The Chosen // Review

THIS BOOK

I’m not entirely sure how to talk about this book. It’s almost a book you shouldn’t talk about. Or maybe it’s been too close to me finishing it and and I’m still in the “I have no words” stage. I’m still going to try. Maybe I’ll make sense of my own thoughts.

So what is this book I’m raving about? The Chosen, by Chaim Potok .

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Cover from Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again….

 

Not the greatest synopsis, so I’ll do my best to explain in my own words.

The Chosen is a story about a Jewish boy, Reuven Malter, and his friend, Danny Saunders. It takes place during and after WWII in the Jewish community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City. Both boys come from very different backgrounds – Reuven is a modern Orthodox Jew, meaning that he can be involved in the secular world while sill remaining Jewish; and Danny is a Hasidic Jew, meaning that he supposed to be separate from the secular world and have nothing whatsoever to do with it. The two meet by accident at a baseball game gone wrong and at first become rivals, but then form a strong friendship. The story’s told from Rueven’s point of view, but more often than not it seems to be really Danny’s story.

I’ve already said it, but this book is amazing. It’s very subtly done, absolutely nothing knocks you over the head (except the baseball). It actually took me a chapter or so to get into it. I was mainly reading it because two people I respect very much said it was a masterpiece. But then, once I was past those initial chapters, I couldn’t stop. I’m not sure what it was. I mean, the prose was beautiful, but plot was totally different from most of what I read (it was more character driven, I’m a plot driven person). But the characters leapt off the page, but not in the vibrant way you’d expect. It was like they were breathing, gently, smoothly pulsing on the page. You wanted desperately what they wanted, even when they weren’t sure what they wanted. I actually found myself yelling (silently, there were other people in the room) at Danny at one point.

The themes were breathtaking. I don’t know exactly what they were – I’m very, very dense when it comes to that sort of thing, you really need to hit me over the head with it – but they were there, even if I can’t put an exact name to them. The questions and struggles that the characters asked and faced and answered were as real and breathing as the characters themselves.

For the last few pages of the book, which I shall not spoil, my eyes were wet. I didn’t even realize until about halfway through that I was crying. I still don’t know why I was crying. It’s not the things I normally cry about in books. Except that it was, in a way, now that I think about it. But that still doesn’t explain why I was crying.

When I had finished it, I wanted to be silent, to sit still and be quiet. Maybe to think, or maybe not. For the rest of the night after it, I really didn’t say much, which is very unusual for me. I didn’t feel the need to say anything.

The whole book was beautiful. If you ever get the chance, please read it. Your library probably has it, and if it doesn’t you can probably get it through inter-library loan. I think it was fairly popular a few years back. This is one I will definitely be buying my own copy as soon as I have the money.


In a separate note, before I go, there is an author I follow who’s trying to get people to sign up for his readers group. His blog is really good and really enjoyable to read (there’s so many really cool historical facts and posts) and he’s working on self-publishing his first novel, the Lamentation of Siren. I’m really looking forward to it. Anyway, he’s opened up a contest for people referring their friends to his reader’s group. I can tell you reliably that there is zero spam and no annoying emails. If you do sign up, email him and say I referred you? I get free stuff if a lot of you do. *grins* Thanks!
Here’s the link. You’re supposed to use the sign-up form in the actual post, not the one at the very bottom of the page: Nicholas Kotar Blog


Have you read the Chosen? Do you think you will read it? If you have read it, what did you think?

 

 

A Question of Honor // Review + Interview

IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S FINALLY HERE!!

a-question-of-honor-blog-tour

Welcome, one and all, to my small part in the Question of Honor blog tour! You might remember from the cover reveal post, the book releases today! By the time this post is published I’ll probably have already bought a copy. Links’ll be down below somewhere so you can go get a copy, too.

