Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien

Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR TolkienTitle: The Fellowship of the Ring
Author: JRR Tolkien (Website)
Series: The Lord of the Rings #1
Genre: Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 408
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: eBook
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The dark, fearsome Ringwraiths were searching for a hobbit. Frodo Baggins knew they were seeking him and the Ring he bore--the Ring of Power that would enable evil Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle Earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam, with a small band of companions, to carry the Ring to the one place it could be destroyed--Mount Doom, in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom of Mordor. Summary from Shelfari

I’m so excited that I’ve finally finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring. And, I don’t mean finally in an oh-my-gosh-this-book-was-so-horrible kind of way. I mean finally in an I-can’t-believe-I-waited-this-long-to-read-it kind of way.

At times, the book was very slow, but it was always interesting and I always wanted to keep going. Never once did I feel the desire to stop. When I started to read it back in 2010, I read the prologue. This time I skipped it. While I love learning about hobbits, I’d rather do it by way of a story than what seems like reading a textbook.

Before reading The Fellowship of the Ring, I had little knowledge of Middle Earth. I’ve read The Hobbit and I’ve seen Peter Jackson’s movies. Other than that, I had no idea what to expect. There were times I was frustrated because I expected things to happen because of the movies that didn’t. But, overall, I liked the book much better.

I do love Tolkien’s writing style. I love all his descriptiveness. It makes it easy to envision what he saw in his head. There are times when his flowery language makes it a little difficult to follow, but not very often. And, I especially love all the Britishisms. I wish books weren’t Americanized nowadays. I’m not a huge fan of all the songs. But, they have started to grow on me. By the time, I’m done with the trilogy, I may downright love them.

My favorite character so far is Sam. I love him! He’s so kind, loyal, and selfless. I think based on my knowledge from the movies, but I’m not sure yet, he may be the true hero of this epic tale. I have two favorite scenes involving him. I love when he sneaks into the secret council in Rivendell. When Frodo volunteers to take the ring, the following exchange happens:

“But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right; and though all the mighty Elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them.”

“But you won’t send him off alone surely, Master?” cried Sam, unable to contain himself any longer, and jumping up from the corner where he had been quietly sitting on the floor.

“No indeed!” said Elrond, turning towards him with a smile. “You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you and him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.”

I also love the scene at the end of the book when Frodo is trying to escape the fellowship to save them. Sam guesses what Frodo is doing and stops him. The exchange between the two is beautiful:

“Coming, Mr. Frodo! Coming!” called Sam, and flung himself from the bank, clutching at the departing boat. He missed it by a yard. With a cry and a splash he fell face downward into deep swift water. Gurgling he went under, and the River closed over his curly head.

An exclamation of dismay came from the empty boat. A paddle swirled and the boat put about. Frodo was just in time to grasp Sam by the hair as he came up, bubbling and struggling. Fear was staring in his round brown eyes.

“Up you come, Sam my lad!” said Frodo. “Now take my hand!” … “Of all the confounded nuisances you are the worst, Sam!” he said.

“Oh, Mr. Frodo, that’s hard!” said Sam shivering. “That’s hard, trying to go without me and all. If I hadn’t a guessed right, where would you be now?”

“Safely on my way.”

“Safely!” said Sam. “All alone and without me to help you? I couldn’t have a borne it, it’d have been the death of me.”

“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.”

“Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam.

“But I am going to Mordor.”

“I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”

I love that Sam has no thought for his own well-being. He only thinks of Frodo. He wants to keep him safe and help him with his task. As I said, I think he may be the true hero of this epic tale.

I’m very excited to keep reading this trilogy. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. I can’t wait for the surprises that lie ahead since there are bound to be many differences from the movies.


Review: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

Review: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollTitle: Through the Looking-Glass
Author: Lewis Carroll (Website)
Series: Alice #2
Genre: Children's, Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 208
Publisher: Puffin
Format: eBook
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Nothing is quite what it seems once Alice journeys through the looking-glass, and Dodgson's wit is infectious as he explores concepts of mirror imagery, time running backward, and strategies of chess-all wrapped up in the exploits of a spirited young girl who parries with the Red Queen, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and other unlikely characters. In many ways, this sequel has had an even greater impact on today's pop culture than the first book. Summary from Goodreads

As I said in my review of Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, I decided to read these two books because I want to read Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy and I thought I should start with a proper foundation. Just like with Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, I thought Through the Looking-Glass was a discombobulated book of nonsense.

I didn’t have high hopes going into this one because I didn’t enjoy the first one very much. On that note, I wasn’t too disappointed by it, but I still didn’t enjoy it. Alice still went off on unnecessary tangents, nothing was coherent nor did anything make any sense, and this book was even more confusing than the first one which is a feat!

The only thing I liked about Through the Looking-Glass were the backwards letters on everything and the “Jabberwocky” poem. I think it’s neat that Carroll coined the terms galumph and chortle. And, the fact that everything takes place on a chessboard is also kind of neat, except that you can’t follow the game very well so it really doesn’t add anything to the story.

The one thing I did learn from reading both of these books is that most adaptations to these stories mix the two together. For example, in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, the talking flowers, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and the Walrus and the Carpenter tale are all in Through the Looking-Glass not Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Even though I didn’t enjoy these very much, I’m glad I took the opportunity to read them. If for nothing else just to familiarize myself with them and get a foundation in the cannon of Alice and her adventures.


Review: Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Review: Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis CarrollTitle: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll (Website)
Series: Alice #1
Genre: Children's, Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 146
Publisher: Puffin
Format: eBook
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre. Summary from Goodreads

This is the first time I’ve ever read this classic story. I’ve been somewhat familiar with Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland because of the numerous movie tie-ins. However, I was never versed in the original story. I decided to read it because I want to read Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy and I thought I should start with a proper foundation. I was expecting a fun, whimsical tale about Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. Instead, what I read was a discombobulated book of nonsense. Gasp!

I tried to like this book. I really did. But there were only very few parts that Carroll actually showed and not told. I now understand the importance of that writing rule! All the telling was boring. And, Alice was always off on some tangent that had nothing to do with the story, which didn’t add anything to it. In fact, it just made me hate it. Plus, Alice is seven years old? Really?! She acted more like a teenager or even an adult.

I liked the idea of the story–a young girl somehow finding herself trapped in a world she doesn’t understand, meeting curious creatures and people, and then finding out that it’s all a dream. Such a great idea! If only the execution were better. Nothing was coherent and there was no rhyme or reason for anything. I take things at face value. Allegories and symbolism are completely wasted on me most of the time. One of the reasons I hated my literature classes so much was the constant analyzing of books’ meanings. Sometimes, a book is just a book. But, I digress.

My favorite part of the story was Carroll’s description of the Queen of Hearts’ court. I loved that he didn’t just come out and say that everyone was part of a pack of cards until he gave you a visualization of it all. And, I loved that the different suits meant different things. It was fun and it made those characters come alive for the short time they were there. I wish the rest of the book were like this.

I’m going to read Through the Looking-Glass next. I’m not looking forward to it to say the least, but I really want to make sure I understand Carroll’s world before I dive into Beddor’s. Hopefully, I’ll like Through the Looking-Glass better than I did Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I don’t have high hopes.


Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 355
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Format: Hardcover
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As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him--with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Summary from Dust Jacket

I had a couple of friends recommend The Winner’s Curse to me, and my good friend Rachel lent me her book. I’m really glad they recommended it because I really enjoyed it!

I loved the world Rutkoski created. It was so interesting because it was like reading historical fiction mixed with fantasy. The world feels like it’s set in the 1800s but with a lot of Greco-Roman elements mixed in. I actually pictured Valoria and Herran as Greece and Italy when they talked about sailing from one place to another.

I loved the politics in this story. They were intense and had so many elements that made the story rich and meaningful. There was no simple explanation for anything. Everything had a purpose and reason.  And, the dynamics between all the characters and the different cultures made the story interesting to read.

I loved Kestrel, the main protagonist. She was a very likable, strong, and emotional character. I don’t mean emotional as in all cry-y and weepy. I mean that she had feelings and cared for others. I loved that she questioned things and didn’t just follow everyone around her. She was torn with how their society was built and how it functioned. She didn’t want to disappoint her father, but she also didn’t want to hurt anyone that didn’t deserve to be hurt.

I also loved Arin. And, I loved that we got to read his point-of-view from time to time. It was fun to know his motives before Kestrel did and then see how everything came together. Even though we knew his motives, we didn’t know everything about him. We had to learn it along with Kestrel and we still don’t know everything. I really love that about this story. It’s like an even more limited view of a main character. It really adds to Arin’s mystery and intrigue.

I want to read the rest of the story now; I don’t want to wait. I actually need more! There’s so much potential. A lot of great things have been set up for the rest of the series. I just hope there won’t be a love triangle since it could happen easily. I really, really, really hope it goes another way. And, I hope it ends how I want it to, but only time will tell.

All in all, it was a very fun and interesting story. It had so many things going for it–romance, fantasy, great characters, awesome world building, and an interesting plot.


Review: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

Review: Evertrue by Brodi AshtonTitle: Evertrue
Author: Brodi Ashton (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: Everneath #3
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, YA
Pages: 368
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Format: Hardcover
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Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself ... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon--or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally--but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him--and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more.

But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all? Summary from Dust Jacket

UBI’m so excited that I was finally able to read Evertrue. I’m just sad that I have nothing else to look forward to in the Everneath realm.

I loved that we had a chance to go back to Everneath and experience other places than just the Commons, Labyrinth and the High Court. It was fun to see the new places, like Lake Tantalus, as well as others Cole knew about and experience the Everneath as an Everliving might.

I feel like I connected with Nikki in this series. She’s pessimistic and blames herself for others’ fates. She wants to run away, but she also takes responsibility for her actions. She cares for others and doesn’t want to put them in harm’s way. And, yet, she can forgive others. I thought she was a very real and believable character.

I loved having Nikki and Jack together in this book. All the sensual moments between them made me feel warm and fuzzy. But, I also loved the uneasiness between them and Cole. I loved the dynamic of Nikki being dependent on Cole while Jack was there watching. It created some awesome tension and angst. And, I loved that Cole was different in this book, but also the same. I loved the stress of wondering if he was leading Nikki and Jack on, if he had ulterior motives, or what he’d do in the end. I had wondered if he’d surprise me after I finished reading Everbound and he certainly did–both in a good and bad way.

I’ve been anticipating Evertrue since the very beginning of the series. I’ve wanted to know what would happen to Nikki, Jack, Cole, and the Everneath from the moment I read the first page of Everneath. The journey to get here was amazing and suspenseful, and I’m glad to have experienced it.