First, a reminder: From now through New Year's Day, you can get the e-book of the first Monkey Queen adventure, Of Introductions And Abductions, for just 99 cents at Amazon.com! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NAKJUG2 It's also been marked down at all other Amazon sites; check the "Christmas Gift To You" post, or search your local Amazon store.
Also, this is part of a multi-author promotion, with many fine novels being marked down to 99 cents; we'll have more info on that later this week.
Some thoughts and spoilers on The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies after the cut.
Okay, maybe the Hobbit trilogy isn't up to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, movie-wise. The main problem where I'm concerned is that the title character gets squeezed to the side more often than not. Bilbo is such a fun yet complex character, and he really deserved more screen time.
That said, I can't help but think that we'd love the Hobbit films more if the Lord Of The Rings had never been filmed. They're fine movies, and I want to grab and watch all the extended editions for next Christmas. It's a testament to how great the Lord Of The Rings movies were, that they have us looking with scorn on a trio of solid movies.
Things I didn't like in Battle: The fact that some scenes felt rushed. I mean, you have giant eagles guided by Sylvester McCoy dropping a gigantic werebear onto a battlefield, and that gets less time than lingering closeups of Legolas? I read in one review that Peter Jackson was asked to make cuts to keep Battle short, so hopefully this'll get more screen time in the extended edition.
Things I liked: Any time Bilbo and Gandalf were together. Dain Ironfoot, or "Billy Connolly being a dwarf badass". And Galadriel being the badass we knew she could be all along.
And thing I bought at Costco for New Year's Eve, even though I don't usually drink: