Monday, November 13, 2017

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The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien, a book review

The Two Towers, the second bound part of The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien continues to follow Frodo on his journey to dispose of the ring that rules them all.

I do like this book, even though I thought I wouldn't based on my experience with the very old animated movie version of it, because it is easy to enter the tale and imagine the world of Middle Earth. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are pretty well established characters by the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. As a result, getting into the story, as it were, is very easy to do.

As I read, I wondered how many guys identify more with Frodo or Sam. I cannot really imagine any identifying with Gollum, though I certainly could be wrong. For me, I enjoyed reading more reading as an observer, rather than sort of 'being' one of the characters.

Because I haven't seen the live-action movie version of this book and it's been decades since I saw the cartoon, I have few visual interferences. I definitely prefer to read books before seeing their movie version because the movie in my head is way better than anything I've yet seen on the screen.

Have you read The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien? What did you think of it?

Monday, November 6, 2017

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Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, a book review

Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien is the first bound book of the The Lord of the Rings book. My brother just younger than me gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings for Christmas one year. He was head-over-heels in love with the book (which is incorrectly called a trilogy, according the author himself) and found out I hadn't read it yet. He read it before it was the crazy cool thing to do, I must add… about 25 to 30 years ago!

I neglected it all that time, thinking I would get to it at some point. Why? I guess mostly because I thought it was a guys' sort of story. I had seen the very old animated version of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so I wasn't too excited about the book version because I had not loved the cartoon movies.

After all these years, I decided to read the books my brother bought for me and started Fellowship of the Ring. In reading it and beyond, I have learned that I was correct in that it is very much a guys' read. Yet, I have not felt myself proved right in the distressing way I had anticipated. I thought the book (in three bound parts) would be tiresome and overlong. I guess there might be a couple times where it does feel a bit of that to me, but not as frequently as I expected.

Fellowship of the Ring itself begins with Bilbo leaving the ring he found on his journey with Frodo. Shortly thereafter, Frodo begins on his own journey and ends up with a group of other guys traveling along. Some of those companions are unlikely and certainly seem unfit to travel together. Still, they form bonds that only those who have traveled and/or fought together can truly understand.

By the end of Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo leaves most of the company and continues on with only one companion, which, of course, leads directly into the second part of the book which is bound separately.

Have you read Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien? What did you think of it? Make sure to tell me whether you're a girl or guy because I really think it makes a difference.

Monday, October 30, 2017

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The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor, a book review

The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor was a little difficult to get into at first for me. I kept with it, though, because a dear friend sent me the book so I was determined to finish it no matter what. As it happens, it is a wonderful story of change, hope, love, and faith. I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to anyone who wants to feel uplifted by a good read. Just give it a few chapters to get really good.

Kate either is or feels like she is a bit of a black sheep in her family. She is a career woman and has no desire to be any other way. She figures there isn't anything wrong with her extremely narrow and selfish lifestyle. At least, until she ends up back where she grew up as a result of a loss in the family and re-evaluates her priorities as a result of the loss and a find in the attic of her childhood home.

I really enjoyed this book. Especially the subject brought into the story by the find in the attic!  Religion and family become a large focus and the main character struggles with change.  It's so real and REAL!

Have you read The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor? What did you think of it?

Monday, October 23, 2017

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Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal, a book review

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal is a story about an eccentric woman, her family, and her serving woman's family. I thought this story was about one person… the character first introduced and from whose perspective the story seems to be told in the beginning. The story telling perspective changes throughout the story, though.  Even so, it was done well, so it was easy to follow.

I especially enjoyed the past of the eccentric woman, which is revealed as the story progresses. She starts out as a great mystery. By the end of the book she is less a mystery and more a beloved lady, at least to me.

This was an enjoyable story that I felt drawn back to when I needed to leave it for other work. It is adult fiction and I will not allow my twelve and ten year old daughters to read it any time soon. There is definitely adult material contained within. Additionally there are a few curse words, about which I was very disappointed.

Have you read Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal? What did you think about it?

Monday, October 16, 2017

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The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding, a book review

The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding is a mix of mythology and fantasy in the modern day. This is the second in a quartet, but I haven't read the first. I enjoyed this book a great deal. I read it in one day by reading during the night. It is a compelling story. My eldest daughter recommended it highly and agree, it's a good story. We look forward to reading more of the series very soon.

This story is about Connie who is a universal companion. Companions usually have a specific species to which they can mentally speak and interact. The species may be as mundane as canine. Or it may be as mystical and unusual as a unicorn.

Connie is unusual because she is the only universal the Society has become aware of for a very long time. Her abilities as a Universal Companion make her unique among the gifted. In this story, her great aunt, with the blessing of her parents, takes her away from those like her in an attempt to cleans her of her craziness. The great aunt is running away from similar within herself and the harm she did in her past. Connie will still have to face her destiny, even though her great aunt would have it otherwise.

I do recommend this story. Have you read The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding? What did you think of it?

Monday, October 9, 2017

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Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien, a book review

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien is a really good final book in the Birthmarked series. I enjoyed it and felt like it definitely continued to deliver more of the engaging and enjoyable story about Gaia and Leon. What's more, this trilogy is a worthwhile read. There are challenging topics mentioned and faced, mostly related to birth since Gaia is a midwife. Abortion is the most controversial subject handled and that was, more in the second book, Prized, than this one.

