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The Wind in the Willows

Book #6: The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame (children’s fiction)

So this was just a quicky read for fun so it’ll be a quicky review to match! When I was a kid we owned the “Four Seasons” VHS box set (boy, that ages me!) of “The Wind in the Willows” which I loved, but I realized a couple weeks ago I’d never actually read the original stories even though the book was sitting on one of the living room shelves. So I fixed that this week.

The stories are adorable, they’re quick, they’re for children, they’re sweet, they’re funny, and as an eighteen year old, I still enjoyed them! Although as an eighteen year old I instantly pictured “Rat” as Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and “Mole” as John Watson (Martin Freeman) so…

The book follows the story of four friends, Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger and their lives and occasional adventures. It begins with Mole in his burrow alone, not knowing anyone, but he gets a bit of spring fever, comes out of his burrow and quite quickly thereafter, meets the Water Rat. Mole is so enchanted with The River and with Ratty’s lifestyle that he moves in with him (seeing the “Sherlock” similarities yet? ;D) and soon gets to know Ratty’s friends, Otter, Mr Toad, and Badger. They all are very merry (except Badger who sticks to himself most of the time…) and they have some good laughs, find Otter’s son when he goes missing, and try (note the “try”) to keep Toad out of trouble.

It’s very light and  easy reading, obviously directed at children, but still enjoyable for adults! (or for the young at heart or something…)
All in all, 8 out of 10. Well written, happy ending, but it’s a kids book so it wasn’t exactly intellectually challenging =D

I’ve got a trip to the library planned, got a bunch of books people have recommended I read to get! Talk to you soon!
DFTBA
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fiction, Youth/Children's

The Hobbit

Book #2 (of 2012): The Hobbit
by JRR Tolkien (Fantasy)

This is my second time reading this book (yes only my second!) I first read it when I was twelve and read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy all in one month in order to be allowed to watch the movies…

I like this book; it’s the easiest of JRR’s books to read in my opinion. This may be because it was originally written to be a children’s book, or it may be because it’s a one-book story instead of a three-book story… either way I find there’s less beating around the bush and more doing in this story.

I love watching Bilbo grow from a timid little hobbit, to running a group of dwarves, it’s quite amusing! And of course this round of reading I couldn’t help but picture Martin Freeman (Dr Watson from BBC’s Sherlock) as Bilbo, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes from BBC’s Sherlock) as Smaug the dragon. They’re both going to be brilliant in The Hobbit movie that’s coming out in December. Benedict’s voice is perfect to be the sly dragon and Martin really looks very Hobbitish when you think about it!

I like that this book is an adventure story and a well laid out one. It’s exciting – you want to know what’s going to happen next! To be honest, I prefer the story line and pace of this book to the LOTR books. I love the story of the LOTR books, don’t get me wrong, but the three-book pace makes them a bit of a trial to get through and jumping back and forth from story-line to story-line (in the last two books in particular) means that they’re nothing like easy reading – you have to work at keeping stories and timing straight. The Hobbit is a gentler book with one storyline to keep straight and is fun and well written. I’ve got a thing for kids/teen books so maybe that’s why I like this one so much =D

The descriptions in this book are also very good – lots of descriptions about the Mirkwood forest, Beorn, the trolls, the Hobbit’s hole, the Lonely Mountain and surrounding area etc… it makes it very easy to picture what’s going on which, I believe, helps the reader to get into the story more. In LOTR (from what I remember when last reading the books six years ago) the descriptions are a lot longer and although the imagery is great, it can get boring.

*BASIC summary with SPOILERS*

Bilbo Baggins is a very respectable hobbit living in Hobbiton, who doesn’t have adventures and who associates with al the right people. One day Gandalf, a wizard he remembers from when he visited Hobbiton when Bilbo was a boy, visits Bilbo. He arranges for Bilbo to go on an adventure with thirteen dwarves led by none other than Thorin Oakenshield, to the Lonely Mountain to recover the gold of their forefathers, stolen from them by Smaug the dragon. Mr Baggins takes some convincing but agrees to the journey for the reward of one fourteenth of any profits. Gandalf travels with them a way as they go through to Rivendell, visiting with the Elves, and over the Misty Mountains where they fight the goblins and where Bilbo meets Gollum. In his adventure with Gollum Bilbo also find a magic ring that belonged to Gollum for a while and which allows him to disappear and walk unseen, except in strong daylight where a faint shadow can be seen.  Once he escapes Gollum and finds his friends down in the forest past the mountains, Mr. Baggins, Gandalf and the Dwarves are fenced in by wild wargs and goblins, then to be rescued by the eagles. From there they go to Carrock and stay with Beorn the skin-changer. At the entrance to the Mirkwood forest Gandalf leaves the dwarves and the Hobbit to go on alone. In the forest they deal with disappearing feasts, giant spiders, enchanted streams, and a suspicious Elf king. It is in the forest that Bilbo steps up to the plate and truly begins to prove his worth. Once they escape the make it down to Lake Town where they are hailed with great excitement as warriors who will defeat the dragon and make the rivers run with gold.  They make their way to the Lonely Mountain and mostly thanks to Bilbo find the secret entrance onto the mountain and then Bilbo gets Smaug, the dragon’s attention and eventually irks him into coming out of his cavern and trying to find “the burglar”. Smaug flies off to lake town where he believes the thief (Bilbo) to have come from. At Lake Town Bard, a decedent from the Lord of Dale of old, takes control and begins to organize a fight against the dragon. He ends up killing Smaug and helping to organize the aftermath of the dragon’s attack. The Elfking comes to help with the temporary rebuilding of the town and then the men of Laketown led by Dale and the Elvish company with the Elfking go to see what’s become of the dwarves, Bilbo, and of the dragon’s rumored gold hoard. The title of “King under the Mountain” has gone a bit to Thorin’s head and he has a bit of a hissy fit when Bard and the Elfking ask for what the dragon took from them and added to their stores. Thorin has sent news calling his cousin Dalin to come to his aid but unbeknownst to any of them (except perhaps Gandalf, who it turns out is with the company of Elves and Men come to speak with Thorin at the Lonely Mountain) the goblins with the wargs are coming for revenge against the dwarves. A battle ensues, known later as the battle of the five armies, for Dalin arrives with his dwarf warriors and fights with the Elves, the men of Laketown, and Thorin and company against the goblins and wargs. Beorn comes part way through to aid against the goblins.
In the end, Thorin is mortally wounded but makes peace with Bilbo before dying. Kili and Fili, his nephews and part of the original thirteen dwarves who travelled with Bilbo, also die defending Thorin in battle. Bilbo gets his share of the treasure, as does Bard of Laketown and the Elfking. Gandalf, Beorn, and Bilbo finally head off in the direction of home. After parting with Beorn at Carrock Gandalf and Bilbo make to Rivendell and then on to Hobbiton where they arrive in the middle of an auction. But not just any auction…! It is the auction of the property of the late Bilbo Baggins. The arrival of a quite alive Bilbo Baggins rather upsets this event and he ends up having to buy a number of his own things back from people. After his yearlong departure and abrupt return Bilbo is never quite the same, he is no longer deemed respectable, but “queer”. He is an elf-friend, he entertains dwarves, he writes poetry, and he tells alarming tales of adventures he’s been on. One thing he never tells of though, is his golden ring, his magic ring, his precious…

Overall: Nice out of Ten stars. I didn’t cry ;D

DFTBA!
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy