Being brutally honest about books

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Not a review

Hi there, I just wanted to share that I got these awesome star ratings images from this blog here. The blog has a page of features that you can download for your own blog, which is really nice of the blogger, as well as useful!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Date finished: 2 March 2014

As a huge fan of the movies, I wanted to enjoy this more than I actually did. The movies are incredible. But the book is not. For someone who is in this fandom and enjoyed The Hobbit, it's hard for me to say this, but: Tolkien just wasn't that great an author. (I'm not saying he wasn't good at writing poems, but he just wasn't very good at writing this novel.) When I first started the book, I loved it. I was in awe of Tolkien's amazing world-building and his writing style. Somewhere along the way, all of that changed.

For a start, his style is so damn hard to read! For the readalong we only read a few chapters each week, but if I were reading it on my own, I couldn't manage much more than that. I read The Council of Elrond in three days, that's how long it took. I have read all of Jane Austen's works and I didn't struggle with them as much as I struggled with this. I don't know how people read the books over and over again - once was hard enough! I'm still going ahead and finishing the trilogy for the Tolkien Readalong, but I won't be reading it again.

Secondly, there are so many unnecessary characters and plot arcs. Don't get me wrong, I love all the members of the fellowship, but then there are the characters we only see once who don't add anything to the plot. Then, there are the unnecessary minor plot points. So many of these just slowed down the plot and made the introductory part too long. A good writer doesn't waste a single word. Tolkien wastes whole characters, chapters, and minor events. I love Middle-earth, but if I had edited Lord of the Rings it would have been so much shorter and more concise. Every word, scene, and character would matter.

Now, characters. There really aren't many relatable characters in Fellowship of the Ring at all. In fact, I can't think of any except a couple of the Hobbits. You get Galadriel and Aragorn talking about themselves in the third person, and no-one in real life does that. I don't care if they're not your average human - they still don't act like proper people. That's not very good, is it, Tolkien? Readers need to be able to relate to the characters and care about them, if they want to enjoy the book.

Then, there's the fact that although the setting is wonderful and intriguing and magical and all that, the story itself is quite boring. It's only when the Hobbits and Strider/Aragorn (I prefer the name Strider for some reason) start making their way towards Rivendell that things get exciting. And that's 250 pages into the book. It's not exactly a thriller.

As for a recommendation, I'm not sure who I would recommend this to. There are fantasy books out there that are a hundred times better than Fellowship of the Ring. I, for one, quite like Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, Tamora Pierce's Tortall books, Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn Chronicles and LegendSong Series,  and Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. Read those instead. Don't waste your time reading The Lord of the Rings when the movies are far superior.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman 
Date finished: 19 September 2012
Review originally posted on Goodreads

I read Northern Nights by Philip Pullman in September. I really enjoyed the book, and continued to read the rest of the series. The story starts when the main character, Lyra, and her daemon, Pantalaimon,  accidentally see an attempt to kill her uncle, Lord Asriel. They stay hidden and overhear what her uncle says to some of the men at the college about Dust and his expedition to the North. Later she meets the wonderful Mrs Coulter, and it is arranged that Lyra will go to live with her. Before she leaves she is given a mystical device called a alethieometer, and told to keep it a secret from Mrs Coulter. For a while Lyra lives in the city with Mrs Coulter, and everything is great, until she discovers that her wonderful guardian is really evil. Lyra runs away, and is caught up in an adventure involving armoured bears, witches, gyptians, Gobblers, and the North in an attempt to rescue her best friend, Roger.

Lyra is a strong character, and changes throughout not only this novel, but the whole series. She becomes braver, and more accepting of what happens to her. She is a very good liar, and while usually this would be a bad thing, she manages to save her  and her daemon's skin by doing so.

Later on in the series you are told that the Church is evil, and what they call God is not really the Creator, but a being who wants to manipulate the human race.  I found this very entertaining, and accepted it as an even more brilliant part of the story.

What I most enjoyed was the magic/fantasy part of the story. Lyra's alethiometer tells her stuff she wouldn't normally know, and reading about the witches was very enjoyable. Also in Northern Lights there are different worlds, but it isn't until the sequel, The Subtle Knife, that we read about them, and the story moves in three different worlds.

The language was good - the story was well-written, although there were a few too many adverbs (which I dislike with a passion), and I didn't like that  some of the words were written in American spelling, even though the author is English.

All in all, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a strong female heroine, and doesn't mind negative views on religion.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


I had the idea when I was reading a review by elfswood this morning. I decided that I should transform this blog into a real review blog. So I downloaded the Blogger app for my phone and went through all my old posts, cringing at what I said and read five, six years ago. I hadn't realised but when I started this blog I intended to talk about the books that I was reading. Somehow, something changed and I ended up blogging about completely different things. It was embarrassing, reading my posts from when I was 11, 12, 13, 14...

So I'm going to makeover this blog. It will be for the sole purpose of book reviews (or, more accurately, book reactions) and it will be run by the much more mature sixteen-year-old me. I hope you decide to stay!

I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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