Re-Read: The Hobbit

The Hobbit

Looking forward to the release of the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy I thought it was time for a re-read of The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. Jackson has extended and added to the story extensively so I wanted to refresh my memory of the simpler original story. Plus the fact the dark nights and bitingly cold days of winter are upon us a comfort read was most welcome.

The Hobbit takes us to Middle Earth for the first time. To the quiet and beautiful Shire where we meet Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, in his comfortable hobbit hole. Bilbo’s quiet existence is to be turned upside down by the arrival of Gandalf the wizard and twelve dwarves. Who sweep him away on an adventure over hill, under hill, through the air, through dark woods and across water. With the aim to regain the dwarves long lost home and treasure from the great dragon Smaug. I have re-read this adventure more times than I can count but I find myself as easily swept away with Bilbo on this adventure as the first time.

What really makes this classic fantasy tale for me is the unlikely protagonist Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is a hobbit; a small human like creature with curly hair, pointy ears, large hairy feet and brightly coloured clothes. Bilbo lives a comfortable life full of food, walks and routine. He is not adventurous or brave, or so he thinks. We the readers are there every step of the way with him as he suffers from hunger, cold, aching limbs and frequent danger and fear. I love seeing Bilbo grow in strength, courage and to finally reach his full potential through his trials. It makes you feel there is a little hero in all of us.

The Hobbit is my favourite book from childhood. I have also read Tolkien’s, what was originally meant to be The Hobbit 2, epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy but while I enjoyed them too they don’t quite hold the same sort of place in my heart. In The Hobbit Tolkien has created a simple but enchanting tale  Every word is precious to Tolkien and he uses them here perfectly to really bring Middle Earth alive. Combine that with an amazing imagination and great characters makes for me the perfect fantasy adventure. If you are daunted by The Lord of the Rings or haven’t tried Tolkien at all yet I highly recommend reading The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is an enchanting adventure for all the family. Whether you read it for yourself or read it to a child like my father did for me (from this exact copy!). After finishing this I am very tempted to re-read The Lord of the Rings, perhaps in the new year. Great read.

Have you read this? Watched the films so far?

New Read: Equal Rites

Equal Rites

After thoroughly enjoying two re-reads from Terry Pratchett’s epic but fabulous Discworld series this year I thought it was high time for a new adventure. With that in mind I picked up Equal Rites off my father’s bookshelf; Pratchett’s third published Discworld novel.

In Equal Rites we return to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld on a dark and stormy night. An old wizard, Drum Billet, is making a lonely journey up into the Ramtop Mountains to the unusually named town of Bad Ass. Billet is dying and wishes to pass on his magical staff to the eighth son of an eighth son before he does. He arrives just as the wife of the town’s blacksmith gives birth to their eighth child. Unfortunately for Billet he didn’t check the gender of the child before passing on his staff and promptly dying. Instead of an eighth son the family’s eighth child is their one and only daughter Esk. This one oversight is to cause ripples throughout the magical world…a girl can’t become a wizard, can they?

Esk the young protagonist of Equal Rites is a likeable little girl who has grown up tough playing with her seven older brothers. Esk has no idea of her magical power and doesn’t show any aptitude for it until one evening she loses herself in the snowy woods. Her danger awakes the magical staff which comes to her rescue. Our little Esk isn’t alone in her adventure though she is joined by Bad Ass’s resident witch Granny Weatherwax ( a character I recognised from Wyrd Sisters). Granny is a weather worn, wise and practical old woman who is not to be put off by the small and trivial fact that no girl has become a wizard before. Together they set off for The Unseen University in Ankh Morpork to fight for a place for young Esk.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine but scandalously I hadn’t read one of his novels since 2012! To make up for that and to refresh my memory earlier this year I went back to where it all started; reading The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. After enjoying both these re-reads I was ready for a new Discworld adventure so I picked up Equal Rites the third novel from this epic series. This is not a series you necessarily have to read in order as the stories are usually short, fun and simple which also follow many different characters/sets of characters. Equal Rites was no exception to this rule short, fun but perhaps not as simple as previous tales I have read. I enjoyed the elements of gender and tradition that Pratchett explored in a way that was interesting and thought provoking but still fun. This is perhaps my favourite Discworld novel I have read so far.

Equal Rites is wonderfully fun, colourful and thought provoking adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy. I am looking forward to reading more adventures in Pratchett’s Discworld. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you read Discworld?

