Lion

33022291.jpgLion by Saroo Brierley

Rating: ★★★★ // Riveting and heartwarming story. 

First Line: “They’ve gone.”

Review:

I liked this book much more than I was expecting to. As I’ve said before I usually don’t prefer memoir like books, but Lion, originally titled “A Long Way Home: A Memoir” was very good.

Following the story of Saroo, a young Indian man living in Australia who finally decides to dedicate all his extra time and energy into finding his family, whom he was separated from at the age of 5.

After getting lost, Saroo jumped around until he ended up in a home and was quickly (compared to other children) adopted by an Australian couple. It wasn’t until he was in college that he started thinking about finding his family back in India, and it wasn’t until after had graduated and working full time that he really put all his effort into finding his home.

Aside from being well-written, which it is, this story really tugs at the heartstrings and emphasizes the importance of families and relationships are in life.

“We all reach a point as young adults when we wonder what we should be doing with our lives—or, at the very least, which direction to point ourselves in. Beyond the means to get by, we need to think about what’s most important to us. Not surprisingly, I discovered that for me the answer was family.”

I found one of my favorite aspects of the book was the relationship between Saroo and his adoptive parents. Not once were they upset or jealous when Saroo focused on finding his family, which had to be difficult for them. Instead they were supportive, encouraging, and helpful when they needed to be. Saroo, for his part, was also very in-tune to how they must feel and he treated the situation well. This aspect was unexpected in the book, because I expected there to be some sort of drama, but it really didn’t show up, which was a nice surprise.

“Adoptees, whether or not they ever knew their birth parents, often describe the constant, gnawing feeling of there being something missing: without a connection, or at least the knowledge of where they are from, they feel incomplete.”

I recommend this book, not if your looking for excitement, but if your looking for strength in the human condition. I can’t yet vouch for the movie adaptation, but it has gotten pretty decent reviews and I look forward to watching it.

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The Lord of the Rings

33.jpgThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: ★★★★★ // nothing compares. 

Opening Line: “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

Review:

This summer my book club took on The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to re-read my favorite book series of all time. I think this was my second time reading the whole thing, I have read the first book maybe four times, and the second a few times, but for the whole series one after the other, this was the second time, and I have to say it was amazing.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

There are so many reasons why I love this series: the characters, the plot, the setting, the mythology, the chivalry, the good vs. evil battles…seriously I could go on for so long, but I’m not going to spend time talking about the character or plot because everyone knows those things, and it would be way too long of a blog post. What I want to talk about first is the historical world of Middle Earth, and second I want to quickly talk about a neat writing trick Tolkien used.

The world of Middle Earth has such an extensive history and documentation that when you are reading it and when you read other books by Tolkien, it is really easy to forget that this is not true story. I know this is extremely nerdy to say, but I’m a nerd so here it goes, when I read The Lord of the Rings, I have such a hard time believing this world didn’t actually exist somewhere, somehow, and this is solely because of the genius that is J.R.R. Tolkien.

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

One thing that stuck out to me when I was rereading this trilogy was all of the implied history and tales that were told throughout the book–they almost take up as many pages as the plot does. I can’t think of many books where the backstory takes up so much space and is treated as important as it is in this book. So why did Tolkien do this? My theory is that he wanted to show us that this story, the story of the Fellowship and the destruction of the Ring of Power, is only just one story in the world of Middle Earth. I mean, think about it, why would he go through all this trouble to write stories, some of which have no direct impact on the plot? I think it was to show that this one of many stories worth being told.

Now, of course, this was a pretty important story, they saved the world from being controlled by a evil master, and after it took place, it was probably seen as the greatest story, but to the characters at the time of the story, they doubted they would even be remembered in future tales. It was kind of their fantasy to be in a tale as wonderful as the ones they were told as kids. Tolkien reminds us over and over again that this story is not alone, which, in its own way, shows us how important the story is. Hear me out, when reading this, or any, book, and we keep hearing about “the stories of old” within the plot, we start to connect the old great stories to the one we are reading about, making us realize that this story is equal to those, even if the characters do not recognize it to be so.
While many books have fantastic back stories and make you really fall into the world created  with those backstories, there are few that actually have all those physical stories written down like a history book. Tolkien wrote close to 20 separate works on Middle Earth and only 4 of those have anything to do with the Ring of Power. He created a universe, not just a story.

