Sunday, July 31, 2016

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Book Review

Note: To those of my awesome readers who are morally adverse to reading the Harry Potter books, please understand that I absolutely respect your decision and your caution in reading choices. I adore the world of Harry Potter, but more than that I admire a reader's commitment to God-honoring reading material. :)  

3I can't really comprehend our young adult culture before Harry Potter became a thing. For almost as long as I can remember, Walmart's scanning gates have advertised late Harry Potter installments, Jim Dale has droned on my CD player, and J. K. Rowling has been unofficially dubbed as the ultimate successful modern author. The complex world building of the movies and last few books or iconic images like the scar and Emma Watson have become Harry Potter.

But I enjoyed going back to the very beginning and re-discovering Harry Potter's story before he became a household name.

awww, they were so little x) 


There's a lot of worth here. Rowling rocks the art of keeping a reader interested. Her vocabulary doesn't exactly shine, nor are her plot twists always shockers(excluding that last one, which genuinely impressed me), but she keeps the pages turning until far past my bedtime. :)

With all the importance placed on 3D characters, unpredictable turns, and smooth writing, sometimes a good, entertaining story can be under-appreciated. And that's what I like so much about Harry Potter. It's just a really, really entertaining, fun, clever, and sometimes heart-wrenching story that will never grow old.

~~~

Have you read Harry Potter? What do you think? Who's your favorite Harry Potter character? 

"When I'm 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I'll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, 'After all this time?' And I will say, 'Always'" ~Alan Rickman 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag


My fellow book-dragon and Pride and Prejudice'05 appreciator, Mary Horton, nominated anyone who'd read Jane Austen to fill out the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag. I rather wanted to take it, so here I am!

1). Best Book You've Read So Far in 2016

Anne of Green Gables. I love this book, this story, those characters, that author. <3 Enough said.

2). Best Sequel You've Read So Far in 2016

Scarlet! It's second in the Lunar Chronicles, sequel to Cinder. Here's part of my Goodreads review, in case you're interested:


Well, that was exciting.

After the shortcomings of Cinder in the way of predictability and weak plot twists, Scarlet, quite the opposite, pulled neat twist after twist. These kept me on the edge of my seat, along with the snappy writing. And the heroine, Scarlet exceeded my expectations.

Like Cinder, it still has its problems. I hate Thorne.

Wolf, the other new male character is a wild card, but at least he isn't flirty and selfish like Thorne. I rather like him, actually.

Conclusion: Some elements didn't sit well with me, but overall it was a dramatic, fast-paced, and relatively clean novel. Looking forward to reading Cress! 

3). New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To 

Fading Starlight. Olivia made it look intriguing when she reviewed it, and I'd like to familiarize myself with quality Christian Fiction.


4). Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

Secret Keepers, written by the author of my beloved Mysterious Benedict Society. It's expected on September 27th.

5). Biggest Disappointment

Possibly The Phantom of the Opera. I think I'll stick with the musical, thank you.



Alice in Wonderland also wasn't my favorite, but at least I anticipated that.

6). Biggest Surprise

Maybe Jo's Boys. I was happily surprised over its conclusiveness and entertainment.

7). Favorite New Author

G. K. Chesterton. I know I only read one book by him(The Innocence of Father Brown), but I have another one or two on hold at the library. I really like what I have read.

8). Newest Fiction Crush/Ship

Anne and Gilbert have become one of my new favorite fictional couples, even though I'm not sure they count as a ship since I've known they'd get together for a long time.

I'm also pretty confident I'll like Wolf and Scarlet eventually.

9). Newest Favorite Character

Anne Shirley. I always liked her, but this year especially. :D Others are Rose(Rose in Bloom) and Sydney Carton(A Tale of Two Cities).

10). Book That Made You Cry

A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher. It's well-done fanfiction about Eponine from Les Mis, so how could I not?

11). Book That Made You Happy

There's a good question! A couple books made me particularly happy this year:

Ella Enchanted,

Mara, Daughter of the Nile,

Sense and Sensibility,

the Anne books,

...and...

The Mysterious Benedict Society. 

Interesting how almost all are re-reads. I guess re-reads are just happy things. :)

12). Favorite Book-to-Film Adaption You Saw This Year

Assuming this means a movie that was new to me, Les Miserables 2012. That and Persuasion.

Awesome re-watches were Lord of the Rings(all three in one epic and exhausting all-nighter) and Anne of Green Gables.

13). Favorite Post You Have Done So Far This Year

I'm really not sure(what do YOU think?), but this one was sure exciting, if not my most polished post.

14. Most Beautiful Book You've Bought So Far This Year

Hmmm, either The Blue Castle or A Midsummer Night's Dream. Hooray for library book sales!

my book-sale book haul :D 




15). Books You Need To Read By The End of this Year: 

Ohhhh, boy. I'll limit this to 15, because we don't want to be here until 2017. ;)


~The Scarlet Pimpernel
~Lord of the Rings(re-read)
~Eldest
~Silas Marner
~Cress
~North and South
~The Maze Runner
~Jane Eyre
~Anne's House of Dreams
~Anne of Ingleside
~Rainbow Valley
~Rilla of Ingleside
~Murder on the Orient Express
~The High King
~A Voice in the Wind