And here’s the cover again, along with the synopsis. Look at the beauty!

a-question-of-honor-final-front-cover-3

A man. A child. A war. 
When German soldiers invade France during World War II, young Joyanna’s perfect world is shattered. In the hands of those who hate her, she battles to comprehend why people can be so ruthless and cold toward those whom they have never met. 
David Sullivan, pilot in the Royal Air Force, was certain he would never hate, but a painful loss forces him to either reconsider or do the inconceivable—forgive. He is suddenly challenged by the realization that doing God’s will is not easy, but most important. With the lives of freedom-fighters relying on him, he must learn the difficult lesson that he is not in control, but merely one who must surrender his heart of obedience to One greater.
A sudden turn of events lands Joyanna and David in the same country—but for far different reasons. When their paths cross, David finds he must make a decision that will affect them both for the rest of their lives. 
Will he choose vengeance, or will he let his life be ruled by a higher standard? A standard of Honor.

Find on Amazon and Goodreads

And about the author, Jesseca Wheaton:

author-image
Jesseca is an 18-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

Website~Blog~Amazon~Goodreads~GooglePlus~Pinterest~Instagram

And now, as my blog post title says, I’ve got both a review of the book and an author interview. Here they are!

The Review

This was one of those books, for me, where after I finished it I sat back and said “wow”. This almost never happens to me, at least in my recent memory. As my temporary review on goodreads said:

Image result for i laughed i cried it moved me bob gif

And it really did make me do all those things. I just… I really loved this book.

What I liked:

  • The characters. They lived and breathed and jumped off the page. They’re relationships were so much fun to read, especially Gil and David’s relationships with each other and their wives, and Joyanna’s relationship with the world and everyone in it. *grins*
  • Gil. Gil is hands down my favorite character.
  • David’s character arch, which I won’t go into too much detail on because spoilers, but it was really well done, in my opinion.
  • The themes and questions this posed and answered. Is it alright, is it necessary for Christians to fight? This is something I’ve been doing a ton of thinking about lately, and this book honestly helped me answer some of my questions, or at least made things clearer. And the theme of forgiveness, too,  was powerfully woven in.
  • The time period. I’m not generally a huge fan of the WWII era (mainly because of all the truly horrific things that happened then), so I haven’t read a ton of historical novels set in that period. I absolutely loved the way the time came alive in the way the characters spoke and acted. It reminded me of the time when I constantly read and watched the American Girl Molly books and movies.

What I disliked:

  • I didn’t know quite how old Joyanna was until pretty much the last chapter, so I went through the book with the impression that she was supposed to be 5. This kind of ruined my enjoyment of some of the scenes, since the little voice in my brain kept going “that is not how five-year-olds talk she sounds much older than five.” That was more a just-me thing, though, and pretty much my own fault.
  • There are a few times where the characters basically speak in Scripture quotations. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, it just came across as stilted in written dialogue and pulled me out of the story for a bit. I’d have more of a problem with it if it wasn’t for the fact that I actually know someone in real life who does so, so it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

At the end of the day, I highly recommend this book and would give it 4.5 stars.

Author Interview

Before I start – the last question is entirely spoiler, completely and totally. I’ve put in white ink. To read it, highlight the blank space at the end of the list and it should show up. DO NOT READ IT UNTIL YOU’VE READ THE BOOK