As a result of those subjects relating to birth, as well as due to the action sequences, and other mature topics, I won't let my twelve and ten year old daughters read this trilogy until they are sixteen or older. However, this story will provide a great backdrop for many conversations once they do read it.

One of the indications of a really good book is that it seeps into my dreams. My mind can't seem to let go of it even while I sleep and so the story comes alive in my dreams. This did not happen while I was reading the Birthmarked series. However, another indication of a well-written, enjoyable, and engaging story is that I feel unable to disconnect from it when I've finished the last book in the trilogy or series, as the case may be. Even though I moved into another book that was a continuation of a series I already know I enjoy, I couldn't stop thinking about this series. Since I missed reading the first before the second and third, I'm looking forward to reading it just because I want to learn more about the incidences alluded to in the second and third installments of the trilogy. Gaia Stone and Leon Vlatir definitely got my attention while I read about them… and maintained it even when I was done.

Obviously, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for mature teens and adults.

Have you read Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien? What did you think of it?

Monday, October 2, 2017

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Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien, a book review

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien is the second installment of the Birthmarked trilogy. It is a captivating read and feels like a many faceted jewel of a story! Additionally, because of the way in which the story is told and usage of unusual verbiage, one may feel smarter just reading it.

In this story, the first part I've read, though it's the second installment in the trilogy, Gaia, a sixteen year old midwife, is trying to keep her newborn sister safe and escape those who would take her. The community they enter is matriarchal and, perhaps, almost a perfect DICHOTOMY (?correct usage?? OPPOSITE) to the community in which Gaia was born. The women rule in Sylum.

The rules are extreme and the rulers unwilling to change. Among the problems Gaia faces, she is put in a position via which the subject of abortion is considered. I felt like it was handled relatively well (considering my very conservative perspective), but because of that mature subject matter and the handling of intimacy, my twelve year old and younger daughters will have to wait to read this trilogy.

I do look forward to reading the first part of the trilogy. I do recommend this story to mature teenagers and adults.

Have you read Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 18, 2017

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Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano, a book review

Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano is the second book in the Internment Chronicles. In this part of the story, Morgan and her friends continue to experience the new world to which they made their way. Some of the characters don't want to be there at all. At least one has an ulterior motive for making the trip. Most of them are outcasts. If all of them were outcasts and knew that leaving Internment was best for them, the story would be far different than it is.

This book continues the interesting premise, but also the story telling style that lacks vigor. I didn't feel compelled to return to reading, but had to remind myself that I enjoyed the story and wanted to find out what would happen to the characters. This is a strange reaction for me and I can't quite figure out why I feel this way about DeStefano's writing style.

Oddly, I found that the totally disconnected covers caused me a problem. For one, I started reading the second book before the first even though I had both of them because I didn't realize they were part of a series. Lately, at least, I've seen a continuity in book covers such that I've grown accustomed to knowing that books belong together without checking too closely. So, the completely different covers for Perfect Ruin and Burning Kingdoms threw me for a loop.

I recommend this series only to older teens and adults. It is full of many mature topics. My twelve year old and younger daughters will not be reading this series any time soon.

Have you read Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 11, 2017

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Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano, a book review

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is an interesting book that begins the Internment Chronicles. The premise is unusual: a piece of a planet has broken free of the surface and floats in geosynchronus rotation almost above where is broke free. Because of the small space available to them on their floating island, the people of this place establish very specific rules to manage themselves and their lives. Among those rules: married women can only get pregnant after receiving permission and the gender of their baby will be predetermined, the people will live a set number of years no matter what, and everyone grows up knowing who they will marry from birth.

The premise of this story is such that I wanted to finish the book, but something about the story telling wasn't super compelling for me. As a result, I found myself not rushing back to read more. So I do recommend this series, but reservedly. I do not recommend it for youth under sixteen. There are many mature topics broached.

Have you read Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Dare to Dream… Then Do it, What Successful People Know and Do by John C. Maxwell, a book review

Dare to Dream… Then Do It by John C. Maxwell is a wonderful encouragement. It's a small book in both size and length, but it packs a wallup with lots of lifting ideas, including profound quotes, and solid truths.

The chapter titles are: commit to your true dream. Ummm… YEAH! We all need to do this! Believe in yourself… yes. Must have belief if we will accomplish anything! Think differently. If we haven't been successful before now, we definitely need this one! Take action. Yep. Doing something is the only way to bring a vision/dream to life! Develop great people skills. Since no man is an island, we will definitely need to rely on others in some way, shape, or form… so learning how to interact with others is surely a necessary skill! Stay with your strengths… for the most part. I do believe in stretching to the limit to break out of old patterns! Never stop learning… absolutely necessary! Never give up… If the dream is part of your life's calling, giving up is simply not an option!

I enjoyed this little, easy-to-read book. I read it twice almost back to back and have had my three eldest daughters read it. I'll probably start reading it with my son (fourth child) pretty soon. Obviously, I recommend it to anyone interested in self-improvement!

Have you read Dare to Dream by John C. Maxwell? What did you think of it?