Friday, February 23, 2018

The Hobbit {my favorite book}

You'd be surprised how many times I get asked what my favorite book is. It's on blog tour signups, it's quizzes in my online groups, it's just random questions. I usually have a hard time picking a favorite, but not with books. There's always one I can give as an answer: 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

The first time I walked into a hole in the ground, I was five. Maybe six. My dad read it aloud to me and my four brothers, and I was hooked for life. 

See, I was a fearful little girl. I wanted to be brave and important and save the world, but I got scared by the shadows in my closet and bright lights and by people talking too loudly around me. 

I learned about being wild from the boys I grew up with. They challenged me to jump off cliffs (literally), to climb trees (I am terrible at it), to run all out and not be scared of tripping and falling (I still have scars on my knees). They encouraged me to take a couple steps and throw myself out, trusting to the water to catch me and cradle me. 

But there were some things they couldn't do. 

They couldn't teach me not to be afraid of the darkness. 

They couldn't teach me about the dragons I would have to face. 

We were only little kids, after all. They didn't know about those things either.

Later - much later - I learned far too much more about fear. I learned about the monsters that lurked, not under my bed or in my closet, but inside my mind. I learned about grief. I learned about being ripped apart. I learned about being wrong. I learned about being hurt. I learned about death.

I learned all that and more, and I almost lost myself in the middle of it.

By that point, The Hobbit movies were being filmed and everyone in my family was buzzing with excitement. I got out my book from the bottom of the stack on my bedside table - even during the time when I didn't read it every six months, it never quite made it to the shelves - and I read it again.

I found myself inside the pages. I was Thorin. brave and loyal and proud. Too proud. I was Smaug, my own monster. I was Smeagol, clutching to things I couldn't keep. Most importantly, I was Bilbo, small and afraid and unimportant.

But I learned something, and the movies helped me see it clearer.

I learned that even the small, seemingly unimportant ones are needed. I learned that sometimes what the world needs is a little more home. Sometimes it needs another pocket handkerchief.

The beauty of The Hobbit is that Bilbo doesn't try to be Thorin or Gandalf or Beorn. Bilbo is simply himself, and that is enough. He becomes, over the course of the story, a better version of himself... but he is still himself. He is a hobbit. He likes his books and his armchair and clean handkerchiefs. Tea is at four.

Image: Pinterest

I learned more about being from reading or listening to The Hobbit approximately 200 times in the last fifteen years than I ever learned in church or listening to sermons or preachers. I learned more about life, my own and life in general, from this little book than I have from almost anywhere else. I sometimes think this book saved my life. I don't really know, but I do know that it has shaped me in ways I wouldn't have thought possible.

I love C. S. Lewis's quote on stories for children because it sums up my relationship with The Hobbit so well:

Image: Pinterest

So if you ask me what my favorite book is, I might tell you the title of one I just finished... I might protest at having to pick favorites and how difficult the entire concept is... I might rattle off a list that's three miles long... or I might tell you The Hobbit.


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Copyright 2018 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Thursday, February 15, 2018

So Sang The Dawn {review}

um, no review right now, too busy crying, good cry, don't worry, LOVED the book, it's beautiful.

OKAY. deep breath. 

So I'm procrastinating on an article by writing this, but at least I'm writing, right? Yeah, anyway. 

I don't know that I've read a book like this in a while. This one really needs like seven out of five stars. The last time I remember reading a book in such pell-mell haste and reaching the end and just---hanging---was when I read Moonraker's Bride for the first time. Before that, Jane Eyre. In fact, I think I could list to you all the books I've read that yanked me in and ate me up in the process of reading, and when I came out... I'm going to sound like Gandalf when I say "You may never return... and if you do, you will not be the same." So Sang The Dawn is one of those books for me.

The prose is vivid, engaging, and nearly flawless in terms of pacing, plotlines, and flow. The story is sharp, harsh in places, and it hurts in all the right places. This brought me to tears so many times - actual curled-up-on-the-bed SOBBING. I read it in a week which is the fastest I've ever read something of this size. I stayed up late nights reading, which is also unusual for me. 

Aurora was entirely too relatable and I slid into her shoes so easily that it scared me. Raine reminds me of my own best friends and made me miss them dearly. I haven't slid so completely into a story in a while and it took me a good two hours after I finished before I could even quite remember me. 

Okay. Let's see if we can make some order out of my feelings on this book:

IT'S HUGE. I could win awards for the book yoga I pulled off to be able to read this comfortably. Eh, nah, I couldn't. But anyway. Ever since AnnMarie published, I've been debating whether it would be as big as my cat. The answer (as evidenced on her Instagram @elli_and_indie) is that yes, it is pretty much just as big as my cat. TOTALLY WORTH IT TO HAVE THE PAPERBACK. In a lot of ways it needs to be that big. The story is so big that it needs every single one of its 723 pages. 

I loved it. I just totally and absolutely loved it. If I was beta reading, I would point out the three typos I found (and for the record 3 typos over 723 pages is totally insanely good.) That's it. I can't find anything that I feel needs to be changed except that I need the sequel RIGHT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU. 

The characters, the setting - I won't give you spoilers, but THE WHOLE FREAKING SETTING IS AMAZING. Reading it in February, in the mountains of Western Maine, I knew exactly what she was talking about and I adored it. 

The story-telling has a beautiful blend of detail and action that is both poetic and made my heart race. 

This is a high fantasy story like few I've read and it has the added delight of a contemporary world and a high fantasy world blending flawlessly. 

It's taken me three days to be able to think enough to be able to write a review and knowing me, it will be like three weeks before I can verbally talk about it. 

I apparently made a record by sending the author her first ever review in GIFs only. 

There is semi-graphic violence and heavy themes, but it's all handled so well, so I recommend for 14+.

I highly recommend getting your copy from AnnMarie's website - you can get it signed, and she does the most amazing wrapping and packaging job. Seriously, that got all the heart eyes from me. 

AnnMarie's Website

Amazon Link


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Copyright 2018 by Annie Louise Twitchell.