Book Reviews · books

It’s Sherlock Time! A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: Book Review

Mild spoilers ahead…

StudyInScarlet

I usually have trouble separating characters from their on screen counterparts, especially if i’ve enjoyed watching them. In this case however, I was surprised to find that my imagination for the most part remained intact and was not clouded by the faces and performances of the most recent iteration, à la the BBC series. With that being said, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into – I thought, I knew the story and well… I was wrong! Going forward I need to remember that the word adaptation can be presented in the loosest of ways. I implore you do the same.

A Study In Scarlet (1887) is Arthur Conan Doyle’s first book in the Sherlock Holmes series. It introduces readers to the pairing of our narrator Dr John Watson and the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes who shortly after becoming acquainted, are summoned to a South London House by the news that a man has been found dead. This grim discovery is complicated further by the complete absence of wounds on the body or signs of a struggle and the word “RACHE” – German for ‘revenge’ – being written in blood on the wall. The only piece of evidence to accompany the scene is a woman’s wedding ring. 

The book, not including the intro, is only 141 pages long and within them Doyle manages to produce a multi-layered story with an intriguing set of characters. As well as his coherent and well structured writing style, the intricacies of his characterisation of Sherlock and hence his deductions make you wonder whether Doyle himself were a detective at some point during his life. Sherlock is impressive as is Watson’s ability to be endearing; moreover, while the narrative is written to adhere to our two protagonists adhere, Doyle is also able to –  however small of a role – provide the reader with just the right amount of characterization to have you both care and understand their motivations. 

“One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature.”

During the second part of the book there is a huge jump in narrative voice and setting which completely caught me off guard. It’s jarring because it has almost nothing to do with either Sherlock or John, the story instead shifts from a Who narrative into a Why narrative, and though it eventually ends up tying up with the overall plot, it feels like you’re reading an entirely different novel.

Overall, I found myself rather enjoying how Doyle decided to write this book. Despite being presented as a detective story, it is in fact, one of revenge and in writing these two contrasting but connecting parts, Doyle rather inadvertently asks for you to choose which account you prefer and whether the crime can be now viewed as justifiable. To make the decision somewhat challenging he writes them in a way to leave the reader to decide whether certain characters should be viewed as perpetrators or victims. As for me, I like both parts equally the same, was the crime justified? Perhaps. The outcome implies a more objective resolution but really it’s up to you to decide. 

If you want to get into detective fiction, I highly recommend you give A Study in Scarlet a read!

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4 / 5
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book tag · books · Life

Ready, Steady, TAG!!

Ready Steady Tag

I haven’t done a tag on here yet and I was in the mood to type, plus I thought it would be a good opportunity for you guys to get to know a little more about me. So without further ado!

1) What do you normally eat for breakfast?
Granola or plain cereal with almond milk and a banana. When I have more time eggs bacon, spinach and toast. Porridge is also my go-to, especially in the winter.

2) Characterize yourself in three words (just three, don’t go all “me” happy here)
Genuine
Rational
Protective 

3) Right brained or left brained?
Left brained. Though, i’m usually not too far off from the right side.

4) How do you feel about ‘assigned reading’ in the education system?
This is an interesting question. I’ve read books I probably would have never read or looked twice at, especially early on during secondary (middle) school. I preferred reading books that I’d chosen from the library myself than school books but there were times when we were tasked to read books that I genuinely liked and sped through. It wasn’t until A Levels (Junior and Senior years) that I began to enjoy what we were given to read, they were still assigned but because classes were smaller I was able to get a lot more out of studying the book. So yes, i’m for assigned reading, I look at it as a starting point. If you like the reading you’ll eventually branch out and discover more, if you don’t, well school doesn’t last forever.

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5) Harry Potter or Twilight?
Harry Potter, ϟ always but Twilight does have a special place in my heart because it introduced to me how passionate a fandom could be; I was too young when the HP books and the majority of the films came out to fully participate in the fandom. When Twilight came along during my teens, naturally I was allowed more freedom and I became fully swept up in the craze: premieres, merchandise, midnight, repeat screenings, fanfiction and then some! – the hype was real! *shout out to my Dad for acknowledging my fan-girl -ness and buying me each Harry Potter book as they came out and then supporting my crazy teen self with also buying me the Twilight books and merch.

6) What sorts of movies do you like to watch, and if you don’t like movies what sort of books do you like to read, and if you don’t like to read pretend you do and just answer the question!?!?
I generally like action adventure, Superhero and Comedy movies. With books I prefer detective fiction and classic (canonical) books. I also like to jump on the band wagon and read books that suddenly become mainstream or popular. *Note* – I have not read the 50 Shades series*

7) What is your preferred method of transportation?
Bus or coach, but when going abroad Eurostar.

8) How do you typically spend the weekends?
On a Friday, I might go out – depends on how I’m feeling 7/10 times you’ll probably find me at home catching up on some Zzzzz. Saturday is lie-in day and then again if i’m up for it, I might go out. Sunday are usually errands, organise and chill day.

9) Favourite holiday?
New Years!

10) What three books from your shelf would you be darn happy to say “deuces!” to?
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The Maze Runner – you know when you start a book and you just can’t get into it. Yep that was me with this book. I’ve also seen the film which kind of affected the way I saw the characters. Status – DNF

The Glass Wall – I met the authors in person while they were promoting the book, and after hearing how passionate they were about it, I decided to buy it. I found it to be a little repetitive and didn’t really express anything that I didn’t already know. Status – DNF

The Accidental Billionaires – this is the book that The Social Network is based on. And on this very rare occasion, I have to say that the film adaptation is better, so much better. The characters/people also come across as so much worse in the book.

11) How do you feel about loaning your books to someone?
Part of me hates it because I know I will more than likely never see the book again (I can’t even tell you the amount of books I’ve loaned/ sacrificed, and are out there lost in the world without me). A part of me also wants that person to hopefully enjoy the book the same way I did, I love giving book recs but I didn’t realise that they occasionally came at a cost.

I really enjoyed doing this tag! Look out for more in the near future! : )

I found this tag from a book blogger called @delphinethebabble she has a pretty cool blog, so check her out!

Food · Lifestyle · Recipes

This is No Ordinary Plate of Pasta…

I’ve been making pasta for as long as I can remember… all you have to do is cook it for however long it says on the packet. I usually just add a pinch of salt for taste – not much taste but everyone does it so who am I to say otherwise. Recently however, I was looking at pasta recipes and discovered that you can cook pasta in chicken, vegetable or beef stock! I honestly don’t know how I was living life (particularly during my student days) without knowing that this was a thing that people did. So of course I had to give it a go!

Pasta Dish

Serves 2           Prep time: 10 mins       Cooking time: 20 mins

INGREDIENTS

PASTA

2 cups of dried pasta (I used mini fusilli)
1 chicken stock cube
½ can of tinned chopped tomatoes
900ml of boiled water
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter
1 clove of garlic

1 tsp b
lack pepper
Salt ½ tsp
Paprika ½ tsp (optional)
Coriander  ½ tsp (optional)

VEGETABLES

1 handful of Kale
1 large Carrot
Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
¼ can of Sweetcorn

PREP

Boil water in a kettle. 
Pour boiled water into a measuring jug (fill to 900ml), add the stock cube and stir until dissolved.
Wash the kale, carrot and cherry tomatoes
Chop the garlic, carrot and cherry tomatoes
Drain water from tinned sweetcorn

METHOD

1) In a saucepan over a medium-low heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter, then add the chopped garlic and fry.

2) After a minute, add the carrot slices, stir for another minute then add half of the kale and all the chopped cherry tomatoes. Continue stirring for a minute or two.

3) Season the veg with black pepper, paprika and coriander (½ tsp each).

4) Add 900ml of stock into the saucepan along with ½ can of chopped tomatoes, stir and bring to boil.

5) Add the sweetcorn and the rest of the kale. [During this step, if you’d like to add more seasoning, please do so].

6) Now add the pasta and ½ a tsp of salt and pepper. Cook until almost all the water has been dissolved or until the pasta is tender (make sure you stir in between).

* If you’re lucky enough, serve with cheese as a topping.*

Enjoy!