It’s been decades since I read The Hobbit last and, with the movie coming out soon, I thought it would be a great idea to pick it up and read it again...moreIt’s been decades since I read The Hobbit last and, with the movie coming out soon, I thought it would be a great idea to pick it up and read it again. Additionally my five year old son had been begging me to read it with him and wanted to know all about Smaug.
Do I seriously need to do a recap here? I will just for the sake of completeness. Bilbo is visited by Gandalf and a number of dwarfs who want him to be their burglar on a journey to steal the dwarves’ gold back from Smaug. Bilbo very reluctantly agrees to go on a journey that has him confronting trolls, elves, goblins, and eventually the dragon itself.
Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read this? If not please go read it. This is where fantasy got its roots from and is a must read for any fantasy fan. This book has it all; humor, adventure, friendship, magic, danger. You name it. This is how I first met elves and goblins and other fantastical creatures.
I was amazed rereading this at how much humor is in this story and just at how well the story is put together. The imagery is excellent and the story completely engaging. My five year old begged to read this book every night until we were through; the picture books were never picked up until we had finished this book. My son was desperate to meet Smaug and find out what happened to him. When we finished he wanted to start reading it again.
I am also amazed at how well this story withstands the test of time. Yeah, it gets a bit wordy at parts and yes, there are some turns of phrase that are pretty outdated. But that is part of its charm. It was so much fun to see my five year old enraptured by the same story my dad read to me when I was young. Seriously this book shaped my taste in reading forever.
This edition of the book is lovely, I got it as a gift from my parents, and there are many lovely and exquisitely detailed drawings throughout. They are every few pages and were really something to look forward to as we read the story.
Overall still an absolutely wonderful read. This is a book that stands the test of time and is enchanting for all ages. This is where fantasy starts and it was wonderful to see my son enjoy it as much as I did when my dad read it to me. Hopefully one day my son will read it to his kids too! Highly recommended for everyone.(less)
It's hard to believe this book was written in 1931, Huxley is awfully accurate on some of his futuristic visions of how society could end up.
This book...moreIt's hard to believe this book was written in 1931, Huxley is awfully accurate on some of his futuristic visions of how society could end up.
This book basically describes a society that appears to be Utopian at first glance. Humans are made at certain genetic intelligence and caste; they are conditioned to be grateful for their place in life. Of course humans being humans there are occasionally those who divert from the norm. The story focuses mainly on Bernard Marx, an Alpha who is born too short, and as such ostracized and isolated in a society based on community and on Lenina a woman who is a fairly average society girl who agrees to travel with Bernard to Reservation. At the reservation they meet a Savage named John who travels back with them to "proper" society. What ensues is basically disaster.
The kind of creepy thing is that Huxley is pretty spot on about some of the things in his Utopian society. There is a lot genetic engineering going on, subliminal messaging, regulated drug use to promote serenity, etc. The beginning of the book is the most shocking because they explain how they modify the chemical make up of the fetuses to make them smart or stupid, strong or weak. This is followed by a discussion of how they condition the infants to like or not like certain things based on what function they will have in society. It is a society where everyone is equal but no one gets to make any decisions.
The people in the society are encouraged to be somewhat infantile in their decisions; time not working is spend playing games or engaging in sexual activity. Despite the society being depicted as somewhat British the members are encouraged to give into their baser natures whenever they want...emotion makes for unhappy people so it is best to not think about it too much.
What happens when John, a Savage raised by a (gasp) mother, a man who loves and hurts is brought into this society is fascinating but predictable. He has a hard time making sense of a society where "mother" is an indecent word and love is a foreign concept.
The book is very readable and well-written. The story is engaging. I am sure at the time this book was written it was ground-breaking. Unfortunately most of the factors of society that are discussed in this book I have read discussed in more current books. For me what set this book apart from other dystopians was the fact that it was written so long ago, also the fact that Huxley didn't pull any punches on the human conditioning...they are pretty ruthless, and lastly how reasonable he makes the set-up of such a society sound. There is a portion towards the end of the book where the Controller explains to John how their society evolved to what it is today; the Controller explains what they tried and what actually worked. The Controller's argument sounds disturbingly reasonable and almost makes you understand how a society set-up like the one in this book might work out well for a large amount of people.
Overall I enjoyed the book and I am glad I read it. None of the ideas really blew me away and the story was engaging, but not absolutely incredible. It is a book that makes you think; especially when think of the time frame in which it was written. The topics discussed are something which will make you take pause but some of the ideas presented aren't that far away from where we are today (genetic engineering, etc.). Definitely something to read and something easy to relate to.(less)
I loved Malinda Lo's first book Ash and was excited to about Huntress. I got this book through Book it Forward ARC tours. It was a wonderful book. The...moreI loved Malinda Lo's first book Ash and was excited to about Huntress. I got this book through Book it Forward ARC tours. It was a wonderful book. The story was more complicated and expansive than Ash. It again features a romance between two women, there is also a lot of adventuring and some magic.
