Book Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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3 out of 5 stars to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, the first in a fantasy and historical fiction series about Russian fairy tales.

bear

Why This Book
I ordered this online many months ago based on the description I’d read in Goodreads. Then a friend of mine, Valerie, was planning to read it. We decided to do a buddy read together earlier this month.

Plot, Characters & Setting
A Russian girl loses her mother and her place in a family. She meets strange creatures who no one else can see. Her father remarries to provide her with a mother figure, then has more children. Something happens in the background where there is a war between religions, people and culture. It’s a battle to maintain your village and your family, but also to connect the past with the future.

Approach & Style
I read the paperback version over a two-week period. It’s 312 pages or 28 chapters long. Chapters are about 10 to 12 pages, told in third person.

Strengths
It had absolutely beautiful imagery and lyrical prose. You truly feel transported to a new world full of complex characters, interesting plots and high imagination.

There is a lot of great history and views on religion, politics and royalty. You believe you are in Russia dealing with true occurrences and fantastic situations.

Concerns
The language was too confusing for me, often leaving me wonder what was real and what was fantasy. I’m not normally a fantasy reader, so it might have been partially my fault.

Names on the characters change a bit too often, which made it slightly difficult for me to recall who each person was.

Final Thoughts
I had been in a reading slump and was working on the final chapters of my own book. I might have been distracted while reading this one. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. I think it’s a strong book, and for that, I settled on a 3 rating. It is good, just not the right match for me.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Return of the King

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The Return of the King Book Review
4 of 5 stars to The Return of the King, the third book in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, written in 1955, by J.R.R. Tolkien. After reading the first two books in this series, how can you not finish it with this one? I knocked them back between 9th and 10th grades, loving every minute of the imagination and struggle between good and evil. When I got this this final one, I already knew I’d be sad to say goodbye to all the characters I’d fallen hardcore for over the 1500 pages between the volumes. But when the movies came out, I had a chance to re-live the intensity of this drama… as taking on such large books with everything else I had on my reading plate, did not make sense. Watching them in film form tho lived up to many expectations. Of course, I loved the books more, but I still enjoyed the films and will watch them if I am skimming the channels and find one in play.

The flaws in each of the characters, as well as their journey, are immense but real. When you find out some of the changes in this book (no spoilers!) and people you thought were long-forgotten, it is brilliant. And seeing the evil forces fight the good forces… it’s just a version of the reality we face every day. All over a ring that provides power. But power is at the center of it all. And it’s one of the few books where I found myself happy with the ending.

I could talk about these forever, but I won’t bore you. I am not a big fan of fantasy, and have only read a handful of books and authors in this genre. These are a favorite across all genres for me, and it’s because of the creativity in Tolkien’s mind that I consider reading more in this genre. Before Harry Potter, we had a family of hobbits… who stole our hearts and taught us many lessons. Ones I still think of today whenever I need to weight the options before me. Please give them a chance! But start with #1…. you have to read them in order!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Well of Lost Plots

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The Well of Lost PlotsBook Review
3 of 5 stars to The Well of Lost Plots, the third thriller and mystery book in the “Thursday Next” series written in 2003 by Jasper Fforde. For those new to the series, it’s a detective story where crimes occur inside books, and real-life people can jump inside the book to fix the problem or solve the crime. In book 3, things take a bit of a turn… Thursday, the main investigator, needs some down time, and goes to the “Well of Lost Plots,” where unpublished books go to die. But crimes and murders start happening there too… and it’s confusing poor Thursday because she doesn’t understand who would care about a book that hasn’t been published yet having its story changed! (Not sure how I feel about that as a writer myself…) But then she’s trapped inside a story she doesn’t know much about. That can be scary. The series is complex, full of fantasy and drama you never quite understand. The concept of the well of lost plots is delicious, but it made things even more complicated. It was here that I decided to stop reading the series as it started going over my head a little bit. I felt silly and inept! I may go back soon to pick it up again, as I’ve never read another series of books like it… and this one takes the cake of all 3 I’ve read to date.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Two Towers

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The Two TowersBook Review
For as long as I can remember, I have loved serial fiction and saga stories. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and associated books by J.R.R. Tolkien are a treasure. I first found the books when I was 14 and had to re-read again when the movies came out in the last decade or so. The second book, The Two Towers, was a worth follow-up, enhancing every original love I had with the story. I’m generally not a fan of the fantasy genre, and have only read perhaps 20 books in total, less than 3% of my entire reading history. But something about these books absolutely stands out among to me as a truly amazing series. I liken it to Star Wars as a movie and film phenomena, when it comes to the saga story. But this one started out as a set of books, which makes it even more fantastic. My rating: 4+ of 5 stars

For me, although I loved all three in the series, the middle one was the least favorite, but they were all still 4+. The first one introduces everything and sets the stage. The last one is the epic battle. The middle one… pure awesome storytelling… but it’s the middle. Full of history, secrets, revelations, explanations… you learn the most here. But you also get a little overwhelmed with the sheet amount to remember. But I like that about it too. And to tell the story of dark versus light. To see people you love fall to their death. To think so much will change for the worse. It’s a challenge to decide which part of the story to love most.

