Tag: fantasy

Sep 30

The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction 7

Rusting Earth, Bookworms!

I’ve told you before that I rely on my bookish friends on Twitter for oodles of recommendations, but I cannot thank Shaina enough for raving about NK Jemisin. I devoured The Fifth Season (with my ears) and waited on tenterhooks for a few weeks before the sequel, The Obelisk Gate was released. Obviously, I gobbled that book down as well, but I was only semi-lucky in the timing of my reading because now I shall utterly rot in wait for release of the conclusion to the trilogy. Siiiigh. But let me tell you about these phenomenal books in the meantime, so that you may read them and then join me in my anticipation.

fifth-seasonThe world is ending… Again. Sometime in the distant future, the Earth has begun a series of catastrophic “seasons.” Seismic instability leads to volcanic eruptions that cause apocalyptic ash clouds. Unprepared populations even in The Stillness are unable to grow crops during this period and populations dramatically decrease due to violence, illness, famine, and desperation. But humanity has evolved somewhat. There are some who wield power that can help control the tumultuous earth- or use it as a weapon. Post apocalyptic society plus geological superpowers equals WHOA.

That abstract I just wrote completely sucks and in no way explains how great these books are. In fact, the world building is so incredible and detailed, it takes a bit of reading to fully understand everything that’s going on. Stick with it, though, the payoff is one thousand percent worth it. NK Jemisin is a master craftswoman. I want to thrust these books into the hands of every science fiction and fantasy reader I know. And then I want to thrust these books into the hands of people who think they don’t like science fiction and fantasy. They’re just so dang innovative! I mean, this world has NOTHING WHATSOEVER in common theobeliskgatewith Medieval Europe. It’s not just the Middle Ages plus dragons and magic (not that that isn’t great in its own way) it’s a whole different world. Except it’s THIS WORLD. Sort of. It might make your head spin a little. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing. I’m sure the books are fabulous in print, but the narrator of the audio books is superb. Besides, I always like to hear how names are meant to be pronounced, especially in fantasy novels. It adds a little something to the experience, I think. Plus it prevents me from sounding dumb when discussing the book with folks in person. The ONLY problem I can find with these books is the fact that I unwisely started the series before it was completed and therefore am prevented from full binge reading.

Alright Bookworms, who has already read The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate? And does anyone know if NK Jemisin’s backlist titles are anywhere near this awesome? I think I’m going to have a LOT of reading to do while I wait for the final installment of this series… 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The author will too, obviously, because royalties, so you’d be doing us both a solid.*

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Dec 15

Thoughts on Revisiting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Part 2

Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 10

Greetings Bookworms!

I know it’s been a full week since my last post. I am seriously burning the candle at both ends. The holidays, you guys. They are fun and exhausting in equal measure. So much living to cram into such a short amount of time. It’s times like these I could reeeeally use a time turner. Or the ability to apparate. Man, apparating would make everything so much more awesome. Can you imagine? It wouldn’t matter where your friends and family lived. You could just pop in for a visit whenever and go home to sleep in your own bed. Please excuse me while I lament (for the billionth time) that the wizarding world is not real. It’s time to carry on with the Potter Binge! We left off halfway through my rambling thoughts on Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. Now it’s time to tackle part 2. Shall we?

gobletoffire

 

  • I really hate when there’s trouble in the great Harry-Ron Bromance.
  • Can you imagine if celebrities had access to invisibility cloaks? They’d foil all the paparazzi!
  • I bet Sirius had to deal with a lot of homonym jokes growing up. No really, I’m SERIOUS, SIRIUS.
  • In a classic case of Hollywood being Hollywood, they made Viktor Krum a lot more attractive and a lot more adept at back flips than he was in the book. He was supposed to be schlumpy and duck footed… Though, I’m pleasantly surprised to find out the actor was, in fact, Bulgarian.
  • Neville’s got a really good sense of humor for a kid that’s the butt of other people’s jokes so often. I mean, laughing at himself with the canary creams? He’s a good egg.
  • “Percy wouldn’t recognize a joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing Dobby’s tea cozy.” Too true, Ron.
  • The Yule Ball antics confuse me a little. I mean, I know MY 14 year old self would have been giggly and blushing madly during the whole thing, but I always thought I was just a late bloomer and horrible at dating. It seemed to me the reactions of the dating pool seemed a little younger than their ages would have suggested, though. I’ve probably seen too many lifetime movies. Which of course, now has me wondering about wizard birth control.
  • McGonagall should win best dressed for the Yule Ball. I mean, red tartan and a thistle crown? Girl knows how to represent. SOMEONE GET THE BAGPIPES!
  • I want the prefect’s bathroom in my house. Minus Myrtle the voyeur. The hazards of teenage ghosts, I guess. Though speaking of bathrooms, why is this one so far away? I know it’s just for the prefects, but it seems inconveniently located. They’ve got to have toilets in the dorms somewhere, don’t they? I mean, since students aren’t technically allowed out at night and all?
  • Molly and Bill showing up to be Harry’s “family” guests during the third task warms my heart. It also (with the benefit of hindsight) provides us with the first encounter between Bill and Fleur. Bow chicka bow wow.
  • You know, if Harry had let Cedric be his true Hufflepuff self, Cedric never would have died. He tried to give up the cup but noooooo Harry just had to let his noble Gryffindor-ness overpower Ced’s selfless Hufflepuff-ness.
  • Long-ass speeches will be your downfall, Voldy. The HUBRIS of this guy. Bleh.
  • Mrs. Weasley’s hugs probably cure as many things as phoenix tears.

Oh man, the end of this one always hits me like a punch in the gut. It’s not like dangerous adventures don’t abound in the first three books, but this book is when shit gets real. I mean. Cedric. Gone. Poof. Why must we grow up so fast?! We’ve still got three books to go, y’all. I hope you’re hanging in there with me, because I’m seriously going to need the moral support!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you ever get weirded out thinking that ghosts can see you in the shower? That’s a totally normal thing, right?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Aug 27

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 13

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I know I’m constantly shoving book recommendations in your faces, but I like to think we have a symbiotic relationship. I mean, when one of my friends says “OMG Katie, read this book right now” I’ll do it… Eventually. Case in point! My friend Ash told me that I needed to read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I totally did. Seriously, it was in a timely fashion and everything. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

theredqueenMare Barrow is a 17 year old “Red” girl from a poor working class background. She lives in a society where there are two classes of people. Reds like Mare and her family are ordinary folks. They put their pants on one leg at a time and bleed red. They’re also second class citizens because some quirk of evolution has created a group of people with superhuman powers who actually bleed silver. They’re called “Silvers,” natch, and they got a little drunk on their god-like powers and subjugated all the normal folk. The Reds think this sucks, because it does, but it’s pretty tough to win a fight against someone who can manipulate metal or hop into your brain and take over. Mare and her fellow Reds can only look forward to a life of poverty- if they live long enough, that is. All Reds are conscripted to fight in an endless war on behalf of the Silvers once they turn 18, assuming they aren’t already doing something useful for society (ie sewing fancy clothes for the Silvers. Silvers like pretty things.) After a chance encounter, Mare finds herself employed in the Silver Palace, surrounded by demi-gods and with an unexplained power of her own. Let’s just say that being Mare gets a whole heck of a lot more complicated from there.

Alright you guys. This book is the start of yet another trilogy in the glut of YA dystopias on the market. It combined a number of elements I recognized from Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy (review of book 1, as I didn’t finish the series) and The Hunger Games Trilogy. That said, Red Queen was different enough to catch my attention, and not in an eye-roll-y way. Well, except for this love quadrangle thing that was going on, but I feel like that’s par for the course in these sorts of books so I’m willing to overlook it for a hot minute. The book got under my skin and the characters stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio narration and it was excellent? Perhaps I’d have been less engaged if I’d done a strict eyeball read, I don’t know. Still, I think I might give book 2 a whirl and see where it takes me. If YA dystopias are your jam, Red Queen is definitely not to be missed. It may have thawed the heart of even this cranky skeptic.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If you could have the power to manipulate an earthly element, what would you pick? (I’m torn between water nymph skills and the power to do lots of back flips. I bet there’s a Silver whose only talent is doing back flips and their parents are terribly disappointed by it, but I think it would be awesome.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 21

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Audio Books, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Mythology 15

Dearest Bookworms,

Have you ever heard people claim they’d love to have Morgan Freeman narrate their lives? Morgan Freeman is a whole lot of wonderful, I’ll grant you (March of the Penguins, holla!) However. I’m convinced people find the decision to nominate Morgan Freeman as their life’s narrator such a simple one is because they’ve yet to listen to Neil Gaiman read one of his books aloud. Thanks to Scribd, I’ve been audio-booking more than ever and one of my first selections was Stardust by the man himself. (Neil Gaiman, not Morgan Freeman. I don’t know if Morgan Freeman writes books. He might, he’s probably good at everything and spends his free time teaching poverty stricken children how to play the violin, but I digress…)

stardustStardust is a whimsical fairy tale following a young Tristran Thorne. He lives in the town of Wall, England which lies on the border between this world and Faerie. Tristran spends his time going about his daily life all Victorian style and pining for the town beauty, Victoria Forester. One evening Tristran and Victoria see a shooting star. Victoria tells Tristran she will marry him if he retrieves the star for her, and so he sets out on a quest to find it. Unbeknownst to Tristran, his visit to Faerie will be something of a homecoming, as he’s the product of a tryst between his mortal father and an enslaved faerie princess. His adventures beyond the wall include battling witches, elf lords, curses, magic, and mayhem of the best kind.

I have heard tell that the movie version of Stardust is better than the book (blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s been known to happen.) Clearly I need to see this movie, because the book was utterly charming with just the right amount of Gaiman-style darkness. Fans of Neil Gaiman, fairy tales, and good old fashioned quests ought to pick this up. And then probably see the movie, because it’s apparently awesome.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have any of you seen a shooting star? Meteor shower? A plane you pretended was a shooting star just so you could make a wish? (Seriously, I cannot be the only one to have done that plane thing…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 21

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 10

Zdravsvtvuyte Bookworms!
That was a Russian greeting, because I’m all about setting the scene, and I recently finished reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not hugely into YA fiction, but I read an article on Book Riot last year and the series landed on my radar. Kit Steckliener wrote the piece, and I typically trust her opinion. I figured if anyone was going to steer me toward YA that I’d enjoy, Kit would be a good bet.

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024 Shadow and Bone is set in Ravka, which has a Russian vibe about it. The country has been divide in half by something called a Shadow Fold, which is dark and full of man-eating creatures who take large chunks out of those who would try to pass. Alina Starkov is a bit of a misfit- an orphan with no discernible talents. She’s serving in the army with her BFF (who happens to be a super handsome boy she’s a little bit in love with) when she’s required to cross the Fold. In the midst of the chaos, she busts out with some magical skills she was unaware she had, and is swept into the world of the mysterious Grisha. The Grisha are people with magical talents who get to wear these sweet robes and live in a castle. Swank digs and duds aside, Alina has to navigate this new world and, you know, try to save the world while she’s at it.

There were some elements of Shadow and Bone I really liked. I thought the whole Grisha concept was pretty cool. I don’t run into a lot with a Russian folklore twist to it (though, I really have no idea if this is based on folklore at all, being unfamiliar with Slavic mythology, but it feels sort of fairy tale-ish.) I’m down with magic. I like dark and mysterious. I like cool outfits. I wish I could keep it positive, but I had some issues with this book, too…

The way the Grisha do magic reminded me a LOT of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (review). Only… The Name of the Wind did it better. Plus there was a love triangle, and now that I am a grumpy, jaded old person, I have no patience of love triangles. Sadly, for me the bad outweighed the good. I don’t know if I’ll bother with the rest of the series. Sad trombone.

