Monday, October 24, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - October 24, 2016

Well! I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this meme is still going strong. I've been a participant since the days it was hosted over at J Kaye's Book Blog, and then on Book Journey. Now It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at Book Date.

The idea of It's Monday! What Are You Reading is to share the books you read last week and also what you are currently reading. I've discovered the hard way that it's a dangerous meme for your TBR piles as frequently I end up adding books to my wishlist thanks to the intriguing descriptions and reviews that others share.

Anyway, last week I read or at least finished two books:

Voyager (Outlander 3) - Diana GabaldonThe first was Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.

The amazon.com product description:
From the author of the breathtaking bestsellers Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, the extraordinary saga continues.

Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her...the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite—or forever doom—her timeless love.
An excerpt from my review:
Detailed and at times a bit gruesome, Voyager grabs you by all your senses and sweeps you along in unexpected directions. This was a bit of a transition book, closing off the Culloden storyline which filled the previous two books and carrying the characters into new adventures, as well as introducing us to new characters along with the return of some unexpected characters from the previous books. There are also some new hints as to how time travel and the stones work.

Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth - Donato GiancolaThe other book I read last week was  Donato Giancola's Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth.

The amazon.com product description:
From the brush of Donato Giancola, one of the world's most recognized and lauded fantasy artists, comes a book filled with new illustrations that apply his legendary Renaissance craftsmanship to J. R. R. Tolkien's fantastic Middle-Earth. Dramatic lighting and deft draftsmanship reminiscent of master painters like Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Vermeer explain Donato's popularity with millions of fans, as well as the numerous Hugo and Chesley Awards he has received. This long-awaited, moving, and beautiful voyage through Middle-Earth — a must-have for eager genre readers everywhere — offers a refreshingly new exploration of literature's most beloved fantasy realm. From Helm's Deep to Mount Doom, Donato takes readers on a colorful tour filled with warriors, wizards, dragons, and dwarfs. Throughout he exhibits his astonishing technical virtuosity with every scene he brings to life, while also demonstrating the delight and wonder familiar to all true devotees of Middle-Earth.
An excerpt from my review:
Interestingly, I found on going through his book that my favorite style of image are the pencil crayon and chalk illustrations on toned paper. They remind me of both the Degas sketches I've seen and also of an exhibit I once saw of Leonardo Da Vinci's sketches. Ever since then, I've been rather partial to that style of art.
This was a very quick book for straight reading - I picked it out for a few reasons, including just that. Other reasons included wanting a real change of pace from solid novels and also wanting to capitalize on the flurry of Tolkien-related items going out on social media thanks to the upcoming new books. Regardless of my reasons for actually reading this book (which had been sitting on my TBR lists for the last five years, I'm really glad that I did.

The books that I'm currently reading are:

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

The amazon.com product description:
It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle.  There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past--or the grave.  Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once buy twice.  Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became legend--a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child.  Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in frontier America.  But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century.  Their daughter Brianna...

Now, Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown.  In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history...and to save their lives.  But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past...or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong...
This is the sequel to Voyager, which I finished reading last week. I have to admit that I have no idea of how long it's going to take me to finish reading this one, but I'm looking forward to the journey.

The second book I'm currently reading is one that again has been on my TBR list for a couple of years now. However, despite the fact that I'm finding it to be absolutely fascinating reading, I'm thinking that it may get put down yet again so I can focus on Drums of Autumn.

There and Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins of The HobbitThere And Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins Of The Hobbit by Mark Atherton

The amazon.com product description:
*Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.* The prophetic words of Galadriel, addressed to Frodo as he prepared to travel from Lothl√≥rien to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, are just as pertinent to J.R.R. Tolkien’s own fiction. For decades, hobbits and the other fantastical creatures of Middle-earth have captured the imaginations of a fiercely loyal tribe of readers, all enhanced by the immense success of Peter Jackson’s films: first The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and now his newest movie, The Hobbit. But for all Tolkien’s global fame and the familiarity of modern culture with Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam, the sources of the great mythmaker’s own myth-making have been neglected.
Mark Atherton here explores the chief influences on Tolkien’s work: his boyhood in the West Midlands; the landscapes and seascapes which shaped his mythologies; his experiences in World War I; his interest in Scandinavian myth; his friendships, especially with the other Oxford-based Inklings; and the relevance of his themes, especially ecological ones, to the present day.
I'm only part-way through the first chapter and finding this to be fascinating going. So far, the author has been comparing The Hobbit and Roverandom to each other and also to other children's literature of the time.Then there are the extra details on things I'd already been somewhat familiar with: that the names of the Dwarves of The Hobbit came from Scandinavian literature, but I hadn't known that those names had meanings, or what the meanings were.

Honestly, this is a book where I feel like I need to have a notepad and pencil out - and a lot of quiet time to absorb what I'm reading.
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