The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a review

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Every. Single. Sherlock story. This collection from Penguin comes in at 1122 pages. And I read it in a week. Ejit 😂

The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This collection includes all of the short story collections, as well as the longer standalone short stories. These are: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear, His Last Bow, and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes.

In a slightly backwards step, I read The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes first. It was the only short story collection in there that I hadn’t read a single story from, and I was reading this to fulfil the prompt for MiddleEarthAThon of reading a short story collection. Unfortunately this was also one of my least favourites out of the collection. This was the very last thing Conan Doyle wrote for Sherlock and he was pretty fed up of him by this point. It shows. These cases were really easy to solve, I was solving them straight away. They just had a lot less care put into them.

But I wasn’t being deterred! I went back to the start and continued reading this collection! After watching so many adaptations, it was quite odd to read some of these original stories for the first time. Because I knew the plot so well I’d just assumed before that I’d already read them, but I’m pretty sure now that I hadn’t. So at least I’ve fixed that!

A Study in Scarlet is the first ever Sherlock story, introducing Holmes and Watson to the public, as well as to each other. We have American’s being mysterious murdered on our shores, apparently due to their relation to some sinister groups that have been growing in power in the US and the UK. This is a fantastic introduction to these characters and definitely a staple for any Holmes fan.

The Sign of Four is where we meet Watson’s future wife. A young woman comes to consult Holmes, she is mysteriously receiving a large pearl each year but this year she has apparently been contacted by the provider, wanting to meet with her. This unfortunately is laced with racism, with the story having an Indian setting and the thoughts of the time coming out in full force. The actual mystery is still interesting, but because of the racism I wouldn’t place this as a staple.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes contains a lot of the core short stories, but it also contains a fair few that our detective never manages to solve. The primary of these being our first introduction to The Woman, Irene Adler, in A Scandal in Bohemia. A great collection.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are where we first meet Moriarty, and also where Holmes and Moriarty visit Reichenbach falls. The rest of the short stories in this collection are a little tame, although enjoyable. But The Final Problem is definitely worth a read. Conan Doyle had wanted this to be the final Holmes story, but the public didn’t agree.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes involves the detective coming back from his presumed death, and that story itself is great fun. There are 13 other stories in this collection which are interesting and a little bit tricky. Again Conan Doyle wanted to end things here for Sherlock, and again he failed, but The Second Stain is an interesting (attempt at a) final short story which I really enjoyed.

The Hounds of the Baskervilles is a classic for a reason, this is an engrossing story and one which Conan Doyle was the most proud of I believe. It’s so in depth and well crafted, even knowing the story from adaptations I still wasn’t exactly sure what was coming on the next page. This is an absolute staple and is arguably the best of all the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Valley of Fear is one that is a lot more niche. I’ve seen adaptations of it of course, but it’s definitely less prevalent. Moriarty is involved in this story, but primarily in the background. Instead we follow a man who is being hunted for acts he committed in the US. I found the UK side of the story fine, but I didn’t enjoy Conan Doyle’s writing once we moved across the pond and followed these events first-hand. Although I can’t deny that they were interesting.

And finally, because of my weird reading order, His Last Bow. In this collection Holmes has been drawn out of retirement to assist the Government during the approach of the First World War, and we see him assisting the Prime Minister. But we also are provided, thanks to Watson, stories from Holmes’ earlier cases that are no longer restricted from being told. This wasn’t one of my favourites, but I did still enjoy it.

Overall, I’m so so glad that I’ve finally read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories! And even for those stories that I didn’t love, I did enjoy all of them. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing in the Holmes stories is one I greatly enjoy, and whilst I’ve heard that his writing in other works is not the same, I would like to try some of his non-Holmes stories.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 7 giving an average of 7.29 and a 4* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: drug addiction, death, body shaming, racial slurs, racism, misogyny, ableism, forced marriage, homophobia, kidnapping, murder, domestic violence (referenced).

I still can’t quite believe that I managed to read this in a week, but I’m glad that I managed it! I’m also really glad that I’m now able to say definitively that I’ve read all of the Sherlock works. These are classics for a reason and were a lot of fun to read, but I might be all Sherlocked out for a little bit 😅

Have you read any Sherlock books? Whether the originals from Conan Doyle or any of the myriad of adaptations? I’ve read a fair few of the retellings and the adaptations over the years, as well as watching them! There’s just something about Holmes that the public can’t get enough of.

Mini War and Peace, a review

War and Peace: The Epic Masterpiece in One Sitting, is just what it says on the tin. A Running Press Mini production, this is a teeny tiny book (like 3/4cm high?) which summarises the whole of the massive tome that is War and Peace.

I had been waiting to read this one until I’d finished the full book, after having my Aunt buy me this back in like 2017! I finished War and Peace in September 2021 (see my review here) and so it was finally time to enjoy this wee book.

I think that this summary is done really well! It’s surprisingly informal so lots of readers will enjoy it, and it definitely grabs the key points of the story and conveys them well. Of course it’s not the same as reading the actual book but I think for 288 small pages it does a fantastic job!

It was really entertaining and this definitely has made me want to collect more of these little books and I’m looking forward to reading the ones I already have! Just gotta finish the originals now!

I didn’t want to rate this one on CAWPILE because it felt a little unfair for this type of novel. So instead I just gave this a star rating myself which was 3 stars. This won’t be quite so fun to read if you’ve not read the original novel. But I still think this is a fun one and recommend it if you’re interested in War and Peace!

Pride and Prejudice, a review

When I first was getting into the online book community, I went book shopping, and picked up a metric hell tonne of classics. Since then, up until this year, I hadn’t read a single one other than Jane Eyre. Not one. I bought these in 2016!! So I’ve been slowly making my way through more classics lately and given that I had two editions of Pride and Prejudice on my tbr, I felt like it was time to take my first dive into Austen’s work!

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Thankfully I didn’t actually buy both copies. One I did buy myself, it’s the “standard” wordsworth edition. One my mum gifted me when it was being disposed of from the bookshop she worked in. It’s more of a magazine style print with coloured pictures and of course much bigger pages. I had debated how I would read this book, and fully intended to pick just one copy or another, but I ended up using both and that actually worked out really well for me!! And sometimes it helped those bigger chapters feel a little smaller when they were “only 3 pages” rather than the 7/8 they were in the standard paperback version!

Now, onto what I actually thought of the book…. I adored it!!

I was not expecting to love this book! Every time I picked it up I got such a feeling of peace, I was so invested in all of the characters lives even when I knew what would happen (either through pop culture, the book telling us, or just me “predicting” plot devices which were new in 1813) and when I finished the book? I just sat there with a smile on my face! It was just so lovely!!

Darcy’s development was very interesting to watch. He’s so self assured, until Jane rocked his world view and he had to come to terms with the kind of man he is. He starts out being quite abrasive and really not someone you would want to marry! But by the end he’s very sweet and I totally understand Jane’s change of heart!

Bingham through this whole novel is just so innocent and a little bit dumb if I’m honest! In contrast to the societal games being played around him this was really sweet to see and brought a refreshing air to the book.

Jane is just such a sweetie, always caring for others, apart from the abrupt Mr Darcy! Whereas in contrast Lydia was just an absolute idiot and in my opinion she deserves the partner she ends up with (harsh I know, but still).

For my CAWPILE rating I gave:

Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10. Which gives an overall score of 9.00 just squeezing in a 5 star rating!

Overall I love the progression through this book of the characters as they learn more about each other and themselves. I really didn’t expect to love this book. It’s all about people and romance, normally not my thing. And yet I adored it so so much. Not mad!

Trigger warning for Pride and Prejudice: classism, sexism

Do you read classics?

They can be pretty intimidating, and not that long ago I was someone who had read a few, mainly kids classics, and that was about it. But something huge came into my life that changed my mind.

Well that sounds like it was some big life event or something, it wasn’t! I literally mean something huge, War and Peace!! This chunker had sat on my tbr since 2015/16 and I finally decided I was going to be reading the damn thing! The wonderful Olivia from Olivia’s Catastrophe agreed to buddy read it with me and since January 1st 2021 we’ve been slowly making our way through this tomb of a book.

And we’re loving it! Now of course this is because we’re enjoying the book, but something which is really amping up my enjoyment factor is reading this with Olivia, not only because she is lovely (because she is) but because I’m adoring our discussions. We discuss how the book makes us feel, as well as literary merits and what we think of the portrayal of the time and the historical aspects. And that might sound boring to some, but we love it! And it came naturally too. At first we were just talking about the book in less academic terms, but as we went further through the book this just naturally became the discussion we would have and it is a genuine pleasure to message her every day!

It’s because of this specifically, the daily analysis of a well known classic with a friend who is educated in the field, that has changed my thoughts on classics as a whole. I enjoy them so much more now! I read a lot more into them and intrinsically find myself understanding so much more than I used to, as well as reading through them a lot easier. In the past the writing style used to often be a struggle for me.

I cannot recommend highly enough buddy reading a classic with a friend. Not only is it so much fun to read with a friend, and not only will you get so much more out of the book itself, but slowing it down to one chapter a day means that there is less material to read from and more insights to be gained from a smaller amount of text. And it has changed how I read! And I couldn’t be more glad.


How many books can you read at once?

