Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: Havisham by Ronald Frame


As companion books go, they are either a total hit or miss, and more likely to garner critics simply based on the fact that a classic was messed with. I’ve read my share of spin-offs, companion books and mashups and it’s very rare that I manage to get through them in their entirety.  I was not only glued to the pages of, Havisham, a prelude and then companion to Great Expectations, but really did end up seeing it as an authority to unanswered questions I had about Dickens’ tragic character, Catherine Havisham.

Knowing how Catherine ended up in the pages of Great Expectations, I read just waiting for the ball to drop. I knew it had to be a man, someone that grabbed this young girl’s heart so fully, but wasn’t ready to care for it or share his own. I think there is a great lesson in her story, one that heartbroken young adults hear from their parents and friends over and over again. Lost love and heartbreak does not require or deserve all of us, and we should not guard ourselves against ever feeling for another again.  Catherine was truly bitter to the end and cultivated a disdain for men in the precocious and conceited Estella, which we were given knowledge of in Great Expectations.

Author, Ronald Frame, took one of Dickens’ most puzzling and captivating characters and laid her bare in the same way Dickens would’ve done. I absolutely loved it and wouldn’t mind if Frame decided to explain away other storylines buried among my favorite classics!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrating World Book Night USA: My Favorite Lines From, The Alchemist

As soon as I saw my favorite book, The Alchemist, on the 2013 World Book Night list, I knew that had to be the book I gave out! It never ceases to amaze me how many people have never heard of The Alchemist or author, Paulo Coehlo, and tomorrow I get to change that. 

World Book Night is a celebration of books and reading, with volunteers coming together to spread the love, person to person on April 23. I may have to postpone my own giving a day or two, depending on the weather. We've been dealing with flooding (the original site I planned on setting up is still under water) and the forecast calls for more rain tomorrow along with the river cresting :(. 

I've received my box of books, put together some reading gift bags for folks and re-read The Alchemist, and other books on the list. Thought I'd share a few of my favorite lines from The Alchemist with my readers, since I can't give you the book. 

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

“When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you.”
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” 

“The soul of the world is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation. All things are one.” 

" No Matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it."

“The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.”  

“My Heart Is Afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Cleaning on TOL!

The review copies have been piling up for months and its that time again. Spring cleaning has come to The Opening Lines. I have several advance copies of books that I am putting up for grabs to you, my blog readers. Each book is free, just asking that you cover shipping fees via Paypal ($3.50) so I can ship them media mail. 

As each book is requested I will remove them from the list, but email me for availability and to provide shipping info. chitownchicas at gmail dot com

1. My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story With Recipes 
2. The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
3. Paris in Love by Eloise James
4. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
5. Gypsy Boy
6. The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon
7. Blue Asylum
8. Slow Love by Dominique Browning

Working on getting cover photos and links up as I go through the books I want to keep and the ones I am parting with.    

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review: Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Whenever I read a book that involves homeschooling in some way, I am extra attentive because there are a lot of misconceptions about the choice that are spread through popular culture. Most of the time the folks that are producing whatever is being spread are not homeschoolers themselves and have spent very little time with any, even drawing all their material from just one or two people. That said, I can understand why Safer is homeschooled, but I couldn't help from rolling my eyes at the role he was given as manipulator and liar. 

Liar & Spy is a children's book from, Rebecca Stead, about seventh grader, Georges who deals with personal and social situations in his new environment in the best way he knows how. Safer is the new neighbor kid living in the upstairs apartment, homeschooled and member of a rather unconventional family. Georges and Safer don't exactly hit it off, but they form a working relationship spying on residents in their building-- namely Mr. X.

I thought that Liar & Spy was an extremely introspective read, for a children's book, but it fit Georges character well. It kinda felt like Georges was living in his whole little world the whole time, and in the end its obvious that he really is. Safer was definitely the more interesting character that I was hoping to read more about, but except for Georges' brief interactions with the rest of the characters in the book, we really don't get to see or learn much about anyone else. 

Overall, I thought Stead's book was well written, definitely not what I was expecting and attention grabbing. It was not however a read that I think its intended audience would pour over. I gave it to three different children/tweens to read and see what they thought. Only one read past the sixth chapter or so and said it was boring. I can see where the subject matter is important to kids, but its not really a book that is "exciting" when there are so many other books out there competing for their attention.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Give Me Your Books! August Book Giveaway Linkup

Every month here on The Opening Lines I host a book giveaway linkup, so that all my book blogging friends can post their book related giveaway for my blog readers to find. Just add your link, include the date the giveaway ends and what its for. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Review: Hitler's Demons

The number of fictional and nonfiction works I have read over the years based on WWII is over a hundred already, so I was surprised to read Hitler's Demons and find a whole new twist. The fiction piece deals with the lives of several characters caught up in or in some way connected to members of the Valkyrie Plot. After the release of the film, Valkyrie, we all know about the previously little known attempt, and Helena Schrader gives us a little more of the story through fictional German characters that will seem all too real by the time you are a chapter into the book. 

