Why The Lord of the Rings is ‘My Precious’…


This was previously posted on my book blog, Rinn Reads.

When I was ten years old, I picked up this huge fantasy book that I’d never read before. I was (and still am… obviously) an avid devourer of fantasy fiction, and here was one I hadn’t yet read! It was written by the same author who wrote The Hobbit – I’d read that a few years before and loved it. I’d also heard there was a film version of it coming out next year, and it’s always more fun to read the book first. That book was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and it changed my life.

It wasn’t long before I’d finished all three books, and I was obsessed. It didn’t really help that the films were coming out soon, which meant there was merchandise EVERYWHERE. I bought countless movie guides, guides to Tolkien, books about Tolkien himself, art books, the video games, posters, trading cards, figures… I even had one of those huge cardboard promotional cutouts. Seriously. My local video shop sold off cutouts and posters so I ended up coming home with a Two Towersone, which took up the majority of my tiny bedroom at the time. Totally worth it. I did tons of fanart (a lot of which I still have), I learnt to write ‘like a hobbit’, I tried (and failed) to learn Sindarin, I ran several different Lord of the Rings websites and fanlistings. I didn’t hide my love for it either, everyone at school knew my obsession. Sometimes I felt that it alienated me from others and that they looked down on me for being so passionate, but eh.


It’s difficult to give a toss about how people perceive you for liking something, when that something is so important to you. Reading, particularly the fantasy genre, has always been a HUGE part of my life. From a young age I was encouraged to read: to my parents, by myself, before bed, whenever I could. The Lord of the Ringsonly made me delve deeper into the fantasy genre, and I have so much to thank it for.

I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tolkien’s language is old-fashioned, but that’s what I LOVE about it. I love the archaic words, the feeling that somehow this could have been our past in an alternate universe, the hobbits and their country bumpkin lifestyle – it sounds pretty idyllic. It’s a tale with unlikely heroes: within the Fellowship we’ve got an heir to the throne of Gondor, the Gondorian Steward’s son, an Elven prince, an Istari (or wizard), a Dwarven warrior (who is of the royal line, however distant) – and four hobbits. Two of which prove to be the strongest of them all, and we can’t forget what Merry and Pippin went through either.


Tolkien turned the traditional ‘epic quest’ tale on its head when he made his bumbling country folk – who’d normally rather spend the day fishing or farming, followed by an evening with a mug of ale – the true heroes. Despite the fact that Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom will most likely kill them and their chances of ever seeing the Shire again are slim, they carry on. That very thought of their beautiful home pushes them through. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. You don’t need to be the long lost heir to the throne, a rich prince or a grizzled warrior to have an impact. It’s essentially, when stripped to the bare bones, a story of good overcoming evil and how even the littlest person can change the future. To me, it also speaks of overcoming prejudices: it’s well known that elves and dwarves do not get along. But Legolas and Gimli end up forging a strong friendship, although they were distrusting of each other at first. There’s so much more within the books than a tale of nine people going on a long and arduous journey.

But you know what impresses me even more than the positive message Tolkien sends out through The Lord of the RingsHis sheer and utter dedication to thoroughly creating the world of Middle-earth. He invented entire languages, and not just the words and sentences he used in the books, but an entire new vocabulary and syntax. A whole history of Middle-earth was written, cultures and peoples that the reader barely catches a glimpse or even mention of were created. Inspired by myths and legends of other cultures, Tolkien sculpted this beautiful world that feels so real to me. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t just move to Middle-earth, to be honest.

To round it all up, The Lord of the Rings is a series that breaks my heart – in the very best way – yet simultaneously every time I read the books I feel like I’m at home. There just isn’t another like it.




The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin | 5 stars


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I’ll admit this this book was a slow start for me in the beginning. I wasn’t completely sold on the concept or the book when I bought it (it was on sale for 2 pounds so I really couldn’t say “no”) and I let it gather dust in my room for a good 2 months before I decided to start it. And when I did, I barely made it 30 pages in before I left it again for another month!

But I’m glad that I pushed through because I became very invested in the characters and the world within a few pages. I loved Jemisin’s world building here – she created a ruptured earth full of terrifying seasons and weather, and she did it so well that you felt the terror of the people.

Within this earth there is a fifth season that creates cataclysmic weather that basically destroys all life as you know it. This means that people on this world are terrified of shakes, quakes and unusual weather. Within this world, there are also individuals that are called orogenes that can harness earth’s power (and like all power, for good and evil reasons). I won’t say more because of spoilers but think X-Men on a ruptured earth. Oh, and everyone in this world is hella diverse!

Another aspect that I greatly enjoyed was the cultural and societal comm system she created. Here communities are the lifeblood of survival and each community has a stratified culture with each person belonging to a group, and each group playing a role in the survival of many. OK, so this is the anthropologist in me freaking out and many won’t give a crap about this part of the book but it is definitely a plus! This cultural and societal reaction is significant however to the survival of some of the main characters.

