Wednesday, 28 September 2011

An apology

At the moment, I have just returned to school. It's my twelfth year in British Education and is a big jump from last year in terms of work and the commitment you have to have to get things done. Add onto this GCSE Classics and weekly theatre trips (evenings) I am struggling to work my way through books. In order to compensate for this, for as long as they last I will have reviews scheduled to post twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays, that I wrote before starting a blog.

I only have about 10, but it will get some more material of mine out there and hopefully give you an idea of the books I read, what I think of books, and whether or not you like me.

Also, as a warning, this includes my first reviews and you will probably notice certain oddities in them that are unusual or clumsy. Feel free to point them out, because despite being old, they're not that old and everyone can do with some self improvement.

P.S. I might drop in from time to time for hops (since they are answering question that take seconds to read rather than entire books) or anything else I think important. I may, but don't count on it, even try to write something about my opinion on banned books but, I have to say, there are enough of them and I agree with so many it's unbelievable.

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien is considered to be the epitome of epic fantasy by many people, and though it is not for me, I understand where everyone comes from. The book, as most know, follows nine mortals on a journey to destroy the one ring. It superbly written and an excellent story, and I'm annoyed that I avoided it for so long (I didn't want to be disappointed!)

The plot of the story is very linear. Yes the party stops from time to time for various reasons, but ultimately there is very little side tracking that I don't expect to be later involved in the story. Well, almost. I felt that Tolkien went into history a bit too much at some points and I completely glazed over reading about these details. I don't think you'd really see that nowadays since everything should be important, but I think I remember something saying that he wanted to write it as a work of fiction, but like a factual account of something. This in mind, I can forgive his wanderings into lore.

I'd seen the film many times before reading, so I didn't struggle following the story. The problem I had was that the company of people seemed to have less dynamic and chemistry between them. I thought of them as a hobbits and their protectors and no more than that; the film presents it otherwise. I kind of preferred the camaraderie of the film, but the description (and the fact that was the rue version) meant I did prefer the book.

I felt the characters were not overly important in this book. Sure, they were clearly themselves and enjoyable to read about, but they felt a bit flat to read and I didn't get a feel for them. And there was hardly any proper conversations between them. It was mostly should we do this or that. And Gandalf proclaiming the wonder of Hobbits- give me a break! I think I am biased though. The films were more about the characters than teh book, maybe because they had access to all teh material with which they could move about and give a more gradual development of relationships. This is something I hope improves.

One of the things I did really like was the songs and poems interwoven with the story because I couldn't resit chanting or singing (quietly) to myself as I read. I had one poem ear marked as my favourite (Bilbo's one to Frodo in his rooms) because it had the best rhythm and feel to it. I'm not a big poetry person, so I'm surprised I liked this element. And while I'm on the topic, I have to say that I love how Bilbo played a much larger part in the book than he did in the film which is definite improvement: Bilbo is quick, whimsical character that I think makes me smile.

I also really liked Tom Bombadil, who didn't appear in the films (this now annoys me). I mean, I really, really liked him. He was my favourite character because he was so weird and unpredictable. I would read a book on him without question because I found his remarks and remarks made of him so hinting a greater, longer life than we are given and his character is odd that we wonder if he's always been like that.

I'm glad I finally read this after many years of worry on my part and urgings on everyone else's. I was impressed with the book, and look forward the the sequel, prequels and companions. I've started down a long road that I hope to walk many times, one might say. And Gandalf used magic (with magic words too!) which wasn't really in the film I felt. It was there, sure, but it wasn't so obvious that I could know it was there. As a real lover of magic and those necessities of epic fantasy, I was glad to see the books seemed to stick to this better.

Friday Hop Trois

Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year?
How has your progression been?

This is the first year I've signed up for a reading challenge, because I don't like to set myself targets. They seem great to me really: I can easily motivate myself, I like long term goals and working towards them, as well as never setting myself unachievable targets. I tend to set them more as a way to maintain what I have already managed. The reason I would rarely set them is that if I missed the target, it would only be by a small amount and I'd really get on my own nerves for having done that.

However, I did sign up to read 50 books this year (via goodreads) and I am on top of it at the moment. In fact, I'm ahead. But I expect to fall behind now I've started school. Ah, well. 'twas good while it lasted.

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it.

Yes, yes and yes! Until I started really reading properly (this year) I used to be re-reading all the time. I've read Harry Potter more times than I can count, I read The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver at least thrice, His Dark Materials four times and, my most re-read, the Belgariad and the Mallorean. I must have read them into the twenties.

The reason I re-books tends to be because I can't really get over the fact the book finished. The characters, with whom I've enjoyed many hours laughing and crying with, forever call me back. This is first year that I haven't read The Belgariad and Mallorean in a long time, but I want to. I just feel I can't because I always have a new book I could read and I feel I must read. I kind of think I might set aside a month each year for any re-reads I want. I have many books I want to re-read too because I was so in love with them (e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird) while I want to re-read ones I've read and disliked to see if my opinion has changed (e..g Dorian Gray.

Happy Hopping everyone! I hope I was at least bearably interesting.