Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

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***Warning: Spoilers Ahead!***

Check out my review of the first two books, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.

Summary: This is the last book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It describes the success of Frodo and Sam in making it to the mountain; however, once they arrive, Frodo finds himself unable to cast the ring into the fire. Gollum wrestles for control and bites off Frodo’s finger, obtaining his “precious” moments before slipping into the lava. This effectively ends the seemingly hopeless war that Gandalf, Aragorn, and many others had been waging against Sauron. Thus, Aragorn reclaims the role of king and marries Arwen. They begin setting things right in the land, and the Fellowship officially ends. The Hobbits travel most of the way back to the Shire with Gandalf, who leaves them to their task of rebuilding after Saruman’s minions destroyed it. Gandalf notes that the Hobbits are quite capable of being heroes without him, and his strength is fading because his time in Middle Earth is ending. Eventually, Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, and the Elves travel over the sea. They are joined by Legolas, Gimli, and Sam, who bore the ring briefly for Frodo during their time in Mordor. However, the three remaining Hobbits lived long lives after the departure of Frodo and Bilbo, proving that obstacles in life that don’t defeat us truly do make us stronger.

Peace and love.

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Book Review: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

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***Warning: Spoilers Ahead!***

Check out my review of the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring

SUMMARY: In a continuation of the journey begun in the first book, this chronicles the travels of Frodo and Sam, now led by Gollum (the previous owner of the ring and one most untrustworthy). It also explains the fall of Orthanc, the tower of Saruman, a wizard overcome by evil and desire. His downfall is accomplished by the Ents, a race of tree-guards, who keep Merry and Pippin safe until the arrival of their friends. They are reunited with Gandalf, who has become “white,” a symbolic transformation occurring as a result of his return from death. Gandalf helps Theoden, king of Rohan, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas defeat Saruman’s attacking army at Helm’s Deep. Frodo and Sam make it to Mordor, only to have Frodo stunned by a giant spider (as per Gollum’s plan) and carried off by Orcs. This leaves Sam to wonder how he may save his master and friend.

REFLECTION: The towers mentioned in the title may have multiple meanings. First, and most obviously, may be that they are symbols for good and evil. Second, they may represent Cirith Ungol (Mordor and home of Sauron) and Orthanc (Isengard and home of Saruman). This is likely, as men are being squeezed on both sides by two forces of evil. Finally, they may be Cirith Ungol and Minas Tirith (in Gondor), both having stood since the “ancient battle.”

Check out my review of the third book, The Return of the King.

Peace and love.

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The “Unpleasant Job” of Being Atticus Finch

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In honor of Harper Lee (1926-2016).

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mockingbirdIn the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Miss Maudie perfectly describes the nature of her life-long friend, Atticus, who is a lawyer. Maudie tells his children, “I simply wanted to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”

The nature of his “unpleasant job” in the novel is simple: Atticus defends a black man against the blatantly, undeniably false charges of a white woman in the south in the 1930s. Atticus is ridiculed and threatened by the townspeople, who don’t understand why he is trying so hard to save someone they are convinced is guilty.

Atticus perseveres through the destruction of his reputation. He ignores the whispered criticisms and shrugs off the mocking insults. His belief in doing what is right enables him to wade through the venomous hate, so that he can teach his…

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Book Review: The Dark Half.

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Title: The Dark Half
Author: Stephen King
**************************Spoilers Ahead*********************************
Summary: This novel describes a classic case of good versus evil, with the twist that both are sides of the same man, literally and figuratively. Thad Beaumont, a successful writer, struggles against George Stark, the ghost of his twin and the personification of his pen name. Thad attempts to kill his pseudonym by writing an article for People in which he reveals the truth. Stark, enraged, commits a killing spree and murders all involved with the article. Stark then kidnaps Thad’s family in order to force Thad to write another novel, so that Stark may take over Thad’s life. Thad calls upon sparrows — psychopomps of the living dead — to rid himself of Stark — his pseudonym, his double life, his “dark half.”
Reflection: This was my fourth — and only successful — attempt to read this book all the way through. It took forcing myself to watch the movie and then trudge through the agonizingly slow first three chapters to get to the point where I could enjoy the story.
Fun fact: Alan Pangborn is the sheriff of Castle Rock in this and in the novel Needful Things.

Book Review: Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede

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****Warning: Spoilers ahead!***

Summary: This is a collection of young adult fantasy stories. Each offers a uniquely Wrede perspective. The last story features Cimorene, the heroine of the Dragons series. Additionally, the last work in the book is a recipe for chocolate cake, written using the directions of a battle-weary soldier.

Review: This is a fun collection for children and teens, or anyone feeling young at heart. I highly recommend.

Book Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

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***Warning: Spoilers Ahead!***

SUMMARY: This fantasy novel is the first in the famous and popular The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It describes the beginning of the journey of Frodo and his companions. It is first set in the Shire, from which Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin set out with the ring Bilbo stole from Gollum and willed to Frodo. The four hobbits eventually meet Aragorn, who leads them to Rivendale. At Rivendale, it is decided that the ring must be destroyed, and Frodo is appointed to be the ring-bearer. The four hobbits, Gimli, Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas form the fellowship meant to carry the ring to Mordor. Through the course of the novel, Gandalf is lost while fighting the balrog and Boromir is slain by orcs while protecting Pippin and Merry. The fellowship is broken up when Frodo, followed by Sam, leaves for Mordor and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas set out in search of Merry and Pippin.

Check out my reviews for The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

Peace and love.
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Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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***Warning: Spoilers Ahead!***

Summary: This fictional novella depicts life for two traveling workers during the Great Depression. George and Lenny are two men who are constant companions as exemplified in the book’s theme: it doesn’t matter who you are with, so long as you are with someone.

Lenny is a mentally challenged but hardworking giant of a man. George, his opposite in every way, is also his protector. The pair plan to eventually buy a farm together so that they may work their own land and keep animals, including Lenny’s beloved rabbits.

The friends get jobs working on a ranch, where they meet the wife of their boss’s son. Lenny, out of love for “soft” things, grabs the woman’s hair. When she screams, Lenny panics and accidentally kills her. Lenny runs to the place George told him was safe, and awaits the arrival of his friend in fear that he will no longer be allowed to tend the rabbits on their imaginary farm.

Out of mercy and compassion, George sends the lynch mob on a detour and finds Lenny on his own. George begins again to describe their farm and wonderful future while Lenny listens excitedly. In the midst of this distraction, George shoots Lenny in the back of the head.

Reflection: There is a great deal of symbolism present in this novel. Its title is taken from a poem by Robert Burns: the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. George may represent “men,” who do things that must be done whether they wish to do them or not. The lynch mob may represent “mice,” as they set out as a group in a cowardly attempt to kill an unarmed mentally handicapped man in secret.

George may also be more like Lenny than outwardly shown. Lenny killed small animals (mice, birds, a puppy) by loving them too strongly — while “petting” them as they lay in his pocket. George killed Lenny (whom he loved) while Lenny felt safe and secure — Lenny was in George’s “care” being “soothed.”

Lenny was in many ways similar to the mice he loved. Mice are often harmful but mean no harm. They are frightening but easily scared. They are likewise fragile and can be crushed easily by forces bigger than they are. Lenny similarly acts off baser instincts and was “crushed” by forces bigger than he: his circumstances; his lack of natural intelligence; his inability to control himself; his friends; and smarter “prey” meaning to harm him.

Peace and love.of mice and men