In a further attempt to get a few more posts up while I’m on vacation I went to my TBR shelf and found I had two more Paulo Coelho novels yet to go so I grabbed them to read. They’re always easily written, well translated and fascinatingly beautiful and The Witch of Portobello (Amazon link), was no exception. I’m actually not sure when I picked up this book as I can’t find a photo of it, so I’m going to assume it was sometime in 2011 right after I read The Alchemist.
Every time I read a book by Coelho, I find myself wondering about and searching for my spirituality. Whether he is talking about the Mother or organized religion (usually not), Coelho has a way of writing incredibly complex ideas and intricate narratives that is so simple and beautiful that it’s almost breath-taking. I do wonder if it is even more beautiful in his native Portuguese, how can it be so incredibly beautiful translated into English and not be beyond beautiful originally. So that being said, some credit must, obviously, be given to Margaret Jull Costa who has translated other works by Coelho including Veronika Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes (my next read) and many works by José Saramago including Seeing.
Ever since I read Seraphina back in 2012, I’ve been patiently waiting to the conclusion of her story! It was well worth the wait and I couldn’t be happier about this book. I received a copy from the publisher in return for my honest opinion, and honestly, it’s EXCELLENT!
I wasn’t sure how Hartman would go about improving on the story (Amazon link), but she definitely did. She made it more inclusive, more exciting and a lot more enthralling. I have no idea how she did this, apart from taking almost three years, but it was definitely worth the wait. I know I talked about her amazing story telling and character building in my response to Seraphina, but Hartman brought it to a new level in Shadow Scale. If anything, I wish the book were longer to flesh out more of the “grotesques” and what happens after the story ends.
I’ve had a copy of this book on my bookshelf since undergrad. I bought it when I was still taking Spanish classes and could probably have read it a hell-of-a-lot easier back then that now, but I never made it past the first few chapters no matter how many times I tried. This time, with my 30th birthday looming and it being one of the final three items on my 30×30 list I pushed through and finished it!
I’ll talk more about reading it in Spanish in my 30×30 item post, this is just a recap of the story. This is the second time I’ve read the first Harry Potter book while blogging, the first was back in July 2012. And as with every time I re-read the first novel in the series I’m amazed at how much world-building (adapting) Rowling does in such a short novel. Sure she spreads it out over the first few, but introducing so may ideas and people within such a short span AND telling a story wow.
With this book, and my previous reading of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, I’m one step closer to finishing my 30×30 list. What better way to start off my response than with Treebeard/Fangorn’s words to Galadriel: “It is sad that we should meet only thus at the ending. For the world is changing: i feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again.” (290)
It’s so true though! What a sad, beautiful and perfect ending to this epic novel (apparently it’s counted as one in a lot of lists). I mean I knew it was great and I remembered a lot of it, but nowhere near as much as was included in the book. I even read Appendix A which gave the brief history of the race of men and Gimli’s heritage which was excellent to learn more about them. I didn’t go into the other appendices as they were a bit too technical for my liking, but I did seriously consider buying a few more Tolkien Middle-earth books when I saw them at the used bookstores last weekend and I may yet!
I’m still reeling at how fast I read The Two Towers and yet excited that it was so much better than I remembered. I hope I haven’t misspoken over the past 10 years and that the next book was the boring one. If I did, I have a long trek before me. Having read The Fellowship of the Ring and now this, I’m 2/3 of the way through another 30×30 list item!
Even though I still find Tolkien’s descriptions incredibly heavy and often times dampening, this time I felt as I read the descriptions increased and bogged you down the further I read. I guess Tolkien is an even greater writer than I ever gave him credit for. (Shocking I know right?) The only time I found it hard to continue reading was as Frodo and Sam began their journey as I was so daunted by my memories of reading the book that before I knew it I was over 300 pages into the book and then I’d finished.
I 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!
This 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.