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review 2018-01-19 05:45
Return of the King (Lord of the Rings, Vol 3) (Audiobook)
The Return of the King: Book Three in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Recorded Books LLC,Rob Inglis,J.R.R. Tolkien

'Well, here we are, just the four of us that started out together,' said Merry. 'We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.'

 

'Not to me,' said Frodo. 'To me it feels more like falling asleep again.'

 

Tolkien disliked allegory, favoring instead applicability. The War of the Ring is not WWII, Sauron is not Hitler, and the Nazgul and orcs are not Nazis. This story survives because anyone, at any point in time, can pick it up and find something in it that speaks to them, to their times and to their concerns and hopes. Undoubtedly, WWI and WWII influenced Tolkien. How could they not, when he started writing about Middle-Earth in the trenches while fighting in WWI? He writes about war, the battles, the people, and the destruction it brings unlike any other author I've read. He went to war with all his friends and came home alone. He then had to watch his sons go to war, and wait, and hope and fear, to find out if they would ever come home to him or be lost to him as his friends were long ago. And when he sons returned, it was to find their home ripped apart and devastated. So too Frodo and his friends return to the Shire to find their battles are not yet done.

 

This book easily has some of Tolkien's best writing in the entire series. The emotions and stakes are high throughout. He knows when to let our heroes have little moments of peace and small victories among the constant barrage of violence and hopelessness. 

 

And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardy or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.

 

And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns,  horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

 

The onslaught and oppression of the Dark Lord is relentless. He took the day away! He unleashes his armies against the West and he nearly wins. Our heroes battle on, not because they're Big Damn Heroes (although they are) but because if they don't fight they will definitely lose. They continue without hope, they willingly sacrifice themselves again and again, because if they give up, there is no one else to carry on the fight. The longer they can keep fighting, the longer they can hold off defeat - and the longer a certain hobbit has to reach Mt. Doom. In the onslaught of seemingly insurmountable odds, they keep putting one foot in front of the other - and they accumulate a lot of kickass moments while they're at it.

 

'Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!'

 

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. 'But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.'

 

From ruin, destruction and grief, comes healing, joy and love. Tolkien coined the phrase "eucatastrophe" to describe that moment in a story where the hero doesn't meet a terrible end - everything turns and victory is achieved. But that doesn't mean that losses don't still happen, or that everything bad is undone. But against all odds, that one moment of horror doesn't happen. We see it time and again throughout this book, the greatest being after Frodo fails in his quest but the Ring is destroyed anyway. Joy and sorrow, together, but joy is the greater.

 

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.

 

Tolkien uses the concepts of dark and light to great effect throughout the book, from the day without dawn to the glittering veil of the Undying Lands, he shows again and again how even the darkest days cannot extinguish all light, that no matter how bad things are and how hopeless things may seem, that to give up, to give in to despair, is the worst thing any of our heroes could do. Despair is the greatest sin, for by despairing you are assuming you already know how things are going to end - and end horribly - and if any of our heroes had done that, things would have gone very differently. Each time it seems our heroes might be about to despair, they're given a sign to keep going.

 

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was a light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

 

Yet no matter how much light may shine upon you, sometimes you've just seen too much evil. That is Frodo's reality after the War, and so the Shire was saved, but not for him - just as many veterans feel when returning home. They don't fit anymore, those they left behind can't understand what they've seen or done, or lost within themselves. No amount of explaining, if you can bring yourself to do so, will help them understand. You're forever changed, and there is no going home again. Tolkien understood it well, and it flows from the pages in the last few chapters. Yet even for Frodo, healing may still be found. 

 

Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.

 

Anyway, I can continue to rain praises on this book, but let's get to the movie pros and cons:

 

~Frodo would never tell Sam to leave and Sam would never go! (Yes, I covered this in the book review for TTT, but it bears repeating. This is the single change that pisses me off the most about the movies.)

~Yet more fakeout falls to non-deaths *sigh*

~Pippin in Gondor, Merry in Rohan - amazing!

~Denethor *sigh* Way to take a complex character and turn him into a one-note villain.

~Faramir doesn't fare much better here than he did in TTT either.

~The destruction of the Ring and Mordor were spot on, and the Eagles were great.

~That ridiculous nonsense about Arwen's life force being magically tied to the Ring's destruction is ridiculous. It makes no sense and how the hell did Elrond even get to Dunharrow? 

~Everyone bowing to the hobbits was pretty spectacular, though I do love Aragorn sitting Frodo and Sam on his throne and bowing to them just as much. 

~Éowyn and Faramir's epic whirlwind romance got reduced to a single look - and yet still somehow works. :D

~And I do like that Merry got to go to the Black Gate with Pippin. They weren't separated yet again. Yay!

~The Scouring of the Shire is, in my opinion, the most important chapter in the series. It's a culmination of everything the hobbits learned while on their quest, and now they use those skills to free their own people and their own lands. It also reinforces Frodo's PTSD and sense of failure. 'I set out to save the Shire, and it has been saved.' Note he doesn't say 'and I have saved it.' Saruman's words to him on the steps of Bag End are the cruelest words he could have spoken, and his voice proves to still be weapon enough, for even though Frodo recognizes his lies when speaking to the other hobbits assembled he still finds what Saruman says to be too close to his own thoughts. 

And it's what soldiers returning home after WWI and WWII would have encountered. No land was left untouched. They came back from fighting for their homes, families and freedoms to find those very things yanked away from them still. They had to rebuild, and say goodbye to many they loved, and roust out the spies in their midst. And so too do the hobbits. 

All that being said, for the movie that PJ was making, the Scouring wouldn't have made sense. And it would have added another half-hour easily to the already long running time. I actually love all the stuff that happens when they get home in the movie - unrealistic though it may be - and I don't miss the Scouring at all. I can always come to the books and read it when I want to.

~Mordor was just as screwed up and gloomy as I expected.

~The Paths of the Dead and the Dead Army - someone was watching too much Scooby Doo before they made those scenes. I just can't take them seriously, and using the Dead Army at the Pelennor is ridiculous. They look like scrubbing bubbles! Also, it makes the deaths of Théoden and everyone else fighting at the Pelennor feel like a stalling tactic and cheapens their sacrifices.

~More oliphaunts!! <3

~Legolas's physics- and gravity-defying antics *sigh*

~The Witch-King crumbling up like a witch forced to take a bath is a bit on the nose, especially after they made Minas Morgul the Evil Emerald City. (I do love the visuals for Minas Morgul, it looks so creepy!)

~The Grey Havens are beautiful.

~"Well, I'm back." <3

 

And now, I'm done. Until the next reread. ;)

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review 2018-01-19 01:26
Pib's Dragon (Twisted Fairy Tales) by Beany Sparks
Pib's Dragon (Twisted Fairy Tales) - Beany Sparks

The first half was OK, I was thinking 3-3.5 stars, but second part was full of info dumps and unnecessary details.
Uber convenient magical abilities and handy magical artifacts popping up at the times of need don't add stars either.

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review 2018-01-18 23:32
Making Money (Discworld #36, Industrial #5)
Making Money (Discworld, #36) - Terry Pratchett

The financial sector of Ankh-Morpork is dire trouble and Lord Vetinari looks to his Postmaster General to solve the problem, however he doesn’t want the opportunity but somethings are out of his hands.  Making Money is Terry Pratchett’s 36th Discworld novel and the second to follow the conman-turned-civil servant Moist von Lipwig who is beginning to pine for thrills and suddenly finds himself in the midst of them.

 

With the Post Office running as smoothly as possible and facing plain paperwork every day, Moist von Lipwig is looking for thrills and excitement in a variety of ways including scaling the outside of the Post Office and breaking into his own office.  Lord Vetinari attempts to sell Moist on taking over the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork and the Royal Mint, but Moist is satisfied with his life.  However Bank chairwoman Topsy Lavish changes her will to make Moist guardian of her dog, Mr. Fusspot, to whom she leaves her controlling interest in the Bank to.  Suddenly Moist is taking care of a dog and running the Bank and Mint much to his annoyance and that of the Lavish family and Mr. Bent, the head cashier.  Moist begins thinking about changes to the banking system but then is inundated with numerous challenges first from Mr. Bent, the Lavishes including one that wants to become Lord Vetinari (not Patrician just Vetinari), a former partner blackmailing him about his conman past, missing gold from the bank vault, and finally his fiancée arranging for an army of golems to arrive in Ankh-Morpork.  Soon Moist past is exposed, though no one cares, after saving the city from the golems as well as using them to base his new paper currency and is still alive at the end of the book which is the least he wants out of each day.

 

Moist is one of the most original characters that Pratchett has come up with and like Going Postal, I enjoyed following his story.  However, like the previous mentioned book this one is not up to the quality that Pratchett is known for.  While Moist, Vetinari, and Adora Belle Dearheart were well written, the overall plot and the numerous subplots just seemed to meander.  Pratchett attempted to avoid Moist doing exactly what he did in Going Postal by having him deal with other challenges, but they were a mishmash of ideas that didn’t seem to come together and pages were wasted with the Cosmo Lavish subplot that took up pages without really accomplishing anything.

 

Honestly, it was hard to rate Making Money because while I enjoyed reading Moist’s point-of-view, the overall plot of the book was just serviceable as it twist and turned based on the questionable subplots intertwined with it.  If you are a first time Discworld reader, don’t read this book until you’ve sampled some of Pratchett’s other better quality writing.  If you are a veteran Discworld reader then focusing on enjoying the point-of-view of Moist even though the book’s quality is just okay.

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review 2018-01-18 22:47
Book Review of Unchained by a Forbidden Love (Eternal Mates Paranormal Romance Series Book 15) by Felicity Heaton
Unchained by a Forbidden Love - Felicity E. Heaton

Lost to the darkness, Fuery wages a daily war against the corruption that lives within him, constantly in danger of slipping into the black abyss and becoming the monster all elves fear. Work as an assassin gives him purpose, but what reason is there to go on when he killed the light of his life—his fated mate?

 

Shaia has spent forty-two centuries mourning her mate. Tired and worn down, she agrees to wed a male of her family’s choosing, following tradition that has always bound her as a female and hoping she will be able to gain just a little freedom in return. But as she resigns herself to being the mate of a male she could never love, fate places an old friend in her path—one who tells her that her lost love is alive.

 

Will Shaia find the courage to break with tradition and leave the elf kingdom in search of her mate? And as a ray of light pierces his soul again, can Fuery find the strength to win his battle against the darkness or will it devour him and that light of their forbidden love forever?

 

Review 5*

 

This is the fifteenth book in the Eternal Mates series. I loved it!

 

Fuery is a fantastic character. He was introduced to the reader a lot earlier in the series, but hasn't had a chance until now to tell his story. He is an Elf and is working as an assassin alongside Harbin, who's story was told in book eight - Marked by an Assassin, and Hartt, who's story is yet to be told. Unfortunately, due to first fighting in a long war between the Elf Prince brothers, Loren and Vail, and his career as an assassin, he has become tainted by a darkness that threatens to overwhelm him and turn him into a monster with no conscience or mercy. When he learns that his fated mate whom he thought he had killed in a fit of madness is still alive, Fuery must battle the darkness within to claim her once more before its too late.

 

Shaia is also a fantastic character. I loved meeting her. She is a feisty elf, but she also has a nasty habit of allowing her family to dictate her life for her. I'm not sure if this is because she is looking for their approval or just has a low self-esteem problem. Nevertheless, she met and fell in love with Fuery forty-two centuries ago, but thought he died in a battle between the two princes not long after they became mates. Now, as her family is forcing her into a relationship she doesn't want, she is given a glimmer of hope when she finds out that Fuery wasn't killed at all. Determined, Shaia embarks on a dangerous mission to win her mates heart once more.

 

I absolutely love the Eternal Mates world. I started to read this book and I was quickly pulled in. It kept me riveted from beginning to end.

 

The story is told through the eyes of both Shaia and Fuery, which gives the reader a chance to see their thoughts and feelings. The characters living within the Eternal Mates universe have a strength within them that helps them to survive. However, they also have flaws and fears, which makes them lifelike and relatable. The heat between the main characters blazes white hot on the pages, and left me breathless at times with their intensity.

 

I did wonder if this series is becoming too formulaic for me. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good romance (paranormal or otherwise), but if this is a series with a story arc hidden amongst the pages (Archangel anyone?), this book didn't have anything to add to it. Sometimes its good to take a step out of the story arc and then bring the characters in at a later date back into the story arc. I am not sure if this is what the author is doing, but I am also a reader who would like more progression on the story arc front. The series is on book fifteen and each story in the series is a stand-alone, but since there seems to be a vague story arc, there must be a conclusion. However, it seems to me that the author is drawing it out a bit too long. I can understand why she is doing this; I too love the Eternal Mates world and don't wish it to end either, but when the story arc is dragged out in this fashion I start to loose interest in a series. This doesn't mean I won't read any more of the series, only that, in my opinion, the series is becoming a little tired. Perhaps the author should focus on one of the other book series she is working on, Guardians of Hades for instance, or something else for a bit before coming back to this series again. I would much rather have quality over quantity when it comes to a book series, especially one I love.

 

Felicity Heaton has written another fast paced, sexy paranormal romance that I thoroughly enjoyed! I love her fast paced writing style, which flows effortlessly from scene to scene. She is on top of my favourite author's list.

 

I do not recommend this book to younger readers due to the extremely HOT and explicit sexual scenes. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love sexy paranormal romances full of vampires, elves, werewolves, cat shifters, succubi, incubi, angels, dragons, demons and demonesses. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-01-18 18:24
Bruiser - Neal Shusterman

I inhaled this book. I recently finished Scythe and Thunderhead, and decided it was about time I caught up on Shusterman backlist titles, and it was definitely the right choice.

Not sure how to review this without spoilers, though. There's a great SF/magic conceit at the heart of this story, and it's beautiful and painful and somehow he manages to tell a fast-paced, accessible story around it. It starts with twins - a girl going out with a bit of a sad rescue-case, and her brother, indignant and ready to do something about it. But the new boyfriend has more going on behind the scenes than anyone could have realized, and when they do, it's going to change everyone's lives.

 

Format in this is brilliant. Short, tense chapters alternate voice between the twins, the love interest, and his younger brother. Each has a distinctive voice, and Brewster/Bruiser's is conveyed in symmetrical verse. Recommended as a rare YA that should work for hestitant, as well as confident readers, and both male and female readers. I inhaled this in a day. Excellent storytelling.

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