Crashing the Unexpected Party

In case you didn’t know, I love fantasy.  And before I started blogging, I had read The Hobbit and had started reading The Fellowship of the Ring, put it down to read something else, and forgot to pick it back up.  I’ve been wanting to re-read the first and read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy for a bit, but just not done it.  And with all the ARCs, it doesn’t look like something I’m going to just do on my own, at least not this year.

Tolkein readalongSo when I read BethFish’s Lord of the Ring readalong post the other day, I was reminded I had meant to join in.  But I’m beginning to think that if I don’t say it publically, I’ll forget to do it.  So here’s my public announcement:  I’m doing to the Lord of the Ring’s Readalong.

I’m joining in halfway through the first month, and am just a little behind on The Hobbit, which is the January book.  Here’s the schedule:

  • January: The Hobbit at A Striped Armchair
  • February: The Fellowship of the Ring at The Literary Omnivore
  • March: The Two Towers here at Shelf Love
  • April: The Return of the King at Just Add Books
  • I think I’ll do a bit of reading before doing an update.. lol, I need to have something to update.  Right now, I’m just listening to the audio book from the library, but I think I’ll probably go borrow the hard copy later.  I seem to get the most out of books when I listen to AND read along with them.  I kinda wish I hadn’t mooched away my copy now.

    So are you doing the readalong? Have you ever read Tolkein?  Have you watched the movies?

    T’Aragam by Jack W. Regan

    T'aragamTitle:  T’Aragam

    Author:  Jack W. Regan

    Paperback:  286 pages

    ISBN:  9781442114593

    Book Challenges:  ARC Challenge

    From the website:

    Young Max Ransome watched his father die, killed by marauding phantors as they swept through T’Aragam at the bidding of the evil wizard Zadok. Barely escaping with his own life, Max is thrust into a whirlwind journey as he races against time to save T’Aragam, the world he loves, from a dark dominion. Can Max overcome the horror of his father’s death and save T’Aragam from the grasping talons of its enemies?

    Woven with a charming mix of zany humor and genuine danger, T’Aragam immerses the reader in a world of original characters and tightly-woven plot. Young Max leads the cast and is ably supported by, among others, a faithful medgekin friend named Gramkin, two monster brothers named Doom and Gloom, and an equuraptor named Dresden.

    Coupled with quirky supporting characters, such as mercenary Captain Baggywrinkle, Lord Stench, and a perpetually hungry sea serpent named Bob, this cast of characters steps from the pages and pulls the reader into the story.

    I am thoroughly entranced by this book.  It’s fantasy with wizards, phantors and equuraptors (part horse, part dragon, and few are alive who’ve seen them in person).  It’s also got a good comedic side to it with monster brother Doom and Gloom who are afraid of everything, including birds and boys, and Doom is particularly put off by the lack of tea time and unsanitary conditions of the dungeon.  There’s adventure, the battle of good and evil, and 13-year-old Max must decide between doing what is right, even if it leads to a horrible and long death, or to do what’s comfortable.  All of it works to make a very addictive read in this first book of The Max Ransome Chronicles.

    Okay, some side notes from me… I’ve gotten a bit caught up in World of Warcraft lately.  After making fun of everyone I know who plays it, I thought I’d see what the deal was and found out I’m as big a dork as them.  What’s more, Maggie is even worse about it than me!  So reading T’Aragam has been like being “in game,” even though I was AFK.  I could picture it all and could relate to Max as if it were me in it… because I’ve done or seen similar things, or felt similarly while playing WoW.  And I can’t wait for more of this series. 

    Another point is that you have to go to Podiobooks and listen to the Regan perform the audiobook (while there, feel free to make a donation… Regan gets 75% of it ;-) ).  It was listening to the first chapter of the audiobook that sold me on this book; Regan is one of the best performers I’ve heard.  I suppose it could be argued that the author would do the best reading, since they know exactly how it should sound, but I have two words to argue that:  Ray Bradbury.

    While this book is technically a YA and geared for boys, I’d have to say that anyone who enjoys Tolkein and C.S. Lewis would enjoy T’Aragam.  I was impressed with Regan’s storycrafting, the fluidity of his writing without it becoming blah or going over the reader’s head.  I never wanted to put it down, and when I had to for life’s demands, my mind kepty drifting back to how Max was going to get out of whatever situation I’d left him.

    For it’s ability to spirit me away to the land of fantasy and take me on an adventure, I give T’Aragam by Jack W. Regan 5 out of 5 stars, and am dying to know how much longer I have to wait for book two??

    BTT ~ The Library Is the Heart of a Community

    btt2

    Suggested by Barbara:

    I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

    The trouble I have with borrowing books from the library is that I am horrible at reading them in a timely fashion and I can never decide on one book or two, so I just get all twenty; the result of these failings is that I end up with a lot of fines, my highest fine balance  being over a hundred dollars.  Instead of borrowing books from the library, I get books from BookMooch and PaperBackSwap, as well as buying them from the thrift stores and an occasional brand-new book from Wal-Mart (I used to be a permanent fixture at Waldenbooks, but Border’s shut our store down… I’m still grieving over that loss).

    If I never brought home  another book, there are enough books in Mt. TBR’s inventory, and even more in the rest of my home library, to keep me busy for three or four years, maybe more.  What’s more, I also receive ARCs and books from publishers to review, so I doubt I’ll ever run out of books, barring a disaster like a fire or a book thief :-D

    No, my main use of our local library is as a place to take my kids.  Our library has family movie events once a month, the last one we went to was “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” and shows for local artists and musicians.  They also have a monthly book sale, though the prices have gone up and up so I’ve gone less and less.  Our library also has a nice computer farm that occupy my kids, during which time I sit in a quiet corner away from everyone and read.

    As we live about seven or so blocks from the library we walk there, which gives us time to enjoy the flowers and the world around us, as well as chat about whatever little thing crosses our minds.  A little over six years ago, we lived right behind the library and the kids went everyday, but now we go about once a week, sometimes more, and usually on Saturdays.  The library is a large part of our life, both as a source of entertainment as well as a backdrop for memories.

    A few years ago, our library underwent a major renovation that brought the building into the 21st century.  With the installation of a gas fireplace and an open curving staircase with a glass ceiling and window walls, it went from a dreary cement box to one of the most beautiful libraries in our state and winning awards.  After the old one retired, the new director has enlarged the DVD, audio book, and music CD inventory a thousand percent, and has returned the library to public.

    Some of my happiest childhood memories take place in a library, and I’m glad that I’m giving the same gift to my children. :-)

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