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

The second, and last, thing I wanted to mention about why I love this trilogy so much is that, while it is long and very detailed, it really isn’t confusing and the reader is not constantly questioning what is going on, which is very helpful in a book like this. Sometimes cliff hangers are very important, but in this book they do not play a large role, and this is mainly thanks to Tolkien’s style of almost always telling the story from the point of view of the character who knows the least. For example, when the hobbits are with Aragorn, the view point it from the hobbits perspective because they are the reader in the situation, they are the ones trying to figure out what is happening and so when they learn something, we learn something. This even happens when Gandalf and Aragorn are speaking (arguably the two smartest characters in the fellowship), Aragorn is constantly asking Gandalf to further explain what he is talking about, giving the reader all the information they need to know.

These are just two of the many things I noticed when I re-read this trilogy, but I thought they were very interesting points about how Tolkien wrote and grew the world of Middle-Earth. Tolkien created something that has yet to be matched when it comes to the extensive amount of information and the details of the world. He was truly a genius and I have no doubt that he will never go out of style.

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

Friday Five: William Blake

Happy Friday! I have been M.I.A. for a week because I went on vacation, and when I got back I was not really in the mindset for blogging, but I’m back now and ready to share some quotes for my friday five!

When I was on vacation, I stopped by this awesome used bookstore, where the books were literally flowing off the shelves–it was magical. Well, I couldn’t leave there without buying something, but I also didn’t want to buy a big book, because this was day 1 of my trip and I didn’t really have room for a big book, so I bough a little pocketbook size book of Selected Poetry of William Blake. Therefore, my friday five will feature five quotes from the wonderful poet, William Blake.

1.

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2.

“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom…for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”

3.

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4.

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

5.

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Mystery Blogger Award

Happy Saturday!

I was nominated for this back in July, and while I said I would get to it ASAP, it seems I did not…I’m the worst with these things :/  Siobhan @ Siobhan’s Novelties nominated me, and I have to say, I’m so honored and so so sorry it took me so long to finally do it! This award was created by Okoto Enigmas, and I would like to thank both Okoto and Siobhan for this award!

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Award Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Nominate roughly 10-20 people for this award
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  8. Ask your nominees five questions.
  9. Share a link to your best/favorite post that you’ve written

Three Things About Me (these are all reading facts about me):

  1. I am in a book club called “The Well-Read Mom”– it is a book club that is spread throughout the United States, and in my group, I am the only person who is neither married nor a mom…I just really like the book selections 😉 If you want to check it out, you can go to WellReadMom.com.
  2. Inspired by Well-Read Mom, and out of request by one of my friends, I started my own book club/list for 2017, and I intend to make a reading list for next year as well. My list is a mix between classics and newer books, and if you want to check it out or join in the reading fun, you can check out my list here!
  3. I just joined the “Operation War & Peace” group on GoodReads…and it’s exactly what it sounds like. In September (and the first week of October) I, along with the rest of the group, am going to try to get through the entirety of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s quite an undertaking, but I’m feeling oddly optimistic! Feel free to join the group on GoodReads if you want to participate, the more the merrier!

Siobhan’s Questions:

  1. Who is your guilty pleasure author/series? Do you love to hate it or hate to love it?
    • I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure author or series, but more a genre. I hate to love political thrillers. The reason I hate to love them is because I don’t think they are the best written books, and they are usually pretty predictable, yet I really enjoy them!
  2. What is the latest book you’ve read that you’ve absolutely hated/loved?
    • I recently finished Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and I absolutely loved it! It took a little while for me to finish it, but I thought it was splendid!
  3. What bothers you in your favourite genre (e.g., love triangles in YA)
    • I love me some classics!…but I will say, some classics could use an editor who told them to cut, cut, cut….those classic authors tend to ramble and get sidetracked at times.
  4. What is the most underrated book/series/author?
    • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. This book is absolutely fantastic, and it is in my top five favorite books! While Twain is not underrated, this book is almost unknown. Twain claimed that it is his best book, and it is the one he spent the most time on, and if you ask me, it deserves recognition.
  5. If you could pick a book you wanted to change, which book is it, and how would you change it?
    • Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. It’s not so much that I would change anything, that I would have it not be printed as it was. I did enjoy this book, but it was allegedly printed in haste and without being completed by the author, I think it did an injustice to her words. Now, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe it was printed exactly how she intended it, but from what I read and how the book “felt” it seemed that she was not quite done with it.

Ok, it is late and I am falling asleep, so I’m not going to nominate anyone directly, but please please please, if you have good answers to my questions and you feel inclined to answer them, consider yourself nominated! I would really love to learn more about you! I’m really sorry for breaking this part of the rules, but sometimes that just happens!

My Questions:

  1. What book surprised you the most or what book did you expect to dislike but ended up loving?
  2. Which author have your read the most of? Is he/she your favorite author or is it coincidence?
  3. What is your favorite TV show?
  4. Have you taken the Myers Briggs Personality test? If so, what is your personality type? Mine is INFP 🙂
  5. What are you currently reading and what do you think about it so far?

 

My best and my favorite post’s I’ve written might be different, so I’ll share both. Before I do that, I will say I like my reviews better than my tags, because I’m more passionate about them, but my tag post have much more views/likes than my reviews, so I will share my most viewed tag post and my favorite tag post.

My most viewed post is my Top Ten Tuesday: Biggest Bookish Turn-offs post, but my favorite post is my Top Ten Tuesday: Dead Authors I’d Love to Have A Drink With post.

Thanks again to Siobhan for the tag and nomination! I hope to see some of you answer my questions (even if it’s only in the comment section)!!

 

Friday Five: Jane Austen

After reading Love & Friendship and Lady Susan by Jane Austen, I was inspired to dive into some of her quotes, and I’d love to share with you a few of them that speak right to my soul!

1. 

2.

“There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.”

3.

4.

“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.”

5.

Love & Friendship and Lady Susan

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At last, I have found my favorite Jane Austen stories. Ok, I wasn’t really looking very hard, but I found them nonetheless!

I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, but I also have only read Pride and Prejudice before reading these two beauties. P&P didn’t suite me, and so I kinda stayed away from Austen, assuming (probably incorrectly) that most of her novels are similar. I did resolve to read some of them, and they are high on my TBR, but somehow I keep looking over them to the next book…oops… But now, after reading Love and Friendship and Lady Susan, I am more inclined to pick up some Austen books because these two short works are so fun.

Love and Friendship

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Love and Friendship is a collection of letters written by Jane Austen before the age of 16 (allegedly) for the entertainment of her family. The story unfolds in an exchange of letters and, as was Austen’s intent, seems to poke fun at the traditional romance novel.

This book is hilarious. The women highlighted are absolutely ridiculous, and they are constantly scheming, dramatizing everything, and fainting at every possible moment. Austen’s humor shines much stronger than in her longer novels, because she really goes to lengths to exaggerate every detail of these woman’s lives. If they had a bad day, she makes it the utmost worst day anyone had ever experienced. If someone insulted them, she made it an insult that had embarrassed them so greatly they were forced to faint on the spot…everything is the worst or best.  This, of course, helped show Austen’s point that romantic novels are nothing more than dramatic women making things more dramatic.

The quotes in this book are so so fantastic. For example, her is an excerpt from one of the letters.  Upon having a shock, “Sophia shrieked and fainted on the ground – I screamed and instantly ran mad. We remained thus mutually deprived of our senses, some minutes, and on regaining them were deprived of them again. For an Hour and a Quarter did we continue in this unfortunate situation – Sophia fainting every moment and I running mad as often.”  This, fainting and running mad, is quite a common trend in the book, and every time it happens it’s more comical then the rest.

There were other comments that were just hysterical, e.g.:

“She was a widow and had only one Daughter, who was then just seventeen–One of the best of ages; but alas! she was very plain and her name was Bridget. . . . . Nothing therefore could be expected from her–she could not be supposed to possess either exalted Ideas, Delicate Feelings or refined Sensibilities–.”

Um…what? I actually really like the name Bridget…ok, Austen. It’s comments like this that make the stories ridiculous and therefore hilarious.

Austen is pointing out the flaws of romantic novels, and perhaps writing things like this was her inspiration to fix romance novels in the future.

Without the knowledge that Austen wrote these letters in order to entertain her family and to make fun of romance knowledge, this story would seem annoying and extremely juvenile…it would almost be expected of a 14-year-old to write. However, knowing that Austen was only 14 while writing them, and she did so in order to mock the common way women, love, and friendships are seen in books, makes you realize the true genius of the writing, and how advanced Austen was.

If this story teaches you nothing, or if you thought it was complete rubbish, at least take this from it:

“Beware of fainting-fits. . . Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable yet believe me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution.”

 

Lady Susan

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I want to be Lady Susan. Ok, not really, because she is not a good person, but Austen makes her so deliciously bad, you just want to have her confidence and cunning nature…even though she really is bad.

“[Lady Susan] does not confine herself to that sort of honest flirtation which satisfies most people, but aspires to the more delicious gratification of making a whole family miserable.”

This book takes about 2 hours to read (maybe fewer), and it’s really worth the sit down. Plus after you can watch the movie adaptation on Netflix, which is confusingly called Love & Friendship. Why they decided to call the movie the same title as a different Austen book, I do not know, but I do know that the movie is very well made, and it follows the book decently well.

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Ok, so Lady Susan is another book that is told through a series of letters. These letters are much more sophisticated than those written in Love and Friendship, and they tell of a much more sophisticated plot. Lady Susan, our anti-heroine, is a widow who basically goes around flirting with any man she can find, and making the lives of everyone around her miserable. She is a terrible mother, a two-faced friend, and believes toying with the emotions of young men a suitable and enjoyable way to spend the day (ok, she may have a point with that last one..).

“My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! Just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die.”

I don’t want to give the main plot away, because this one really should be read by all Austen fans…it’s so entertaining. The great thing is that with every letter denouncing Lady Susan’s actions, you have two letters from her praising her own actions, and even though you know she is crazy, you find yourself believing her and pitying her, even though she deserves no such pity.

***

Both these stories are just fantastic and so much fun to read. I won’t go on, because I’ll could just ramble on and on about how funny they are, but seriously, if you are a Jane Austen fan or a fan of classic romantic novels, give these two a read; I promise you will be entertained!

Top Ten Tuesday: but classics are boring! 

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Top Ten Tuesday is back!! This week The Broke and the Bookish gave us a pretty open topic. All they said was “Top Ten Book recommendations for _________.” This topic can go every which way, and I can’t see what people do with it.

I’m going to stick with the classics and list 10 classics for people who think classics are boring (I’ll also have some honorable mentions at the end, because there are so many!)

Some of these have made it in my top tens before, a few are new, but all of them are books I did not want to put down until I finished them.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas 

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Revenge, prison breaks, knife fights, kidnappings, treasure hunts, elaborate parties, and never-ending love…these are only a portion of what you get from The Count of Monte Cristo. While it’s a long book, the action really speeds it along (also the movie is pretty good, even though they change a few things).

2. The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles

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You want drama? Sophocles will give you drama. The cycle is a combination of three plays written by the greek philosopher, and they are packed with insanity. You have unlikely marriages, accidental murders, and you will learn what happens when you try to trick fate and fortune.

3. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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I don’t think I have to explain this one. Tolkien masterfully told an epic tale of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and their role in the destruction of the ring of power.

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

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These witty and sophisticated mysteries are so fun and clever. Each mystery is it’s own chapter, so you don’t have to worry about stopping in the middle of one without getting to the answer, but I promise you, you will want to keep reading.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 

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While nothing like the movies, Frankenstein is a genius work full of science, adventures, betrayal, murder, and repentance. It is fast-paced and exciting, and it does not cease to make you think.

6. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer 

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Hands down, the two most epic tales ever written…also the oldest epics ever written. The Iliad and the Odyssey (if you can get past the poetry) are stories like none other. Their mix of mythology and history give a unique and fascinating tale of the Trojans and the Greeks.

7. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

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Affairs, battles, corrupt politicians, assignations (and failed attempts), blackmail, and so much more. The Three Musketeers, in classic Dumas fashion, never stops the action and keeps adventure a top priority.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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While being a children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia are entertaining to those of any age. They are quick reads with fantastic characters and plots, always showing the chivalry and honor of the hero’s, and the evil capabilities of the villains.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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This gripping novel tells of the civil rights movement in the deep south. This book isn’t as action packed as the rest in my list, but it never fails to grasp the reader’s attention, all while sharing the history and morals of the author’s childhood.

10. Anything by Agatha Christie  

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Christie never fails to impress me, and her stories are always so entertaining. She will show you that even old books can have some mystery and excitement when it comes to murder. Christie is known as the Queen of Mystery and she has certainly earned that title.

 

Honorable mentions:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

1984 by George Orwell

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

tragedy-of-hamlet.jpgHamlet by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★★★★ // so. much. goodness. (and killing). 

Favorite Line: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

Review:

Am I allowed to review Shakespeare? I don’t think I am…I’m just a mere peasant, after all. Well, this will be a mini-review then, with limited critiques, mainly because I couldn’t find many things to actually criticize.

Why have I never read Hamlet before? Well, probably because I’m a punk and I assumed it was overrated. Also, I already knew the story, so I figured there wasn’t really a reason for me to read it. As it turns out, there is a reason to read it and the reason is because it’s awesome.

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

Hamlet, for all you other non Hamlet readers, is the Prince of Denmark. The play picks up right after the marriage of his mother to his uncle, which takes place only one month after Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, is killed. Hamlet is in a foul mood, for obvious reasons, when he meets the ghost of his father, who tells him he was murdered and must be avenged. This sends Hamlet deeper into madness, and he devises a plan to trap his father’s murderer and take his revenge. He’s also in love with Ophelia.

“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

The plot of Hamlet is terrific. While I had known the general plot before reading, it really takes a shape of it’s own, and is much more intricate in the play. Obviously in a play the narrative is the main way of moving the plot along, and the way it is done in this play is brilliant (this is Shakespeare, after all).

I always forget how funny some of Shakespeare’s characters are. Even in a somber mood, he frequently seems to bring in the sarcastic, or at least the witty, friend to lighten the mood, or to bring the character back to his senses. Another thing I really liked about this play is that the wisdom, much of the time, comes from insignificant characters. There is a conversation between two gravediggers, I think in Act III, and they are just laying down solid philosophy the whole time, all while telling riddles and jokes to each other. So here we have a play full of royals and scholars, but some of the most intelligent conversation comes in jest between two gravediggers. It’s a great way for Shakespeare to make his point without making it too obvious.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The quotes alone are worth the read in this one. This is where the “method in the madness” saying comes from, the “be true to yourself” quote pops in there (of course, it’s in rhyme in the play), this is where the famous “to be or not to be” speech is found, and there is also the amazing line, “get thee to a nunnery!” which is, of course, fantastic.

“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”

Ok, so spoiler alert up ahead for any of you yet to pick up this play, but it’s my only criticism and I want to talk about it. Why did Hamlet have to die? I mean, I assumed it would happen from the beginning because in these plays everyone dies, but it was really unnecessary. The only reason I can think of is that he had no one else to live for, but c’mon man, you’re like 25, you will find another Ophelia and you’ll probably be King of Denmark, so just stay alive. That’s my only real criticism. I really hated that Ophelia died too…she was so sweet, but that one I understand because her life really fell apart fast. 

 

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

I definitely want to read this one again, because it really is so rich and full of wisdom. So, is Hamlet overrated? Well, to quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, line 87, “No!”.