that I wasn’t able to finish, although you’d think with a 7 month old it’d be easy. Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids of my own but I just had too much fun playing with the kid to read. (Once I called him ‘the kid’ to my sister (his mother) and didn’t hear the end of it for several days)
  3. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs – Why it’s on the list: I really like the show Bones. When I learned that the idea for the show somewhat stemmed from an actual book I decided I had to at least read a book from the series. My sister was getting rid of books (to make room for her kid’s books and toys) and happened to have a copy, seemed like the perfect time to collect it and now to read it.
  4. Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor – Why it’s on the list: Last December I listened to the first in the series. I promptly went out got the rest of the series but haven’t yet had the time to read the second one. I always enjoy when the story breaks off to follow different characters’ story lines. I think, inevitably, as a reader, I always side by whomever is narrating. If you follow many lines though it allows you to form a connection with more characters because you are allowed to see things from more views.
  5. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – Why it’s on the list: A few years ago I studied abroad in Italy. I’m 85% positive we were given a ‘you could read this if you wanted to’ list from our teachers. I believe this was on it. Safe to say I didn’t read it at the time but it’s been on my radar ever since. Once I heard of the book it seemed (for a time) it would crop out all over the place. That book cover would jump out as a browsed in a store, stuff like that. 3 years later I may do my suggested reading.
  6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – Why it’s on the list: I guess I don’t really have a reason why this is on the list, the fact it’s an American classic maybe? Also, I use to be fascinated by all the references that were on Gilmore Girls. I was surprised I was able to place Pony Boy despite never reading the book. I felt a bit fraud-ish though, so perhaps if I read it I’ll feel better. No, lets go with the American Classic reason.
  7. A is for Alibi by Susan Grafton – Why it’s on the list:I think this series first blipped my radar when I was walking through a book store and saw a giant “M for Malice”. I admit I was intrigued, doubly so when I learned there was an entire alphabet series. In my head if someone has been able to write over 20 books on the same character it might be worth looking into. This logic doesn’t always work (I was never really hooked on The Boxcar Children for instance, but my sister’s were. Maybe the fact that I didn’t read was the culprit).
  8. The Trial by Franz Kafka – Why it’s on the list: I’ve read some of Kafka’s other works (The Metamorphosis comes readily to mind) and enjoyed them. I remember him being both thought provoking and imaginative, a welcome combination. I also may need to reread The Metamorphosis. See if it’s as good in a rereading scenario as it is in my memory. I can’t quite place why but I remember liking it.
  9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman – Why it’s on the list: Ever since the first time I saw the movie, I wondered if it was a book. I remember as a kid trying to check it out from the library, but alas we didn’t have it. So naturally I figured ‘well if our library doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist’. I’d be so sad if that were true. Not that we have a bad library. Actually it’s pretty good, but there are just so many good books I’ve come across that the library didn’t have, but I digress.
  10. Along Came a Spider by James Patterson – Why it’s on the list: Whenever I go to the bookstore or library I always see a new book out by James Patterson. Seriously, he has so many characters living in his head, I’m not sure how he keeps track. I’ve been interested in his Alex Cross series for a long time. That and the Witch and Wizard series. So I guess if I don’t read Along Came A Spider I’ll start the other. Or, crazy thought, read both.
  11. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Why it’s on the list: Cyborg Cinderella story? How can you not be intrigued. Also, I love fractured fairy tales or reworked fairy tales (lots of Gregory McGuire on both my ‘to read’ and ‘read’ list too). Seriously though, if I were a cyborg I wonder how much lip I’d take from my sisters. I certainly paint myself the fool often enough as a human, although like I said I do the painting myself. So perhaps comedian is a better term.
  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Why it’s on the list: It’s been on my reading list forever. It’s about time I read it. It’s a goal of mind to read something by each of the Bronte sisters. I read Wuthering Heights, and although I don’t fully understand why it is considered such a great love story, I did enjoy it. So after that I’ll just have one more sister and then I’m done…but I’m sure I’ll read more. It’s not like I’ll stop reading Bronte just because I’ve read 1 from each.
  13. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Beatrice Sparks) – Why it’s on the list: Because nothing says summer relaxation like reading about the horrors of drugs. I don’t recall how I stumbled across it, probably looking for something along the lines of Wonderland and Alice was a natural correlation. However I don’t think this will be quite as whimsical as tea with the Mad Hatter.
  14. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – Why it’s on the list: I am interested to see how the photos are incorporated. If it’s anything like The Invention of Hugo Cabret they’ll be quite important. My favorite thing was a friend of mine listened to Hugo Cabret. I think that is one of the few books that doesn’t translate well.
  15. The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Maze RUNner by DASHner, I am amused. Why it’s on the list: I have a good friend who is in a book club and always telling me about the books they are in the middle of reading. I’m sure you can see where this is going but this was one of the books they read this past spring. She was telling me about it and I find it quite interesting, so we’ll see.

