Month: January 2014

Monthly Review – January 2014

Posted January 31, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyHard to believe that the first month of 2014 is over, it has been amazing to see how much excitement people are having towards The Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my introductory post here. Most people were busy enjoying the reading challenge, so our group read, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, didn’t get talked about much, but from what I’ve read it has all be very positive.

I’ve been off to a flying start this year, I’ve read seven books which is surprising since I have no reading goal and I want to take my time with reading. Most of those books go towards the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge and you can find my own record of the challenge here. I’m thinking about trying to read two books for each genre this year and I’m keeping a record of every book and which genre it best fits into on that page as well, just to see which genres need more attention in my exploring.

Highlights of the month for me include; Books by Charlie Hill, 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, All That Is by James Salter, The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich and Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas. Also a special mention to my current literary obsession Gary Shteyngart; I read his memoir Little Failure and bought all his books (with the exception to Super Sad True Love Story, which I already owned), I hope to read all his books this year but I’m sure other books will get in the way. So what have you been reading this month?

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

Posted January 30, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Thriller / 0 Comments

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréTitle: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Goodreads)
Author: John le Carré
Series: George Smiley #5
Published: Sceptre, 2009
Pages: 422
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is my second John le Carré novel, the first being The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (which I may need to read again). I remember never really feeling the need to go out and read some more, which would have been a huge mistake. My reasoning for reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was mainly came from the need to have the book read before seeing the movie adaption. John le Carré does a great job writing complex spy plots, but sometimes it gets too confusing and makes it hard to keep up.

The story follows George Smiley (le Carré’s most famous protagonist), a retired intelligence officer working for MI6 (often referred to as “The Circus”) on a quest to discover a mole within the organisation. The characters in the book are so well written, I had to admire the way they all seem so secretive and full of mystery. This is what I expect from a spy novel and John le Carré does a brilliant job in handling them on paper. There is a fine line in how to handle characters like this; too much one way they feel over the top and cheesy and too much the other the mystery will be gone.

The complexity of a novel like this does cause a bit of an issue but in the end isn’t that what you really want? With the twists and turns, you are left never really sure what everyone’s motivations are. John le Carré has a way of under developing characters but never in a way you are annoyed by it; the idea is to keep so much of someone’s character a mystery, with inconsistences that it makes them feel like a real spy. It’s an interesting technique, one that wouldn’t work in most other genres.

Have to give John le Carré credit for the way he builds atmosphere, in a complex plot with numerous characters he still manages to bring a glimpse of London life. Not being to London before, I couldn’t tell you how realistic his depiction is but it feels real. Another thing he does really well is dialogue, nothing feels forced or fake; it all feels seamless and natural.

Now the movie adaptation of this film was particularly interesting. Having read the book beforehand, I really enjoyed it. I had an idea of what was going on, but my wife didn’t, she struggled with the plot. Personally I think overly complex plots make for better spy movies and books, but I think it really helped to have read the book before seeing this adaptation. It was a faithful and enjoyable movie full of all you expect from the book and Benedict Cumberbatch with bad hair.

I’m not going to rush out and read a John le Carré novel anytime soon, but I will come back to him at a later date. I did enjoy this novel; I just feel that the complexity makes it a very difficult book to read. I will have to take my time with his novels, but I’m excited to see what happens in his other books. I’m not sure where to start, do I just read a recommendation, start at the start of the series or just check out his latest book?


Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With

Posted January 28, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Top Ten Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With. I thought this could be interesting, I don’t want to trade places with anyone but here are some characters I definitely wouldn’t want to trade places with (in no particular order).

  • Cormac Easton from The Explorer (read the book and find out why)
  • Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar (I wouldn’t want her life)
  • Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye (what a phony)
  • Patrick Bateman from American Psycho (he’s a little crazy)
  • Mark Watney from The Martian (no Wi-Fi)
  • The new Mrs. de Winter’s from Rebecca (Mrs. Danvers is mean)
  • Miles Halter from Looking for Alaska (Alaska was awesome)
  • Celeste Price from Tampa (too disturbed)
  • Dr. Peter Brown from Beat the Reaper (autofibulectomy)
  • Galen from Dirt (messed up family, messed up life)

I could go on but I rather leave the conversation for the comment.