I’ve always been someone who can read more than one book at a time but I didn’t often do it. Mainly cause I’m a fast reader and once I’m into a book I just want to read it until it’s finished! But as time has gone on and I’m reading more books I’m definitely multi-reading more.

This year I’m reading a chapter a day of War and Peace. Meaning that for the entire year so far, I have always been multi-reading. And it’s been great! But there are also times where I’ll have more than one other book on the go. It really depends! At the moment I’m reading Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, and nothing else. Will that change? No clue! But it’s working for now.

Unless it’s a buddy read or something else planned like that, I tend to keep it pretty natural and just read whatever I intend to from my tbr.

How do you read? Lots of books on the go at once? Or one book at a time? Let me know!

A bonny wee dog

The story of Greyfriar’s Bobby is one of loyalty and love. Eleanor Atkinson decided to write down the true tale of this wee doggy who wouldn’t leave his masters graveside in Edinburgh to share it with more people.

I bought this book many moons ago, around 9 years old, when I was on a day-trip to Edinburgh with my parents. For whatever reason, I just never picked the book up and so it has sat on my shelves until now. This also extended to me not knowing anything about the book. Until I actually started to read it I didn’t know that this was a classic, and until I went and looked up the author I never knew it was an American woman! I assumed it would be a Brit, so was quite surprised by that. But it did explain some of the issues I had with the book.

My first initial issue was with the flowery language and the over-explaining. That was obviously then understood once I found out that this book had been written in the 1800s, as that was very much the writing style at the time. Additionally I had issues with how the Scottish dialect was portrayed. The author left little footnotes to explain certain words. Some of them were from the time period, some of them specific to Edinburgh, and yet some of them seemed silly to me to have pointed out. I felt that they could have been understood through context alone (note, take this with a pinch of salt as I am half-Scottish). Finding out, however, that the author was American made this a lot more clear. I now believe that she was writing this book for the US audience who had a limited interaction with Scottish (and overall British) people and therefore wouldn’t have the cultural cues that I did to infer the meaning of different word.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book to the casual reader. If you read a lot of classics and enjoy the writing style of that period then definitely, but if it’s not your thing you can easily find out about Greyfriars Bobby (which I recommend doing!) through the wonders of the internet. For me personally? I’m glad I’ve read it, and I gave it 3*

Worldwide Crime Syndicate + Poirot = A Damn Good Book

A worldwide crime syndicate which wants Poirot out of its way, as he keeps foiling their plans. Such a classic plot point and I loved it!

This was such a fun read, with so many intense moments and interesting twists and turns. I always feel like my reviews of Christie are too short, but there isn’t all that much to say. Most people know Poirot, they know Christie and they know these classic mysteries. I don’t need to try and sell them as they sell themselves!

So instead, I guess I’ll ask you guys. Do you read any Agatha Christie books? Do you enjoy these sorts of mystery stories? Let me know in the comments!

Dip your toe into the classic fairy tales

This “Little Black Classic” from Penguin contains 7 fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, meaning that they are of course dark, weird and so intriguing! At only 55 pages this is another short and sweet read (see my review of Emily Bronte’s poetry published within this collection in my last post) but so so engrossing. I love these fairy tales and their grimness and gritty plotlines.

Snow White is present within this collection, which I didn’t know before reading it, but it wasn’t actually my favourite! The Master Huntsman, The Robber Bridegroom, The Devil’s Three Golden Hairs, The Six Servants, The Bremen Town Band, Snowwhite, and Lazy Harry are the collected works and I really enjoyed them all. This is such a good introductory look into the works of the Brothers Grimm and I really do recommend that you give it a shot! Their stories are ones which are known by all and this is a great taster to get you wanting more!

Now I need to go and add all their other works to my tbr!!!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass


Finally, at the age of 21, I’ve read Alice in Wonderland! (Took me long enough!) To be perfectly honest I probably wouldn’t have gotten round to reading this book when I did if I hadn’t been watching a lot of Hailey in Bookland on YouTube, who is absolutely obsessed with this book! I had gone home to visit family and saw this book on my shelf, and I decided that I was going to get through it before I went back to University!

I really ended up enjoying this book! The confusing usage of language put me off when I was younger (with books like Heidi, The Secret Garden and Water Babies appealing to me more out of children’s classics) but as an adult, it was much easier to comprehend what was going on and definitely enjoyable to lose all meaning to the most common of phrases and send myself into a fantasy world. If you’ve been putting this classic off as you believe you’re too old for it now, go and grab it! No one is ever too old to read a well-written children’s book!

I was finally able to watch the animated Disney film now I knew the story and it was such a fun little film! It is definitely a fun story and I can 100% see why it is so popular now I have finally immersed myself in the world.