A New Havisham; Havisham: A Novel Book Review

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Havisham: A Novel

Havisham: A Novel

By Ronald Frame

Expected Publication November 5th, 2013

Advanced galley from BEA

Genre: Historical Fiction

Three Stars

Catherine Havisham was born into privilege. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer, and lives in luxury in Satis House. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting letters on the brewhouse wall—havisham. A reminder of all she owes to the family name, and the family business.

Sent by her father to stay with the Chadwycks, Catherine discovers literature, music and masquerades—elegant pastimes to remove the taint of her family’s new money. But for all her growing sophistication Catherine is anything but worldly, and when a charismatic stranger pays her attention, everything—her heart, her future, the very Havisham name—is vulnerable.

-goodreads.com

In this retelling of Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens, Frame brings life into Catherine Havisham before the wedding dress; before her downfall.

I must admit, I have never finished Great Expectations, although I have certainly tried. Three times, to be exact. Maybe that is why I didn’t truly love this book. The concept was great, albeit a bit ambitious I felt with such a beloved and read novel by one of the most notable British writers. Luckily, Frame had a little help, or push in the right direction. Havisham was originally a retelling on BBC Radio. It isn’t exactly an easy transition, radio to a novel, I imagine. Some things can translate, but others cannot. Frame certainly did not fail in this endeavor, although I never listened to the podcast.

Frame’s writing was descriptive, but what he failed to do in my opinion was give life to each word. There were many times I felt bored. There was too much time spent on Catherine’s time spent with the Chadwycks to become a society woman. From there, Frame drowned me with too many quotes and passages from the Aeneid. He used Dido as Catherine’s doppelganger, or more her inspiration on becoming a woman. After disappointments, and joys, Catherine would recite words from Dido. She would argue about Dido. And so forth.  Even though I appreciate mythology, and Aeneid has been on my to-read shelf, there comes to a point where too much is too much. I understand Frame wanted to show Catherine was a knowledgeable woman, even for her class and riches. But, it took away from the story for me.

The story didn’t truly begin for me until the end of the middle. While I dragged my feet to read just fifty pages, once there was a hundred and fifty or so pages left, I became insatiable. I kept reading and reading. Why did it take Frame two hundred plus pages to get me interested? Maybe too much back story. Wait, isn’t the novel all back story, what it is supposed to be. Hence a retelling. OK, yes, sure. But the back story does not have to be heavy. There needs to be plot, right? Not my father spent this money on this and this. When the plot really became known, the novel evolved into something else, something better. I started to feel involved, more than a reader. To me, that is what a good book does. The reader doesn’t just want to listen, to read words that were spoken, the reader wants to be, and feels they are, a part of the action.  It’s a shame it took so long for me to want to take part. When I get invested, though, I get invested.

I decided to give this novel three stars, nothing more or less, because although the writing was good, it did feel heavy or burdened with literary references. The development of Catherine was slow. She often seemed silly, and frivolous focusing on masquerades and her acting and costumes. She had love, sure. A romanticized love. Yet, when a major event happens, that’s when I felt Catherine was as true and sincere as I always hoped she was. Maybe hardening her made her more likable.  It was her strength and trust in herself that made me respect her. I wanted to read the next page, wondering how much more I can be impressed with Catherine. She is not just the woman in the wedding dress, the feast untouched and preserved for ten plus years. Even with people calling her crazy at the end, it did not lessen, but strengthened my love for her.

Of course, the three star rating reflects on the lack of action. The writing style was good, but not great. Maybe if you are a so and so fan of Great Expectations you may want to read this when it comes out in November. It was really the middle that connects you to Dickens’ Catherine Havisham. Plus, the last one hundred pages has Pip Prippip pop in and out. Or, maybe it can be a good read with no knowledge of its predecessor Great Expectations.

“Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” –Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

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Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #2) book review

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Sapphire Blue (The Ruby Red Trilogy, #2)

 

Sapphire Blue (Red Ruby Trilogy #2)

By Kerstin Gier (read by Marrisa Calin)

Originally published in German 2009

Four Stars

Genre Young Adult Fantasy

Gwen’s life has been a roller coaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean. At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Once again, Gier tells a captivating story about Gwen Shepard, the unlikely heroine. When we first met Gwen, she discovered she was a Ruby, the last time traveler, the one meant to close the portal of twelve and release some secret; a secret no one trusted to tell her or really know. She was beyond slighted by her family. Because she was so unprepared, as her perfect cousin was meant to be the last gene carrier, she had to quickly catch up and hear about how much of a failure she is by everyone. Except her mom, siblings, and her side kick Leslie.

Now, slightly more adjusted, Gwen is not only accustomed to the dirty looks by the members of the inner circle, but becoming more confident. She is still trying to hold on to her secret about seeing ghosts, as she feels no one in the order would believe her. Luckily, she has a new sidekick, the hilarious  gargoyle demon, Xemerius who started to follow her after Gwen’s kiss with the warm and cold Gideon.  Xemerius is witty, talkative, and really helpful. He makes fun of the order while spying on them. Complains and complains, but oh so witty. I love Leslie, but I laughed every time Xemerius appeared. He was just so right on point with things. His humor was dry. Gwen doesn’t appreciate him as much as she should.

If it was possible, the time traveling aspect became much more intricate and entertaining. The mysteries, oh the intrigue. What really is the secret?  Why Did Paul and Lucy steal the original chronograph? And the Count? Maybe there was one or two dull moments, but hardly any really. Gier’s writing style is simple, easy to understand, but fast paced. You want to turn the pages, and fast. The adventure is there, as well as romance. The romance controls Gwen’s mind, making her get side-tracked often. She gets angry, distrustful, and confused. She becomes her own person in this sequel.  She doesn’t mind breaking rules, speaking up, and telling Gideon and others what she feels. Not always in a polite tone, but gets her point through.

