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 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 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 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 37: Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - EndymionIf I’m completely honest, I expected this book to fail miserably. After the feeling of utter astonishment at the brilliance of the first two novels in the Hyperion Cantos, how could the follow-up novels remotely compare?

Thankfully, this first one was excellent. Simmons solved part of the problem by fast forwarding almost 300 years into the even further future and starting from there. As with the first two novels, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, this novel is told from someone who is simultaneously outside (looking back) and inside of the story, essentially revolving around them. The novel’s opening definitely put me on guard and I was very worried that I wouldn’t see any of the characters from the previous novels, but we already knew the technology existed to extend life well beyond a normal lifespan and thankfully some came back!

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