Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: I've Changed My Mind

This week's TTT topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is "Top Ten Books You've Lost Interest In."  Drawing on my Goodreads TBR list, the books I've put on a similar list on my local library's website, and my TBR list here on my blog, here are ten books that I once thought I might want to read, but have decided I'm not really interested in after all.  They are getting removed from my TBR lists today!

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain.  Although I love film noir and Raymond Chandler and Barbara Stanwyck, I really don't like the movie very well.  I understand how good it is, but I don't LIKE it.  So why would I read the book it's based on?

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanin.  I have no memory of putting this book on my TBR list.  Hmm.

The Humanity Project by Jean Thompson.  Not even sure what made me want to read this.

The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler.  I've read it's disturbingly gory, so yeah... skipping that one.

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel.  Sounds depressing.

The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell.  No longer interests me.

A Match Made in Texas novella collection.  I'm guessing just the fact that it was Christian fiction set in Texas was what interested me?

Miss Christmas by Gigi Garrett.  I added this to my TBR in a fit of holiday fervor, but now I'm thinking that nope, not my thing.

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.  I didn't like The House of Silk, so not going to bother reading another one.

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco.  Now sounds creepier than I really want to deal with.

Okay, that's my ten!  Any books here you've read?  Do you think I should put them back on my TBR?  Or do you agree I've got better things to read?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Voice of Saruman (TTT 3, 10)

And after the happy little interlude in the previous chapter, we get heavy and serious here. And suspenseful. I mean, for a minute there, I started to think Saruman had totally gotten Theoden under his spell. And I've read this how many times? Seen the movie how many times? But I still got all worried.

Saruman reminds me so, so much of Adolf Hitler. The power of his voice, anyway. Hitler was said to have a kind of mesmerizing thing going on when he made speeches. And the guy convinced a nation to go to war, to either participate in or turn a blind eye to all kinds of atrocities. That's a lot of power. Look at how Tolkien describes Saruman's voice:
Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves (p. 564).
Just like it's hard to tell what color Saruman's cloak is, it's hard to tell just what he's saying or why. I find that so scary! Not being able to tell just what something is or means... yikes.

Favorite Lines:

"The treacherous are ever distrustful" (p. 568).

"Well, well, things will go as they will; and there is no need to hurry to meet them" (p. 571).

Discussion Questions:

Saruman says to Gandalf, "You are proud and do not love advice, having indeed a store of your own wisdom" (p. 567). Do you think people who don't like advice are that way because they have enough wisdom of their own?

Do you think Gandalf actually does not love advice? Or would he gladly accept advice from someone he trusts, like Elrond or Galadriel?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: Flotsam and Jetsam (TTT 3, 9)

Ahh, a happy interlude. I really like this chapter, with the remnants of the Fellowship eating and smoking and exchanging stories and information. That bit where Pippin produces a spare pipe and Gimli calls him a "most noble hobbit" always makes me grin. Same goes for when Pippin tells what Gandalf's reappearance was like -- that time, he got called a "tom-fool of a Took" instead, but it still makes me grin.

And aren't the Huorns nifty? Especially how they can "wrap themselves in shadow" (p. 551) -- that would be such a useful power! They're also a bit scary, and of all the not-evil creatures in Middle Earth, I think I'd want to meet them the least.

Favorite Lines:

"One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters" (p. 550).

"It is difficult with these evil folk to know when they are in league, and when they are cheating one another" (p. 552).

"A punch from an Ent-fist crumples up iron like thin tin" (p. 553).

"'Wherever I have been, I am back,' he answered in the genuine Gandalf manner" (p. 556).

Discussion Questions:

Pippin says that "nobody, not even Elves, will say much about Gandalf's movements when he is not there" (p. 556). Why do you suppose that is?

Aragorn says of Saruman that "[t]here are not many in Middle-earth that I should say were safe, if they were left alone to talk with him, even now when he has suffered a defeat. Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel, perhaps, now that his wickedness has been laid bare, but very few others" (p. 553). Do you think he says they're different because they possess the three Elvish rings of power? Or just because they're all three wise and powerful?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Winners of the International Book-Giving Day Giveaway

Happy Valentine's Day!  And Happy International Book-Giving Day too :-)  The giveaway widget has spoken, and here are the six lucky winners:

F. Scott Fitzgerald On Writing -- Maddie W.
Gift from the Sea -- Kathryn M.
Aspects of the Novel -- Rachel A.
Mugging the Muse -- Ekaterina Y.
Flashes of Splashes -- Nassim M.
The Trials of Sherlock Holmes -- Eva S.

Congratulations, all of you!  I will be emailing you this morning to ask for your mailing info so I can send you your prizes.  If you don't respond by Wed, Feb. 21, I will be forced to disqualify you and choose a different winner for that prize, so... repondez, s'il vous plait!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Romances

This week's TTT topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is a "romantic freebie," so I'm doing my list of Top Ten Favorite Romantic Pairings from Classic Literature.  Naturally, I could have filled this whole thing with romances from Jane Austen's novels alone, but I made myself only include three of hers so as to make my list a bit broader.  Titles are linked to my reviews if I've reviewed that particular title.  Also, there might be some SPOILERS lurking here, so um... proceed with caution?  

