Book 66: The Fellowship of the Ring (LOTR #1) – J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien, J.R.R. - LOTR1 - The Fellowship of the RingI can’t believe I let ten years go by before re-reading this. I first read these in high school just before the films were released and I don’t think I truly appreciated how great they were then and still probably don’t. I’ve already re-read The Hobbit twice since then and I’m re-reading these as part of my 30×30 list and am incredibly happy I added it to the list, it might go on my 40×40 too!

As much as I love the films, this re-read reminded me just how much was left out and how much was shifted around for dramatic effects in the films. Things that happened in this first book. i.e. the forging of Andúril, didn’t happen until the third film and it’s like WHOA. I was also sad that Tom Bombadil didn’t make it into the movies, even the extended edition, because he’s such a great character and establishes the youth of the ancient elves which is something you don’t really think about. However, I completely understand why Jackson made many of the decisions he did and mostly I’m glad they made these before it became popular to split the final movie of a book trilogy into two films!

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Book 53: Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - Stone MattressAtwood is an incredible writer and story teller and there’s really not much more that needs to be said, so when I saw her newest collection of short stories I knew I had to request it! I received a copy from the publisher, in return for my honest opinion:

Spectactular.

That would be a little cruel, to leave it just at that even though it would still describe it perfectly. Below, you’ll find a one-to-two sentence review of each of the nine tales and a single quote from each.

On a different note, if you haven’t heard Margaret Atwood is the first author of the future library! This is a project where authors are asked to write a work and it won’t be read for 100 years. This makes me both incredibly happy, as she writes such fantastic speculative/near future fiction, but also sad that I won’t be able to read it! It’s a fascinating project and I could go into it in detail, but really you should just read about it at The Guardian.

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Book 38: The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - The Rise of EndymionI’m exhausted. This series has spanned 2.200+ pages and more than 10 centuries! It covers lifetimes of characters, many lived over and over and a few lived once throughout the entire story! (20 years shy of 1000 years old, one character!) The story was convoluted and continuously changed which ultimately worked for and against the series.

As the concluding novel in this epic story, it felt a little hollow. There were definitely moments of amazement and creativity and Simmons intelligence once again comes across unquestionably, but for some reason it just felt a little hollow and most definitely rushed at the end. Even though I hadn’t fully thought through the end of the novel when I got there I was not surprised at the ending. It did feel a little deus ex machina, but with a “machine” like the Shrike, how could it be any other way?

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Book 7: Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) – Dan Brown

Brown, Dan - InfernoThis is the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series and Brown’s sixth novel. As with the others, this is exactly what it sets out to be: a page turning action and adventure novel that although not a literary wonder Inferno does make you wonder about major societal and environmental issues. The entire story takes place in less than 24 hours with flashbacks to two days before.

The only other Robert Langdon novel I’ve read since starting this blog is the third installment The Lost Symbol. I’ve read all of Brown’s books and enjoy them for what they are and don’t judge them harshly like it seems most people do. I remember reading The Da Vinci Code the summer between high school and college and immediately going out to find copies of Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress and Deception Point. (Call it my hipster moment, but I read it BEFORE it took off.)

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Book 70: No Name – Wilkie Collins

Collins, Wilkie - No NameUnlike Dickens, I could read Wilkie Collins ALL DAY. There are those of you out there that will find this shocking, but it’s the truth. This is the first novel I’ve read by Collins and I am VERY glad I added it to my Classics Club list! In addition it counted as a bonus book for my Tea & Books reading challenge coming in at just over 750 pages (according to Goodreads).

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you are aware, and often horrified, of my intense dislike of Dickens’ works (or at least the few I read). It’s not even that I don’t like his stories, characters or style, it’s that I don’t like the lengths of his ‘novels.’ As Dickens works were serialized I think he dragged out too many things and didn’t make them as action packed or as concise as they could’ve been. Whereas Dickens really could have used an editor, Collins took advantage of the serialization (IN DICKENS’ MAGAZINE!) and created an amazing work of fiction.

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Book 56: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen – Syrie James

James, Syrie - The Lost Memoirs of Jane AustenAlthough I enjoyed this book I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as James’ The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. I’m not sure if James’ skills as an author increased, but I’m actually reading them in reverse order of her publishing the novels culminating in The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë which is next on my reading list.

However, as with Missing Manuscript, James’ has a distinct ability to write as and embody Jane Austen. Many Austen fan-fiction novelists are able to mimic Austen, but I don’t feel are able to get into her psyche as well as James’ has shown she is capable over the last two novels. James takes snippets of fact and builds amazingly detailed stories around them and as a reader I couldn’t help but appreciate her ability to spin a believable story around the most basic and minimal facts.

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Book 13: The Suitors – Cécile David-Weill

David-Weill, Cecile - The SuitorsAfter my amazing luck with John Boyne’s The Absolutist last year, I decided to always keep an eye on Other Press releases and I’m glad I did. I requested a copy of this book directly from the publisher and I quite enjoyed it. This is my honest response and I received nothing in return.

To start, I’d like to say that the only other review on Goodreads is worthless (to me, at least). Why bother reviewing a book if that’s all you’re going to say? The person has, in essence, re-written the synopsis of the novel (on the back cover), without any additional insight or synthesis and it came across as snide to me. If you didn’t want to read “frothy froth about rich French people and their angst,” then why’d you read it? It never pretended to be anything else and that’s why I appreciated this novel. It’s times like this when I wish I could give half stars on Goodreads because it’s not quite what I would consider 5 stars, but not quite as low as 4 stars. Now on to my response.

This novel is everything that it claims to be, an amusing inside look at the codes, manners, and morals of high society, and it’s nothing more.So if you don’t want to read a comedy of manners, then don’t. It’s sort of what I imagine Austen’s works were like when they were first published and reactions were similar to the Goodreads reviewer’s.

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