Books I've Read

Book Review: Furiously Happy

Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy

Author: Jenny Lawson

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover, borrowed from a friend

Blurb: In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?

Review: Oh my stars, you guys. Have you ever had that moment when the right things just collide? When there was something you needed to hear and, miraculously, the words were delivered right to your door? That was my experience with this book.

I was stuck in a rut, feeling very down about a lot of things (you can read about some of these feelings here – there was just a LOT going on in a relatively short period of time). Basically, I felt lost. Very lost. The problem with these feelings, which for me stem from my problems with anxiety and depression, is that it is very easy to feel like you are the only one. Everyone else is fine, aren’t they? Just look at them! They’re fine!

My stepson’s mom had heard some of this and sent this book to me. It sat on my desk for a while as I suffered through my reading slump and finally got shoved into my purse for a book to read during my lunch breaks at the new job. And boy, did I suddenly feel enlightened! If any of you have read Jenny Lawson’s posts over at The Bloggess (and if you haven’t, get thee over to that site, pronto!), you will know that she is a very . . . different . . . individual. I mean that in the best way possible. She is a very strange, very flawed, very unusual person, and is very unapologetic of that fact! The way she shares her battles with anxiety, depression, and all-around survival of the world we live in are hilarious and inspiring.

I laughed my way through this entire book and read the last two chapters with tears in my eyes. Not tears of laughter though. Tears of relief. Tears of “thank-the-gods-someone-understands.” This book is wonderful if you are dealing with these issues, or if someone you know is dealing with these issues, or heck, even if you just need a really good laugh. This book feels like catching up with an old friend over coffee – you know, that old friend who always has the great stories to tell from her life and can make any experience one that you will always remember. Jenny Lawson has become that friend for me and I will always be grateful for that.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. Would give 10 if it let me.

31 Days of Smallish Blogging · Books I've Read · Uncategorized

July Blogging Challenge: Day 2

~ A Favorite Childhood Book ~

As soon as I saw the topic for today, I knew exactly the book I wanted to talk about. This is a book I had completely forgotten about until a few days ago when I saw this tweet from

tor tweet

You can read their article here.

As soon as I saw that, I was immediately thrown back in time. The book is The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs. The story is about a young boy named Lewis who is bullied because of being a fat, weird kid. He goes to live with his uncle, who turns out to be a wizard, and then finds out that the next-door neighbor is also a witch. I remember my favorite character being Rose Rita, a feisty tomboy who was Lewis’s best friend and not willing to put up with any foolishness.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve read this book, but I remember being obsessed with it during my middle school years. It was spooky, but also very funny and heart warming. This book is also the beginning of a series, although the only other one I read was the second book, A Figure in the Shadows. I wish I could remember more details about the story. I do remember one other character that made me laugh, because he liked to swear a lot, but kept trying to not swear in front of the children. Finally at one point, he just gives up.

Come to think of it, I should probably track these down and re-read them, and maybe finish the series. They were a lot of fun!

Books I've Read

Book Review: RoseBlood

Title: RoseBlood

Author: A.G. Howard

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover

Blurb: In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Review: First off, this review is going to have a LOT of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

To start, a bit of a story. I first fell in love with the Phantom when I was eleven years old. I found the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and spent hours upon hours listening to it. I had a crush on Michael Crawford. I wanted to BE Sarah Brightman.

I may have been a little obsessed.

As the years went on, I delved deeper into my Phantom obsession. I read the original novel by Gaston Laroux. I watched many movies and saw many Phantoms – Lon Chaney, Claude Raines, Charles Dance, Gerard Butler. I read fanfiction, both professionally written (Susan Kay’s book is genius) and amateur ( is a crazy, crazy place).

So I know this story quite well. I am almost protective of it, and very particular. I don’t like stories where the Phantom is scarred by outside means (acid, fire, etc.), for example – it has to be from birth, with his mother being terrified of him. He has to have some time in gypsy camps and spend a great deal of time in Persia. And, of course, he has to be a master architect, who has some involvement in the building of the Paris opera house.

Oh, and his name has to be Erik. Nothing else will do.