1.  Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  Both of them have endured so much unhappiness in the past, and they actually cause each other some unhappiness throughout the book too, but by the end, they have both grown into mature people who have learned to love, trust, and cherish each other.

2.  Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth from Persuasion by Jane Austen.  They're the king and queen of second chances, aren't they?  Both must learn to be whole and healthy on their own, and then they are ready to give each other a lifetime of happiness.

3.  Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery.  I love that we get to see their love story beyond the meet-cute and the early stages of romance.  We follow them into marriage and parenthood, and they remain just delightful.  I wish so much that the last few books of the series had more Anne and Gilbert in them.

4.  Eowyn and Faramir from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.  Two more damaged people who help each other heal and become ready for the future.  One has spent her life yearning for activities and accolades she's not allowed to pursue, and the other has spent his life yearning for the love and acceptance his father won't give him.  Once they both accept that who they are is who they are meant to be and stop chasing after things and people they can't have, they are ready to begin their new lives together.

5.  Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  They might win the prize for Most Adorable Couple.  Or come in second after Anne and Gilbert?  Catherine learns to understand people and herself, and she learns so much of that from Mr. Tilney, who also has to learn to be serious and sensible now and then.  But not too often.

6.  Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Opposites attract!  They really do!  Especially when two opposite people are willing to accept and learn from each others' differences.

7.  Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.  These two.  Oh, these two.  They both have to learn to just shut up once in a while, to not say things they'll regret just because they're funny or clever.  

8.  Margaret Hale and John Thornton from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  Two judgemental people who discover that first impressions are a really bad thing to base your opinions of people on. 

9.  Esther and Judah Ben-Hur from Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Gen. Lew Wallace.  Mostly I love these two for their stubbornness.  My goodness, both of them refuse to let go of things, be it love or revenge.  Happily, Esther teaches Judah how to turn his stubbornness to good uses by the end.

10.  Dorothea Casaubon and Will Ladislaw from Middlemarch by George Eliot.  I love that although these two developed feelings for each other while Dorothea was married to someone else, they never acted on those feelings, but instead acknowledged that feelings are not the most important things in the world.  And that fits them for being happy together by the end, because they know that understanding and appreciating a person is more important than just gooshy, smooshy feelings for them.  

So... I think we see a pretty clear pattern here, don't we?  I love couples who learn from each other and help each other become better, happier people.

Have you read any of these?  Do you have any patterns in the romances you like best?  Did you do TTT this week?

Although I didn't formally sign up to participate in this yet, I'm linking this post up with Cordy's Lovely Blog Party hosted on her blog, Any Merry Little Thought.  It's a month-long party focusing on fictional love stories, which is exactly what this post is about!

Don't forget that today is the last day you can enter my book giveaway!  Go here to enter if you haven't already.  I'll be drawing the winners tomorrow.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Road to Isengard (TTT 3, 8)

This is one of those in-between chapters where I don't have a lot to say. Legolas and Gimli's reunion is quite funny, and I love their plan to show each other Fangorn and the Helm's Deep caverns when the war is over. And the reunion of Merry and Pippin with their would-be rescuers is always amusing.

Theoden says of the Ents that "the songs have come down among us out of strange places, and walk visible under the Sun" (p. 537). This seems to be a theme with the Rohirrim, that characters in songs or stories can come alive. A guard at Meduseld (was it Hama?) told Aragorn, "It seems that you are come on the wings of song out of the forgotten days" (p. 500), and Eomer started this whole theme by saying, "Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass" (p. 423), while good old Eothain the Ever-Courteous scoffed, "Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?" (p. 424) when Gimli said they were searching for Halflings. I wonder why this is such a repeated theme while we're in Rohan, but not with the Elves or in Gondor?

Okay, that's the first discussion question for this chapter.

Favorite Lines:

"These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the table, or the small doings of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience" (p. 545).

"For however the fortune of war shall go, may it not so end that much that was fair and wonderful shall pass for ever out of Middle-earth?" (p. 537)

Another Discussion Question:

As they approach Isengard, Gandalf and company pass a great pillar of the white hand (symbol of Saruman) that has had its nails painted red. Any theories on why they've been painted red, or by whom? I feel like this is supposed to symbolize something, or be significant, but I'm not sure what it's about.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Rapunzel's Guide to All Things Brave, Creative, and Fun" by Suzanne Francis, Illustrated by Enric Prat

This is an adorable, entertaining, and informative little book.  I picked it up on a whim at the bookstore, and when I was only halfway through it, I decided I liked it so much, I gave a copy to the young daughters of one of my friends because I knew they would find it fun too.

The whole book is narrated by Rapunzel, as if she's chattily telling you how to do things she enjoys.  Art, writing, games, outdoor activities, even Self Defense with a Frying Pan are all covered here.  My almost-8-year-old is very happy that I've finally finished reading this because she is eager to get her own hands on it :-)  But I think my 10-year-old son is going to get a kick out of it too!  Things like chess and sword-fighting and knot-tying get just as much time as hairstyles and pottery and good manners. 

If you've got a youngster in your life who loves to learn how to do new things for themselves, I totally recommend this book.  Plus, the illustrations are adorable.  And there are lots of Eugene :-D

If This Was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Nothing objectionable here at all.

This is my second book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Challenge 2018.