Posts Tagged With: Penguin English Library

The Sign of Four, Arthur Conan Doyle – Book Review


: The Sign of Four

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: mystery, crime, classic
Order in series: Book # 2 in a series
Release Date: February 1890
Length: 127 pages
(total of 12 chapters)


The Sign of Four is one of Sherlock Holmes’s great adventures, a tale of ‘an injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black cannibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian’.
In the yellow fog of London, a young woman comes to 221b Baker Street with the strange tale of a missing father and the mysterious pearls she is sent anonymously each year. Holmes and Watson are soon swept up in an international puzzle of murder, millions and madness that could cost them their lives.

1st sentence

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— To continue with the series and read another case that Sherlock Holmes solves.

The cover — Another beautiful Penguin English Library book. I always love seeing the color orange and black together.

My thoughts

So this is the second novel written by Doyle giving us yet another intriguing mystery with a secret that goes 10 years back. There’s a lot of people involved in the stolen treasures, threats, and a secret giver of pearls so, I won’t write in details of what I thought of the story ’cause it’ll take a while, plus, I don’t wanna ruin the feeling of suspense for anyone who might be reading this (though I may have written a few spoilers in my other reviews before, but I won’t do it here).

I will only say that I loved Sherlock’s ways in getting the information he needs from the people he’s talking to without them knowing that they just gave away something very important. Oh, and we’re also introduced to Mary, the lady Watson proposes to (see, I can’t help it. I had to add a spoiler).

Now, I remember reading articles about how people don’t like that Arthur Conan Doyle uses racism in his books. I see what they’re talking about -especially in this book- but I’m telling myself that perhaps at his time it was totally normal to write racist descriptions of characters form certain places. I guess they didn’t know any better, what can I say?!


Full of secrets fit for a suspenseful story.     5/5 stars

‘It is of the first importance,’ he cried, ‘not to allow your judgement to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor.’
‘In this case, however -‘
‘I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule.’

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Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe – Book Review

: Robinson Crusoe

Author: Daniel Defoe
Genre: classic, historical fiction, adventure
Release Date: April 25, 1719
Length: 301 pages
(no chapters)


Regarded as the first English novel, Robinson Crusoe is a work that goes to the heart of human existence. Told through the journal of Crusoe, the sole survivor of a shipwreck, it chronicles his daily battle to stay alive on a desert island, where his greatest struggle is with solitude — until a single footprint appears in the sand. 
Vividly depicting an individual’s psychological development from terrified survivor to master of man and nature, Defoe created one of the most enduring, universal myths in literature.

1st sentence

I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, tho’ not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull: He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was call’d Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now call’d, nay we call our selves, and write our name Crusoe, and so my companions always call’d me.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— The stunning cover. And to collect even more of the Penguin English Library. 

The cover — Beautiful tree leaves that gives the cover an almost 3D effect with a nice shade of green and of course the book is so easy to hold.

My thoughts

That’s one long first sentence, don’t you think? The period took a while to show up.

Very rarely do I buy books knowing that I’d never read them. That’s what happened upon purchasing Robinson Crusoe, I got it just for the beautiful cover, and decided not to read it since all people around me who’ve read this said that it’s very draggy and boring and that it basically sucks.
One day, I was looking at it in the middle of one of the stacks in my room and thought: “Why not pick it up and read just 3 pages each day, if it’s really bad I won’t torture myself by reading it all at once”. Of course, the first 3 pages ended up being 25 and the next 3 pages ended up being 75…, so let’s just say that I read it fast. Why? Because I liked it.

This book is about the journey of a young man who wants an adventure, he doesn’t want to work a normal job, he wants something different. He goes through many endeavors, some take him downhill while others make him flourish until he gets himself marooned in an island all alone. On the island, the first few years take up most of the book’s length. Is it detailed? Yes, but I liked reading all the details about how he felt and how he managed to survive and keep himself sane. The other twenty-something years on the island passed by faster with a new companion to keep him company -Friday, and later on a lot more, all this passes by faster but it still kept me entertained. Then the years that occurred out of the island passed by even faster.

I really loved reading through all the changes that Robinson went through throughout the book, the way he viewed his bad luck as a blessing and how he came to start to believe in God and Faith was very touching.
There’s also a lot of beautiful lines to ponder over.

It was really difficult to read with no chapters because I usually like to stop my day’s read at the end of a chapter but here I would stop anywhere and every time I continued reading I kept on feeling like it’s one endless chapter (so it was a new experience). Also, the lack of dialogues was different since in the majority of the book it’s just Robinson with his thoughts and chores. A lot of new stuff that may have made me enjoy it more.


A thought-provoking book. If you don’t mind detailed writing, you should try reading this. Oh and don’t try to improve your spelling by reading this novel, I don’t know why but lots of words were spelled so differently back then and there’s lots of contractions and viz.        5/5 stars

I learn’d to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side; and to consider what I enjoy’d, rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them; because they see, and covet something that he has not given them: All our discontents about what we want, appeared to me, to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.


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A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle – Book Review


Title: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: mystery, crime, classic
Order in series: Book # 1 in a series
Release Date: 1887
Length: 135 pages
(total of 14 chapters as 2 parts)


The very first of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, A Study in Scarlet reveals the early days of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, and exactly how the former doctor became involved in a life of crime-solving.
A body is found in a grimy house in south London, its face twisted by fear and horror, with the word ‘RACHE’ scrawled on the wall in blood beside it – yet the corpse itself is completely unscathed. How did this man meet such a strange and terrible end? The answer is darker than anyone could imagine.

1st sentence

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— Since I was very young I used to hear about Sherlock Holmes and how smart he was and that he’s a fictional detective who can solve just about any case, and then I remember in 7th grade we took one of Holmes’ short stories (The Speckled Band) and I loved it, of course after that I watched many TV and movie adaptations revolving around the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. This year I felt the urge to actually start reading the books so I asked a friend of mine to make me a bookmark that suits the series (she did two amazing bookmarks) and started to buy Doyle’s work.

The cover — Since Penguin has all 4 of the main novels in the Penguin English Library edition I had to get them. I love the design of the front, back and spine and the feel of the book when reading is great.

My thoughts

At first it felt very weird to read the characters I’m familiar with having their own dialogues in paper and honestly, it took me a while to stop imagining Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman voicing Holmes and Watson in my head. After I forced myself to focus on just the book and the characters as they are described in the book I felt more at ease.

This is the first book in the series so we get to see how Watson first met Sherlock and the first case they solved together (well it was more Sherlock solving everything all on his own and then nonchalantly explaining the ‘how he knew’ in the end).
There’s a reason why Arthur Conan Doyle’s character became so popular. Reading it in 2017, after being familiar with lots of mystery twists, it still managed to keep me hooked and eager to know the reveal.

Confession: I was very confused when I started Part 2 (the second half of the book). I kept on reading the synopsis to check if there’s two stories in here rather than one ’cause so suddenly we’re introduced to new characters in the middle of the desert that had nothing to do with part 1. It hit me after a few pages that the last names of the characters were the ones of the dead person and suspect of the case.
So the author brought us to years before the incident to see what led the murderer to kill the two men the way he did. (I did like this tactic of showing us the true motive of the killing then going back to the present with Sherlock revealing who killed and how).

Oh and where’s Mrs. Hudson?


I can’t wait to continue with the series. This first book is very short so please do give it a try.    5/5 stars

‘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 skilful 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.’

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