Hitler's Demons is a historical fiction novel set 1930 and 1940 Germany, and looks at the lives of ordinary German citizens. The characters span the social spectrum, which I like because it adds different perspectives of each situation, but everyone is for the most part connected to each other in some way.  It's different from other novels because it portrays individuals that are actually working against the Nazi movement while still working within it. Obviously, we all know that there were some Germans working within the government at that time that had a conscience and realized Hitler was not everything he was cracked up to be.  After reading so many novels that are purely about people working underground or in the resistance, it was nice to read about the war from a different angle. 

That said, I think the author, Helena Schrader did an excellent job melding fiction and fact to create this story. You can tell just by reading that there was a lot of research that went into this book, and I really appreciate that because I get distracted by the little historical hiccups that some authors disregard to tell a story.  Helena gives us the good and bad in every situation, in every character and then lays the story out as it actually happened all those years ago. I was caught up in it all, till the very end. 

The only complaint that it does have, is that it ended too soon. I like seeing things happen, especially when it is all told so vividly, and then seeing how everyone makes out in the end.  Other than that, I think Hitler's Demons is one of my top ten WWII books to date. Anyone that loves historical fiction or even nonfiction history will enjoy it. I've even added it to the recommended reading list for mid to high school for our reading group.  

About Helena Schrader

Helena P. Schrader obtained a BA in History from the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, and followed this with a MA in Diplomacy and
International Commerce from the University of Kentucky, Lexington.
She earned a PhD in History from the University of Hamburg with a
ground-breaking biography of the German Resistance leader General
Friedrich Olbricht.

In addition to publishing various articles including three in the leading
academic journal on ancient Sparta: “Sparta: Journal of ancient
Spartan and Greek History,” she has published four non-fiction works
of history: General Friedrich Olbircht: Ein Man des 20. Juli, (1993, 1994)
Sisters in Arms: British and American Women Pilots During World War
II, (2006)The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift, (2008,2010) and
Codename Valkyrie: General Friedrich Olbricht and the Plot Against Hitler
(2019). She has also published ten historical novels, three of which
have received literary awards.

You can visit her website, here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Give Me Your Books June & July

The month of June got away from me, and I had to take a break from the blog because of things going crazy at home. Never got this month's Give Me Your Books, giveaway linkup posted, but I'm doing it now. 

 Bloggers, feel free to add your book giveaways, anything book related too like amazon gas, kindles, nook covers etc. please add name and date the giveaway ends. Readers, feel free to visit as many links as you see, and come back often because it will be added to for the rest of June and July.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

One of my very first and oft-repeated Catechism lessons was that we don't pray to God for things or desires, but rather the virtues necessary to gain those things we want and desire. I kept thinking of this lesson when reading, My Stubborn Heart, the debut novel from Becky Wade, because her prayers led to the disappointment Kate felt over her unanswered prayers to God for a husband.    

In My Stubborn Heart, Kate Donovan is almost thirty and still single, something she never thought possible, nor wanted. Taking a break from her purpose-filled, but energy sapping job, Kate decides to join her grandmother for a trip East to the family's ancestral home. Chapel Bluff is in need of major redecorating and cleaning, which is where Matt Jarreau, a local contractor, comes into the picture.  

Because of his incredibly good looks and aversion to people, Kate does not think Matt is the type of man God would send her in answer to her prayers. Likewise, Matt is not interested in a relationship right now and Kate's looks and personality are not what he is looking for. Here is where the praying takes the right course, because Kate senses early on that there is something Matt is not saying, something he is hiding from. A lot of patience, understanding and concern come into play, and we all know that you really need to pray when those virtues run short. 
I went to a very conservative college for a year before transferring and had a lot of friends, or knew of both men and women, that were very serious about dating, sex and relationships like Kate. Still, I think anyone that is at all conservative about casual dating and sex can relate to the way Kate feels about the men she chooses to date and the type of relationship she is seeking. After all, its not as if she is frigid or uninterested.  

Right now Kate and I are pretty much the same age, and I'm single, but its something I am very okay with, prefer actually. If a serious relationship did come into play anytime soon, it would get in the way of a lot of things I have going on right now, but I wouldn't avoid one either. So in a lot of ways I know where Kate is coming from with things like the possibility of kids and dealing with other couples, but at the same time I am not at all yearning or wishing for a husband or marriage right now.  

Personally, I thought it was a solid read. I think most people would be able to relate to Kate's mindset and the feelings she went through in the book. I am very picky about the fiction I read, and romance has never been at the top of my list, but I liked that it wasn't mushy with an obsessive main character. Fans of contemporary and Christian fiction will definitely enjoy this read from debut author, Becky Wade.  

Book Details:
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764209744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764209741
*Book Review Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes. No financial compensation was offered or received. This review is my honest opinion.*

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