~~~

Well, you've read till the end! Or you just skimmed ahead. Either way-- thanks! I nominate anyone who has read G. K. Chesterton this year.

But before I sign off, I'll leave you with this Studio C video because it's book-related and makes me happy in a number of ways:



What are some of your favorite books from this year? Did you read any of the same books I did? Are you a Studio C fan? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Characters I Pity Who Don't Deserve It

(Many thanks to the Newsies cast and Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack for the audio entertainment they provided during the making of this post :D)

It doesn't seem this needs much introduction; the title should explain it all. Enjoy!


Thomas Barrow(Downton Abbey)--

Thomas Barrow, is the most "tricksy and false" character ever birthed in the history of television. The thing with him is that most of the bad things that happen to him are his own doing.


Examples...

*Spoilers*

If you don't want to be shortchanged out of a lot of money, don't purchase a shed-full of illegally purchased food.

If you don't want your friends to be suspicious of you, don't kidnap Lord Grantham's dog.

And if you don't want to be blackmailed, don't go into evil cahoots with an equally evil lady's maid.

But then the occasional something sad will happen that isn't his fault, like when Sybil died and *End of Spoilers* he'll start crying, and I'll forget all of the terrible things he ever did and POOR THOMAS. POOR, POOR THOMAS.

He's tricky like that. :)

Smeagol/Gollum(Lord of the Rings)- 

My preccciiiiouuuussss 

For those of you who haven't had the immense and incandescently perfect pleasure of watching or reading the works of Tolkien(and for those of you who don't like Tolkien-- it's okay, I still like you :D), Gollum is a hobbit-like creature who stumbled on a magic ring-- a ring is so powerful and enticing that he ended up murdering for its possession and eventually became an outcast of society.



He's always controlled by his passion for the ring, which leads him into doing some really nasty things. Obviously, it's his fault for not exercising self control, but you still feel bad for him, especially with all the abuse he receives at the hands of Mordor and even Sam. :(

Dustfinger(Inkheart)- 



Oh, Dustfinger. He's simultaneously selfish and selfless. He was one of the best characters in the book and his actor, Paul Bettany, made the movie worth finishing. 

I just really liked him, okay? :)

Mary Bennet(Pride and Prejudice)- 


She's the one on the right, if you haven't seen it. :) 

Of all the characters here, she's the most moral. She even reads theology volumes for fun! (No offense if you do that too, I don't mind the infrequent theology book myself :) )

But what makes her not so awesome is that she's really very stuck-up and stand-off(ish). She prioritizes books over getting to know people, and would probably be a terrible mother. If she even found some guy willing to marry her.

But poor Mary regardless, because I relate to her in many ways. :)

Anakin Skywalker(Darth Vader from Star Wars)-

I find your lack of faith...disturbing.

