LotR Readalong: The Fellowship of the Ring Check-in

February is Fellowship month!

Lotr art

Illustration by Alan Lee.

Not that you’d know it, from looking around here – but it’s true. This month I’m reading Fellowship of the Ring as part of the LotR Readalong challenge. This month has been hosted by The Literary Omnivore!

Alas, I was only able to begin it this week – just in time really, as March will mean the start of Two Towers. I really must make a move-on!

The Hobbit vs. The Lord of the Rings?

I’ll be honest and admit that when I first read the Fellowship… I was not a huge fan. This was before the film came out, and I must have been 9-ish. I had loved The Hobbit, and when I found out there was a sequel, I really did try my best to read it. It wasn’t that I disliked FotR, but it bored me.

I tried again after the film came out but did not get very far that time either. Although I was a huge fan of the films – and gosh, am I still ever a fan – I never actually managed to read the trilogy! *shakes head in shame* I had thought that perhaps because Tolkien was such a genius at everything, it only made sense that he wasn’t the most engaging of writers. After all, nobody’s perfect.

Well, I was wrong! And I am very, very glad about it.

pacing… pacing… p a..c i n..g…

I am absolutely loving every minute of The Fellowship of the Ring – and can’t wait for the “real” action to get going. Admittedly, Book One does drag on slightly – but I really appreciate the history and descriptions of the Shire. Knowing what Frodo is to face, it only makes me want to savour the environment even more.

In fact, I found the prologue was very much a part of the book you could only appreciate if you already knew the characters! Tolkien writes about Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam as though he were writing at the end of the book – and not the beginning. But still, reading that Merry had written a book concerning herbs weed really made me smile.

Lotr Frodo

Illustration by Alan Lee.

In fact, I am very much in love with Merry for some reason. Probably because he really is as clever as I had thought him. I particularly enjoyed the wonderful scene where Merry reveals to Frodo that he and Pippin already knew all about the Ring. What is the spying version of a kleptomaniac? A sneak-o-maniac? Well, whatever it is – that’d be Merry. Clever and slightly devious!

Illustrated edition

As I mentioned in my Hobbit posts, I purchased the lovely illustrated (by Alan Lee) editions of the books. Although the artwork has been stunning so far, I can’t help wishing this edition was more similar to its Hobbit counterpart. The Hobbit had several lovely black and white illustrations included on the pages with the text. It was a lovely way of picturing some of the smaller scenes. Alas, The Fellowship of the Ring does not have any of these! Probably because it is not considered a “children’s book” – hmph!

LotR Readalong: The Hobbit Wrap-up

Illustration by Alan Lee.

Illustration by Alan Lee.

Since I have only just finished The Hobbit – I can not believe it took me so long! – the time has now come for a wrap-up post.  Thank you to the lovely Eva over at A Striped Armchair for hosting the Hobbit discussion.

My experience of reading The Hobbit was vastly different from my original reading as a child, but it has not detracted from the memory. When I read it all those years ago, I was utterly engrossed by the adventure. I was reading for that childhood bedtime story appeal – all the “what comes next” as opposed to the “why”.

What did you think of the ending? Well, for much of The Hobbit, the adventure seemed, well, rather superficial. They were on a quest for gold and diamonds – and that was all. It bothered me slightly, but what I ended up loving was how it turned out that the whole quest did have a nobler purpose in the end. Bilbo and co. ended up freeing an entire group of men from the tyranny they had suffered from the Master of Lake town and the Dragon Smaug.

I loved how Tolkien began to incorporate the idea of corruption in men with the Master, and at the name time the nobility of men with Bard. The burning of Laketown was really kinda, well, beautiful – in a terrible way, of course – because it showed these characteristics so clearly.  I was reminded of the scene in Return of the King where Denethor tells his army to abandon their posts. Not sure if that actually happens in the book, and look forward to finding out!  (I included the wonderful Alan Lee illustration of Smaug’s death/flight from Laketown – really recommend you get the illustrated edition!)