If you’ve not read the series, it’s probably 2000 pages in its entirety. I still think you should read it… but start with book 1 of course. You can’t read out of order. Then let’s chat again! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Lost in a Good Book

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Lost in a Good BookBook Review
Jasper Fforde had a stroke of brilliance with the “Thursday Next” series of adventure books. Lost in a Good Book is the second release in the series and I’ve given it a very high 3 of 5 stars. As it’s a very difficult book to truly wrap your head around, it couldn’t get a 5 from me. When I compared it to the first one, The Eyre Affair, I had to give it a slightly lower rating just because I enjoyed the first one more. A few really cool things about these books:

1. Thursday is a literary detective who can jump into a book to try to solve whatever crime has occurred within the book.

2. Crimes can include changing plot lines, removing characters, introducing chaos…

3. You have to be mad or brilliant, or both, to come up with these kinds of stories. In this one, “The Raven” and “Flopsy Bunny” are major character arcs. Can you imagine dealing with that?

4. The book has footnotes on every page, but they’re not real footnotes. They are commentary or thoughts about what’s being said in the book that the person talking wouldn’t necessarily know, but the reader needs to know them. I’m sure you’re confused if you’ve never read one of these books. So am I from time to time, and I’ve read three of them.

5. It’s such a great concept, and sometimes well-executed. And it’s got your typical romance component in it too.

6. But it can get very confusing if you don’t read slowly and think about every single action. There are so many made up words, actions, histories… it’s an alternative fantasy universe and you never know what might actually happen.

7. At times, I think it’s one of the best stories I’ve read. At others, it’s still confusing me. But I focus on the little parts surrounding the realities of the characters and what they are doing.

Phew…. complicated to write this review. It can’t be a normal one without it going on for pages about what is actually going on. All you need to know is if you have a huge imagination, don’t need structure, and love books… you must give it a chance.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Neverwhere

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NeverwhereMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Neil Gaiman‘s Neverwhere, a fantasy full of quirky characters and commentary on society, published in 1996. This was another book group selection (not mine), but by someone who has very good taste in books.

I’d never read Gaiman before, but he seems to be immensely popular. We read it in 2009, many years after it first hit print, but still at the cusp of my interest in fantasy books. I think it was too much of a fantasy for me, as I tend to need some rules or boundaries, and I couldn’t tell what was real here. Seems it’s all real, but for a newbie at the time, I was lost.

Essentially, a man wandering around London, falls through a hole of sorts… into fantasy world… and when he returns, everyone has basically forgotten who he was. Right from that point… I’m not sure what’s real anymore. But I stuck with it… and he meets tons of people after him, including a mouse (yes a mouse)… Door (yes, that’s her name) is his new friend, and she’s helping him thru this new world, but then she disappears. Very complex. Door must stand for something. I might consider re-reading this one again to see if I’m more open-minded about it.

And this refers to my understanding of the book and the graphic above about “I’m lost and returning…” Never happened.

Key Take-a-Ways
1. The characters are wonderful. Imaginative. Vivid. Very likable, but also a tad confusing. Was this Peter Pan in Neverland??????? Alice in the Wonderland?

2. London is very dark. Scary dark.

3. Life is not what it seems. Don’t ever try to be a Good Samaritan and rescue someone. NOT WORTH IT!!!!

4. Gaiman is a master at intense visuals.

5. I’m not as creative as I think I am.

So… read this if you love fantasy. If you don’t, I wouldn’t chance it. This was a very “out there” type book for me… though it had many funny and wonderful parts.

Good Luck if you cross that one…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

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The Time Traveler's WifeMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, published in 2003 and later made into a movie. This one is a hard book for me to rate. There was so many great things in it, but there was also a lot that made me step away and think about how it all happened…

Overview
A young couple are constantly ravaged by the husband’s ability to move between time periods, but rarely in a controlled way. They are stuck in a haphazard relationship, never knowing when he may just disappear for months at a time. As a result, readers put the pieces of their love story together chapter by chapter… knowing the conclusion to some things before you find out how it happened.

What I Liked
1. The entire concept of moving around throughout someone’s life, not knowing what time period it is until a few things happen. This created a lot of suspense and drama, which for the most part worked significantly well; however, on a few occasions, it pushed me over the limit of confusion.

2. It’s a heart-breaking tale of what happens to a young couple who very much want to be together, in love and share a lifetime of orderly memories. Note, I said, orderly memories.

3. The images created are quite wonderful. With words being the tool to convey the emotion of something none of us have ever been through, it’s especially important to have strong visuals. This was successful on most occasions. And when it wasn’t, I didn’t dislike it; just wasn’t anything special.

4. It was unique… hardly ever, if ever, done before, in such a way or manner. The author should be praised for it.

What I Didn’t Like
1. The concept was too complicated. I kept stopping to think if the author built the scene correctly. I naturally doubted it, assumed there was a mistake in the time sequence. Maybe that says more about me being a Doubter than it does about the book… OK, maybe I should stop here on this item.

2. Some of the passages were included purely for humor, and the effects on other people of his time travel were a bit too much. I’m good with someone getting beat up, or some silly naked embarrassment… but it felt too contrived and one-sided.

3. I wasn’t happy with the ending… and that’s all I say.

Final Thoughts

You really should read it and then watch the movie. It’s a different way of handling the story, so that’s why I suggest both. Ultimately, it’s the kind of book where you think you love it, but then things start falling apart in your mind about the gaps and the confusion… and you feel like you had part of a story, not the whole thing. But this is one you need to check out for yourself. Just go in knowing it’s not a brilliant and perfect piece of literature. Still a good story, and possibly a bit higher than a 3 on my scale, but I’m sticking with the rating.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews