Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Hobbit

I recently finished reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien for a book club I am in called “The Inklings” (if you are familiar with the world of Tolkien you will know that “The Inklings” was originally the name of a club Tolkien was in along with C.S. Lewis). I have seen all of the Lord of the Rings movies, but his is the first thing I have actually read by Tolkien. It was a short book in comparison to Tolkien’s other works, but it still took me a while to read though maybe just because I’ve been more busy.
     I am ashamed to tell you that The Hobbit was the first Tolkien book I have read. I have seen the Lord of the Ring movies, and loved them but I simply haven’t gotten to reading the books, so I can’t very well tell you how they compare. I have however listened on audio to part of the Silmarillion, which seems completely different from LotR and The Hobbit.

     So, from what knowledge I have of Tolkien’s works I have, I can tell you that while The Hobbit is not at popular as LotR (though the tides may change a bit with the upcoming movie) I think you ought to read it if you like LotR, as it is a necessary history to get the fullness of the story.

     The Hobbit is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and is all about Bilbo Baggins and his development from an “old fogy” to a heroic hobbit. Bilbo is perfectly content to spend his days quietly and safely in his warm hobbit-hole, but Gandalf the wizard (or Istari as the LotR Junkies know) gets him to go on a quest with a band twelve dwarves to reclaim treasure from the dragon Smaug. Most of the book is taken up with the journey to Lonely Mountain, where they travel through the Valley of the Elves, the Misty Mountains, Mirkwood Forest, and more! Along the way they encounter goblins, wargs, trolls, man who can turn into a bear and giant spiders along the way!
     I have to say, I completely, positively LOVE the character Bilbo Baggins! He is a wonderfully creative character. Usually the hero of an adventure story is some tall young buff guy, but in the Hobbit it’s far form that! Bilbo is probably no more than three and a half feet tall, somewhat plump, fifty years old, and lives a very normal life to begin with. I think that it is a wonderful message that you do not have to be some kind of Superman to have an adventurous life!
     Not to mention Tolkien’s WONDERFUL writing style. Tolkien’s classical humorous writing is an attribute that I adore. It’s interesting how he keeps a dramatic situation by telling things in an amusing fashion. I also love how he at times addresses the readers- it feel like you’re over at his house and you’ve sat down in his living room to hear him tell you a tale from long ago. He tells it like it’s real, but also like it’s a story- kind of like historical fiction.
     As for negatives, there really aren’t any! But it would be nice to see a female character, though this doesn’t really bother me much, and is made up for with some lovely female characters in The Lord of the Rings, witch of course, I must read when I can get to it.
     I went on IMBD to get information on the movie that’s coming out called “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”. It is supposed to come out Christmas of 2012 and is directed by, of course, Peter Jackson. Though it’s not in the book, I was pleased to hear that Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom will be seen in the movie. Martin Freeman will be playing Bilbo Baggins (as seen in above photo), and in my opinion he looks absolutely perfect for the part! I am once again amazed at these people’s supreme casting abilities.
     I certainly recommend you buy this book and read it! Nobody can have a decent life without having read one of Tolkien’s books! And you must hurry before the movie comes out!

Criteria 1-10
Creative Characters: 10
Excitement: 8
Plot: 9
Interest: 8
Well-Written: 10
Emotional Involvement: 7
Mature Content: 0

