Review: Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien 

I would just like to wish everyone a pleasant weekend from over here, in the not so sunny climes of the island upon which I live. As I am typing this, the view outside my window is far less picturesque than the rolling, lush green hills of the Shire, but never mind. For what any of us lack in gorgeous countryside and dazzling sunshine we have in imagination!!

It’s a good job really… We only get a couple of weeks a year that can constitute as a summer so we take whatever we can get!

Moving along, I wanted to share with you my thoughts as to my latest read, being the last installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Return of the King. Admittedly I was apprehensive about finally reading this book; I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to the hype around it. I think that is a real danger with any book, film or TV program when it becomes so popular.

 

GoodReads – Return of the King

I was glad to see that a lot of my time wasn’t wasted in the set up of where Gandalf and company left off in The Two Towers. I was concerned that this wouldn’t have led to anything particularly consequential given that I would argue this was the lesser important side of the two perspectives we read. Here we get to see the raw power of Mordor and the vast numbers fighting for Sauron.

I don’t know about anybody else, (with the exception of my dad, as I’ve discussed this with him) but I found this last book to be really dark, and it made it difficult to read; like someone condemned takes their next step more begrudgingly to their doom, each page turn was more difficult than the last. I was determined to finish. I waited with bated breath for events unfold, hoping against hope that little Frodo and Sam made it!

I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book, but what I will say for its difficulty to read (that’s just one – well two opinions anyway) it is spectacular. It was worth the perseverance and I was not disappointed by the end. It’s a little sad, but it felt like it ended as it should have, even though you would never have anticipated it in the beginning.

Now I’ll have to catch upon the films, because I am a firm believer that the books are better and must be read first. I have made a few exceptions:

  • War & Peace – because I would never have understood the book without watching it first
  • A Handmaid’s Tale – I did actually try the book a few years ago but didn’t finish it
  • Game of Thrones – purely because I don’t have a choice and I’ll be damned if I get behind! I’m sure there are plenty of people who agree with me on this one!

That’s all for now guys! I’m presently half way through reading Raymond E Feist’s first installment in the Riftwar Saga, Magician. This is a re-read from a few years ago, as I have the next two in the series to read but admittedly I’ve forgotten what happens!

This has also brought my round to thinking about having a tidy up. I need one comprehensive reading list, so I’m going to be tidying up my TBR “pile”. I’ve found a lovely book tag dedicated to the task which should make the task of deciding easier! I look forward to seeing you then!

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Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Hi all! I know I promised this review sooner, and I apologise. I’m a slacker.

Truth be told, my time has been taken up with reading Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I’m trying to space my reviews out so they aren’t too infrequent, in relation to how far I am through the next book, but this has taken me longer than I expected to read.

Stardust

GoodReads – Stardust

To be perfectly honest I only picked up this book because I have heard such good things about the author. The story is based around a young man who runs off to retrieve a fallen star for the sweetheart of the town, after she promises to give him his greatest desire if he succeeds. Of course his wish is to marry this beautiful girl. Prior to this promise, he had once or twice sat in a tree looking through windows at her. Not at all creepy…

Now call me a cynic if you want, but I’m not for all this mushy stuff. At the proud age of 22 I can testify that nobody has come to sweep me off my feet. No Prince, Page or Peasant has promised to fetch me a fallen star, bottle up the northern nights or whisk me off into the sunset for my happy-ever-after. What have all these bitches got that I haven’t?! Destiny. Whilst these ladies fulfill their destinies, promising their lives away to the heroes of these grand fairy tales I sit here typing away…

As much as I criticise, the book was well written. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the plot outline was original because it isn’t, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Tristran, the young man in question, in order to retrieve the fallen star must pass the Wall between this world and Faerie, a land of all things magical. But the fallen star has drawn the interest of others too; withered witches require the heart of the star to restore their youth. The Star holds an amulet, cast into the sky by the Lord of the Stormhold on his deathbed and is the cause of her fall. Each of the surviving sons of the Lord searches for this amulet to claim the lordship, and so is their invested interest in her movements.

For a fairy tale story, it is actually quite gruesome. This doesn’t particularly bother me as it happens, (I’m a die-hard Game of Thrones fan so I can’t be squeamish) but I’m not sure that it entirely fits. By all means, the fighting of the brothers of the Lord of Stormhold seems entirely reasonable. We know one brother is particularly keen on bumping the others off. That’s fine. The witch and one of the sons of the Lord of Stormhold fighting with each other as they both need something of the star. Not unreasonable. The graphic descriptions though – not so much. Not for me anyway. This is also very graphic at the beginning; it’s not a bedtime story for the children folks!

