Posts Categorized: Read-Alongs

Wheel of Time Re-Read-Along
Book 3 – The Dragon Reborn

March 19, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 2

Oops! I apologize for posting this later in the month than usual — “real life” has distracted me a bit from reading/blogging as much as I’d like. Anyway, onwards and upwards!

Book 3 – The Dragon Reborn

The Dragon Reborn – the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him – is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how – for no man has done it in three thousand years — Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that Rand REALLY got on my nerves in this book. I mean, on the one hand, I kind of understand why he went haring off alone… the poor guy was dealing with some really rough personal issues (to put it mildly) and he didn’t want to accidentally hurt someone else. BUT. Dude. The entire rest of the cast is either trying to find him or trying to help him in some way… maybe disappearing like a crazy person is not the best way to convince other people you aren’t crazy (yet), yeah?

Anyway, I actually quite liked getting POV chapters from not-Rand characters more than Rand’s POV. Perhaps my favorite scene in this book is Mat’s unexpected yet well-done defeat of the princes during their Warder fighting practice at Tar Valon. Oh Mat, that scamp — he’s starting to grow on me now that his annoying little thieved-treasure problem has been more or less resolved.

I hadn’t thought about it on previous reads through the series, but I noticed this time around that repentance/redemption seems to be a bit of a theme. Ingtar did his bit in the last book during the battle at Falme, and in this book it was the thief-catcher Juilin’s turn, and I vaguely remember a couple of other instances… don’t worry, no spoilers. I just think that these remorseful “sinners” are an interesting contrast to the Forsaken and the Black Ajah — some of the “bad guys” turn out to be good guys at heart, though of course some of the good guys might not be as good as we think they are!

Questions:
  • Did anyone else pick up on that whole repentance/remorse thing, or am I reaching for some kind of meaning that isn’t really there?
  • Have your opinions of any of these characters started to change now that we’re a few books in?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

February 27, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 6

Welcome back to Oz!

Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

Young Tip runs away from his guardian, the witch Mombi, taking with him Jack Pumpkinhead and the wooden Saw-Horse, and flees to the Emerald City where he learns the incredible secret of his past.

My Thoughts:

Uh… what just happened? That was a wild ride!

OK, I admit that I was a little annoyed by Tip at first. I know Mombi is supposed to be a Bad Guy, but for some reason I found her much more interesting and slightly more sympathetic than the Wicked Witch of the West in the previous book.

I also have to say that I was a little confused by the whole coup thing with the Scarecrow… but that scene between him and Jack Pumpkinhead and their “translator” was adorably funny. Cheesy, sure, but cute. I like a little cheese every once in a while.

Actually, several scenes were a little confusing. Or maybe not so much “confusing” as “WTF just happened” or “was there a point to this”? Don’t get me wrong, this was a good fun romp of a story, but… are ALL the Oz books going to be as random/manic as this?

I quite enjoyed the addition of all the wacky new characters/creatures, like The Gump in particular — I hope it shows up again in future books. And the Woggle-Bug’s terrible puns were DELIGHTFUL.

I do wonder if Baum was trying to get political with all the Girl Power / Evil Feminazi stuff. The book seemed to be simultaneously poking fun at feminists while praising other leading ladies — even so far as turning a boy into a girl. I’ve tried not to read too much into all this, though — after all, the book was written while the 20th century still had the shiny on it and the 19th Amendment was still nearly 2 decades off.

So… tell me what you thought of this one!

Questions:
  • Did you particularly like any of the new characters/creatures? Or were you hoping for more old favorites from the first book?
  • Do you ever feel a little twinge of sympathy or unwarranted fondness for “bad guy” characters?
  • What did you think of all the gender politics stuff in this book? Do you think Baum was making an eloquent point about the feminism of his day, or is that maybe reading too much into a wacky little kids’ book?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wheel of Time Re-Read-Along
Book 2 – The Great Hunt

February 18, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 4

Welcome to The Adventures of Rand & Friends, Part 2.

Book 2 – The Great Hunt

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. For centuries, gleemen have told of The Great Hunt of the Horn. Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages.

And it is stolen.

My Thoughts:

Dude, SO MUCH happens in this book. It’s hard to kind of wrap my mind around all of it at once.

One of the worst/most surprising series of scenes in WoT World happens in this book. In an attempt to avoid spoiling anyone who hasn’t read it yet (WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, GO READ IT), I’ll just say it starts with the scene involving the four “Too Big For Their Britches” girls meeting the scary invaders who like to keep people as pets. I couldn’t stop cringing over it for days after I read it the first time.