Darth Vader. The iconic villain. He's murdered hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, nearly including his own son.

Just. I actually really pity him. You know the scene with the Emperor, Darth Vader, and Luke in Return of the Jedi? Besides being one of the most...I dunno, powerful? moments to ever grace the cinematic screen, it really opens a view into Darth Vader's character and pain.

Lady Edith-

Another Downton character! Coincidence? I think not.




Like Thomas, Edith just can't get it right. Every time I turn around, she's making another bad decision, especially in the later seasons. :/ She seriously gravitates towards the worst suitors ever.  *Spoilers* One dumped her during their wedding. *End of Spoilers* 

She's pathetically foolish, but some of her misery isn't her fault, like the way Lady Mary ceaselessly bites at her("I'd rather sleep on the roof than share a room with Edith").

Poor Edith.

~~~

So that's that! The five most pathetic and pitiable characters I can think of.

Who are some characters who've unfairly won your pity? 

Monday, July 18, 2016

War and Peace Book Review and Life Update

The Book Review(spoiler-free):


War and Peace

Does anyone else agree that this cover would better befit The Phantom of the Opera? :D 


The Story: War and Peace is the ridiculously long tale of  people living during the Russian-Napoleonic wars and their social interactions. It's chock full of romances, dancing, and "The Red Badge of Courage"-esque war scenes. 

My Opinion: This novel is so thick and complex it's difficult to gather all my thoughts into a readable review. 

Basically, I was impressed by the layered exploration of human interactions Tolstoy accomplished here. The cast of characters was also fresh and well-developed. 

What didn't impress me was...well, a few things: 

1). The lack of drive. 

For the first few hundreds of pages, the plot slouched, skipping from one conversation at such-and-such a social gathering to another. It tightened near the end, except the--

2). epilogue 

The epilogue was nearly entirely superfluous. I liked one Goodreads reviewer's idea of slicing it out with an Exacto knife and saving yourself the pain of carrying around that bulk of paper and ink. Up until then, Tolstoy had stayed away from any really ridiculous tangents (like Hugo's), but the last 40 pages of the epilogue could've practically been condensed into a single paragraph. 

The Content Warning: 

Some Marvel-level language. It was pretty mild, if frequent, except a half dozen uses of some nastier words. When you divide how many pages there were by the instances of serious language, it isn't that bad. But if I ever obtain a copy of this, I might take a Sharpie to a couple words. :) 

Many of the conflicts hinged on mature content and there were some suggestive comments, especially among the soldiers. 

Lastly, this is WAR and Peace, so you can expect some violence. 


The Conclusion:

Apparently the Russian writer Mikhail Prishvin, upon finishing his twelfth War and Peace read, wrote in his diary that he finally understood his life. 

I may not read it twelve times, but I can agree with Mr. Prishvin that this gargantuan mass called a book offers a powerful study of life, frivolity, love, death, war, and peace. 

And who knows, maybe I will read it again someday. Until then I just look forward to returning to normal life and a healthy sleep schedule. :D 


The Life Update 

Now that I have finished War and Peace, I'm ending the hiatus I announced in this post, which means that you should start getting my comments back in your comment boxes. :) 

While I was "gone", I added a poll on the sidebar that you may answer if you are so inclined. 

And thank you all again for your comments on my Blogoversary post. It is now my most commented-on post:) 

Well, that's all I have for now. Until next time! :D                                           

Sunday, July 10, 2016

One-Year Blogoversary!

Today is the one-year mark since I published my first post here, at On Stories and Words!

I'd been on Wordpress previously, but I was finding that pretty much all the blogs I was following were Blogger, so I made the switch.

Because I always look this sophisticated while blogging. :D 


It's been so awesome getting to know all of my followers and commenters. I am blessed to have y'all as friends. :)

Stats: 

12
followers(and I know there are others who follow by email)

469 comments(roughly half of which are mine)

5564 pageviews(let's not talk about how many of these are mine :D)

84 published posts

Most Viewed Post- "Good Morning!" Tolkien Blog Party

Post With Most CommentsYOU GUYS, where the commenters and I have a long thread of fangirling over the Beauty and the Beast trailer