RoseBlood has most of these things, which is good. The fact that it doesn’t take place in the actual Opera Garnier was a disappointment – instead it takes place in another opera house that has been converted into a music school. The school is called RoseBlood, which to be completely honest, I didn’t like at all. It was too hokey for the name of a school. There were roses and there was blood, so they didn’t need to use it for the name of the school.

Also, just FYI, Thorn is not the Phantom. Thorn is Erik’s adopted son.

And it’s a modern story, not taking place in the actual original timeline. Is it the same Phantom? Why yes, yes it is. How does that work? Well . . .

The Phantom is a vampire.

Ugh . . .

This isn’t a new idea, especially since the Phantom likes to stay hidden (so clearly not in the sunlight). I just really don’t like this idea. I want the Phantom, who does do horrible things, to at least be somewhat sympathetic. In this story, he isn’t really. It’s not just that he was born disfigured and was hated – he is an actual monster. It cheapens the character, I think. Makes him less complex.

But the main problem I have with this is that none of the characters are particularly complex. Rune, our main character, is a bit blah, although she is also a vampire (these are psychic vampires, not the blood sucking kind). She doesn’t realize that she’s a vampire until she learns about it when she’s at RoseBlood. Her and Thorn are supposed to be the couple we cheer for, but they just don’t really do much for me. The other characters, mostly students and teachers at the school, are all very one dimensional and don’t leave a lasting impression.

I hate even saying all of this, because I absolutely love A.G. Howard. I’ve talked to her on Twitter a couple of times and she is a lovely person. Her Splintered series was amazing, the characters complex and unique, the world building beautiful and intricate. RoseBlood just doesn’t have this. I’m not sure what went wrong, and maybe I’m just too picky, but it really didn’t do it for me.

I’m not saying to not read it. It isn’t a terrible read, but I just didn’t care for it. GoodReads rating: 3 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Armada

Title: Armada

Author: Ernest Cline

Series: none

Edition: Trade Paperback

Blurb: Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books and video games he’s spent his life consuming – and too often he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering even could arrive to whisk him off on a grand spacefaring adventure.

So when he sees the flying saucer, he’s sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over to psychosis.

Especially because the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of his favorite video game, a flight simulator called Armada – in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from aliens invaders.

As impossible as it seems, what Zach’s seeing is all too real. And it’s just the first in a blur of revelations that will force him to question everything he thought he knew about Earth;s history, it’s future, even his own life – and to play the hero for real, with humanity’s fate in the balance.

Review: First and foremost, I want to say that I love Ernest Cline. I read Ready Player One back in 2012 and absolutely loved it. I read that book  really fast, not quite in one sitting, but it was very, very hard to put it down. I still pull it out and just turn to a random page if I want to read something fun and exciting. So you can imagine, I really wanted this book to be great. I wanted to love it as much as Ready Player One

And I didn’t.

Ugh, I hate saying that. I really do. I can’t imagine how hard it was to try and follow up such a successful debut. And this was a good book, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t have that same spark, that same feeling of wonder. I did enjoy the story and the characters. Zack was a good protagonist with a lot of issues and a lot to learn. I really liked the alien world and technology – it was really interesting and fun.  Who wouldn’t want to find out that their favorite video game was real and you could play it in real time in real life? This would be a dream come true for a ton of people, so it was cool to see how that would play out. It wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

There were also several good plot twists, some a bit predictable, some that caught me completely by surprise. Of course, no details there so I don’t spoil anyone.

There were elements of other stories that I enjoyed. Definite hints of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. You could also tell that the story was heavily influenced by Contact by Carl Sagan. And lots of other pop culture sci-if staples: Star Wars, The Last Starfighter. Cline loves infusing his stories with all these elements that he enjoys, and the excitement he has for them really comes through on the page.

So while it wasn’t as good as Ready Player One in my opinion, Armada is still a very good book. I recommend it for any sci-if fan who has ever dreamed of getting to be part of the story.

GoodReads Rating: 3 Stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Circle

the circleTitle: The Circle

Author: David Eggers

Series: none

Edition: library e-book

Blurb: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America–even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

Review: Funny, lately I’ve been getting my reading inspiration from other forms of media. First, it was The Handmaid’s Tale because of the new series on Hulu. This time, it was The Circle, after seeing the trailer for the movie coming up with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.