1.) What draws you to write about WWII?
Well, my great-grandfather served in WWII. That got me interested in the time period, and once I started researching and looking into it, I couldn’t stop. There are so many different, diverse areas of WWII. So many mysteries that still surround it, and so many brave men and women who lived during that time in history. And it really didn’t happen all that long ago.
I think another thing that really got my attention was the fact that there are still people alive who remember the second world war. For them it wasn’t something they learned in history class. This was their life. They remember seeing Hitler rise to power. They felt the icy breath of war envelop the country when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Their accounts of it are chilling. To think that this man I talked to fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. This man was there. It just opened my eyes, and I wanted to be able to tell their stories before they were gone. These men and women truly served for a greater purpose than themselves, and they deserve to be remembered.
2.) What sparked this story in particular?
That seems like it was so long ago. The story idea actually came from some pictures on Pinterest, if I remember correctly. One picture was of a couple bidding each other farewell at at train station. The other was of a little French girl on the lap of an American soldier. The story has changed a TON since then, and it’s completely different than what I started out with, in more ways than one. But yes, pictures from pinterest, and an interest in WWII is what sparked the story idea.
3.) What is your favorite thing about this book?
Ahhh, you’re asking me to pick something?! Okay, honestly, it was Erich’s story. He’s just such a conflicted person, and he was one of the hardest to write. Character wise, he took me in a direction I had never gone before.
The other favorite thing . . . the trick airplane scenes between David and Gil in the 2nd chapter. I just adore that part so much! ^_^
4.) And lastly, WHY ON EARTH DID YOU DO THAT TO GIL?!?!
Gil’s story was one of my favorites to write. And also on of the hardest.  But you know when you feel like the story has to take a certain turn, even if you don’t like it? Yeah, that’s what happened with Gil. It was probably the hardest writing decision I’ve ever made. Gil was my favorite character next to David. But I think that it was needed to show the harsh reality of the war. Also, I it played a huge role in David’s character development throughout the book.
So why did I do it? My favorite answer to this is . . . His time on earth was up. I was his time to go home.
Thank you, Jesseca!
Before you go, head over to Jesseca’s blog right here. She’s been posting various cool facts about A Question of Honor, so you should check it out. And you should head over to Amazon and pick up a copy ’cause it’s available now. *bounces*
If you want to, you can check out all the other stops on the tour. Most of them are already posted, but there’s a quite a few left for tomorrow.

Wednesday: March 1st
Angela Watt — Review/Author Interview @ The Peculiar Messenger
Faith Potts — Author Interview @ Stories by Firefly

Thursday: March 2nd
Kellyn Roth — Review @ Reveries Reviews
Faith Potts — Review @ Stories by Firefly
Kaitlyn K.– Book spotlight/Author interview @ Twin Thoughts

Friday: March 3rd
Deborah C.– Book Spotlight @ Reading in June
Soleil B.– Book Spotlight @ Reviews by Soleil
Victoria Lynn — Book Spotlight/Review @ Ruffles and Grace
Brianna Henderson — Review/Author Interview @ Ramblings of a Pilgrim on the Way
Anika — Review/Author Interview/Book Spotlight @ Anika’s Avenue
Rebekah Ashleigh — Review @ Rebekah Ashleigh

Saturday: March 4th
Livi Jane — Review @ Living for the Other Side
Victoria Lynn — Author Interview @ Ruffles and Grace
Emily Putzke — Author Interview @ Taking Dictation
Julia Ryan — Review @ The Barefoot Gal
Rebekah Eddy — Book Spotlight/Author interview @ Rebekah’s Remarks

And finally, it appears that there’s a give away. *bounces* You can win a physical copy if you live in the US, and an ebook if you live somewhere else. Go ahead, enter… *pushes you toward the give away*



GIVEAWAY RIGHT HERE


And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Thank you again, Jesseca, for doing it! See you all Monday. *waves*

When Your Friend Publishes a Book

If you’re at all in the same corner of the blogosphear that I’m in, you’ve probably seen several book releases and cover reveals in the last month or so. And if you’re anything like me, you really want to support your friends (and read their books because they look fantastic), but you have no money with which to embark on this noble endeavor. I feel you. Anyway, since I’m in the same boat, I thought I’d compile a list of stuff I do when this happens. (Do note: you can do this even if you can afford their books)