Above and beyond (if I some how manage to get through the top list. I’m pretty sure Crime and Punishment is forever long which is why it is at the bottom of both lists)

  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  • The Hero of 1,000 Years by Christine E. Schulze
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I guess that’s probably enough for now…but as I look at my shelf, I don’t know. I see three new books that might need to be snuck in (The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life, What the Dickens and Slightly Irregular…also there is a shocking lack of Shakespeare. That must be rectified) As I said these aren’t the only books I’ll consume this summer. Just the ones I want to be sure to hit. And since there are only 15 weeks in the summer I should limit my official list to 15. Yikes, now that I remember how much I have going on this summer I may not be able to finish! Also I’m vowing that these are the books I’ll read NOT listen to…if they are enjoyed at all in the next 15 weeks. Time’s already slipping (even if it doesn’t start until Sunday). Better round up my books. Also if there are any suggestions on what to read, I’m always looking to expand my circle or reading. Otherwise it’d be full of mysteries and dystopian tales.

That’s it, so until next time~Q

My Love affair with Sherlock Holmes

I have been a fan of the brain child of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since before I can remember. You may think this to be hyperbole but in my instance it’s true. I clearly remember a time before I was even in school listening to my dad’s tapes. That’s right cassette tapes. My dad, somehow, had gotten his hands on the tapes of the old radio series that played during world war II. (This performance will be transferred by short wave to our men and women over seas is a clear statement that still rings in my head from the tapes. I remember as a child not really understanding what that meant.) As a kid those were the stories I fell asleep listening to, occasionally an episode of Have Gun will Travel or The Saint would slip in, but my favorites were always The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Especially the ones staring Basel Rathbone and Nigel Bruce-which were most of them. Oddly enough, I have yet to actually watch anything with those two in them, because I love the audio version so much…something I may need to alter. I have seen Basil Rathbone in movies (the main one that comes to mind is The Court Jester with Danny Kaye) and thought he was brilliant.

Then when I was in middle school I found an audiobook called The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (also on cassette tape) and was introduced to a new Sherlock. Years later, after thinking perhaps I had made the book up because I couldn’t recall the books name, I refound the book. (One of the best parts of reading the book over the audiobook from the library was that I hadn’t realized it had been abridged. So I had bonus story and cases to read about-BEST SURPRISE EVER!) In quick secession I devoured the series until I finished it and although The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is still my favorite in the series (arguably it is actually my favorite book) I love the dynamic between Russell and Holmes. Even if Holmes isn’t quite the same man that Doyle created he is still his brilliant deductive self. If King would have turned Sherlock into a hopeless romantic or something it would not have worked. She presents the two characters in such a way that even the reader can see that there actions truly are what makes the most logical sense, and in that way I think it honors Doyle’s original character. But as usual I digress.

Recently, it seems, Sherlock has been revived once again, and both in his original home of the late 1800’s and in more modern way in the 2000’s. Where we’re use to him being first. When I found out that there would be a new movie of Sherlock I was quite ecstatic. Perhaps the fact that I had been studying abroad since the August before its release helped. It certainly came as a shock, I get back to the State mid-December and BAM a new Sherlock story. That it came out around Christmas was an added bonus – it could be a family activity. My family, like all families, doesn’t always agree. One thing we do all agree on are the Sherlock stories. It is one thing that the entire family enjoys. So although some of us didn’t see the movie until the following Christmas when it was out on DVD it was quite an enjoyable and a ‘bonding’ experience of sorts. Likewise I can’t remember the last time my mother and I went to a movie together in the theater. I can no longer say that now, as you know she and I went to Mirror, Mirror together. A month before that though, or so, we had gone to the second Sherlock movie, A Game of Shadows. A movie (like the former) that had a great balance between action/serious moments/comedic relief. Very enjoyable.

Now (well last year or so) the BBC has developed a modern series called simply Sherlock, and simply put I think it’s brilliant.  The second series just aired on PBS. The thing I like about this ‘system’ is that it aired in the UK on the BBC back in December. Why the lag between airing in the US and the UK I don’t know but coming full circle is that what I like about this system is that the second season has just been released onto DVD (yesterday, after the final episode in the series aired on Sunday). Guess what my birthday present to myself is this year. The writers of the show create such interesting twists from the originals, they really have made it their own (The Geek Interpreter vs The Greek Interpreter – love it!). Oh, I also love the dynamic between Sherlock and Mycroft. It makes it seems as a more adversarial relationship. Where clearly there is lots of left over baggage from a childhood of growing up far to bright for either of the brother’s own good . Before I had looked at the relationship as more one of mutual respect/acceptance. One where the two brothers, although both brilliant, don’t have scads in common so it’s just easier for the family dynamic to leave each other be, unless seeing each other is logical or necessary. In the Sherlock series they don’t call on one another unless necessary (that’s still the same) but when they do meet there is always an undercurrent of annoyance and arguing between the two. Which may be why Mycroft is always making John be the liaison between the two-which also adds to the comedy.

This has gotten quite lengthy, but I guess something that will always be true of me (if it has endured for the first 25 years of my life surely it will stay for the next 25 and more) is that I love Sherlock. Important that, I suppose? Until next time~Q