Kaede and Taisin are two girls in their late teens. Kaede is the daughter of a the King's Advisor and more knowledgeable in fighting and handcrafts than the magic at that the academy she attends. Taisin is a prodigy at the academy and has a vision involving her and Kaede and a castle of ice. The land the two girls live in has fallen on hard times and the situation is dire if winter is not brought to an end. The two girls end up being sent along with the King's son on a journey to visit the Fairy Queen in hopes that the Fairy Queen will be able to help them end the long winter that is gripping the land.
This book is written much in the style of Ash; so if you liked that book I think you will enjoy this one. Lo writes at a deliberate pace with beautiful descriptions that create lush images in your mind. The romance in the book is keep somewhat innocent and sweet, as it was in Ash. The two characters that fall in love are both women, but it isn't the same sex issue that makes their love star-crossed, it is more an issue of class and occupation. Lo gives us a wonderfully sweet and adventurous story that features these two women, each strong in their own way, and doesn't really make a big deal about their sexuality...which is how it should be.
There is a lot more action in this book than there was in Ash and a lot more adventure. Rather than being blunt about magic this book has more a tone of magical realism about it. This book is supposed to be the prequel to Ash; but, although the world is the same, the customs of the characters are distinctly Asian and the cultures have a very different feel to them. You definitely don't need to read Ash to enjoy this book.
Both Kaede and Taisin are admirable characters, they are strong and yet have a lot of moments where they doubt themselves. I enjoyed reading about them and found them likable. I love Lo's writing and while the pacing is slow at some points, especially when the characters journey through the Woods, I think that the pace is appropriate in that it helps the reader get a sense of their grueling journey.
The book ends well, although I think some readers will be a bit bothered by it. I personally enjoyed the ending, is wasn't fairy tale happy but it was realistic and kept with the tone of the rest of the story.
Overall a wonderful new book from Lo. I will continue to read Lo's works. Lo gives us deliberately paced novel, with beautiful description, heart-pounding adventure, and a sweet romance. If you loved Ash you will love this book. Fans of classic fantasy adventure with a thread of romance through it will find lots to love in this book.(less)
This is the 4th book in the nine book Bone graphic novel series by Jeff Smith. It was a spectacular addition to the series and probably the darkest bo...moreThis is the 4th book in the nine book Bone graphic novel series by Jeff Smith. It was a spectacular addition to the series and probably the darkest book yet. The story really deepens and the danger for our beloved characters really takes on an urgency.
Smiley Bone and Phoney Bone are competing in sales at the inn to see if they can pay of their debt; Phoney Bone has everyone convinced he is a dragon slayer which is causing problems. Meanwhile Granny, Thorne, and Fone Phone have started a journey to leave the valley and get Thorne to safety. When they are attacked by the rat creatures on their journey things take a turn for the worse. Ends up Thorne has more truth to learn about her identity and the valley has worse enemies than rat creatures to worry about.
Thorne goes through some rough times in this book. It is a dark book for her. This is the first book where there is more violence, blood, and despair present throughout the story. That is not to say everything is bleak; there are some pretty funny scenes with Phoney Bone, Smiley Bone, and the Dragon. Still it is becoming clear that the residents of the valley are facing a peril worse than they ever could have imagined.
As with previous books the plot is well developed and the story continues to deepen. There is humor throughout and the drawing continues to be wonderful. This book was a bit scarier than some of the previous ones so take caution if reading this with young children.
Overall a great addition to the series. Darker than previous books, but still some humor throughout. The story expands and is wonderfully told. I can't wait to read book 5, Rock Jaw, Master of the Eastern Border. I am absolutely loving this series.(less)
This is the 5th book in the nine book Bone series by Jeff Smith. This is a good installment in the series and introduces some new characters to the se...moreThis is the 5th book in the nine book Bone series by Jeff Smith. This is a good installment in the series and introduces some new characters to the series.
This book deals with Fone Bone and Smiley Bone and the rat monster baby that they saved. They encounter a new (large and in charge) character, a giant cougar, named Roque Ja. Of course the Bones take to calling him Rock Jaw which pisses him off. There is much running from bad guys and trying to determine who is one who's side and just how you define good and evil.
To be honest this wasn't my favorite installment in this series. You don't get to see Thorn or Gma at all in this book and I missed them. Also I am unsure what the point of all of the orphaned animals joining the group was since they all left at the end of the story. I am assuming this will all tie together somehow...eventually. But the story didn't seem to make much progress.
There also were a lot of things I really did like though. Rock Jaw is an awesome new character and his discussion of good and evil is a..uh..good one. This is a discussion we had with my son not too long ago when we were trying to explain (to a four year old) how good and evil kind of depends on perspective. I liked that we also learn more about the history behind the valley.
There was a lot of stuff that happened in this installment that was a bit piecemeal. Having not read the rest of the series yet I can only assume it will be significant in future installments. Like in previous installments there are some very funny parts in here and the illustration is spot on like always.
Overall I really enjoyed this Bone installment, but I liked it a little bit less than the previous few. I missed Thorn and didn't understand how some of the small things that happened will relate to the rest of the story. I did really enjoy Rock Jaw though and hope we see him in future installments. I am excited to read the next book, Old Man's Cave, to see how the story progresses.(less)