Guest Review: The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

Posted January 27, 2014 by jus_de_fruit in Crime, Guest Posts, Thriller / 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Flavours of Love by Dorothy KoomsonTitle: The Flavours of Love (Goodreads)
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Published: Quercus, 2013
Pages: 429
Genres: Crime, Thriller
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I came across this book at the bookshop while looking for Christmas presents for my husband. He was with me at the time and saw my reaction when I read the synopsis on the back. Cooking and murder and secrets! So much that interested me. The Flavours of Love tells the story of Saffron Mackleroy and her family after the murder of her husband 18 months earlier. The killer of her husband has started sending letters to Saffron to make her aware that she is being watched. And on top of all that, she has all the usual family drama to deal with. Her teenage daughter has some very confronting issues to deal with, the younger son is withdrawing from life, her husband’s aunt has been asked to leave her nursing home. This story is more than just about trying to solve a murder; it’s about how to survive life.

Dorothy Koomson’s writing was very compelling. I was mesmerized from the first chapter and at the end of the night, I had to force myself to put the book down to get some sleep, as I knew I wouldn’t ever find a place I would willingly stop. It was so great to get to Friday night and know I could stay up as late as I wanted and power through the last half of the book. It was after 4am when I got to bed, knowing the family was safe again after Joel’s killer had been caught.

This book could have easily just focused on the murder aspect, but it incorporated so many other things. It gave me so much to reflect upon about my own relationships and how I might cope in a similar circumstance but I hope I never have to find out. Losing the love of your life would be devastating, but then you have to send the kids back to school, return to work, keep paying bills. Life goes on and doesn’t slow down when tragedy strikes. And there are all those little things, the little neuroses that your spouse would be able to talk you through, and to suddenly lose that voice of reason and do things you might not have done in the past. So many little things that we take for granted in the normality of our lives.

I loved learning about the love that Saffron and Joel shared with little flashback scenes to their life together, while they were dating and married. There is so much magic in this book amongst all the tragedy and drama that is revealed between the pages. I wasn’t really sure of the genre to class this book as when I started it, but wanted to include it in my Literary Exploration Challenge. I eventually settled on Thriller, because I certainly felt thrilled all the way through it as all the secrets were unraveled.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of Dorothy Koomson before, but she is now firmly planted on my radar and I will be hunting down her other books to read.

This is a guest post by Mary; not only is she my wonderful wife, she is also my editor and helps moderate the Literary Exploration group on Goodreads. Big thanks to her for this post and everything she does to help me with this blog.


Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted January 25, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Loaded by Christos TsiolkasTitle: Loaded (Goodreads)
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Published: Vintage, 1995
Pages: 151
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

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Ari feels very much alone in the world, a Greek immigrant, unemployed and struggling with his sexuality. That is to say he has a same sex attraction but his friends and family would never approve of that. In Christos Tsiolkas’ normally overlooked Loaded we follow Ari through his struggles as an outsider in this autobiographical novel.

Christos Tsiolkas is a critically acclaimed author with books like Barracuda and my personal favourite The Slap. It is a shame that his debut novel Loaded just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Was this published at the wrong time? I remember the nineties as a time where homosexuality was thought of as disgusting; granted I was still in high school in a small backwards country town but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for someone that actually was struggling with their sexuality.

What little I know about Tsiolkas, I’ve come to the conclusion that Loaded was a reflection of his own struggles living in Melbourne with a traditional Greek family that expects so much from you. They went through all the effort to move to Australia in the hopes for a better life; the least you can do is make the most of it. Do well in school, get a good job, marry and have kids. What if this isn’t part of your plan? How would your parents react to this news?

I had to read this book for university, right after studying Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness so I’ve naturally made some connections between the two. Marlowe and Ari are very similar in the sense they both are outsiders, though one deals with this during colonial times and the other is a post-colonial take. Without going too much into the parody of Heart of Darkness, because my mind has really made some interesting connections (some are probably a stretch). The different ways the two protagonists (Heart of Darkness and Loaded) are portrayed as loners in a world that doesn’t feel like home were done in interesting ways.

The whole sense of belonging is a huge part in Loaded; even the way Christos Tsiolkas talks about Melbourne is done as a parody. In Tsiolkas’s Melbourne people are divided into different cliques, much like a diverse multi-cultural city, but there is also are separation into the north, south, east and west. This is interesting to see the separation of power, wealth, religion and culture; sure this normally happens in a normal city, each suburb seems to be stereotyped as a good or bad neighbourhood. In Loaded the division is more extreme, highlighting all these groups of people and showing the reader just how much Ari doesn’t fit in anywhere he goes.

