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 65: The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5) – Rick Riordan

Riordan, Rick - The Blood of OlympusThis is one of those books that I probably should’ve re-read the entire series before reading. So much has happened in the novels, especially if you go all the way back to the first Percy Jackson book, but even just within the five books of this series it’s been a long journey.

As much as I want to say this was the best book in the series, I honestly think The House of Hades was better. And this is for a couple of reasons. If possible The Blood of Olympus had TOO much action. I get that this is the end of a series which is a spin-off/second half of another series, but this book just didn’t stop with the epic battles. Sure they’re facing the end of the world and Riordan said it best,

“Today, one way or another, their journey would end.” (378)

But honestly, the book left me exhausted and not in a good way. It felt like there was so much that happened off the page that I couldn’t keep track of who was where and what was happening. There are spoilers to the series and this book so don’t read past here if you’re planning to read it.

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Book 64: The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

Bradbury, Ray - The Martian ChroniclesI really need to stop saying that I love fantasy and am not a fan of science fiction. This was one of those novels that reminds me how much I enjoy thoroughly well written science fiction and often times the lines between science fiction and fantasy are blurred.

It was actually interesting as I read this novel that I wanted to know more about the technical and physical engineering/feats of the book. I wasn’t satisfied with the answer being “it was” or “just because.” I say this is funny, because that’s the part that has always put me off from science fiction. The too detailed focus on the technology, the terraforming, the space travel and the other more technical/physical aspects as opposed to the exploration of new planets, the contact with alien life and the mental and physical reactions to all of the above, really made me question why I say I’m not a big fan of science fiction.

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Book 63: The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien, J.R.R. - The HobbitAs a lead up to my long over-due re-read of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I decided to read The Hobbit again. This was my third time reading the novel and I last read it in December 2012 just before the films began (I needed a refresher). I will say re-reading this book along with following Eric’s Sweating to Mordor over the past few months has seriously gotten me excited for my re-read as part of my 30 x 30.

If possible I enjoyed it even more this time. However, I became even MORE frustrated with the film adaptations. Similar to my issues with HBOs Game of Thrones series, I realized rather quickly how fast I read and how slow the adaptations proceed. My friend Peter did point out that there is a lot of additional information included in the films, but it’s still like WHOA. The entire third film, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies will encompass what takes place in less than the last 30-40 pages of the book! So there will probably be a lot of additional stuff added. But enough about them, back to the book!

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Book 61: Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Carroll, Lewis - Through the Looking GlassI honestly didn’t think I would get back to Alice and her adventures. The first book was so ho-hum that I had no desire to read this one, but this was the second book I read as part of my first short-lived Coursera course. Unfortunately due to entirely way to many commitments and needing to read FOUR books for my 30 x 30 list over the next two months, I just couldn’t give up 10 weeks of reading time. I will most definitely take the course at a later date though!

I definitely found this book less whimsical than the first, which is funny as I’m convinced there are so many more made-up words in this novella. Honestly, I have no idea what it is that made me appreciate this one more. Was it that Alice actually started feeling the pressures of adulthood in this book? Or was it that the doom and gloom of the “chess match” of the looking-glass world spoke to me.

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Book 59: Household Stories – Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm - Household StoriesI haven’t written about it yet, but I will in the near future, but I signed up for my first Coursera course! It is called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World and so far I’m enjoying it. Household Stories was our first reading and looking at Goodreads, EVERYONE who reads the Lucy Crane/Wlater Crane version seems to have taken that same Coursera course! I’m seriously looking forward to the other books and stories we’ll read for the course and this was a great start.

What I found most interesting about the collection was the obsession with food and with fallen females. Every story was somehow related to food (needing food, wanting food, having too much food, etc.) or dealt with a female character (human or anthropomorphic) who caused troubles for other characters (the adulteress Mrs. Fox and the numerous wicked step-mothers among others).

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Book 57: Peaches for Father Francis (Chocolat #3) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - Peaches for Father FrancisNow THIS is how you end a trilogy. I assume this is the end, but I guess it could start-up again. Peaches for Father Francis picks up four years after the events of The Girl With No Shadow and eight years after the original Chocolat. I’m still so happy that I found out this was a series and that I took the time to read the second and third novels, even if it did put me behind on a few other books!

What I enjoyed most about this novel is that the magic once again took a back seat to a larger social conflict. In the middle novel, The Girl With No Shadow, magic took the front seat and that was great because middle novels are always sort of meh, but in having the magic return to less of a focal point the story, I felt, evolved much more naturally.

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