  • You can request it at your library! This might not hold true for every library, but mine at least has a way you can request specific books and they’ve always gotten them, no matter how obscure. This way, you cause someone to buy the book, you get a chance to read it, and you stick it on that library shelf for others to maybe pick up at some point.
  • You can add it on Goodreads. This only works if you have a Goodreads, obviously, but if you add it to your ‘to-read’ pile, then all your friends will see it too. I know I’ve found countless books by my friends reading or wanting to read them.
  • You can tell everybody you know about it. This is pretty self-explanatory. Word of mouth advertising is fantastic, and if you already have a reputation as a book worm with good taste, people will listen to you.
  • Related to that, you can ask for it for your birthday/Christmas/Easter/Valentines/etc. Pretty much any excuse to get presents, you can put it on your wishlist. Or you could convince a parent to get it for a sibling for their birthday, and then you can steal it when they’re done with it.
  • If you’ve read another book of theirs, review it. Goodreads, your blog (if you have one)… basically, if they’ve published other books and you’ve read them you can review it somewhere, both getting them more publicity and giving them a review (which is always welcome).
  • Participate in the blog tour. Of course, this only works if you a) have a blog and b) they’re doing a blog tour, but if you do and they are and you catch it early enough, sometimes you can sign up for doing a review and you’ll get an ARC (advance readers copy).
  • Even if they don’t do a blog tour, you can spotlight the book. You can post the cover, the blurb, and the about the author that’s probably floating around somewhere. Basically fangirl, and people will listen.
  • Share the book. Almost everyone has some sort of social media now, even if it’s just Google+. You can share the Goodreads page, the Amazon page, a blogpost about it, if anyone’s done that. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram(?), everywhere you can.

And there you have it. I haven’t actually done all this yet (shame on me, I know), but I do the library ever single time, and I’m working on the blogging stuff. So go forth! Support your friends! And buy the book, if you can. Buying the book is always a good thing. *grins*

Anymore tips to add to these? Which is your favorite?

A Question of Honor Cover Reveal

It’s here! And it looks amazing. But of course I’m going to post everything about the book first. (Although, if you’re like me you’ll have already skipped down to see it…)

ABOUT THE BOOK
Releases March 3rd, 2017

A man. A child. A war.
When German soldiers invade France during World War II, young Joyanna’s perfect world is shattered. In the hands of those who hate her, she battles to comprehend why people can be so ruthless and cold toward those whom they have never met.
David Sullivan, pilot in the Royal Air Force, was certain he would never hate, but a painful loss forces him to either reconsider or do the inconceivable—forgive. He is suddenly challenged by the realization that doing God’s will is not easy, but most important. With the lives of freedom-fighters relying on him, he must learn the difficult lesson that he is not in control, but merely one who must surrender his heart of obedience to One greater.
A sudden turn of events lands Joyanna and David in the same country—but for far different reasons. When their paths cross, David finds he must make a decision that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.
Will he chose vengeance, or will he let his life be ruled by a higher standard? A standard of Honor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Displaying Author image.jpgJesseca is an 18-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

And now you probably want to see the cover, right?

I know I want to show it to you.

But making you scroll is fun.

But apparently wordpress doesn’t like large spaces.

It’s not letting me keep them.

So I have to come up with a lot to say.

Which is sad.

Oh well.

The other of Jesseca’s books that I’ve read is really good.

It’s called Beyond the Horizon.

You should read it.

But a review is really hard to write in this format.

So I’m going to stop.

I think there’s enough space now.

I can give you the cover.

Wait for it…

Alright, fine.

HERE IT IS

Displaying A Question of Honor Final Front Cover.jpg

*squeals* Doesn’t it look amazing?! I can’t wait for the book itself to come out. One more month!

Oh! I almost completely forgot. You can find Jesseca here, at Whimsical Writings for His Glory and on her Goodreads. She has three other books out to tide you over to A Question of Honor, and while I’ve only read and can therefore only recommend Beyond the Horizon, I bet they’re all really good. So shoo. Go read them.

What do you think of the cover? Doesn’t it look amazing?!

Screen Characters Tag

And finally I get to it. I was tagged with this over a year ago by Abby at A Glimpse of Starlight when I first got a blog. I was a super excited 14 year old, happily making my first post, full of plans on what to do next… and then it peetered. I like to think I’m doing a little better this second time round. I’m certainly trying. Anyway, way back then I was tagged with this, and now, finally, I’m doing it. Yay! *bounces*

The rules are thus: list your ten favorite screen characters, and tag ten bloggers.