Tell me something, Bookworms. Have you ever run across two similar story lines but thought one was done much better than the other? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 19

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy, Supernatural 47

Hola Bookworms,

It’s occurred to me that while I chatter to y’all incessently, I very rarely discuss what I spend the vast majority of my time doing. That’s right. I’ve got a grown-up job. I don’t talk about my job much for a couple of reasons. First, it has absolutely nothing to do with books. Second, it seems like a bad idea to go yammering about your job on the internet. That said, I do like to mention where I get my books, and this particular book came to me through work. I have a new co-worker. During the course of a “getting to know you” type conversation, he mentioned that he read a lot of fantasy novels. Being the curious cat that I am, I asked him which were his favorites. Of COURSE it was nothing I’d ever read. I mean, how likely would that be anyway? I’ve only ever read a smattering of fantasy, the odds were not in my favor. I’ve been feeling unworthy of the genre since I read and did not enjoy Tolkien.

nameofthewindShortly after this conversation, a copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss appeared on my desk. I took one look at the well worn paperback and thought, “Way to stick your foot in your mouth, Katie. Now you’ve got to read this ginormous fantasy novel because it would be rude not to.” To add to my nervousness? I noticed it was a SIGNED COPY! I’m a terrible liar, so if I didn’t like the book, I’d have to figure out a way to explain that to someone who was clearly a superfan of Rothfuss. Quite the pickle, no?

As it turns out, the book gods smiled on my poor conflicted soul, because I read it and was sucked in. The Name of the Wind was a great book, despite the fact that they never actually told me what the name of the wind is. (I’m hoping the wind’s name is Herman Reginald Van Der Hooden, because I like saying it.)

We are introduced to a mysterious innkeeper who calls himself Kote. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Kote and his assistant Bast than meets the eye. “Kote” is in hiding. He is actually a figure of some note who is driven into obscurity for unknown reasons. A scribe arrives in town shortly after the novel begins as he is attempting to track the infamous Kvothe. Kote = Kvothe. I might have thought he’d pick a less similar name as his pseudonym, but what do I know? (I’m thinking changing my name from Katie to Karen and trading my MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron… My fingernails DO shine like justice… It could work.)

Kvothe is persuaded to tell his story, and what a tale it is! Our Kvothe was born into a band of traveling performers. He is trained in the arts of drama, music, and showmanship at a young age. Everything begins to change for Kvothe when their band comes across an arcanist who is down on his luck. (This is a fantasy novel, it wouldn’t be appropriate just to call someone a “dude who can do magic.”) The arcanist Abenthy takes Kvothe on as a student, and Kvothe turns out to be the Doogie Howser of magic. The kid is a prodigy. All is going well until one evening when Kvothe’s troupe is mysteriously murdered. We follow Kvothe on his adventures in orphandom, and what crazy adventures they turn out to be!

I really enjoyed this novel. I found the world-building to be superb. One of the biggest problems I have when I try to read fantasy novels (which is pretty much limited to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin) is that I have a hard time slogging through them. Ordinarily I find myself getting bogged down in description and tertiary characters. That wasn’t the case here at all- every character that was introduced I found engaging, and every interaction served to propel the narrative. It’s just my luck that this is the first book in a trilogy that is not yet complete. This book ends with quite a few unanswered questions that will gnaw at my soul until I tackle book 2 (which won’t be for a while because I’ve over-committed myself as usual.) Of course, as heaven knows, reading book 2 will only gnaw away at my soul until book 3 is released. It figures that not even a week after I got closure on the MaddAddam series, I’m waiting again! Le sigh.

So Bookworms. Tell me. Have you ever taken a chance on a book or a genre that wasn’t typically your cup of tea and been pleasantly surprised? Anybody out there read The Name of the Wind? What did you think?

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Sep 04

Take Me Down, Six Underground (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)

Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural, Travel 53

Well Hello Bookworms,

I am not much of a world traveler, so it may surprise you to know I have, in fact, left the good old USA on occasion. When I was in college, I took a mini-mester in London. It was a two week trip where our instructors traveled with us. We took three hours of class a day and spent the rest of the time sight seeing and rambling around trying not to be overly obnoxious. Not sure that we succeeded. In any case, we were supplied with two week pass to the London underground. Thus, I became entranced with “The Tube.”

The London subway system is a massive network of underground tunnels, like any subway. However, having never used a subway system in any other major city, I found it weirdly romantic and exciting. This is likely because I was commuting to tourist destinations instead of work… I imagine the mystique would fade quite quickly if it were part of your day-to-day routine…

That’s the case for Richard Mayhew, the protagonist in Neil Gaiman’s NeverwhereRichard moves to London from Scotland. After a few years of commuting on the Tube, it’s lost its intrigue. He is concerned primarily with his job and his (rather pushy and unpleasant) fiance Jessica. All is well until one night as they head off to dinner.

Richard and Jessica unexpectedly encounter a young woman on the sidewalk… Bleeding profusely. Richard feels compelled to help while Jessica threatens to break off their engagement if Richard doesn’t continue on to their dinner. (Yeah, Jessica kind of sucks, though she DOES suggest calling an ambulance as they continue on their way, so I guess she’s only medium evil.) Richard, acting on instinct, takes the mysterious girl in his arms and back to his apartment after she implores him not to contact the authorities. Richard finds this a bit suspicious, but after a disturbing run-in with a pair of rather unsavory characters, Richard surmises the girl has good reason to keep a low profile. Richard then accompanies the girl on a strange adventure into another world known as London Below. neverwhere

This IS Neil Gaiman after all, you’ve got to expect some magic. London Below is situated in the space between subway platforms. It’s in the abandoned stations, the basements, and sewers of the city. It’s where the “people who fall through the cracks” end up. An odd mixture of characters make their homes in London Below. The underworld seems to be disconnected from time as we experience it, so you run into medieval monks as easily as Victorian castaways, the odd witch, and occasional bounty hunter. London Below is also extremely dangerous. Mythical beasts walk around unchecked. Rats converse with humans. Doors appear out of nowhere. Assassins run wild. But for all its strangeness, it’s also fascinating.

Neil Gaiman is a master of the creepy. He blends magic, mythology, and spooky ambiance seamlessly. I love that he chose the London Underground as his setting for this book! I always get excited when books are set in places I’ve been. I mean, it’s certainly cool to visit places you’ve never been in your reading, but there’s something about having a personal connection with a place. Anyway, I believe Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman to date. Perfect reading for the transition into fall. I recommend it to anyone in the mood for a little bit of an eerie adventure.

Have any of you Bookworms out there enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s work? Have you read Neverwhere? What did you think? Have you ever imagined a mysterious underground civilization hanging out in your city? (It’s okay if your imaginary underground city includes the Ninja Turtles. I know mine does.)

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Apr 11

What The Frodo?! (In Which Katie Begins The Lord of the Rings)

Classics, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythology 63

Vedui’ Parma Loki!

Oh yeah. That just happened. I just greeted y’all in ELVISH. Thanks to some random internet English to Elvish translator, I was able to come up with “Greetings Book Snakes!” (Worms was not listed in the translator. I improvised.) I have a feeling if, say, Legolas, were out there reading my blog, he’d be all, “You’re bastardizing my people’s beautiful language!” Luckily, Elvish isn’t a real language, so I doubt I’ll catch too much flack. YES! I FINALLY started the Lord of the Rings trilogy! I just finished The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien, and you bet your sweet lembas bread I’ve got some things to say. I may as well just go ahead an give a big fat SPOILER ALERT for this whole review, but really, if you haven’t read the book, seen the movies, or have any concept of the story, you probably don’t care. However. I’m working on being RESPONSIBLE, see?

fellowship

Nerd Cred!