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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Posted January 23, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

The Paris Wife by Paula McLainTitle: The Paris Wife (Goodreads)
Author: Paula McLain
Published: Virago, 2011
Pages: 392
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Forget everything you know about Ernest Hemingway because Paula McLain has set out to change that in The Paris Wife. This stunning novel follows a fictionalised account of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. McLain’s version of Hemingway starts off as a tender man, with a crush on an older woman; he is persistent and full of love; nothing like what I know of the man.

The Paris Wife begins in the Chicago in 1920; it is here we meet Hadley and Ernest. Slowly we watch the two fell in love and get married. Soon after they have relocated to Paris where they meet other expatriate authors, such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The love shared between Hadley and Ernest is nothing short of beautiful, while it lasted.

If you know much about Ernest Hemingway, you know this whirlwind romance wasn’t going to last, I’m not spoiling anything by mentioning this. In fact it is mentioned on the back of the book. What I found most interesting about The Paris Wife is the way it is written in a first person perspective. My calculations from the clues in the book, is that Hadley was narrating this account at least thirty-four years after her divorce from Hemingway.

This presents a unique perspective of Ernest Hemingway, the pain and suffering would have been mostly gone and we get a distorted opinion of this famous author. Paula McLain’s masterfully presented Hemingway in such a way that I began to re-evaluate my personal opinion of the man. He was depicted as loving and caring, a struggling author with big dreams but also suffering from the torments of war. This eventually all came crashing down and my opinions where back to how I originally felt about this author; it takes some talent to be able to pull that kind of writing off.

This is the kind of novel you take to Paris. The atmosphere of 1920’s Paris was stunning, I could picture it and I wanted to go back to France and enjoy this city all over again. Unfortunately I don’t live in the world of Midnight in Paris, so I will have to stick with the modern city. Mentions of Shakespeare and Company were particularly special for me as I have very fond memoirs of that wonderful bookstore.

Fictionalised accounts are tricky and should always be taken with a giant grain of salt but I was happy to see Ms McLain ended this book with a note about her research including sources for her research. While this doesn’t mean I’m going to take the entire story as true, it does provide me with some reassurances that the author intended to keep as close to the facts as possible. This meant that at times the novel did feel more like a biography but the story was compelling enough to keep the book enjoyable.

One thing that bothered me after reading some reviews about this book is the people who hated this book because of the ‘unlikeable character’ when referring to Hemingway. I’ve always thought of the author as an unlikeable person (the man was a dick). What I was impressed with is the fact that Paula McLain managed to alter my opinion and try to look at things from another perspective. He was self-destructive and often came across as a man with no remorse but seeing his downward spiral on the page is what made this journey interesting.

I read this book for Jazz Age January; it was a good excuse to pick up The Paris Wife. I did in fact enjoy the novel but not in the sense that I would recommend it, I just think it was an interesting journey and look at Ernest Hemingway. There were flaws in the novel but you have to respect the way McLean worked the reader. I knew the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway had a falling out but now I suspect it was a case of them siding with Hadley during the break up. I will have to research some more to know for sure.


Top Ten Tuesday: On My Reading Wishlist

Posted January 21, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Things on My Reading Wishlist. Which is described as “if you could make authors write about these things you would… Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc”. I wasn’t really interested in doing that topic so I’ve decided to highjack this topic and tell you which Non-Fiction books are on my wishlist or shelf to read this year.

  •  Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin
  • The Dark Path: A Memoir by David Schickler
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson by Robert Polito
  • On Literature by Umberto Eco

 

  • Ways of Seeing by John Berger
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  • Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux by Boris Kachka
  • Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum
  • Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder by Mark Nelson and Sarah Hudson Bayliss

Some of these books are already on my self, so I hope to read them soon. Others I’m really excited to read. Feel free to offer me some recommendations on good Non-Fiction to read.


Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart

Posted January 20, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Little Failure by Gary ShteyngartTitle: Little Failure (Goodreads)
Author: Gary Shteyngart
Published: Random House, 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Edelweiss

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Gary Shteyngart is best known for his prolific blurbing; they even did a documentary about it. Few people may know that when he isn’t blurbing books he hasn’t read, he has written a book or three. He has enjoyed critical acclaim from his three books, including winning the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction and being named one of The New Yorker magazine’s “20 under 40” luminary fiction writers. He now tells the story of Gary Shteyngart, born to Jewish parents in Leningrad, USSR (that’s St. Petersburg, Russia for those too old or too young to know Leningrad) and migrated to America at seven.