I could go on and on about other aspects of the book I like (think Stone People) but I’ll say something that irked me: This book is multi-perspective which isn’t exactly my cup of tea and took me a while to get used to. Jemisin does it well, and I get why she chose to use this narrative style, but eh, it was odd at first.

Other reviews I liked:

So that’s my brief review – I’d highly recommend it. Have you read it?

Rinn’s Year In Books

Rinn's Top Books 2017 (1).png

I’m jumping on the bandwagon and also sharing my year in books! I love it when Goodreads does this feature every year, because I always find reading statistics to be really interesting, whether they’re my own or someone else’s.



I read 59,696 pages across 147 books. I kept my Goodreads goal at 52, so one a week, even though I knew I’d beat it. One a week is a comfortable amount and gives me some wiggle room, in case I go off and do nothing but play video games for a week *cough*very possible*cough*

The longest book I read was A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) by Diana Gabaldon, at 1,439 pages. Somehow even though this was longer than the previous book in the series, I read it MUCH more quickly.

The shortest book I read was 154 pages – Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, which I decided to finally read after playing the game 80 Days on Steam (highly recommended!)


My rating breakdown looks like this, with an average rating of 3.9:

  • 5 stars: 47
  • 4 stars: 47
  • 3 stars: 41
  • 2 stars: 9
  • 1 star: 3
  • Did not finish: 3 (not counted in my final total)

I read within the following genres: Fantasy (43), Science Fiction (38), Non-Fiction (27), Contemporary (13), Graphic Novel (7), Historical Fiction (4), Crime/Thriller (4), Paranormal (7), Classic (4).

This split is quite surprising – fantasy and science fiction are no surprise, but I didn’t realise I read so much non-fiction this year. This mostly comprises of historical non-fiction, biographies and travel books.


The highest rated book on Goodreads that I read in 2017 was the excellent The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The lowest was Swords and Scoundrels (Duelists Trilogy #1) by Julia Knight, which I personally quite enjoyed!

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I re-read quite a few books, including all but one of the Harry Potter series, and finally started my re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire, which will continue into 2018.

How was your year in reading? Did you achieve your goals?

Claire’s Year In Books

Claire's Year In Books

GoodReads recently shared their “Your Year In Books” feature and I always find it interesting to do a bit of a “post-mortum” of my year so I’ll give it a go for books, yes?


View Claire’s Year In Books on GoodReads


I read more meaty books this year

I read 17,892 pages across 52 books (this feels so impressive!) with an average book length of 344 pages which feels sizable to me.

I prefer to read books that are minimum 300 pages and to be frank, the fatter the book the better. In my head, I equate a longer book to something that has denser world building but it isn’t always the case, plus I see longer books as good value for money… am I weird for this? Does anyone else have a minimum page requirement?

153008The longest book I read was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey and it was over 1,000 pages (Fun fact: It took me the entire year to read this book! I read it in two 500 page chunks)

The shortest book I read was 4 pages and it was the Harry Potter: The Prequel by J.K. Rowling


But stuck to my favourite genre – Fantasy!

I gave 34 books 4 or 5 stars, which is high compared to the 8 books that I gave 1 or 2 stars. I’d assume then that I enjoyed more books this year than not!

My 2017 year in reading was dominated by fantasy with the genre taking 23 out of  the 34 top books that I rated! No other genre came close: Sci-fi only had 1 book in the 4 – 5 star range, horror had 3, non-fiction had 4 and YA took 3.

I guess I really like fantasy? This is an interesting change because 2012 to 2014 was spent being obsessed with Historical Fiction and I haven’t read a single HF this year so far…and that’s not likely to change! Most of the books I plan to read next year are focused on non fiction and more fantasy.


And I didn’t read as diversely as I should have so 2018 will have a few soft goals

This year I read more books by female authors at 18, with male authors coming in close at 13. I don’t think I read as diversely as I could though and I want to see myself make a greater effort to read books by female authors.

I don’t have stats about POC authors but I can say this: I didn’t do well in that. To be honest, I’m looking at the stats quite generally and I think 3 to 5 authors might be POC? This doesn’t make me happy – I’m going to have to try harder to read more diversely author-wise in 2018.

Another goal I have next year is to look for different perspectives, cultures and histories in fantasy. I’ve noticed that a lot of fantasy seems to feel medieval-esque, and… very white so I’d love to read more fantasy based on different cultures, backgrounds and with characters from many lands.

How was your year in reading? Do you have any recommendations for me for 2018?

Claire’s Top Books of 2017

Claire's Top Books 2017

Like Rinn’s said in her post, it’s that time of year where we sit and reminisce about the great books we read over the past year!

