Classic Book Review: The Three Hostages

The Three Hostages by John Buchan

The Three Hostages (Richard Hannay #4)
by John Buchan

4 out of 5 stars

Richard Hannay has retired to the English countryside with his darling wife, Mary, and their son, Peter John. But he gets roped into an adventure once again when he learns that a criminal mastermind has kidnapped three young people, one of them a young boy only 10 years old. The only clue is a mysterious poem with the imagery of a blind woman who spins thread, a curiosity shop run by a man with a dyed beard, and the cryptic phrase “the land of Eden.” Richard must unravel the clues and trust his instincts to rescue the poor captives before it is too late.

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Classic Book Review: The Enchanted Castle

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit

The Enchanted Castle
by E. Nesbit

5 out of 5 stars

Three siblings are spending their school holidays stuck at school, so they go exploring around the countryside, hoping to find some adventure. They stumble into a beautiful garden estate where they go through a maze, finding what appears to be a young princess in an enchanted sleep. When they awaken her, it proves to be only Mabel, the housekeeper’s daughter. But Mabel assures them that magic enchantment is real, and the children explore the gardens with a magic ring that transforms their holidays into a wild adventure.

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Classic Book Review: The Law and the Lady

The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins

The Law and the Lady
by Wilkie Collins, David Skilton (Editor)

4 out of 5 stars

When Valeria marries Eustace, she discovers that some dark secret has made him marry her under a false name. She meets his mother and finds out his true identity. She appeals to his friends to find out what terrible secret he is hiding. He begs her to leave it alone and warns her that it will only drive them both apart, but she persists and finds that he was accused of a terrible crime and never quite proven innocent. Valeria embarks on a desperate search for evidence that will prove her husband’s innocence, and it leads her down a dark path of insanity. In the meantime, her husband, frustrated with her stubbornness, abandons her. She must sift through rumors of suicide, poison, lies, cruelty, and madness to arrive at the truth.

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Classic Book Review: Mr. Standfast

Mr. Standfast by John Buchan

Mr. Standfast (Richard Hannay, #3)
by John Buchan

4 out of 5 stars

Richard Hannay is serving as a general in WWI, when he is called away from the warfront to engage in some counter-espionage back in England. A dangerous group of radicals in a small county village might be hiding an evil mastermind who is the center of a ring of German spies, hiding in plain sight on British soil. Richard meets some old friends who return to be part of the team, and he is introduced to the beautiful Mary, a voice of wisdom in all their plans.

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Classic Book Review: Waverley

Waverley by Walter Scott

by Walter Scott

5 out of 5 stars

Edward Waverley goes on a vacation to Scotland, staying with an old friend of his uncle’s. He meets a Highland Chief and is invited to spend a couple of weeks hunting in the highlands. Waverley is inspired by the noble demeanor of the highland clans, and his romantic side gets the better of him. He becomes embroiled in the Jacobite Rebellion, and he falls in love with the Chief’s pretty sister. At first, his adventures seem glamorous and exciting, but he quickly learns that he must deal with reality and give up his childish daydreams of glory.

A beautiful, intriguing tale of valor, love, honor, loyalty, with absurd funny bits and sorrow intermingled. This is my favorite book of Sir Walter Scott’s!

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Classic Book Review: A Sicilian Romance

A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe

A Sicilian Romance
by Ann Radcliffe

4 out of 5 stars

Julia falls in love with the dashing young Hippolitus, but her father insists that she must marry the evil Duke. Julia’s brother tries to help her escape from the clutches of her ruthless father by arranging an elopement, but their plans are betrayed and Julia is caught. Julia goes through every kind of disaster and terrifying mishap, fleeing for her life and weeping along the way.

This is Gothic melodrama at its best! Julia dissolves into tears, is frozen with terror, collapses under the strain of horror, and is prostrate with grief in every single chapter. Several other ladies, not to be outdone, also fainted on several occasions. Everyone is constantly exclaiming some version of “Alas, woe is me!”

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Classic Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane

3 out of 5 stars

A “youth” enlists in the Union Army during the American Civil War with visions of glory in his mind, but he runs away like a coward in the first skirmish. As he moves as far as he can from the battlefield, he encounters wounded men headed toward the hospital. He hears their stories of courage, noting that they wear a “red badge” of their own blood. He is ashamed but finds ways to excuse his behavior in his own mind. He has an altercation with a fellow soldier, who gives him a minor wound on his head. At last he finds his way back to his own regiment, joining them again, pretending that he got his wound in battle. The next day when the regiment begins to move forward into battle again, the youth wonders if he will have the courage to stand and fight this second time.

I really hated the graphic descriptions of violence and dead bodies and disgusting wounds. It’s very descriptive and made me nauseated.

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Classic Book Review: Olive

Olive by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

4.5 out of 5 stars
Olive is born with a deformity in her spine. Her parents are devastated to have a humpback child, but try to show Olive compassion. Her childhood is peaceful, but as Olive grows up she begins to realize that she will never be able to live like other people. She is unlikely to ever marry or have a family. Uneducated and without resources, Olive must lean on her faith to help her through the difficulties of her life. She finds solace in nature and art, and in supporting her friends and family with a patient and kind spirit.

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Classic Book Review: The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy

4 out of 5 stars

In a drunken rage, Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter to a sailor for five guineas. Once he is sober, Henchard bitterly repents of his deed and searches for his wife and child, but to no avail. Over the passing years, Henchard’s fortunes change and he becomes a successful businessman and mayor of the town of Casterbridge. He is well-respected and lives a peaceful life, until his wife returns with a teenage daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, and his old secrets begin to haunt him.

I love Hardy’s writing style! He really knows how to tell a dramatic story in a beautiful rural setting. There is something so vivid and immediate in his writing that draws you into the emotions of every scene.

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Classic Poetry Review: The Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake
by Sir Walter Scott

5 out of 5 stars

As a result of a feud between her father and King James, Ellen Douglas must live a secluded life in hiding on a small island in a Scottish loch. There she meets the mysterious James Fitz-James, a knight who has lost his hunting party in the highlands. Ellen is distressed by the romantic intentions of two highland lords, Malcolm Graeme and Roderick Dhu. Her father, the Douglas, refuses to lead his clan into war with King James, but Roderick Dhu calls together an army for a bloody battle.

I loved this beautiful poetry! There is such a wonderful balance in the writing between flowery phrases and powerful emotions and good plain storytelling. All these things come together for a delightful reading experience.

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