It’s interesting though, reading these two books back to back. They both show a potential future, but the outcomes of these two futures are very different. Instead of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s religious oppression, The Circle has a very 1984 feel to it, except that instead of Big Brother watching, everyone is watching. The idea is that all information is available. There is no privacy. Every thing is available to be watched by anyone, anywhere. Anyone who is trying to hide something is suspicious – if they are hiding it, it must be something shameful or something illegal. The Circle is what a company like Google would be on steroids, and also if it was run by devious people. Or at least ambiguous people. It’s really hard to tell if the leaders of the Circle are actually evil or just really, really misguided. Actually, I think at least one is evil. But I could be wrong. As I said, it’s really hard to tell.

And that’s what makes this a really good book. Nothing is simple. The Circle starts out as an Internet company that looks to do good, making things easier for people online. Identify theft is pretty much ended because of their work and millions of lives are made simpler. Mae is a really good character, who at the start of the book only wants to get out of her dead end job. She’s so happy when she gets her opportunity at the Circle, which does seem like a utopia. I spent a good deal of the time wishing I could work there. It was really easy for her to get more and more pulled into their influence, until they control nearly every aspect of not just her life, but her mind as well. It’s a really interesting character study.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I originally checked out the e-book from the library, but just bought a physical copy today. This is one I will want to re-read again. GoodReads rating: 5 stars

Books I've Read · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

the-handmaids-taleTitle: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Series: None

Edition: E-book

Seasonal Reading Challenge:Task 15.3, Option #2 – Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy in January 1792.

Option 1, Read TWO books, one book 1 and one book 2.

Book 1: Read a book from this list of Popular Feminism Books
Required: State the page of the list where your book is found.

Book 2: Read a book by a female author whose initials are found in MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT. Letters may only be used as often as they appear. All name part initials must be considered. One qualifying author in a book by multiple contributors fulfills this task.


Option 2, Read ONE book that fulfills both option 1 Book A and Book B.

Blurb: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Review: Oh. My. GAWD! How have I never read this book before??

I devoured this book in one day. Almost in one sitting. It was that compelling.

It’s really hard to explain what I liked about the book, because there are very few things I didn’t like. The setting took some time to figure out where exactly this was taking place – it was a reveal in and of itself. The characters were wonderfully rich and complex. Offred is a very compelling protagonist, but it was also interesting to see that the people who were in power, who should have been “the bad guys” were also very complicated. The Commander and his wife were part of the system, but neither one seemed very happy about it. I really liked the under culture too, and would LOVE to hear more about Moira’s story.

The pacing in this was great as well. We get constant hints throughout of Offred’s life before, but it’s not until towards the end that we really see the full picture, and see how we got to this point in the first place. And it’s fascinating. The only thing I could even criticize about it is that the final chapter feels really out of place. It takes place long after the events of the book and, well, I don’t know. It felt wrong. I wanted to have more of a definitive conclusion of Offred’s story, and we don’t really get that.

But that was me just being nitpicky. The rest of the book is great. Thought provoking, shocking, but in all the right ways. GoodReads rating: 5 stars.

Books I've Read · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Miniaturist

the-miniaturistTitle: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Series: None

Edition: Paperback

Seasonal Reading Challenge: Task 25.1 Book #2 – Read a book in which the First letter of the First word is the same as the Last letter of the Last word in the title. Titles may contain any number of words including one.

Blurb: On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Review: This will be a tricky review to write, not because I didn’t enjoy the book, but because there are so many things I can’t discuss because of spoilers.

I first picked up this book at Barnes & Noble. I had never heard of it or the author. I just liked the cover art. Something about it just really spoke to me. I know the saying goes that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but in this case, I’m glad I did. This was an excellent book. The writing is beautiful and captured this time period and city that I will never experience, but now deeply want to.

Nella is a very interesting character, but not a very complex one. She is very young and very naïve, essentially sent into marriage because her mother wanted her to have more opportunities than she would ever find in their poor, small town. She’s a very straightforward character – what you see is what you get – which makes all the other things going on around her in the story seem all the more off kilter.

I also really enjoyed her relationship with her sister-in-law, Marin. Marin is a VERY complicated character with all kinds of secrets and watching those secrets unfold is very satisfying. I was completely blindsided by it all. Nella and Marin go from antagonists, to barely tolerated roommates, to hesitant allies, which shows off the complexity of Marin’s character and the growth of Nella’s. Really well done.