I've had views from the U.S., France, Netherlands, Germany, India, Ukraine, Ireland,
China, Malaysia, and Portugal. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.


Thank you SO much to all of my followers and readers, who patiently read my unorganized, poorly expressed writings and faithfully submit encouraging comments. :D

I hope you'll stick around for another year of it!

*tosses confetti*


Friday, July 8, 2016

"I Bid You All A Very Fond Farewell" (Except, not really)

This is going to be a quick post, I promise: 

Okay, I am going to be taking an indefinite(but probably short) hiatus from most of my blogging until my schedule settles down a little and I catch up on some of my reading challenges(or get to a point where it's easier to do so), by which I mostly mean finish War and Peace. :D 

It should be about a week and a half of less comments and blog posts. I'll still be around, and, if all goes well, you should see a post here Sunday, but my blogging presence should be significantly minimized. 

This is the point where you may all take a deep sigh of relief. ;) 

Oh, and same goes for Pinterest and Goodreads and any other forms of social media you may happen to follow me on. 



Just thought I should warn you so you know, in case you get curious(but really because I wanted the accountability). :D 


"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ivanhoe Book Review

June's category for the Monthly Classics Challenge was a British classic. Clearly, I'm rather behind on reviewing it, but I can assure you that I did read it within the month of June, and maybe I'll even write a prompt review of July's choice to compensate. ;)

Ivanhoe

Goodreads Synopsis: IVANHOE (1819) was the first of Scott's novels to adopt a purely English subject and was also his first attempt to combine history and romance, which later influenced Victorian medievalism. Set at the time of the Norman Conquest, Ivanhoe returns from the Crusades to claim his inheritance and the love of Rowena and becomes involved in the struggle between Richard Coeur de Lion and his Norman brother John. The gripping narrative is structured by a series of conflicts: Saxon versus Norman, Christian versus Jew, men versus women, played out against Scott's unflinching moral realism.


You can see the many themes, plots, and characters running about between the pages, and for that I respect Walter Scott. However... I wasn't overly impressed.

Characterization- 

You may have heard that the character development(or lack thereof) is Ivanhoe's weakest point. And yes, it was pretty poor. Rebecca was awesome. Wamba was funny. All the Robin Hood people were epic, but everyone else was fairly one-dimensional, even Ivanhoe.

Why was it named after him, by the way? That'd be like naming A Tale of Two Cities Sydney Carton. ;)

Plot- 

Ivanhoe is unique in that a couple conflicts threaded through the entire novel, while others unfolded in a chain of rather disconnected problems. Do you know what I mean?

I prefer books with a single, main conflict that nags from beginning to resolution without resolving itself only to reincarnate as a fresh inconvenience. But that's just my style.



Writing- 

Had the writing been lighter and much more focused, I think I would have enjoyed it twice as more. Beware if you are a slow reader like me. :)

Entertainment- 

Minus a few gripping scenes, and some laughs at the expense of the Friar, there wasn't much in the way of entertainment. But that's partly just me being a slow, easily distracted reader.

~~~

So there it is. I did like it better than this review probably suggests. It was most likely the heavy, wandering writing that ruined the otherwise intriguing story for me.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Have you read Ivanhoe? What did you think? 

Are there any good movie versions you'd recommend? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Liebester Award



Hullo! (I'm seriously running out of opening greetings!)

Bekah has kindly tagged me(and anyone else who had seen a movie in the theaters in the last 30 days) for the Liebester Award. Thank you, Rebekah!




Rules~ 

1. Answer the 11 questions of the person who nominated you. 

2. Nominate other bloggers (maximum is 11) and give them 11 questions to answer. 

One thing I'm going to do a little bit differently this time is avoid repeating answers. I don't want LotR and its characters to take over my answers. :D

Let's begin, shall we? ;)

:D 


Questions~ 

1. Favorite movie series? 

I'd have to say Lord of the Rings, although I also love The Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars. 