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

For once, I watched the movie before I read the book. I loved the movie, so when I saw an unabridged addition of Pride and Prejudice for only 3.99 I bought it and read it!
     Pride and Prejudice is set in 18th century England, where you can almost see large manors, women in long dresses, and horse-drawn carriages. Throughout the story we follow the young Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters as make their way through society, relationships, and romance. Elizabeth’s mother is determined that she will have each of her daughters promptly married off, and the story begins when the wealthy Mr. Bingly and his friend Mr. Darcy move to town, much to Mrs. Bennet’s delight.
     It was a good book. It could go from funny, to awkward, to romantic all in once scene! If I hadn’t seen the movie I would have never read the book, but I’m glad I did and it was better than I expected, and there are no content concerns- it’s really very moral. I always thought that type of book would be really annoying and bore me to death, but it wasn’t like that at all.
     Now I’m going to be overly harsh and negative. I’m not an Austenian (or what ever they are called) by any means, and I don’t really plan on reading any more of Jane Austen’s books. They do not have enough action, they do not involve me emotionally enough, and the trials that the characters face seem to me, nothing more than what a typical high school girl would face- not quite grand or important enough. My opinion may very well change in the future, possibly as I mature, so by all means read some of Austen’s work and decide for yourself!
     By watching the movies Becoming Jane (2007), Sense and Sensibility (BBC), and part of Emma (BBC), I have gathered that Austen’s works are quite similar and drawn form her owl life. If you read one and like it, you’ll probably like the rest- and vise versa.
     As I read a book by Leslie Ludy she began using the Pride and Prejudice romance as a reference for her views on romance/courtship/dating. I can see why, as they where very decent, guarded, and abstinent, but I really don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not just Ludy, but other’s too, for example the “Dating Mr. Darcy” Christian devotional by Sarah McArthur. (Ludy and McArthur are in fact good very good Christian authors that you should look into.) But it’s best that you do not read the book with this in mind. Just read it, and evaluate afterwards. I am in fact, a supporter of abstinence and kind of one of those courtship people, but that’s a different story, and I don’t like how people try to make a bunch of rules for romance. It’s about perspective and principles people- not rules! (Forgive me, I just had to rant a bit there.)
     Now to discuss the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice. I think most would agree that this is the best video dramatization of the story yet. It’s become a favorite of mine because the actors where perfect, it was exceptionally well done, and it perfectly captured the book, even with it’s few small differences. When I read the book I was actually disappointed that a few things that where in the movie where not in the book, but I don’t think any of those things are all that noticeable to purists. I definably recommend watching it, especially if you find the book hard to follow.
     I know a lot of people love it and think Pride and Prejudice is great, but if you’ve read my other reviews you know this sort of thing just isn’t my taste. It was a long, but I read it quickly enough, which means I enjoyed it fairly enough. It’s a complement in itself when I choose to read a book all the way through!

Criteria 1-10
Creative Characters: 6
Excitement: 2
Plot: 7
Interest: 6
Well-Written: 9
Emotional Involvement: 6
Mature Content : 0

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Thief Lord

I held off reading The Thief Lord for a while, I was worried it would be too boring and I didn’t want to waste my money. BUT, when I found out that it was written by the author of Inkheart (now a major motion picture) I put it in my cart the moment I saw it- happily for a much discounted price!
     The Thief Lord is mainly about two characters: Prosper, who flees his aunt and uncle with his little brother; and a boy called The Thief Lord who is the head of a group of child vagrants and lives a secretive life. It has a wonderful, exiting plot with tension, danger, and blossoming interest; all set in the magical, beautiful, and mysterious city of Venice! The Thief Lord himself is a truly inspired character and is my favorite- though the other characters are very creative and loveable too! Really I love all the characters and their appearances are properly measured out.
     It has a happy ending- as a children’s book should. But I was a bit disappointed by it, mainly because the book had problems presented that were not solved in a realistic way. What are readers to do? Things worked out nicely for the characters but what if we have similar problems as the characters? What are we to do, I ask? I suppose sometimes we must live out our lives for ourselves and not get all the answers from fiction (as I find myself trying to do) for, after all, it is fiction and cannot be guaranteed to be compatible with real life.
     This is a finely written tale with plenty of intrigue, feeling, and fun. All the things that make a story wonderful! I’m amazed at how easily controlled I am. Cornelia Funke is like a magician over my mind and emotions through her writing. I hold my blue hardback copy and affectionately stroke the beautiful book-jacket. I really do love everything about it. It’s like a sparkling sapphire gem to me.
Parents may want to know that adults, in general, are portrayed negatively in this book, with few exceptions. Although one woman who is an adult (and quite influential in the story), is portrayed very well and I think adults and children would like her fairly well. Also, thieving is in fact a part of this book. Prosper dislikes the thieving very much, and though he lives off the results of it, he tried to keep his conscious as clean and he feels he can.
     There was a movie made of this book and I watched it on YouTube. It has differences from the book so, “Don’t judge a book by it’s movie!” They got incredibly perfect actors for The Thief Lord and Prosper, I could stare at them all day- I feel like such a fangirl but they really are superb. Some parts of it were a bit painful to watch (the parts that were different from the book), especially at the end when they use these really weird voices… Plus, they all have British accents which makes no sense because they are supposed to be Italian! But overall it was a pretty good movie, and worth watching for the many good parts.
     The Thief Lord one of my new favorite books- I highly recommend it! The whole time I was reading it I could think of nothing else, and I was left in a moved state even days afterwards- I don’t even know why or how to explain it. I can’t say that the same will be true for you if you read it, I’m just saying what it was like for me. I found myself having such a desire to fly to the magical city of Venice and roam the canals with The Thief Lord himself. I got much too involved in this story. I was happy when the book was happy and sad when the book was sad- it overtook me, as a good book should.

Criteria 0-10
Creative Characters: 7
Excitement: 6
Plot: 6
Interest: 7
Well-Written: 7
Emotional Involvement: 10
Mature Content: 0