As those that follow me on twitter will know, I’ve been a little obsessed with Gary Shteyngart as of late. This is mainly because I was excited to read his memoir Little Failure and also because I like his style. Granted I’ve only read one novel of his, Super Sad True Love Story but it remains in my top ten books of all time. Reading through Little Failure just reminded me what I liked about Gary Shteyngart. I rewatched all his book trailers (they are well worth checking out), and a whole heap of interviews. I even ordered the two books of his I was missing; The Russian Debutante’s Handbook and Absurdistan, which I plan to read this year.  I might even re-read Super Sad True Love Story again as I have more to say about the book and the world.

Little Failure is a memoir that focuses mainly on Gary Shteyngart’s life as a Russian born immigrant living in America. This was during the time of the Cold War so we see the struggles he had to go through as a kid, even to the extent where pretending to be a German was a better option. Leningrad to Queens would have been a cultural shock and Gary Shteyngart lays himself bare when it comes to his struggles with his family and school. There are other parts, I felt were only brushed over; his relationships, wanting to be a writer, his marriage. I would have liked to know more about these things but maybe there is another memoir for him.

I was surprised to learn how much of Super Sad True Love Story was autobiographical. There was a lot of Gary in his character Lenny and knowing that his wife is Korean I wonder how similar to Eunice she is. I will be paying careful attention to his other novels; now that I know a lot more about his life, the context is very revealing. It makes me want to read biographies of some of my favourite authors and then re-read my favourite books to see what is similar. I know, I’ve come late to the whole ‘non-fiction’ party (I’ve blogged about my struggle with non-fiction) but I’m starting to get it.

If you’ve not read this author before, you need to remember he is satirist with a strong focus on culture, especially as an outsider. His Russian and Jewish culture plays a big part in his writing style; I’m a huge fan of Russian literature as well as satire, so it’s no wonder I enjoy his works. Shteyngart’s father always told Gary not to be a stereotypical Jewish writer, meaning not to be self-loathing. I never thought self-loathing was a Jewish trait, I always thought that was part of the formula for all good books. This is a trait of humanity and I personally love books with an internal struggle, it makes it feel so real. Not sure about this tangent but I think it speaks to the style and what to expect from Shteyngart, his novels and this memoir.

I really enjoyed learning about this author and I can’t wait to read his other books. So keep a look out for a review of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook and Absurdistan in the coming year. You might even get another review of Super Sad True Love Story. I hope Shteyngart writes another memoir later about his life as a husband and a writer, I would be interested to know about that part of his life. This was an entertaining and funny memoir about Jewish/Russian/American life as a child; well worth reading.


84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Posted January 18, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene HanffTitle: 84 Charing Cross Road (Goodreads)
Author: Helene Hanff
Published: Virago, 1970
Pages: 230
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository
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84 Charing Cross Road documents twenty-year of correspondences between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. Helene was an American writer while Frank the chief buyer of Marks & Co, an antiquarian bookseller located at the eponymous address in London, England. Starting out as a request for obscure classics, the book follows the blossoming relationship with Helene and the people of Marks & Co. Followed by The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, a collection of diary entries of Helene’s trip to England and the tour of bookshops.

Helene noticed an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature and first contacted the shop in 1949. This started a beautiful love story found in this book, not between Helene and Frank but rather a love of books. This is the type of book you read if you are a book lover; it makes me wish I could correspond with a bookstore (or a book lover) about books. Can you imagine this happening with Amazon or Book Depository? Nowadays we have twitter (which I’m always on talking about my love of books) but 140 characters sometimes are not enough to say what you want to say.

I went into this book a little unsure, a collection of letters between a book lover and a bookseller, how great can this book really be? What I found was that the silver tongue and wit of Helene Hanff really made this book for me. You know that feeling in writing where you not sure if the person is being sarcastic or not, I started off wondering this but so found she had a wicked sense of humour and I’m so glad the people of Marks & Co never took offense (or they didn’t appear to). This might have been their (Frank Doel and the others that wrote to Helene) professional nature that slowly changed into a friendship, once they started to get to know each other and understood her sense of humour.