My favourite thing about the book is Neil Gaiman’s writing style – it is this that saved the book from being a write off for me. Despite not being a great lover of the plot it hasn’t put me off reading his other books. I bought a copy of American Gods not that long ago; that will definitely be more to my taste, so I’m looking forward to reading that one in September (or thereabouts).

One thing I have decided, having read some other reviews on this book… I will not be watching the film. I thought this was lovey-dovey, sickly sweet and vomit inducing romance, but if anyone, ANYONE, makes me watch that film, I cannot be held accountable for my actions.

 

Review: The Last Wish – Andrej Sapjowski

Hi guys!

So today I’m bringing you a review of Andrej Sapjowski’s book, The Last Wish. Please, never ask me to even attempt to pronounce this author’s name! My Polish is not up to scratch at all… and by that, I mean it’s totally non existent 🙂

All joking aside, this is the first book I have read of this series and it is one I am adding to my TBR. It seems to me lately that the pile does not go down – for every book I read I’ve added three more!

The Last Wish

GoodReads – The Last Wish

Geralt of Rivia wakes in the temple of Melitele, having been grievously injured. In order to recover, he stays at the temple under the protection of Nenneke. She attempts to persuade him to be entranced, in order to understand what afflicts him so, but he refuses on the grounds that he cannot be hypnotised and lacks faith in her God. Instead he reflects on past events that have lead to his appearance at the temple.

It is through these reflections that we learn of Geralt, his past and his profession. He is a Witcher. As a child he was trained and mutated to develop the supernatural abilities required to fight the various monsters that plague the planet and human existence, but not necessarily to slay them. He is also trained how to reverse the many spells or curses that may have been placed on people.

He battles a striga and restores a seven year old child (presumed dead) to its father; he encounters the lord of an abandoned mansion that can control the house with his will alone. His lady friend is a bruxa, a kind of vampire like creature that uses song to manipulate people. Morality and “deciding the lesser evil” challenges Geralt at times along the way, and a simple fishing trip and the releasing of a Djinn brings the Witcher into the clutches of a powerful sorceress.

I think the moral of these tales is this: not all is as it appears to be. That which appears sinister may not be at all and not all that appears fair is good.

All in all, I have enjoyed the book… but I have one observation. Pretty much all the monsters/individuals possessing the power of magic or Geralt ends up fighting (as they are monsters) are women. Not necessarily a criticism at this point in time, but an observation. I hope to see a little more diversity in “The Sword of Destiny”, which is the second book which prequels the main book series.

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In the brief time that I spoke to you last I have also managed to read Stardust, by Neil Gaiman. I will be releasing the review of that within the next couple of days! Until next time,

Rebecca

Book Tag – My Life in Books!

Hi everybody!!

So I’ve seen this tag going around a little bit and decided that I should let you all know a little bit about me, instead of just what I’m reading at the moment 🙂 I hope you enjoy!

 

A book for each initial:-

R – The Rag Nymph by Catherine Cookson

E – Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini

B – Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

E – Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

C – The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

C – A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

A – Animal Farm by George Orwell

 

Age – Count your age along the bookshelf:-

Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

Whilst I was still at school I was planning on going to University to study in Linguistics after taking a gap year, however by the end of A-Level exams I got thoroughly fed up. I got into full-time work and four years on I’ve never looked back. I still love the subject and am fascinated in the psychology of learning languages etc, but uni life would not be for me. It would require socialising for starters…

 

A book that represents a destination you wish to travel to one day:-

So I’m pretty boring in that I don’t really have anywhere I specifically want to travel to. If I had to pick anywhere, I would probably say Italy (and that’s not purely for the pizza/wine I promise!) I had to look up a book for this section and I’ve actually found one that I’m interested in reading, being The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis.

The Borgia Bride.jpg

 

Favourite Colour:-

Less vehemently so than when I was younger, I have to say my favourite colour is purple. Everything in my bedroom used to be purple… like EVERYTHING! I’m for boring beige now, but it’s different when you’re an adult.

Mistborn

For this one, I chose Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I love this series. Somehow I’m yet to finish it. So many books, too little time! I appreciate this is an old cover, the more modern version is blue. I like blue too!