You may recall a while back I read and reviewed The HobbitThe Fellowship of the Ring picks up with Bilbo Baggins as an old hobbit, ready to enjoy his retirement (from what exactly, I’m not sure, because he had a crap ton of money from his share of Smaug’s booty, but whatever…) Anyway. Bilbo has “adopted” Frodo Baggins as his heir. They really ARE family, but more distant than nephew and uncle. Tolkien is rather fond of the describing the genealogical origins of his characters… In great detail. (More on that later…) Bilbo and Frodo have a big birthday bash (if you recall from the movie, it’s the one Gandalf shows up for with his fancy fireworks.) Bilbo pulls a disappearing act in the middle of the party and heads off (presumably to his condo in Boca) after an intense parting with his ring.

In the movie, Frodo leaves home on his quest to destroy the evil ring the very next day. In the book? It takes SEVENTEEN YEARS! I’m not saying that in an “OMG that took FOREVER” sort of way. I literally mean it took from Frodo’s 33rd birthday to his 50th for him to get a move on. In the meantime, we learn a lot of stuff that’s not especially critical to the plot about the Shire and the cantankerous branch of the family that will inherit Bag-End once Frodo skips town. Eventually, Frodo, his eavesdropping gardener Sam, Merry, and Pippin go adventuring. Along the way they acquire a really sweet pony named Bill. I liked Bill.

Bill the Pony for President!

Bill the Pony for President! (Sam and Bill are BFF.)

There were moments of excitement and great dialogue and serious bro-mances of the equine variety… But in order to GET to those parts, you have to wade through endless description of landscapes and geography and genealogy and songs. Have I ever mentioned that I have incredibly poor spatial skills? I can’t tell north, south, east, or west in the real world- I don’t know how I can be expected to be concerned with the debates on route between Aragorn, Boromir, and Gandalf. And the SONGS. I’ll be honest. While I was slogging through this bad boy, I would completely skip the songs. And, um, the songs in made up languages? Yeah. Not happening.

I will give Tolkien major props for excellent world building. It’s impressive for sure. I can completely understand the dedicated ravenous leagues of fans these books have acquired, and while I skip over the songs, I see why some would dissect the songs for even MORE Middle Earth goodness. I get it… I’m just not that fandom. Now, if JK Rowling published an entire book on the assorted family histories of the Harry Potter characters, gave them a fake language, and wrote volumes of verse for them, I’d be ALL ABOUT IT.

Have any of you Bookworms out there been to Middle Earth? Did you share my experience, or would you like to burn me in effigy? I’m open to both possibilities, because it’s the INTERNET and you still LOVE ME and you wouldn’t try to burn me alive for something as silly as not LOVING the Lord of the Rings… Right?

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Jan 01

Top Ten Tuesday: New Year's Book Resolutions!

Top Ten Tuesday 41

Happy New Year, Bookworms!

As you know, on Tuesdays, I make lists! The ladies of The Broke and The Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday every week with a new topic. They do this so I don’t have to think so hard! Today’s list is the top ten books I resolve to read this year. Soooo, without further ado, I give you:

toptentuesday

1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I’m going to read these buggers, even if I complain about the endless walking the whole way through!

2. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. You shouldn’t be surprised by me throwing a few classics in here. I still have holes in my education. Some things need to be remedied.

3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I loved The Stand so much that I feel like I should read more King. However… The supernatural murderous clowns and outright nightmare stuff has to be kept to a minimum. I’ve heard this is a good option for a ‘fraidy cat like myself.

4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It’s pretty tragic that I haven’t read this. Embarrassing, really. 