New Books: November 2014

New Books - November 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s what goodies I have managed to add to my bookshelf and Kindle recently:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (complete) by L Frank Baum

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson

The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

Four new fictions for me this month. I received review copies of historical fictions Red Rose, White Rose and The King’s Sister from Netgalley both I which I am excited to read. I have loved everything I have read by Daphne du Maurier so when I saw Jamaica Inn in my favourite charity book shop I had to pick it up. While I picked up a free copy of fantasy classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz set from Amazon UK.

Clean Food Diet by Jonathan Vine

The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian

Only two new non-fictions for me this month.  I received a review copy of faith non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional from Netgalley. I read several of Omartian’s work this year and enjoyed them all. Looking forward to reading more. While I picked up a free copy of Clean Food Diet from Amazon UK.

I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a small amount. I am not sure where I’ll start first because I am excited to read all of them.

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

New Read: Queen of Hearts, Volume 2

Queen of Hearts 2

Earlier this year I read The Crown volume 1 of Colleen Oakes’ Wonderland reimagining Queen of Hearts. I enjoyed it so much that as soon as volume 2 The Wonder was available for request I snapped it up!

This is the second volume of this trilogy. This post will contain spoilers for the previous volume.

In the Queen of Hearts 2 we re-join Dinah, the princess of Wonderland, as she weaves her way through the Twisted Wood her only companion is the monstrous stead Morte. Dinah has been forced into this position after the brutal murder of her beloved brother Charles which she was then also framed for. With her gone from the palace the King of Hearts has crowned Dinah’s half-sister Vittiore in her place. Dinah is not left bereft with all her hopes and dreams in tatters. I really felt for Dinah however this is not the end of her troubles. The cruel king now pursues Dinah merciless with his Cards baying for her head. Forcing Dinah to flee deeper into the dangerous and unknown parts of the kingdom. This dark path is to lead Dinah to some unlikely allies. I simply had to keep on reading this to find out what would happen to poor Dinah next.

Our protagonist Dinah began in this trilogy as a young, head strong and rebellious girl. Dinah is still strong and rebellious but through her trials and tribulations she is growing into a woman. While Dinah has escaped the palace she hasn’t escaped all the expectations on her shoulders. The expectations have just changed. Her new allies now look to her to be a strong, wise and victorious Queen. I continued to pity Dinah in this book. Dinah is a strong but imperfect character. While I like her bravery and strength there are still times when I cringed at how far she took her actions and opinions. If only she could hear me shouting stop!

I again really enjoyed Oakes’s reimagining of Wonderland in the Queen of Hearts 2. I like her clever use of classic elements such as the cards, jam tarts and magical food with a new twist and her reimagined classic and new characters which I felt are much better fleshed out than in the original Lewis Carol stories. I thought the Queen of Hearts 2 was well written, detailed and well described. I really could imagine the Twisted Wood, the Yurkei Mountains, and all of Dinah’s trials and tribulations. If you know the original stories you will know how Dinah turns out as the Queen of Hearts. Even so I felt Oakes continued to build Dinah’s character and story gradually, with rising tension and anticipation.

I think the Queen of Hearts 2 is a clever and refreshing reimagining of Wonderland through the eyes of Dinah the future Queen of Hearts. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and would like to see Wonderland in a new way. Great read.

Thank you to SparkPress (a BookSparks imprint) for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other reimaginings?

Re-Read: The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic

September and October has been full of dark and mysterious reads due to the fact I am taking part in R.I.P IX event, and as much as I’ve been enjoying my reading I felt I needed a break from the darker material. With that in mind I picked up The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett sequel to The Colour of Magic, the first in his epic Discworld series, for a comforting  and easy re-read. With its blend of fantasy and humour I thought it would be a great change.

In The Colour of Magic we are first introduced to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld; a flat disc world which stands on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the shell of giant turtle who swims through the universe. I never cease to be amazed and amused by Pratchett’s wonderful imagination. The Light Fantastic continues the adventures of Rincewind the wizard, Twoflower the first Discworld tourist and his magical chest after they have been forced to flee the capital, Ankh-Morpork, after a devastating fire. The trio only seem to moving from the frying pan into the fire though as they encounter space travel, talking trees, trolls, flying stones and barbarian hordes. Meanwhile the world is heading for a giant star which will surely mean its destruction…