 

Fondest memories of:-

This one is an absolute no-brainer for me. I have read the books in this series twice, all the while waiting for number 7 to be released. They are full of action, back-stabbing, court intrigue and outright war and I absolutely love it! If anyone hasn’t guessed, I’m talking about A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin.

A Game of Thrones

 

Most difficult to read:-

This one isn’t particularly difficult for me to decide either. I did actually force myself to finish this book, although I shouldn’t have bothered. I clearly didn’t get anything out of it because I cannot remember what happened! I even attempted a re-read and got fed up again, so it’s fair to say this one isn’t for me. In theory, I should love it – I love other books with similar themes. I. Cannot. Get. Into. This. One.

This is The Darkness that Comes Before by Scott Bakker.

The Darkness

 

 

Book on my TBR list that I will get the greatest sense of accomplishment from:-

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Later on this year I plan on taking on this behemoth of a book – all 1,376 pages of it! My longest read so far (this year and all time) is War & Peace at just over 1,000 pages, so if I can manage to read both of these and meet my reading challenge target, I’ll be chuffed with myself.

I’m excited because although I haven’t read much Stephen King, I love what I have read. So this is a fairly new author and definitely a new genre for me too…

I’m not making things easy for myself… am I?!

 

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a little bit about me! Being new to blogging and having a few new followers I think it would be good to get to know each other a little more. I won’t tag anybody but if this inspires you to give this tag a go, consider yourself tagged! Drop me a line in the comments so I can see your answers 🙂

 

Rebecca

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Hi all!!

Anyone who follows my blog will know that I managed to sneak this book into my June Reading List, having managed to get through all my planned reads ahead of schedule. I won’t keep you all from browsing too long  – a short review for a short book!

Animal Farm

GoodReads – Animal Farm

George Orwell has a remarkable ability of understanding society. Not only does he understand it – he tears it apart into little pieces, personifies (or rather animal-ises) all these elements and writes it down in simple terms for us all to see.

I am surprised I wasn’t made to study this at school – I know some other classes did, but not mine. It’s the perfect kind of book to pull apart and analyse to death! It’s one of the few books I would argue that was written for this purpose.

Orwell’s satirical approach to reflecting the nature of our society is very accurate. Much like animals, we are divided by our abilities and are expected to produce for what we perceive to be our own benefit. Money is always short, but the Leader never wants for whiskey. The Commandments are set and then the benchmarks moved to suit when the need arises. Hopes and dreams for a better society always remain dreams, yet somehow we never give up hope all the same.

This is a very quick and easy read, and it is a good eye opener. I rate this book 4/5 stars.

Reading List: July 2017

As if July is here already?! The year is flying by… it’ll be Christmas before we know it!

No seriously, it really will. Hate me for saying it as much as you wish…

 

Let’s tactically cast away those worries for another day. The most planning ahead I am doing extends as far as the end of July and working out how many books I can cram into the month… so without further ado here is the list for my July reads:-

 

The Last Wish – Andrzej Sapjowski

The Last Wish

GoodReads – The Last Wish

I first came across the character of Geralt and the concept of the Witcher through the first game of the series. Admittedly, I haven’t played too much of it as my laptop is getting somewhat ancient compared to modern tech and it doesn’t even run it very well, but I know enough of the character as a foundation for the book. I’m being adventurous for me as this will be the first book I read from the Polish writer too, so fingers crossed I fall in love with this one and that’s another series to add to my TBR!

 

Stardust – Neil Gaiman

Stardust

GoodReads – Stardust

I have heard amazing things about Neil Gaiman. He has also co-written books with other authors I love so whilst I have not read any of his books yet, I’m trusting Terry Pratchett in that he recognised a good author when he saw fit to write Good Omens with him. They were also good friends if I recall the documentary I watched about Terry earlier this year. This will be another first for me.

 

Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King

LOTR Return cover

GoodReads – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

I cannot wait to finish this trilogy… I recently finished “The Two Towers” and absolutely loved it. Tolkien’s writing isn’t the easiest to read if you aren’t in the mood – one lapse of concentration can get you lost; equally, he can have you completely enraptured in the world of Middle-Earth! I’ve managed to steer clear of the books, films and my equally fanatical friends so I don’t actually know how it ends – I’m probably one of a minority of the population! Not for long…

 

Magician: Apprentice – Raymond E Feist

Magician Apprentice

GoodReads – Magician: Apprentice

This is actually going to be a re-read for me. I must have initially read this book maybe three or four years ago – I cannot recall. I remember I was living with my parents still, but that is about all. It is such a lengthy book and I have had the next two in the series to read for years as well, but I can’t move onto those because I genuinely don’t recall what happened in the first one…

Oops! I was obviously paying a lot of attention, wasn’t I?!