This was a great sequel. I am really happy I started this series. It is a fun read. The time-traveling and mysteries are fun. The characters engaging and worth remembering. Even with listening to this one as an audio oppose to reading it as an e-book, I loved it. The end was great. And, now October needs to get here fast so i can read the last one. I can’t read German, so I need to wait for the English translation.

 

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

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Another week down. Monday is now upon us. How quickly things go by these days, for me. As you know, I went on a mini vacation this week. I was so busy I barely had time to read. I did finish a book however, the fabulous Ruby Red by German author Kerstin Gier. You can see my review here. https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/ruby-shoes-and-ruby-red-ruby-red-ruby-red-trilogy-1-book-review/

Ruby Red

I highly recommend it. Sadly, like all books, this comes with a niche. May not be for everyone. But, for a girl who shies away from YA fantasies, and the growing YA paranormal romances, I am still going to read the second book in the trilogy. It was just such a fun read, even if the heroine seemed childish at times.  And now to Havisham.

Havisham: A Novel

I didn’t touch Havisham. This book is becoming a nightmare. I keep staring at it, but I barely pick it up. It is taking too long to read. it is barely a 400 page book. I have read books longer than that faster than I have with Havisham now. The writing is great, but uh the story. I love historical fiction, I really really do. Often times I am more drawn to those than more contemporary real-life books. But, as I had little affection towards Great Expectations, I am forcing myself to get it. To really understand a true classic.

I am also trying to listening to The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

While this audio book is better than The Wind and the Willows, I am not entirely devouring it like I did with The Secret garden. Yes, it is a fun read. I will admit to that, but I find myself drowning it out, accidentally of course. When I went to the pool, I listened to it and promptly fell asleep. Hopefully it gets better. I do find Robin Hood funny and very cunning. I am just so attached to the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights, that I can’t help but picture them all doing choreographed dances and songs.

As of a few hours ago, after I finished reading Ruby Red, I used my free credit on audible.com to get Sapphire Blue, the sequel to Ruby Blue.

Sapphire Blue (Book 2 Ruby Red Trilogy)

Like I have mentioned before, I have never been a fan of audio books. I barely have gotten used to reading my nook. Luckily, I can’t stop listening to it. I am about an hour and a half in, with six or seven so hours to go.

I am hoping to get my butt in gear and post some more reviews.

As always, happy Monday and good luck with your reading! I look forward to see what you are reading this week.

 

cute reading poster

Book to movie adaptations for this year and next year

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Last week I received exciting news from BN about upcoming book adaptations.

In no order that I can see, here is a great list. What are you most excited about?

Beautiful Ruins           Dark Places             The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story          The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

The Night Circus            Where'd You Go, Bernadette        The Rules of Inheritance: A Memoir            Beautiful Disaster: A Novel

The Fault in Our Stars           Live by Night         Secret Daughter           The Garden of Last Days: A Novel

Ender's Game (Ender Quintet #1)           Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0 Digital Edition)        This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel          Fear of Flying

Six Years              Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy Series #1)       A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail         Hector and the Search for Happiness

Three Little Words: A Memoir                 The Double

 

 

I am most excited for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Released last year, it was my favorite book I read last year. Even if you don’t love YA, there is something for everyone, I think. It is a more mature YA novel that focuses on childhood cancer. Be prepared to cry. And, cry a lot.

I think there is something on the list for everyone.

Ruby Shoes and Ruby Red: Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy #1) Book Review

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Ruby Red

Ruby Red

By Kerstin Gier (Translated to English by Anthea Bell from German)

Published May 10, 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.

Four Stars

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

-goodreads.com

Ruby Red was a $2.99 buy I purchased months back on my nook. I liked the idea of the book. It intrigued me; even though I am not a huge fantasy fiction fan. There is something about time travel and the past that I enjoy. What I wasn’t truly prepared for was the allure of secret societies on top of everything else. And, I mean secret, secret society. Intriguing, right? Yes, indeed. Especially for Gywenth Shepard who has spent her whole life on the outside of her family’s heritage. Charlotte was being groomed and welcomed to what the secret was. Gwen knew that there was a secret plan for the last time traveler. But, she just wasn’t sure how far and deep the secret and the society went.

Even after being the true Ruby Red, the last with the supposed most power abilities, she was treated with the utmost disrespect. She was untrained, not as groomed, and not knowledgeable in the least. Something she has learned to accept as her family and the other time traveling family, de Villiers.

Gwen is a great heroine, but it is her best friend that I enjoyed the most, Leslie Hays. She is the brains. She researches everything Gwen tells her, helping Gwen the most. Not only is she a great cheerleader, she is the one person I would trust with my time-traveling life. Her humor is great; her feelings open; and she is a great friend.

Gwen could get a little nervy, yet it was great heading into different centuries: the eighteen hundreds, 1912, and the seventeen hundreds. Each time, there was a different London and more adventures. Thankfully Gwen was never alone, but her companion Gideon was all but open to this new change. He was possibly one of my least favorite characters.

Still, I couldn’t help it, but each time Gwen came back from time traveling I pictured that she had the ruby shoes from The Wizard of Oz. Of course, she didn’t. But she is the Ruby.

I am looking forward to book two, which I downloaded for free as an audio book. I started already, and love it. Oh, the intrigue.

I would recommend this series to anyone who likes little YA fantasy, time travel, and outcasts. It is a pleasantly quick read at only 203 pages as an e-book.

Books... Portals to other worlds.

If only that was the true world she traveled. But I will settle for London.

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