Ugh, I wish I could say more! But it would totally ruin things if I did!

There is this sense of trepidation that goes throughout the novel, in many different aspects. The reader spends a great deal of time knowing that something is not quite right, but not knowing exactly what it is. One is, of course, the miniaturist. There is a slight supernatural element to this novel, but it’s slightly ambiguous. They never come out and confirm anything about how the miniaturist is able to do their work. That is a slight complaint about the story because there are many threads that are never fully resolved, and the story just sort of drifts to a close. I wish there could have been a bit more about it, especially about the miniaturist themselves.

But overall, this is a beautiful and haunting book. I definitely recommend it.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars.

Books I've Read

Book Review: Looking for Alaska

looking-for-alaskaTitle: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Series: none

Edition: Paperback

Seasonal Reading Challenge: Task 10.2 – Ring, Sing, Bling? – Some ancient wonders such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon end with the letters “ing,” and that ending also is common during the holiday season – bells “ring,” people “sing” carols. Read a book with a word in the title/subtitle ending in “ing.”

Blurb: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.

Review: It’s funny, but I thought that I had already reviewed this book, but then as I was cleaning up some things around the blog, I realized that I hadn’t. And since I end up reading it at least once a year, I figured I ought to officially review this thing!

Y’all know how much I love John Green. I have ever since I first started watching VlogBrothers on YouTube. This was his first published book and, to be honest, I feel like it completely encapsulates what it’s like to be a teenager, more so than most of the YA books I have read. This book is often taught in schools, which means it’s also challenged and banned quite often as well. Because parents don’t think that their precious children can handle this.

It’s hard to review this without giving away the ending, and doing that would ruin the experience of reading this book. I’ll start by listing things that people complain about it. Lots of folks dismiss Alaska Young as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Actually, to be fair, they complain that Green uses this trope often in his books, which is a fair point. An Abundance of Katherines has Lindsey Lee Wells. Paper Towns has Margo Roth Spiegleman. The Fault in Our Stars sort of has a Manic Pixie Dream Guy with Augustus Waters, although that one is a bit different. So yeah, clearly John Green enjoys using this as a plot device, but the thing is, he’s very good at it. And also, I think his characters have more depth than a typical MPDG usually does. They don’t just exist to help the main characters find themselves. They have their own needs and desires.

All that aside, Alaska is a fun character that you can’t help but like even though she is a whole heap of trouble. Actually, all of the characters in this one are great, from Miles’s roommate Chip (a.k.a “The Colonel” – he’s the leader of the group), Takumi (who enjoys wearing a fox hat when they go on their adventures), and Lara (a shy Romanian girl who is Miles’s first girlfriend).

The book also has fun with the boarding school setting and, let’s be honest, how many of us had a fantasy about going away to boarding school when we were kids? I know I did. There’s a reason why it’s so popular (seriously, I could name a dozen children’s or YA books set in a boarding school right off the top of my head).

To sum up, this book is really good. It makes me laugh and it makes me cry every time I read it. GoodReads rating: 5 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Plantation

the-plantationTitle: The Plantation

Author: Stella Samiotou-Fitzsimons

Series: The Plantation #1

Edition: ebook

Seasonal Reading Challenge Task: 25.1 Book #1 – Read a book written by a single author in which the First letter of the author’s First name is the same as the Last letter of his/her Last name. Examples : Michael Cunningham (M) or Alex Kava (A).

Blurb: A century has passed since they arrived. Human history has been erased. Children are enslaved on Alien plantations. Some have heard whispers of the existence of a rebel band of humans who roam free in the forests. Most slaves dare not speak of the rebels for fear the mutant guards will grab and make an example of them.

Seventeen-year-old Freya is pulled away in the night not by the mutants, but by her old friend Finn, to join the Saviors, the mythic band of rebel teens. Her bliss fades when she discovers she is the only Savior without a special ability. She is the odd one out, slowly pushing Finn away, defying Damian, the leader of the Saviors, and antagonizing the fierce and beautiful Daphne. In her despair Freya reaches deep within to discover a dark destiny, a truth so heavy it threatens to destroy her.