I probably enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first – although, Gollum, how he made me cry –    as Tolkien threw in some unexpected wrenches.  I was stunned when Thorin sent Bilbo away after everything Bilbo had done for him and his party.  And for what?  A pretty stone?  While I understood that he was basically overwhelmed by his lust for gold, it was an excellent twist I had not considered.

What delighted you most? I absolutely loved the character of Beorn the shape-shifter.  First of all, there is hilarity of how Gandalf went about introducing himself and the rest of the dwarves… I don’t think I have laughed that hard it a while!  I reminded my mother about it, and even though she hadn’t read the book in a few decades, she remembered it clear as day.  Secondly, there was his connection with animals.  Because he could communicate with them, and could even become one, he also couldn’t eat them.  As a vegetarian, I really appreciated his inclusion.

Are you planning on continuing on to The Fellowship of the Ring?  Most definitely!  I already have my illustrated by Alan Lee editions and am looking forward to reading it as an adult.  I did read Fellowship when I was younger, and just remember it being rather tedious.  I now have more appreciation for Tolkien’s world-building, and think I will enjoy the descriptions much more this time round.

Well, that’s Bilbo sorted.  I’ll be checking in with Frodo over at The Literary Omnivore this month!

Completed! The League of Reluctant Adults – A New Author Mini-Challenge

I’ve just signed up for the League Mini-Challenge for Febraury going on in coordination with the New Author Challenge (which I am not part of, but sounds brilliant) Basically, we read/review 3 to 5 League of Reluctant Adult authors in February and get entered for some great prizes.  Kinda awesome, right?

Since I have a few of these awesome authors on my TBR pile, this gives me a great incentive to actually read them!

The challenge runs Feb.1 to Feb. 28, and you can sign up for it here!

My planned reading list (these are the ones on my TBR Shelf!)

  

ETA: My first completed challenge of 2010!  This one was so much fun, and I have added two new authors to my favourites list!  Literary Escapism is planning a similar challenge for April 2010, check out the details on her site.

LotR Readalong Update (1): The Hobbit

lotr readalongIt’s January, 2010… which means The Lord of the Rings Readalong has begun!

In January, the readalong is being hosted over a A Striped Armchair.  Eva has posted some great opening questions to get the discussion going.  I have tried to answer them all to the best of my ability!

I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t heard of The Hobbit. My mother is a big fantasy/science fiction fan and I remember her pushing me to read the books. It was never too overt, but I had them on my one-day-when-I-am-nine TBR list. Then I was stuck in a rather hideous class unfortunately called “library” and was asked to either sit in silence or read. I fortunately spotted the school’s copy of The Hobbit lying unread in a dusty cover – so I opted for the latter. I must have been nine or ten – I honestly don’t remember.

What I do remember was devouring the entire book in 3 days. It consumed my every thought. After reading it, I felt compelled to do something to further my experience… so I wrote my first real book review. It was a whopper – maybe 5 pages long, complete with illustrations of Middle Earth. Needless to say, my “library” “teacher” was stunned to see me hand it in, especially as it was completely unprompted!

Immediately after I started to read The Lord of the Rings… but that is – unfortunately – a rather short story for another month!

Illustration by Alan Lee.

Illustration by Alan Lee.

As for the fantasy of Tolkien’s world – I’m afraid to say I fell out of love with the genre in my teens. I had been an avid sci-fi/fantasy fan before I hit 12… but I got distracted by fandom. When I went off to uni, I tended to read rather literary fiction… and stayed rather far from the fantasy shelves. Over the past two years I have been re-kindling my love for all the genres, but have not yet made it back to Tolkien!

My plan for reading The Hobbit and, subsequently, The Lord of the Rings is to buy new copies. We have my grandfather’s hardbacks from the 50s sitting on the shelf – and while they are well-loved from years of browsing – I want a copy I can lose without crying! (BTW – remind me to share pictures of them as they are beautiful books!)