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is one of my top 3 books of the year. I didn’t expect to like it when my housemate gave me a copy, but I loved every moment of it. I read it very slowly on purpose, I wanted to soak up every aspect of the world! Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is another treat that helped cement my love of the grimdark genre: It’s an amazingly well written, engaging novel that had me reading late into the night (and annoyed my girlfriend because I refused to stop reading well past 3AM). The last book here is Kushiel’s Dart  by Jacqueline Carey that I picked up as part of the Tor Books book club. It’s over 700 pages and took me the entire year to read but it’s worth it. It’s a great world that has beauty, intrigue and magic in it.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin has been in the news for the past few years, racking up quite a few awards, but I only just got my hands on it this year. It took some time to get into but Jemisin has made such a truly engrossing fantasy world that I can truly understand why the books are at the “top” of many fantasy lists. Alice by Christina Henry was another surprise read that I enjoyed massively because of its dark, gritty and terrifying take on a beloved classic. The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson – I don’t even know how I got this book, but it’s a wonderful fantasy tale based on traditional Chinese myths and religions – this is important to me because fantasy can seem very western/white.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed was the first book I read in 2017 and it utterly captivated me. It made me want to go hiking in the US though I do not have that sort of stamina! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists is a MUST read because it helps readers see the value in different perspectives. Finally, The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers was my surprise read because I am NOT a sci-fi fan. I love fantasy. Simply put! But Rinn recommended this so many times I felt like I had to do give it a go and it was well worth it, it’s a beautiful, stunning book that reads like an anthropologist’s tale of outer space.

What are your top books of 2017? Have you read any of these?

Rinn’s Top Books of 2017


It’s that time of the year when every book blogger shares their top reads, and I’m not going to disappoint! As usual, I can NEVER settle on just ten; this covers books I read in 2017, not just those published this year.

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Artemis by Andy Weir was maybe one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher. If you grab the UK hardback, make sure to look under the dust jacket! I wasn’t sure what I’d think of The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed, but I am so glad I gave it a chance. It’s a really fantastic and meaningful story that is sadly very relevant in today’s culture. Has anyone been able to ignore The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood this year?? The book is shocking and the recent television series updates it for the modern world.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman is another book that got the TV treatment this year, although I have to confess I haven’t actually finished watching it. The book was truly weird (so truly Gaiman) and so unique. Another book I received from the publisher was An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney, a historical fiction that had me reading late into the night. Written by a local author, Planetfall by Emma Newman is a really interesting sci-fi that explores areas you might not expect in the genre.

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Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames was one of my book group’s fantasy picks and I LOVED it. It’s a funny book that made me think of epic gaming sessions. However I have to say, if you only read one of these books, you should definitely read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It’s heart-breaking and beautiful. Or if you’re in the mood for non-fiction, then try Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I really need to read more of her books now, and am currently waiting for more of her stuff from the library.

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 Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is definitely an absolute favourite of the year, and I managed to convince both Claire and another friend to give it a shot! I was late coming to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but it was so good. So slow and a HUGE book but I got through it pretty quickly because I just couldn’t stop. And finally… A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, the sequel to one of my absolute favourite books of 2016. It felt like quite a different story to the first but I still loved it.

What are your top books of 2017? Did you read any of these?

Alice by Christina Henry | 5 stars


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I haven’t posted individually yet because I was over-thinking what should be my official “first” post. Eventually I realized that this was daft and that I should post something that I enjoyed, so I’ve chosen Alice by Christina Henry. Also, a note: I can’t do reviews that talk about prose, characterization, or structure or all of these fancy ways of evaluating books. I can’t do that, I don’t think like that! So I’m basically going to structure my reviews thusly: What I like and why, what I don’t like and why.

I really enjoyed Alice. It was the first time I read anything by this author and I only stumbled onto the book by accident – it was the only thing in the library that looked appealing and I needed a read for my commute so I grabbed it without reading the back. I love it because, I appreciate Henry’s unique and innovative take on the Alice story and its host of oddball characters.

Without giving too much away: Alice lives in a world where magic is discouraged if not outright banned for everyone except what I’ll call “high wizards” and some important gangsters. Alice, though, she’s in a pickle with Hatter and they’ve had rough, rough lives. Of course other beloved Alice characters have their personalities torn apart and stitched together in a unique take in this novel with heartbreaking and sometimes cruel ways.

And I really liked that! I loved that Henry’s take is adult, dark and nitty and gritty. I appreciate that she built the world from a seedy point of view: In this place, magic is power and only the powerful can hold it and what this power looks like is more focused on society’s underbelly than overt expressions of it (like royalty, etc). It’s a different perspective on magic and it is both painful and difficult to read – which is why it’s great and you should read it.

What didn’t I like? I’m really scratching my head here because I loved the entire thing. I devoured the book in a few hours over one day. So I guess, I really liked everything.

But a warning: If you’re triggered by sexual assault, abuse and trauma I would not recommend this book.