One of the major problems I had with this book is not really a problem but a personal preference, which has to do with grammar and formatting. I understand they tried to keep the writing the same as the letters but I wouldn’t mind if they fixed it a little to add punctuation and correct it. Another thing that throws me was the missing letters, I know things get lost but when you are absorbed in a conversation about a book (like Pride and Prejudice) it is disappointing to not know what happened.

The edition of 84 Charing Cross Road I borrowed from the library also came with The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. This is the travel diary of Helene Hanff’s time visiting London. Looking at details of this book the term ‘zesty memoir’ is mentioned a few times, but I felt it to be a disappointment in comparison. It was entertaining but it didn’t have the banter or wit I expected, it just felt like a step by step play of everything Helene did while visiting London. While these two books work as companion pieces The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street was too one sided for my taste. Think of it like a sequel, once you finish 84 Charing Cross Road you’ll probably want to know what happened on her trip to London.

84 Charing Cross Road has been made into a movie and a stage play; I’ve not seen them but I’m interested to see how this book translates into another medium. I love how the book is promoted with the line “so begins a love affair”; this is a love affair with books. I managed to write this entire review without mentioning this is an epistolary book that I feel the need to mention my achievement. Highly recommend that you get your hands on both novels and reading them, especially if you are a lover of books.


The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted January 16, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Crime / 0 Comments

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan DoyleTitle: The Sign of Four (Goodreads)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Published: Penguin, 1890
Pages: 152
Genres: Classic, Crime
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Mary Marston’s father disappeared and suddenly she has started receiving several large pearls. Now a mystery letter tells her she is a wronged woman, so she seeks out Sherlock Holmes to ask for help. This case leads Holmes down a path that involves the East India Company, India, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts and two corrupt prison guards.

Scottish born Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was the third of ten siblings to Charles Altamont Doyle, an Irish artist who suffered from alcoholism, and Mary Foley, who was also Irish. In his youth he led a street gang called the Baker Street Irregulars. He then went on to be a medical student at Edinburgh University where he was mentored and influenced by Joseph Bell. Bell was a forensic surgeon and considered a pioneer in the field; he also was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

The Sign of Four was written in 1890 but it was set in 1888 which is the same year as the Jack the Ripper murders. In fact by modern standards the distance between 221B Baker Street (the home of Sherlock Holmes) and the Whitechapel district is less than ten kilometres apart. The living conditions of the East End of London even before the Whitechapel Murders could be described as, in the words of Holmes in A Study of Scarlet “that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained”. Naturally after the Ripper killings the public were in a panic; in comes the literary hero, here to fight crime, dispense justice and protect the streets of London, here is Sherlock Holmes.

It is important to note that historical context didn’t start or stop with the Ripper murders. In order to understand The Sign of Four better, the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 must also be taken into account. The four convicts in the title are connected to this to uprising. There is no single reason for the rebellion unless you consider colonialism as the cause. It was a mix of economic, political, social and much more that caused, in the terms of the British, ‘the mutiny’. Without going into too much detail about the rebellion, imperialism or even the use of the word ‘savages’, it is important to understand the basis and mindset of the time to analyse the text fully.

While The Sign of Four is a book that reflects the ideals of the late nineteenth century, some ideas, like justice are still relevant. The Indian Rebellion may no longer be considered mutiny or a crime; the way justice was dispensed in the end still remains a satisfactory resolution for the readers. It is still fair to say that the idea of being a hero to women and sexual justice is very real in the modern world. Conan Doyle highlighted the prejudice between both sexes but this stereotype remains very relevant in current times. The principle of moral rightness; equity is still an issue today.

There was a lot I got out of this novel, especially when it comes to justice, sexual equality and historical context. I was surprised with the start of this novel; the cocaine use from Sherlock was a little shocking. I knew there were references in this novel but I didn’t expect what I read. The whole idea of dulling his mind when he is not solving a mystery is an interesting one. Not really justifiable but the excuse got me thinking about his passion and how people manage when they are not doing what they enjoy.

I’m not sure if it was because I was studying this novel but this was the first Sherlock Holmes novel I’ve read where everything clicks and the symbolism and motifs hit me. I feel like I need to reread the other Holmes novels and see what I’ve missed. This book will have a special place in my heart now; the book that opened my eyes to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliance. Am I weird for loving books that teach me? Most people read for enjoyment, but I feel more satisfied when I’ve discovered something about a book and the world.