Review: I got this book for free off of BookBub (have you never signed up for BookBub? you need to – right now!). I’ll admit, I was originally attracted to the cover art – so pretty! – but also because the premise sounded interesting and, hey, free book. Overall, the book was okay. Not over-the-top great, but it kept my interest.

A few mild spoilers ahead, just to warn you. Nothing super major, but just be prepared.

Freya is a pretty run of the mill YA heroine. Not saying that this is a bad thing necessarily, but after a while they get a bit tired if not done right. She’s the girl who’s a bit of an outcast, who is almost obnoxiously not-special – in this case it’s because all the others who have escaped the Plantations have genetically enhanced abilities and Freya doesn’t seem to. She, of course, discovers her powers later and they are different from everyone else and she is super special in ways she doesn’t even understand – as I said, that was pretty predictable. It’s been done millions of times. Not that she isn’t a likeable character – she is. I just felt like she could have been developed a bit more.

The other characters are interesting enough, but with a few exceptions, they are pretty one dimensional. I had a hard time really connecting with any of them.

My main complaint about the book was this – for a book titled The Plantation, we never actually saw one. There were a few brief descriptions from Freya about how things were like before she was rescued by the Saviors, but I think it would have been better to have at least a chapter or two showing her life in the Plantation, and then actually have her rescue happen in the story proper instead of way before the book even starts. We get an idea of what they are running from and fighting for, but actually being able to experience it would have given the story some much needed depth.

On to the good stuff, because there was some good stuff, I promise! I really liked the premise of a future Earth that has been taken over by aliens. I liked the structure of the story world, which is part of why I wanted to see more of it. There was a really good flow to the story, and some really good suspense and action. I liked the idea of aliens, and only wish they had been in the story more – we don’t actually meet any until the end.

So the big question is . . . will I continue reading the series. I probably will at some point. There are five books total at the moment, plus a short novella that takes place between books 2 and 3. There is also a book scheduled to come out this year called Plantation Origins which is not part of the series proper, according to the author. It sounds like maybe it will fill in that missing piece? Possibly?

GoodReads rating: 3 stars. Not a super stellar book, but I’ve definitely read worse.

Blog Every Day January · Books I've Read

Book Review: The Hobbit

the-hobbitTitle: The Hobbit

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Series: prequel to The Lord of the Rings, I guess? Do people consider it part of that “series?”

Edition: Paperback

Seasonal Reading Challenge: None

Blurb: Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo – alone and unaided – who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside.

* * * * * * *

Okay. I have to say it, and I know it is probably a very unpopular opinion.

I don’t like this book.

Ugh, I know I’m supposed to. I love the fantasy genre, and Papa Tolkien was the great-granddaddy of it all. But I can’t. This book annoys me to no end.

Here’s another unpopular opinion – I think the movie actually did the story better justice, even with all the extra bits thrown in (hello, Legolas? and random girl elf?). It made the quest of the dwarves seem a bit more important than just, “Hey, our gold got stolen. Let’s go get it back!” It gave more of the history, which made the plight of the dwarves seem so much more real and serious. And yes, I get that this was originally supposed to be a children’s book, and most of that would be way too dense for your average child, but still. Especially knowing what lies ahead in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this feels really silly.

Slight spoiler ahead – this book is 70 years old, but still. Just in case.

Another opinion that will probably be unpopular with Tolkien fans – I hate Thorin. I do. He’s terrible, especially at the end. The dragon left the Mountain, looking for the dwarves, and met its end at Lake-town. Okay. Then the people from Lake-town come up to the mountain to basically say, “Hey, we killed your dragon for you. You know have all your treasure and gold and stuff. How about you help us out since it wrecked our town? Especially since some of that treasure is stuff that the dragon stole from us too.” What does Thorin do? Pitches a hissy fit and threatens to go to war with them! Really, Thorin! Really! He’s supposed to be the leader of the dwarves, becoming King under the Mountain, and he acts like this? I was glad he died in the battle.

Gandalf was a bit irritating too. He starts off with them, and then once the trip is fully underway, he takes off. Then appears at the end to basically do nothing. He’s pretty useless as a wizard in this book, although he does redeem himself in LotR. So I guess he’s forgiven.

But yeah, I tried. I really did! I feel like a bad fantasy fan, but what can I say. GoodReads rating: 3 stars, but only out of obligation.