Reviews by Willard C. Smith

Lady Audley's Secret

by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Although it is considered one of the finest examples of Victorian sensationalistic novels, the story is slow paced. A quarter of the way into the novel, most readers will have already guessed Lady Audley's Secret, nevertheless, the characters have to go through the process of discovering and proving the secret.

There are a few things that I thought were interesting, though some might think they were dated, such as the "denouncement" scene or the "attempted murder" scene or the "clean-up the mess" sequence of events. These scenes are classic sensational Victorian episodes that you don't see anymore in today's novels. On the other hand, there are some unexpected turns that will surprise the modern reader

When the story comes to its happy conclusion, I can't help but feel sorry for Lady Audley. Her fate just seemed a bit extreme for my taste. This is a great novel you can toss off in a couple of days.

Reviewed on 2012.02.21

A Study In Scarlet

by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the first Sherlock Holmes mystery. It explains how Holmes and Watson came to meet and share lodgings. However, it is the one Holmes story that is altered significantly when presented in movie, TV, or play format.

Like several of the Sherlock Holmes novels, the first part involves Holmes solving a sensational mystery followed by a second part that provides the background/motivation to the original crime.

In 1887, when this novel was written, there was a "crusade" against Mormons that was in full swing. The background story involves Mormons, forced plural marriages, "Danites" (a popularized sort of Mormon enforcer of the times), and Brigham Young. Unless you are a diehard anti-Mormon, the background story is ludicrous, hence the significant alterations when the story is presented in movie, TV, or play format.

Nevertheless, the novel is entertaining and gives you an excellent insight into the Origins of Sherlock Holmes

Reviewed on 2012.02.14

The Witch

by Mary Johnston

Highly entertaining Historical Fiction set in England after the death of Elizabeth I. The protagonists are unjustly accused of witchcraft, sorcery, and apostasy. The characters, including the villains are well drawn; the writing is excellent. The story is hard to put down. Even when facing certain death, the love of the main characters transcends the surrounding world of intolerance and hatred. The novel is possibly one of the most romantic stories I have ever read.

Reviewed on 2012.01.23

Hackers, Heroes of the Computer Revolution

by Steven Levy

I first read this book in the early 1980s. The book was divided into 4 sections: 1- described the MIT Hackers who started off in 1959, 2- the early growth of hardware companies in Silicon Valley and the creation of the very first Personal Computers, 3- the first major software game developing company (for the Apple Computer), 4- a brief return to MIT and Richard Stillman's GNU project.

Only the first section is in this ebook (I downloaded the awz format of this book). I was disappointed because other reviewers left me to believe the entire book was available. Never the less I recommended reading even this subset of the entire book. The writing is very good and you can easily understand the motivations of these early Hackers.

Reviewed on 2011.12.24

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