2. Favorite book-to-movie adaption? 

Hmmm, I really liked The Giver and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. For accuracy to book, probably the latter.

Anne of Green Gables is also really, really good, but the last fourth or so, especially Gilbert and Anne's interactions, is too changed from the book.

3. Book-to-movie adaption that you hate? 

The Sign of the Beaver. Not that I hate it necessarily, but it was just dead boring.

4. You favorite character in an animated film? 

Belle(from Beauty and the Beast)!

Runners-up would be Baymax("On a scale of one to ten how would your rate your pain?"),

Flynn Rider("I'm not freaking out, are you freaking out, I'm just very interested in your hair and the magical qualities that it possesses, how long has it been doing that exactly?"),

and Woody("I don't believe that man's ever been to medical school").

5. Your favorite character in a live-action film?

Bekah, that's not fair! ;) I don't know... maybe Gilbert Blythe?

Anne and Gilbert <3 


My answer would probably be different in a few weeks, but I've been slowly working through the Anne movies lately, so that's my answer. :)


6. The best plot-twist you've ever viewed? 

This one is hard because so many of the movies I watch are based on books I've read, which means that nothing really comes as a surprise.

I'll go with the conclusion of Death on the Nile, even though I knew what would happen from reading the book.

7. Upcoming movie you're looking forward to?

Well, you all know that I'm totally freaking out over Beauty and the Beast 2017. But I'm also looking forward to future Star Wars installments.

8. Movie you wish they would make? 

"They" need a movie based off Mara, Daughter of the Nile, the 100 Cupboards series, and the Emily Starr trilogy.

9. Movie you wish they hadn't made? 

The Angry Birds movie. Much no. xD

10. What's your favorite thing to snack on during movies(if you don't like movie-snacking, explain why)? 

Popcorn! Cake works, too.




11. If you could get one actor/actress to do the Liebester Award, who would it be? 

Maggie Smith is currently my favorite actress, and I'd like to read her answers.

~~~

Well, that was fun! I'm not going to tag anyone, because I'm a rebel like that, but if you'd like the tag with Bekah's questions-- feel free!

Friday, July 1, 2016

"Jo's Boys" and "The Skipping Shoes" Reviews

Last two reviews for the June Louisa May Alcott challenge, hosted by Tarissa @In The Bookcase!


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2016


Besides Little Women Next Door, the two LMA stories I chose were Jo's Boys and The Skipping Shoes.


Jo's Boys: 


372319Before opening Jo's Boys, criticism from friends and Goodreads had set my expectations low. But happily, these expectations were met and exceeded! Little Women and Little Men are some of my favorite books/stories/movies ever and have been for (wow) a little over half of my life.

Jo's Boys wasn't as good in originality or humor as the former two novels, but it provided satisfying(or not, in some cases) conclusions to the stories of the Alcott family and friends. :)

There were also some fairly dramatic scenes which kept me entertained beyond the curiosity which was instilled by reading LW and LM.

My biggest dissatisfaction in LMA's works is her excessive moralizing. To me, she overrides solid, Biblical gospel truths with moral tales and sermons. But, although I don't agree with her worldview, there's still something wholesome in reading her moral lectures.

Rating: 4 stars

Skipping Shoes

Since I didn't have time for another full-length book, I found a (very)short story of Ms. Alcott's for my last selection.

I'd read it before for a 4th grade literature assignment, but that was some years ago, so it was fun to re-enjoy something different from her.

Skipping Shoes is the story of a pair of shoes that forces its wearer to do the right thing in every circumstance. It's a clever little story, and though still drenched in LMA's familiar moralizing, fresh with its unfamiliar fantasy element.

It only took me about ten minutes to read(and I'm a slow reader), so if you'd ever like to sample a short LMA tidbit, check it out! It's available for free on the internet.