The first was surprisingly difficult. I thought I would be overwhelmed with characters and have no end of people to pick from, but when I sat down to make the list I had a really hard time coming up with just ten. I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies. But I did it (and then remembered a ton of other characters that I love – go figure). 🙂

~The Doctor~

Image result for all thirteen doctors

Of course the Doctor tops my list (even though it’s not in any particular order). For those who are confused why there are thirteen people in the above picture… the Doctor regenerates. He’s an alien from a planet called Gallifrey, and when he is close to death he changes his body. Along with the body change comes a complete personality change, as well, so everyone who watches Doctor Who has a favorite Doctor (or, at least, I haven’t found someone who doesn’t). Mine is, without a doubt, the tenth Doctor, commonly referred to as Ten.

Image result for the tenth doctor

No… he’s not insane… maybe just a little… *grins*

“You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”

~Rose Tyler~

Image result for rose tyler end of time

Just like everyone has a favorite Doctor, almost everybody has a favorite companion. Or they’re like me and can’t decide and are torn and there are so many good companions and I love them all… yeah.

Anyway. Rose Tyler was my first companion and I haven’t found one that I like more than her. Donna and Rory come close, but it’s definitely Rose.

“You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand! You say no! You have the guts to do what’s right even when everyone else just runs away.”

~Phil Coulson~

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I just started watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Saturday. I got through 10 episodes (I was sick – this is not a normal occurrence), and easily one of favorite characters is Phil. I had liked him the Avengers (who didn’t?), but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really expands on his character. He’s basically the dad of the whole crew.

“I’ve seen giants. The good ones are not heroes because of what they have, it’s what they do with it.”

~Fitzsimmons~

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Well, I guess technically Fitz, if I don’t want to break the rules. But you really can’t have Fitz without Simmons. These two are also from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fitz is on the left, Simmons is on the right, and they’re practically inseparable. They’re not a couple (as far as I’ve watched, at least) and I hope they never become one. I love their relationship as friends, and it gets annoying when every close friendship gets shipped.

Fitz is a scientist in some technical technology area that I probably couldn’t pronounce even if I tried. His character development is easily my absolute favorite on the show so far. There’s tiny character quirks and bigger stuff and you can actually see him changing and this is what I want my character development to look like. I’m taking notes. Also he is just very, very lovable. And Scottish.

“If we had a monkey, we could get in.”

~Captain America/Steve Rogers~

Image result for Captain america

Might as well knock out the last MCU character while I’m at it. Captain America has always been my favorite Avenger, since even before I ever saw the movies. A friend of mine used to tell me about him and quote the funny bits of the Avengers to me. His looks have nothing to do with it (although they don’t hurt), it’s his unwillingness to budge from what he believes to be true. His loyalty to Bucky when almost everyone else was against them. But he’s not perfect. If he was perfect, he really would be a comic book character, but he’s not. Even if Civil War tore me into little bits. I’m definitely team can’t-everyone-just-make-up-and-be-friends-again.

“There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

~Gandalf~

Image result for gandalf

Gandalf. Everyone knows Gandalf. Even if you haven’t seen or read any of the movies or books, you know Gandalf, and you could probably quote the “You shall not pass”. Gandalf is amazing. I had a really hard time picking the quote to put below. Gandalf, in both the books and the movies (although I’m sticking to the movies for this, since it’s screen characters), has so many good ones. He gives the best advice.

“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.”

~Sam Gamgee~

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Sam Gamgee could easily be called the real hero of Lord of the Rings. I can’t really say why, because it involves major spoilers for the whole series. Sam stuck with Frodo to the very end.

“How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”

 

~Hermione Granger~

Image result for hermione

While Ron Weasley is my favorite character from the Harry Potter books, Hermione is my favorite character from the movies. I am Hermione, really. Or I want to be, at any rate. She loves books, and learning. Light reading to her is a huge, dusty old tome that probably hasn’t been checked out in over a hundred years. But she’s brave, as well, and a great friend. She is what I would call a “strong female character” (even if I heartily dislike that term).

“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery and – oh Harry – be careful!”

~Lucy Pevensie~

Related image

I could not get through this list and not mention Lucy. The Chronicles of Narnia were pretty much the only movies I watched when I was little, and I watched them over and over again. I lived and breathed Narnia. I wanted to be Lucy. She is the one who believes, who keeps her child-like faith, even when growing up. Queen Lucy the valiant.

“Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

~Eustace Scrubb~

Image result for eustace scrubb

And now we come to the last on this list. Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Eustace is a fantastic character, and Will Porter did an amazing job of portraying him. He’s probably my favorite part about the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie. In the beginning he’s really truly awful, extremely unpleasant, and all together horrible, and at the end he’s changed so much.

“We spoke often of Narnia in the days that followed. When my cousins left after the war ended, I missed them with all my heart, as I know all Narnians will miss them till the end of time.”

So there you have it. Tagging time! Let’s see…  I tag Mary, Julia, Savannah, Sarah, Meredith, Emily, and Jonny. Not quite ten, but I kinda ran out people… Feel free to steal if I didn’t tag you and you want to do it. Please do send me a link if you do!

What did you think of my list? Who are your own favorite screen characters?

 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This book. This book is so good.

Image result for dr. jekyll and mr. hyde

(Warning: this shall be rife with spoilers – although you probably already know most of the main ones, even if you haven’t read the book.)

This was my school book for the last two weeks. Or it was supposed to be last week, but then I (and a lot of the rest of my class) didn’t finish it, so it bled over into this week. Before I read this I had kind of a vague idea of what it was about. A looooong time ago I read an abridged children’s version (I’m not sure I ever completed it, though), so I knew the basics, or so I thought. I knew Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were one and the same, but that was about it. I was really surprised, going into it, that it didn’t start off directly with Dr. Jekyll. Then the next few chapters proceeded to thoroughly confuse me. It was fun.

The basic plot of the book is this: A lawyer named Mr. Utterson begins to notice something strange going on with his friend Dr. Jekyll. At the same time, Mr. Utterson is privately investigating a rather unpleasant character by the name of Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde is connected to Dr. Jekyll, but when Mr. Utterson inquires about this, Dr. Jekyll shuts him down completely. This goes on for some time, then Mr. Hyde murders a man. Dr. Jekyll assures Mr. Utterson that he has cut off all communication with Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll returns to his old self, going about his business, throwing parties, everything that he used to do. Then he suddenly withdraws into himself, again, becoming an invalid, around the same time that their mutual friend Dr. Lanyon dies, leaving Mr. Utterson a letter. A letter that is to be opened upon the death or disappearance of Dr. Jekyll. Around this time, Dr. Jekyll’s manservant, Poole, comes to Mr. Utterson’s in panic. They both rush back to Dr. Jekyll’s house to break down hid door and find out what on earth is going on with him. Inside they find Mr. Hyde, dead. There is a letter addressed to Mr. Utterson on the floor. It comes out that Dr. Jekyll had attempted to separate his evil side and his good side, so that he could enjoy both without being troubled by his conscience. The experiment worked – until his evil side, Mr. Hyde, killed a man. Unable to logic things away, Dr. Jekyll swears off the drug that allows him to turn into Hyde for good, but a little while later, he goes to bed and wakes up as Mr. Hyde. It keeps happening. Every time he doses off, he awakens as Hyde. This goes on for at least a week (I’m not clear on the exact time line) before Poole and Utterson burst down the door. In on e of Dr. Jekyll’s brief moments of sanity, he managed to write down the whole story and address it to Mr. Utterson, then, when he had changed back to Mr. Hyde, he committed suicide so as to save the world from himself.

So there you have it. Not the cheeriest of books, but soooooooooo good.

The characters.
The characters were just so believable and fun and British. It was fantastic. Each was distinct and real and so fun to read through.

Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable. … But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. “I incline to Cain’s heresy,” he used to say quaintly: “I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.” In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of down-going men. … Now doubt the feat was easy to Mr. Utterson; for he was undemonstrative at the best, and even his friendship seemed to be founded in a similar catholicity of good-nature.

The writing.
The writing was a joy to read. The way the sentences fit together, the way things were described, the humor in it…

It chanced on one of these rambles that their way led them down a by-street in a busy quarter of London. The street was small and what is called quiet, but it drove a thriving trade on the weekdays. The inhabitants were all doing well, it seemed and all emulously hoping to do better still, and laying out the surplus of their grains in coquetry; so that the shop fronts stood along that thoroughfare with an air of invitation, like rows of smiling saleswomen. Even on Sunday, when it veiled its more florid charms and lay comparatively empty of passage, the street shone out in contrast to its dingy neighborhood, like a fire in a forest; and with its freshly painted shutters, well-polished brasses, and general cleanliness and gaiety of note, instantly caught and pleased the eye of the passenger.

The plot.
I already summarized it up there (probably not very well), but the plot was very masterfully put together. Everything fitted and worked, the mystery was confusing and… mysterious, without being enough to put one off the book. And the conclusion and reveal at the end was very satisfying as well.

Dr. Jekyll.
The last part of the book, Dr. Jekyll’s confession, was both my least favorite and my favorite part of the book. It was when things got dark and nasty, but it was also when things got truly fascinating. The whole reason that he sought the way to separate “Hyde” from “Jekyll” was so that he could enjoy being evil without repercussions.

It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty.

But then it backfired, spectacularly, and he became addicted to Hyde. He kept trying to reason it away, saying that he wasn’t the one doing all these things, he had nothing to do with it. And then when he went too far, when Hyde killed a man, he tried to stop. He became the picture of perfect piety, and he was on fire for it. He was eager to make amends. But he did not divest himself entirely of everything that was Hyde’s (the cloths, the house, etc) and the call of Hyde became greater and greater, until he woke up as Hyde without even trying. But he kept trying to hide it, to pretend it wasn’t happening to everyone else. But, in the end, he failed, and as Hyde, he killed himself.

What’s so scary, I think, about the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is how true it is. Dr. Jekyll could be any of us. Granted, most of us haven’t created a literal monster, but it’s a struggle that almost everyone has gone through at some point in their lives. The first time you do the thing, the pleasure and horror that follows, the next time, the next… the way that you reason with yourself. The way that you pretend that it hadn’t happened to all, the way you put on a good face, and the way it eats you up inside. And then… the horror as you perceive it for what it is and try to put it behind you for good.

I could have screamed aloud; I sought with tears and prayers to smother down the crowd of hideous images and sounds with which my memory swarmed against me; and still, between the petitions, the ugly face of my iniquity stared into my soul. As the acuteness of this remorse began to die away, it was succeeded by a sense of joy. The problem of my conduct was solved. Hyde was thenceforth impossible; whether I would or not, I was now confined to the better part of my existence; and O, how I rejoiced to think of it! with what willing humility I embraced anew the restrictions of natural life! with what sincere renunciation I locked the door by which I had so often gone and come, and ground the key under my heel.

But then you fail, and you go back, and you can’t stop… Dr. Jekyll is everybody. And his story speaks a truth. You can’t do it alone. Dr. Jekyll tried, on his own, to both sperarate his good side from his bad side and then to fix the mess that he made. And he failed, rather spectacularly. But we can do it. Because we have a rather powerful advocate and Helper. Without God, everything would flop, but with God, all things are possible. Lean on God, flee to Him in prayer, confess your sins… don’t be Jekyll.

And on that encouraging note, I shall leave you.

Have you read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? (If you haven’t go read it now – there’s a free copy for Kindle) If so, what did you think of it?

 

A Thundering Review

 

The Thunderer, by Douglas Bond

John Knox, the Thundering Scot, lives a life of adventure and danger in turbulent, corrupt  sixteenth-century Scotland. Finding himself a wanted man, Knox is besieged in a castle by French soldiers, seized, and made a galley slave. Yet he is unflinching in his stand for the gospel, even in the face of assassins and death, and even when when his fiery preaching makes him an enemy of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Told from the perspective of a young student resolved to protect Knox no matter the cost, Douglas Bond’s thrilling biographical novel provides a look at the harrowing life story of a giant of the faith. Discover the fascinating story of a timid man transformed by the grace and power of the gospel into one of the most influential figures in Scottish history. (Synopsis taken from the back of the book)

