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Last week I introduced my Summer Reading Challenge and set a personal goal to read 10 books by August 1st. I am well on my way to meeting that goal as I have just completed my second book! You may remember, my first book selection was The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. After reading my first Sherlock Holmes book in January (The Sign of Four) I was hooked on Holmes and couldn't wait to dive back into his world!

The Return of Sherlock Holmes is a little different than The Sign of Four in that the former is a collection of short stories, while the latter is a novel. Both were enjoyable, showcasing Holmes trademark observation and deductive reasoning skills. If you are lucky enough to find the audiobooks narrated by David Timson in a library or on, I highly recommend them. Mr. Timson is a fantastic voice actor and he brings to life Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and all the characters in such a unique way, adding color and dimension to the story that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise (especially since I'm not English and wouldn't have imagined a very good English accent for Holmes). It's now impossible for me to imagine the voice of Holmes any way other than Mr. Timson's interpretation.
Sense and Sensibility
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5  

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The second book I chose was another English novel, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. In case you haven't guessed, I'm very much into classic literature, both American and English. It's been a long time since I read Sense and Sensibility (I think I read it last when I was in middle school or high school) but the movie starring Emma Thompson is one of my favorites. I like it even more than all the Pride and Prejudice movies that have been made (*prepares for backlash*).

The book follows the story of the Dashwood girls, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret, and their mother following the death of Mr. Dashwood. At his father's deathbed, Mr. Dashwood's son, John, promises to care for his sisters and mother-in-law since the laws governing the estate prevent Mr. Dashwood from providing financial security for his wife and daughters. However, John's greedy wife convinces him to find "other means" of fulfilling his promise. Thus, the Dashwood ladies are left without means or marriage prospects, but like true Austen women, what they lack in fortune they make up for in character, intelligence and spirit which quickly attract the attention of some wealthy bachelors. Of course, the families of these wealthy men unsurprisingly disapprove any affections for the poor girls. Do the Dashwood girls eventually marry for love or money? Should marriage be a financial and social contract between families or a fulfilling partnership between couples? I'm sure it's no surprise what Austen's answer is.

I think that I am drawn to S&S because I see so much of myself in Elinor, being an elder sibling myself of a more quiet and thoughtful disposition than my emotional and somewhat impulsive family members. The pacing of the story is a bit slow in the beginning and carries on a bit in the middle, and the conflict is not always active in the sense that key plot information is conveyed in the form of letters after the fact; all these I think make S&S a less popular Jane Austen novel. Classic Jane Austen wit and social commentary are present, along with a cast of colorful, albeit stereotypical, characters so it is a good read in my opinion, just not Austen's best.

And now, on to Book #3, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

#1 - The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#2 - Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

NEXT BOOK: #3 - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins