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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 2018-01-17 21:26
Ambition and Destiny
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution - Nathaniel Philbrick

The war for Independence has long been glorified in our history books. However, Nathaniel Philbrick looks through the layers and brings us a untarnished view on the history of the war.

George Washington and Benedict Arnold were two men that became legend during the war. While the war raged on, the two men could not have been more different. Washington worried about the army as the whole and suffered from indecision. Arnold thought of himself and what he could gain from the war. Two men who had greatness before them, but who could not have been more different in their mindsets and goals.
Benedict Arnold became one of the greatest traitors in the history of the United States, and his defection could have demoralized the entire army. However, Washington had been turning the war around, and those who had once been detractors of the Commander in Chief were realizing that he was the only one who could effectively lead the army. Arnold wanted to enrich himself, and come out of the war as a hero, but his actions can speak to anything but. Instead of working toward the betterment of his country, he became a turncoat, and began to work with the enemy, with the urging of his second wife, Peggy.

This is one of the best books on the American Revolution that I have read. While Benedict Arnold and George Washington are the two main characters, there is so much more present. The highs and lows, the good and the bad are all played out on the pages, and no one is spared. From the Continental Congress, to the French allies - every leaf is overturned to give a comprehensive view and greater understanding of what lead to the defection of Benedict Arnold.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the war, and the men who's names have become entwined in history.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-17 11:11
Book Review : Checkmate this is effortless Kennedy fox
Checkmate this is effortless - Kennedy Fox

Courtney Bishop is as sugary sweet as her famous blueberry muffins.
Southern belle at heart, Cali girl by choice.
She barged into my life and easily became my best friend.
All was great as roommates and just friends, but then I fell for the girl who could chop firewood, deliver baby calves, and bail hay without breaking a sweat. 
She's the perfect mixture of sugar and spice, and I love her.

Being more than friends and trying to build our future isn't as easy as it sounds. 
Moving forward and creating memories is all I want for us, but when the past continues to come back and haunt me, I'm not so sure she'll stay for the ride. 

Loving her is easy, but losing her will break me. Burning passion combined with an undeniable chemistry constantly pushes and pulls us together. In the end, I'll prove we're worth the fight, even when the game is far from over. 

Checkmate, sweetheart.


Review : Since finishing all the books in the series I can't pick a favorite couple or guy I love them all equally . This book was really good and I didn't know how much crazy Mia could get but she was off the rocker . I love Courtney and Drew as a couple they are freaking adorable they end up getting a dog together who was also another one of my favorite characters he's super adorable and after the crazy bitch sends a video . Courtney was freaking out she wanted to stay somewhere else that night but Drew says they should find a place together . And they go to to Texas for Courtney's cousin's baby shower and Drew ends up working with Courtney brothers on the farm and he was like half dead after . Courtney has to go on a trip for her job and she's going with her coworker and Drew goes to meet with Logan and he shows who had taken Courtney in Vegas and it was the coworker and he knows Mia and he fucking drugs . Drew is rushing to get to her and does and then they get into this car crash and Mia dies . Drew ends up proposing it was freaking cute loved this book.

Quote:
Drew Fisher, I knew you and all your quirks long before I fell in love with you.”


So...” I walk over to Drew and run my finger up his chest. He places a finger over my lips with a smirk. “Not in front of the fur kid.”


“I never knew a dog could be a cock-blocker.


He’s not going to care what you pick,” Drew tells me, and I gracefully disagree. “It can’t be something loud with explosions. What about this? Antique road Show.” “Sure, so when we get back he’ll be able to price all of our prized possessions.”

He shoves his hands in his pockets and chooses his words carefully. “Remind me to never get into a fist fight with any of your brothers. If they work this hard every day, well, they’d all be able to kick my ass.” “Why do you think every guy my age was scared off by them?


So, you’ll just have to keep Mr. Happy in your pants for now.” “Mr. Happy, do you hear that? We’re being rejected.”


The little brown one is Philip, the big black one is Adam, and the mix is Kristoff,” she answers with a smile. I continue petting them before it hits me. “Oh my God.” I laugh. “You named them after Disney Prince’s, didn’t you?” “Duh. I needed some romance in my life.”

You can’t jump up here every time you hear her scream, Buddy,” I tell him. “Especially when she’s screaming my name later tonight.” “Oh my God!” She blushes. “Don’t tell him that!”



“Sometimes in order to get the guy, you’ve got to create your own rules to win the game of love.

 

 

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review 2018-01-17 06:35
Creeping Fear
Lockwood & Co.: The Creeping Shadow - Jonathan Stroud

I adore this series. I always look forward to the newest book. And I have to get these on audiobook because the narration is always excellent. I was not disappointed. At the end of "The Hollow Boy", Lucy leaves Lockwood and Co for what seems like good reasons at the time. She becomes an independent contractor ghost hunter and she's good at her job. But she's not happy, even with her glass jar skull for company. She misses the camaraderie of Lockwood and Co.: George, even Holly, and of course, Lockwood. But she left to keep them safe because her newer abilities to communicate with ghosts might cause her to make a mistake and get one of her friends hurt.

Lockwood shows up at her new digs and asks for her help with a case, and she agrees to help them out. It's one of their tougher cases, and Lucy finds her life in jeopardy shortly after, and realizing that she's more safe sticking with Lockwood and Co. until they fi

gure out who's trying to kill her. That's when their biggest case comes their way, a whole haunted village. They end up in a small town with serious ghost problems a conspiracy that will shake the foundations of the ghost hunting community.

I love how Stroud steadily builds on the foundation of the last book and the previous ones. The story just expands beautifully and he doesn't leave any plot elements dangling. While he turns a few things on their heads, it's organic as the reader realizes that things weren't as the characters thought or believed. The characters are very well developed and layered. While the main characters are all teens, they have a maturity that is realistic considering the world they live in and the dangers they face every day. Let's face it. The children are the ones on the frontline, confronting and dealing with the ghost Problem.

These books are delightfully eerie and downright chilling at times. Also, there's plenty of human menace. I mean, grownups trying to kill kids. How sick is that? While the paranormal elements are integral to the story, the heart of it is the characters. Everything is told from Lucy's point of view (it's 1st person), but the characters don't suffer from being seen through the typically narrow 1st person vantage point. Instead, they are richly described, with dialogue and action that shows you everything you need to know about them. Lucy also grows as a character as she faces significant challenges and comes to realizations about what she is and how to deal with the troubles she and her friends face. And that they are stronger together.

As with the last book, this has a nice conclusion but it also leaves the door open for the next book. Things are about to get even more intense, and I'm here for it.

Another book I'd love to see made into movies. And I just checked and it's going to be optioned for a tv series in the UK. This pleases me. Sadly, the next book is the last book. But all good things come to an end.

Highly recommend!
 
 
 
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review 2018-01-16 22:59
Someone to Wed (A Westcott Novel) - Mary Balogh

 

An engaging story lovely written. I've come to love most of the author's books because of the care that it's placed on everything. The setting, the characters, the atmosphere, they're all perfectly done.
Also the fact that they mostly have a story besides _eventually _ disrobing... helps.
This story has all the things that I like:
_No insta love;
_No insta attraction;
_No pointless drama;

Instead there's friendship and companionship from the part of a big crazy family.
From my experience, I found that a little far fetched, lol, everyone getting along brilliantly; but it was nice to read...okay, a little less sweetness would have been preferred, :D but that's just me being emotionally stunted.

I loved the way the romance developed... calmly (most of the time). Alexander never once behaved like a neanderthal towards Wren, and that was vastly appreciated.
I am done with brutes and alpha jerks.

For me the only thing that kept this from being a perfect read was the last pages. I think that cutting a few pages and taking it easy on the sweetness might have helped.
But I really liked it and I do see myself re-reading it! ;)

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