 

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange

GoodReads – A Clockwork Orange

I remember seeing this in a guide-book of books to read before you die; it’s only when I saw one of the versions of the book cover again I recognised it! I truly don’t know what I’ll make of this one – it tells the tale from the perspective of Alex, a 15-year-old boy institutionalised. It discusses morality and freedom, and the effect of “reforming” these individuals. It isn’t the sort of thing I would automatically pick up, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons and so it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

GoodReads – The Handmaid’s Tale

Has anybody else been watching the series on Channel 4?! If not I implore you, even if you don’t like the book, or books in general, please give it a try. There have been a few classic books which have made it onto the TV screen, in an attempt to target the likes of my generation, including War & Peace on the BBC last year. All I will say for the last scene of the last episode aired on Sunday just gone; I’m glad I didn’t have to watch that whilst living with my parents… parents and “intimate” scenes are just completely awkward.

Normally, I don’t watch things before I read the books. I have actually tried this book in the past and didn’t get on with it. I think it is a maturity thing now that I can appreciate classics more so I’m going to re-try this one.

 

So there you have it – I hope you look forward to the reviews as much I do reading these!

Until my next review, happy reading!

Rebecca  🙂

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

GoodReads – To Kill A Mockingbird

Tom Robinson’s a coloured man, Jem. No jury in this part of the world’s going to say, “We think you’re guilty, but not very,” on a charge like that. It was either straight acquittal or nothing.

Atticus Finch

To Kill A Mockingbird is undoubtedly one of the most influential books of all time in highlighting the racial inequalities known especially within southern states of America. Harper Lee has won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird and a further book, Go Set a Watchman was published in 2015, some 55 years later.

I’ll be perfectly honest, this book isn’t at all what I expected. I hadn’t even realised that the story was narrated from the perspective of two young children until I actually opened the book. Truthfully I didn’t think I would get on with this, but actually it was perfect.

Jem (Jeremy) and Scout (Jean Louise) have been raised in the small, largely peaceful town of Maycomb by their father, Atticus Finch. Atticus is a lawyer by profession, but when Atticus takes on his biggest case there is much controversy and trouble for the Finches.

The story is narrated by Scout, who is the tender age of nine in that fateful summer of 1935, in which Tom Robinson is on trial for the rape of a white woman; and her father Atticus is defending him. As I mentioned above, I wasn’t confident that I would like the way the story is narrated by a child, but it is done very effectively. I was wrong to doubt.

Whereas adults quite often are prejudiced and are willing to turn a blind eye to what they know is wrong, children on the other hand are blank canvases. The world is black and white – they haven’t yet learned to see the shades of grey we are willing to paint in between depending on what suits us. They also ask a lot of questions. We’ve also come across those kids, you know the ones… that say anything that comes to their mind. Apparently as I kid I embarrassed my parents by declaring loudly at a supermarket checkout that it smelled very badly right behind the culprit – otherwise known as the Great Unwashed since.

Shameless. My parents are able to laugh about it now. It was true… I just wasn’t afraid to say it.

This to my mind is in direct contrast to the attitudes of adults, who are to willing to allow such segregation and injustice to happen, and it is refreshing to hear people asking the right question – why. Atticus is a fantastic character, who implores his children in times of difficulty to walk “in the other person’s shoes” to try and teach them about perspective. Atticus is like a father to anyone and everyone, and he has many lessons to teach us all. The struggles of morality and conscience also afflict him; despite fighting a losing battle, he couldn’t sleep at night if he didn’t defend the man.

There’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads – they couldn’t be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.

Thankfully the general attitude is society is a little better than it used to be, but we have a long way to go. Fear sets in deep. What is said out in public and that behind closed doors can be very different.

Racism makes me angry. Sure, there are times when we can’t help but make prejudgements –  it’s part of our natural survival instincts. It is when these prejudgments are made without cause and we act negatively towards that person (directly or indirectly) – that is what is disgraceful.

I hope through education we an break this awful cycle; if all children had parents like Atticus Finch the world would be a much better place.