So I have ordered illustrated (paperback) editions of the four books.  I considered buying them in hardback because of my love for Alan Lee’s illustrations (isn’t his watercolour of Smaug amazing?)… but then thought about lugging them around town with me! So, instead I plan on getting a book of his art to satisfy my longing for Middle Earth.  As soon as my copy of The Hobbit arrives, I plan on setting aside an entire Saturday to devote to it.

If you haven’t signed up for the readalong, there is still time!  Add you name to the LotR Mr. Linky to begin – or revisit – your own journey through Middle Earth.

2010 Finish that Series Challenge

I know I said I was going to stick to the challenges I had already signed up to – but this one just needed to be joined! Also, I am already in the middle of so many series, action really needed to be taken to move me along! So I have joined the Finish that Series challenge over at Royal Reviews.

This is an opportunity to finish all of those series that have been sitting on your book shelf looking at you. With this challenge you count series completed, not books read. The object of this challenge is to finish the series.

I am going to be conservative – and go for “Fascinated” and finish 3 series! I am not going to count trilogies (like the Study trilogy that I plan on finishing) and, since most of the series I am reading are ongoing, it is reasonable to assume that I will be “finishing” the unfinished!

Here is my list!

  • Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs – COMPLETE!
  1. Blood Bound – 5 stars!
  2. Iron Kissed – 4.5 stars
  3. Bone Crossed – 4 stars
  4. Silver Borne – 4 stars
  • Shifters/Werecats Series by Rachel Vincent
  1. Rogue – 3 stars
  2. Pride
  3. Prey
  • Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward
  1. Lover Awakened – 4 stars
  2. Lover Revealed
  3. Lover Unbound
  4. Lover Enshrined
  5. Lover Avenged

I already own all these books – so finishing them will help clear out my TBR pile!

31/12/2010 – I only managed to complete one of these series!  Admittedly, hoping to finish the Ward series was somewhat optimistic…

The Sunday Salon: 2010 Resolutions

tss

It is the last Sunday of 2009 – and book blogs are a flutter with challenge posts and blogging resolutions.  I seem to have joined in the crowd – signing up to the Debut YA Author Challenge, the YA Challenge and the LOTR readalong.  I have previously failed miserably with reading challenges, but I hope that by limiting myself to challenges that include books I likely would have read anyhow, I might succeed this time!

Then there are the more general reading plans that have made it into posts.  I was inspired by Teresa’s post on Shelf Love where she described her reading plans for 2010.  There are a lot of posts like these out there at the moment – Jenny over at Jenny loves to Read is even hosting a Reading Resolutions Challenge where you have back up to help you follow through with your resolutions.  Anyhow, it all got me thinking about my own reading patterns.

I don’t want to make these “official” by joining a challenge, but here are a few of my hopes for the next year:

  • Stop impulsive book buying!  I have mile long wishlists, but the often get laid by the way-side in favour of a bargain.  I find books that I really have no real desire to read, but buy them anyways because they are only 50p.  My shelves just can’t take it anymore!  Just. Say. No.
  • Read the books on my shelves!  I have some amazing books on my shelves that I desperately want to read… until I get distracted by something new and shiny.
  • Not to let my reading slumps affect my book blog.  I occasionally get into a reading slump, where nothing I read is inspiring or entertaining.  It usually results in me not updating!
  • Read The Lord of the Rings! I have conveniently joined a readalong for this particular wish.  I have never been able to make it past the first book of LOTR despite my love for the verse (and The Hobbit!).  This will be the year that I succeed!
  • And, on a less literary note, give up paper cups!  I frequent a lot of coffee shops to read and snack – and I often get a to-go cup.  It is such a waste, and is so unnecessary!
As for the 2010 reading challenges – in search of challenges for myself, I stumbled on an awful lot of others that I could not commit to!  I thought I would share the list so that you could find your own!  These start Jan. 1st 2010 (except one) and there is still plenty of time to sign up!

Author/Series Challenges:

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