I’ve read several other books by Bond and I’ve enjoyed them all. He tends to research very well (with a few exceptions) and the settings are vivid and respectful to the time of history that they are in. If he has a fault, it’s a rather slow start to his books. The action tends to begin happening in chapter 2, not on page 1 or 2. I expect this now, so when I sat down to read The Thunderer I was prepared to get though those first few pages. I was pleasantly surprised. It begins bam! right in a besieged castle and puts you smack dab into the protagonist, George Douglas’s, head. (Warning: there will be spoilers ahead. Many spoilers)

The beginning is probably my favorite part because of that. The first few chapters, when they’re focusing on the siege and the attacking French, and the hope of English reinforcements… that was exciting and drew me in. But then George tells the story of the bishop who lived in the castle before he was murdered. This bishop apparently tied a woman in a sack and drowned her, all because she had prayed in the name of Christ while in labour, instead of in the name of Mary, the Mother of our Lord. That jerked me out of the narrative. Instead of highlighting the evilness of the late bishop, as it was intended to, it made me go “wait a moment…”. I’m not Catholic, I’m Orthodox, but I’m fairly certain that no-where in Catholic doctrine does it say that praying in the name of Christ, not Mary, is a capitol offence. With an eyeroll, I went back to reading.

Everything was fine, if a big hagiographic of John Knox, until it came to a point where he preached his first sermon of the book. I realize that this is a biographical novel on a preacher, but still, two chapters entirely devoted to a sermon was a bit much. Not to mention the sermon.  At this point in the story-world, it was Lent. And therefore Knox preached on the evils of fasting. For two chapters. And to top it all off, his arguments were flawed. He pulled verses out of context and applied meaning to things that didn’t have those meanings. After the first chapter of this I ended up skimming to the end of it, just reading George’s reactions to Knox’s sermon. I’m actually glad I read that bit, though, even though it made me a bit annoyed at the time. Because, as I began this book, the Orthodox church entered the two-week fast prior to the Dormition of the Theotokos. I wasn’t particularly happy about fasting at that time, but as I came up with arguments to counter what book-Knox was saying, it helped me strengthen my resolve to fast.

After a little bit, another sermon came up, this one on Holy Communion. Now I’m an Orthodox Christian. I know, with every fiber of my being, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the bread and wine at Communion is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m also fairly sure (although not completely certain), that for 16th century Anglicans and Catholics, this was also the case. So of course John Knox preached before communion on the horrible evilness of believing that the bread and wine were anything but ordinary bread and wine to a bunch of simple townspeople and villagers. That beyond annoyed me – until I reminded myself that this was just a book – and also written by a Protestant.

At this point, I made a decision to enjoy the book. I liked George, with his bulging eyes, and I liked his brother, and I wanted to find out what happened to them and their friends and family. But I wouldn’t enjoy reading if I constantly stopped and got annoyed at bad theology. So I did my best to ignore it and focus on the good bits.

In the end, I enjoyed it. George’s character development was well done, and happened so subtly that you reached the end of the book and suddenly realized “wait a minute, George grew up!” One of the two major subplots was nicely resolved in a way that made you grin from ear to ear. The other… I was disappointed in it. When at first Alexander disappeared I worried about him, as did George, Francis, and to some extent Knox. The first part of the book was filled with anxiety about him, and then it seemed like they forgot him. He vanished, and very occasionally was brought up, seeming to remind the reader that ‘oh yeah, Alexander’s missing’. Then, suddenly, without warning, he’s found again – in the act of assassinating Knox. He’s then tackled and carted off the prison to vanish forever from the rest of the book, all in the space of a few short paragraphs. It left you wondering what happened to him and wanting an explanation.

Oh, another thing that I almost entirely forgot to mention. The language is really wonderful. The way that the character’s speak, the words, they use… even the voice of George as he tells the story as if he was writing it down, it put you right in the 16th century.

In summary, it was an okay book. There were several strong points, such as the prose and the characters, plus the subplots detached from the personal history of John Knox. But where the bad bits were they were big and obvious, from the flawed logic in the sermons to the major Catholic-bashing. I would not recommend it, nor will I re-read it. Douglas Bond is a good author, though, and his other books, especially the Mr. Pipes books and Hostage Heath, are well worth a read.