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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Book 56: The Girl With No Shadow (Chocolat #2) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - The Girl with No ShadowAs I said in my response to Chocolat, I had no idea there were sequels and I’m so glad I decided to read them. I haven’t started the third, Peaches for Father Frances, but I’m excited to start it soon.

Harris takes the story of Vianne and Anouk we followed in Chocolat and expands the age-old battle between good and evil. Instead of the church, this time Vianne and Anouk, now Yanne and Annie, are battling evil itself and magic takes an even more prominent role in this story than in the first. And I was glad she did! She writes about magic in such a way as to make it beautifully common.

“It took me a little longer to recognize these things as magic. Like all children reared on stories, I’d expected fireworks: magic wands and broomstick rides. The real magic of my mother’s books seemed so dull, so fustily academic, with its silly incantations and its pompous old men, that it hardly counted as magic at all.” (67)

Beautifully common, might sound like an oxymoron or an insult, but it’s not. Harris’ writes about it so matter of fact and sets it up that way in this novel, common usage versus evil usage, that you can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the magic she chooses to write about.

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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 52: Chocolat (Chocolat #1) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - ChocolatThis book has been on my to-be-read shelf for so long it took quite a while to trace where and when I bought it! I apparently picked it up way back in October 2012 when I helped out at the Somerville Public Library book sale! I’m glad I grabbed a copy. I own a copy of the film, but for some reason I never realized they adapted it from a novel!

Add in that when random.org selected it as my next book and I prepared to read it I found out it was a trilogy, my mind was BLOWN! I was a little grumpy at first, because I had a plan worked out to read more of my to-be-read shelf and was trying really hard not to add more in between the books, but I do love a good trilogy! I plan to read two and three, The Girl With No Shadow and Peaches for Father Francis, in the next few weeks and am VERY excited about them!

Now on to the story and my response!