5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. The Tudors are possibly my favorite source of historical fiction. Since the Mantel books have been so highly acclaimed, I’m anxious to read them!

I also resolve to wear this hat as often as possible.

I also resolve to wear this hat as often as possible.

6. Matched by Allie Condie. It’s been recommended to me a few times. I listen to people, I swear. Plus, I’m kind of digging the YA these days. Don’t get any ideas, I’m not going to go whole blog into it or anything. I just like to dabble. Dabble dabble doo!

7. The Passage by Justin Cronin. This might be YA too, but whatever. It’s a dystopia where zombies meet vampires! Really, why haven’t I read this yet?!

8. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Yep. The first James Bond book. A friend gave it to me for Christmas. Why the heck not? It’s all iconic and stuff. I’m curious!

9. The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman. I’ve heard good things. Plus, historical fiction!

10. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Magical bookstores? Um, yes.

What about you, Bookworms? Any bookish resolutions for you?

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Dec 10

I Finally Read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Children's Fiction, Fantasy 52

Hello Bookworms. I’ve missed you. While I was away, I drowned my sorrows in the pages of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I’m highly susceptible to peer pressure, and with Karen at BlogHer hosting a read along , I decided the time had come. I needed to get started on my Tolkien.

Okay. We’re in Middle Earth, right? Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit, which means he’s short, he likes to eat, and he has weird giant hairy feet. Also, most Hobbits don’t care to leave their homes (I think I’d do quite well in the Shire… Somebody dig me a Hobbit hole!) He’s acquainted with a Wizard (because there are Wizards and Elves and Dwarves and Goblins. Suspend your disbelief, okay?) by the name of Gandalf. Despite Gandalf’s rather dashing beard, he’s kind of rude and fond of getting the unsuspecting into pickles and showing up at the last possible moment to assist them in the battle.

Hobbit1

Gandalf manages to talk Bilbo into taking a quest with a baker’s dozen Dwarves. The Dwarves were out to battle a dragon to reclaim their kingdom and treasure. It would make for a terribly boring story if the troop had an uneventful trip, asked the dragon nicely to give them back their treasure, and won the day with no conflict, wouldn’t it?

Tolkien wouldn’t  have that! There are all sorts of challenges! There are battles with Goblins and kidnappings by Elves and excellent hospitality provided by man-bears. There are dark dreary forests and narrow escapes. There are conversations with birds and trips down rivers in barrels.

It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Only… I wouldn’t call it my favorite children’s adventure story ever. I mean, the adventures were great. It’s just that the timing felt weird to me. Like… Seriously, are they still walking through the forest? And it’s STILL so dark they can’t see? Great. And oh, they’re in barrels now? Yep. Still in barrels. Rolling down the river in some barrels. And… Yeah. We’re STILL in the barrels! I guess I was just a little frustrated that the action didn’t always coincide with my timing.

I'm guessing Smaug wasn't this friendly looking... And the blue spots would be sapphires.

I’m guessing Smaug wasn’t this friendly looking… And the blue spots would be sapphires.

The only other thing that bothered me was that doggone dragon. Did anyone ask Smaug why he felt he needed all that treasure? Maybe he didn’t need to be slain, maybe he just needed a hug! Instead Bilbo goes and steals his treasure, pisses him off, and causes Smaug to have an emotional outburst wherein he lays waste to a village of men. It’s pretty bad. So eventually, you know, the dragon is slain, Bilbo gets back to the Shire. All is well. Only… The dragon was like jewel encrusted, and the men of the town refuse to harvest the jewels off the rotting dragon corpse. They think it’s bad juju or something. I think they were just pansies. Because, come on. Everyone knows that dragon jewels are worth a fortune on the black market. This is why I’d probably be eaten by Orcs at the earliest possible opportunity were I a character in a Tolkien novel.

Have any of you Bookworms tackled The Hobbit? What did you think? Would you harvest dragon jewels?

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