The protagonists of The Light Fantastic are Rincewind, Twoflower and his magical walking chest; who even though it can’t speak really does seem to have its own personality and way of communicating. Rincewind is clever but is utterly lacking any bravery, confidence or magic which all in all makes for a very poor wizard. It is very funny to read about his many miss-adventures and forced moments of heroism. Then we have Twoflower the first tourist who longs to see the sights regardless of his health or his safety. Twoflower is not necessarily brave though he is just naïve and far too trusting but things have a way of working out for him. The combination of Rincewind, Twoflower and his magical walking chest makes for a hilarious read before you add any of the other characters and creatures they meet along the way.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine but scandalously I haven’t read one of his novels since 2012! To make up for that and to refresh my memory in July this year I decided to go back to where it all started; The Colour of Magic. Having loved that re-read I was keen to move onto the sequel The Light Fantastic. This is not a series you necessarily have to read in order as the stories are usually short, fun and simple which also follow many different characters/sets of characters. I felt it would be nice to read the first two novels again though so I could have the chance to focus on Pratchett’s first descriptions of the actual world itself. To get a better sense of it before going on to reading some new adventures. I really enjoyed this re-read but for different reasons to The Colour of Magic. I found on re-starting The Light Fantastic that while I knew the general flow of the story I had completely forgotten much of the detail of the adventures; if it hadn’t been for the characters this would have felt like a whole new read for me. This is definitely a lesson in that re-reads are sometimes really needed!

The Light Fantastic is another wonderfully fun and colourful adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy. I am looking forward to more adventures in Pratchett’s Discworld. Good read.

Have you read Discworld? Have a favourite instalment?

New Books: October 2014

New Books - October 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s what goodies I have managed to add to my bookshelf and Kindle recently:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (The Farseer Trilogy)

The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney

Just three fictions for me this month. Quite a few years ago now I borrowed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from the library and thought it was wonderful. I recommended it to my father who bought a copy and quickly read it. He has now passed it on to me because I think its high time for a re-read. I then picked up epic fantasy Assassin’s Apprentice for free from Amazon.co.uk. I heard many good things about Robin Hobb and thought this was the perfect chance to finally try some for myself. I then received a free copy of The Storyteller and Her Sisters from the author. Cheryl Mahoney is a good book blogging friend of mine so I am excited to read her second fairy tale retelling.

Tolkien by Devin Brown

Our Zoo by June Mottershead

Love So Amazing by Pam Rhodes

The Ancient Path by John Michael Talbot (with Mike Aquilina)

In comparison to fiction I have a good mixture of four new non-fictions this month. I received a review copies of biography Tolkien, memoir Our Zoo, and faith non-fictions Love So Amazing and The Ancient Path from Netgalley. They’re all by new authors for me and they all sound rather good; I am not sure what to start first!

I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a reasonably small amount again this month and they were also all free.

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

Adaptations: October 2014

Adaptations #3

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

Hello fellow bookworms. As these adaptation update posts seem to be going down well I’ve decided to continue them in 2014. Here are the adaptations I watched during September and October:

Thor: The Dark World (2013)          Not Read          Film          Television
An action-packed superhero film set in space based on Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby who features in Marvel Comics. I last saw Thor in Avengers Assemble (2012) which I thought was a fun and action packed adventure. I thought The Dark World was another fun and action packed adventure this time set in part on Earth and Asgard, which I loved, as Thor, Jane and Loki battle across the universe with the Dark Elves. I was totally sold on this film. Great watch.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)          Read          Film          Television
A sumptuous period film based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. I spotted this being reshown on ITV3 one Saturday morning and just had to tune in. I hadn’t seen this film since I went to the cinema when it was first released. While I remember liking it at the cinema; I appreciated it far more on this second watching. A beautifully made film with some lovely performances from the ensemble cast; I particularly loved Matthew Macfadyen, Keira Knightley, Claudie Blakley and Rosalind Pike. Great watch.

Penny Dreadful (2014)          Read          TV Series          Television
A new fantasy, horror series inspired by the characters of classic horror novels Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. A gory, different and well made adventure into the darker side of Victorian life that premiered here in the UK on Sky Atlantic. Includes a good ensemble cast including; Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Billie Piper and Timothy Dalton. Probably not a show for everyone though as it contains fighting, blood,  sex, foul language, and distressing scenes. It is said it will return for a second series. Good watch.

September was still interesting but a slow month for adaptations for me; it wasn’t till the end of October beginning of September that I watched the above. All of which were good to great watches. All very different watches though. From space adventure, to charming classic, to fantasy horror. Now I don’t seem to have any adaptations recorded so we will have to see what adaptations I manage to watch during October and November for my next update.

What have you been watching?