On a lighter note, one of my favorite characters in the series — maybe my absolute favorite character? — shows up in this book: Verin, of the Brown Ajah. The way she just casually tells the Amyrlin and Moiraine that she knows what shenanigans they’re up to and she wants in on it is pretty funny. And… not to be too spoilery, but a revelation that we get about Verin several books from now is actually hinted at here, and I have to brag that I caught it the first time I read the series — although, at the time I thought it was some kind of continuity mistake, so I can’t take too much credit.

There are a few scenes that really captured my imagination. The first is the scene where Rand is introduced to/interrogated by the Amyrlin and only manages not to make a complete fool of himself thanks to Lan, Moiraine’s Warder. Just… something about this battle-hardened, Aes Sedai-beholden man doing what he can to help out Idiot “The Chosen One” Farmboy, despite everything… it’s nice, you know? I also thought Nynaeve’s test to become Accepted was interesting, and Loial’s little flirtation at the stedding was cute.

Finally, I just really enjoyed the addition of all these unique characters to the cast. Verin, of course, and Siuan and Leane, Hurin, etc. I guess I like stories with lots of interweaving plots and varied character perspectives — although, if I remember correctly, this series starts to get a bit overcrowded and the addition of new characters won’t be quite as exciting after the first few books.

Questions:
  • Was there a particular scene (or more than one) that you really enjoyed, maybe even made you laugh?
  • Conversely, were there any scenes that you totally did NOT enjoy, either because something Really Bad happened or because the characters were just being buttheads/idiots?
  • Were you actually surprised by the behavior or revelations of any of the characters? (The first time you read it, if this is a re-read for you.) Or did you see all the little “twists” coming a mile away?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 1 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

January 30, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 10

Welcome to the Oz! Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Book 1 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival — will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

My Thoughts:

I vaguely remember reading this as a kid, but unsurprisingly the book story was supplanted by the movie story in my memory and the only thing I really recalled from the book was the whimsical illustrations and Dorothy’s silver shoes. But some scenes came back to me during this little re-read: Boq the Munchkin, the dainty people of China Country (my favorites for some reason), the goofy green glasses worn in Emerald City, and the Wicked Witch having only one eye.

There seemed to be rather a lot more gore and property destruction than I remembered, too, what with all the chopping off of heads and the smashing up of buildings and suchlike. Probably not the kind of story that could get a G rating if Disney tried a true-to-the-book animated film version these days — not that I’m complaining, it just wasn’t expected. I seem to have taken it all in stride when I read it as a child, which seems to be pretty common — grown-ups notice and are sometimes shocked by “bad” things in stories that kiddos wouldn’t blink an eye at.

A lot of the characters (all of them?) are not all that well fleshed-out. And a lot of them are just idiots. Still, it’s a charming little story, and I’m a huge sucker for creative/insane world-building, so that wasn’t too much of a problem for me. There are better children’s fantasy books out there these days, but it’s easy for me to see why this one was so well-loved in its time and gained “classic” status so quickly.

Questions:
  • Have you read this book before? How did your re-read match up with your memory? Or if you haven’t read it before, did the book live up to your expectations?
  • If you’ve seen the 1939 musical film, how do you think the book compares? Do you like one a whole lot better than the other?
  • Did you have a favorite character or culture/land?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wheel of Time Re-Read-Along
Book 1 – The Eye of the World

January 15, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 9

Welcome to the Two Rivers… and the rest of the world of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Book 1 – The Eye of the World

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

My Thoughts:

I remember thinking the first time I read this book that it was very Lord of the Rings-y. And it is, right up until the end — purposefully, obviously. There are the clear parallels between characters (Lan = Aragorn, for example), outright rip-offs (Mountains of Mist = Misty Mountains), and then the winking references that seem meant to tell Tolkien fans that it’s all in good fun (The Nine Rings, an inn named after an adventure story that our MC Rand really likes). Now, upon re-reading it and taking the series as a whole into account, I kinda think the LotR references/homages are bordering on red herring status.

Something else I remembered about my initial read of these books was how much my opinions of the characters changed over the course of the series. Not gonna go into a whole lot of detail about this because I do want to avoid spoilers for newbie readers, but I do think it speaks to Jordan’s skill with character development over the long term. Of course, there is PLENTY of room for character development over the course of 15 books….

I’m glad I chose to re-read this series, in large part because it’s so enjoyable to see all the little clues that Jordan seriously planned ahead plot-wise. There are the hints from Min, of course, but there are also little clues scattered in the dialogue and behavior of the characters. I’d say the writing kind of got away from him and the series is at least one book too long, but it doesn’t change the fact that this story is a feat of calculation/foresight.

Questions:
  • What did you think of the parallels to LotR? Fun, annoying, not worth mentioning?
  • If you’ve read this series before, did your opinions about some characters change as the series went on? Or have you had a favorite character or OTP ship from the very start?
  • If you haven’t read this series before, do you really like or dislike any particular characters right now?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.