Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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It is a beautiful sunny Friday, or at least it is if you’re looking on the bright side of life, which I do. My sunny optimism might just be why I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award.For starters, I want to thank Lee for nominating me and for following my blog and posting such nice praise about my recent cosplay project. I have enjoyed following you back and I found some more people to follow because of your post. Please everyone check out Lee’s blog Tolkien Read Through 

So let’s get down to business … to defeat the Huns.

Rules:

– Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. Check
– Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. Will Do
– Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
– List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. Check

Here are the Questions

I just love these types of questions.

1. What is your favorite book ever?

This is a tough one. It’s between the Silmarillion by Tolkien or Empress by Karen Miller. I’d probably  have to choose the Sil, not just for the stories, but because of the author’s love of the book. It really strikes a chord with me that it was his pet project that he never finished. I have a pet project of my own. Like Tolkien, it might be a little too ambitious, and I’m afraid I will never get it done.

2. How did you get into reading?

I used to watch my mother read. She read all the time and made it look like so much fun. It was the one thing she did, aside from watching soap operas, that we were not allowed to interrupt. I wanted to be able to read chapter books with no pictures like she did, especially Les Miserables. I passed it in a library as a child and thought it was huge. I asked my mom about it and she couldn’t tell me anything about the story, except that it was old and looked depressing. I was intrigued by the girl on the cover and wanted to see what it was about. I own it now, but I’ve yet to read it.

3. What was the first book you read?

I’m pretty sure it was Suki the Kitten, which is a book I got as a child from a garage sale. I liked cats. I remember struggling to read the word, window. My mom made me sound it out and she wouldn’t help me with it. I saved it for my kid. It was one of the first books he read. I’m hanging onto it in case he has kids.

4. What is your favorite quote?

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

I have to say that I like the way the movie worded it better, but this is still true today. What a greedy world we live in. This should be posted somewhere in every corporate office.

5. What is your favorite atmosphere for reading?

No favorite atmosphere. I could read in a plane or on a bus or on a train. I could read here or there. I could read anywhere. In a box with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.

6. How do you prefer discovering new books to read?

I really don’t have a preference. I just like them to jump out at me: an ad on twitter, a book  on the shelf that captures my eye, a dusty book in the bottom of a box at a garage sale. It doesn’t matter. A referral from a friend is always good. My sister told me to read Empress. My ex told me to read Game of Thrones (before it was cool). I enjoy both books. Sometimes your favorite stories are forced on you. Two of my favorite books, I was forced to read in college. Well, I wasn’t forced. It was the story of Gilgamesh and The Iliad. I just keep re-reading the Iliad hoping the Trojans will win …

7. Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I like ebooks because I can take them to the gym, but I do prefer physical books. I like to look at them on my shelf. I like to hold them. I like to smell them.

8. What inspired you to start your blog?

I had a friend start a blog. Sarah Wright. So when she was visiting, I checked out her blog and started my own. It was so fun getting to share my thoughts and interest and connect with other readers, writers, and geeks.

9. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

My blog post is obviously making a play on rite of passage. I was basically writing about my writing journey and the process. It’s then evolved to include my other interest.

10. What are the things that inspire you?

I’m not sure what initially inspired me. But reading inspires me. This particular story was inspired by a fanfic, I’m not ashamed to say.

I also get inspired by my own experiences and the experiences of others.

I think your feelings, your beliefs, and your passions can inspire you. Your stories need to convey something, have a deeper meaning, and what better than something you are passionate about.

I usually touch on ethical themes about hate, violence, war, and human rights, which are things that are close to me. I also like to touch on family issues, so my family inspires me a great deal. The feelings I had when my brother left to join the military; how close all four of us were as children and how time rifted us apart, the close bond I have with my mom and sister, how devastating it was to be separated from my sister for the first time during college, my conflicts as a mother, how you can love someone and hate them at the same time. Family and love are complicated and I like to show relationships in a real and honest way.

11. When you write something, do you prefer to do it by hand or type straight away into your blog?

I just type it straight into my blog. My handwriting is so bad, I wouldn’t be able to read it. But sometimes I still write my book in a notebook. There is a special and direct connection that your brain can make with your pencil that it cannot make with keyboards, because your fingers leave the keys, which interrupts it.

Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate: this was a hard list. So many more people I’d like to include. Please check them out.

1 Sarah Wright: Blood & Ink

2 Staci Reafsnyder

3 Carrie Rubin

4 Rachelle M.N. Shaw

5 Jon

6 Lori Maclaughin

7 Shannon Noel Brady

8 The Story Reading Ape

9 Middle-earth Reflections

10 Jane Dougherty

11 Ali Isaac

Fictional Fridays #17

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I just wanted to share this delightful post from my latest follow Nandini, who I found via a meet and greet posted by Smorgasbord. I thought this was a great way to find more blogs to follow. I highly recommend you check out the meet and greet here. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/welcome-to-the-party-meet-and-greet-some-new-bloggers/

Pages That Rustle

Who thought holidays could be more stressful than the months I have to attend college? Strangely, I find myself having no time to do the things I want to finish and having all the time in the world to complete TV series in record time during my semesters. Another example of time being a vindictive creature, I suppose. Putting aside selfish concerns for a bit, I decided to write something, anything, to take my mind off of things. Here is the result (Incidentally, it fits this week’s Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes Prompt Challenge #33 – Favourite Food).

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Boycotts & Books

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I think one of the most overwhelming things to do in life is spend a gift card at a book store.

Yes, it is possible to be overwhelmed by a good thing.

The money/book ratio is always off. There is never enough money on the gift card to buy all the books you’d want to read, so you want to make sure you pick out a good one.

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This task becomes even more overwhelming when the gift card happens to be the last gift card I ever received and ever will receive from my mother.

I just felt like it should be used to purchase a special book.

With Mother’s Day being this weekend, inconveniently and tormentingly close to my mother’s death, I have decided to avoid all stores that sell Mother’s Day paraphernalia … which just so happens to be every store. I miss her and I want to buy her a present. I can’t, so I don’t want to be reminded that she won’t be here this holiday.

Due to my Mother’s Day boycott, as you can imagine, it was really hard to find something to do or somewhere to go during my lunch break. So I drove around for fifteen minutes before remembering I still had a gift card from my mother from Christmas.

Since I miss her, I thought this was either a really good time or a bad time to spend it. It was really a coin toss, so I decided to chance it.

So began the overwhelming task of picking out a special book.

I found a few series I’d like to try: John Gwynne’s Ruin series and S.M. Stirling’s Change series.

I also batted around getting my own copy of Empress by Karen Miller so I wouldn’t have to sneak my sis’ copy whenever I want to read a passage.

I ended up getting a new copy of the Silmarillion. Yes, I already have it, but I hate the cover of the copy I bought (and that was the least ugly cover at the time).

I found a copy that matches my copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

My mom wasn’t a fan of Tolkien or fantasy for that matter, but she’d be happy I got something I really like and will treasure forever. Now whenever I read it I’ll think of my mom … and how much she didn’t like Lord of the Rings.

For those of you who will be acknowledging the holiday, have a good one. Hug your moms. Srsly. I still remember my last hug. It was worth more than all the books on my shelf. If it’s Sunday, and you’re reading my blog, leave your computer right now and go spend time with your mom!

 

 

Life, Death, and the Immortal Four

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Today is Tolkien Reading Day. As always, there is a theme. This year’s theme is life, death, and immortality.

Morbid, huh … or is it?

Many of you may be thinking this is a far cry from last year’s theme of friendship, but I think it goes hand in hand and strikes a very similar chord–though maybe a more solemn tone.

We know that Tolkien’s relationships influenced his writing, but do we realize how much their deaths did as well? Read any of his books and you’ll find themes of immortality/mortality, death/life, and loss. The Lord of the Rings quickly comes to mind, but themes of loss and death can be found in even his lighter works, such as the Hobbit.


 

The Immortal Four

Tolkien was greatly inspired by the lives and deaths of his friends and members of his writing group, The Tea Club Barrovian Society (TCBS).

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The members were Tolkien, Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman, and Geoffrey Smith. Like Tolkien, they were all academic, philosophical, poetic, and artistic young men, and they became very close friends.

Several of the members died during the First World War in battles that are said to have inspired the wars of Middle Earth, particularly the Battle of Somme, which was a gruesome battle that took thousands of lives and ruined the landscape. This was supposedly and very possibly the inspiration for Mordor.

The first to die was Rob Gilson. In a very heartfelt letter sent to Tolkien by Smith you get a good sense of the strong bond and deep connection that the members had for one another.

My dear John Ronald,

I saw in the paper this morning that Rob has been killed. I am safe but what does that matter? Do please stick to me, you and Christopher. I am very tired and most frightfully depressed at this worst news. Now one realizes in despair what the T.C.B.S. really was.

O my dear John Ronald what ever are we going to do?

Yours ever.

G. B. S.

Not long after, Smith died as well, leaving only Wiseman and Tolkien. In this letter to Tolkien, Wiseman grieves the loss of their members while declaring that death cannot end their ideas and goals.

…there will still be left a member of the great T.C.B.S. to voice what I dreamed and what we all agreed upon. For the death of one of its members cannot, I am determined, dissolve the T.C.B.S. Death can make us loathsome and helpless as individuals, but it cannot put an end to the immortal four!

The immortal four is the perfect epitaph, because though they died, they lived on in Tolkien’s memory and in his writing. Their ideas, discussions, and Smith’s words, “May you say things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them.” inspired Tolkien to write The Silmarillion and other stories of Middle Earth. We wouldn’t have The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings if not for these men.

So essentially what I’m saying is the death of his friends gave Tolkien a kick in the butt to start writing. He certainly felt the pressures of being one of if not the soul survivor of the group. Tolkien’s burden of carrying their stories, their memories, and their ideas is clearly comparable to Frodo’s burden of carrying the one ring. I have to wonder if Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam weren’t inspired by the immortal four. There were four hobbits and four members of the T.C.B.S. Coincidence?

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Tolkien’s Immortality

I don’t think we’ll ever live in a world where people aren’t familiar with Tolkien and his books. While no one can live forever, like Tolkien’s elves, he certainly has achieved immortality in its most obtainable sense.

Anyone will tell you, Tolkien lives on because of his books. Another way he lives on is through his friends, family, and children.

Christopher Tolkien (3rd and youngest son) is said to be the most like his father: a soldier, scholar, writer. Of all of his four children, Chris was probably the favorite. In one of Tolkien’s letters, he refers to Chris as a “special gift” to him, “in a time of sorrow and mental suffering.”

Just like with the Immortal Four, you can see where his relationship with Christopher inspired his works.

Chris completed his father’s writing just as Frodo finished Bilbo’s writing in the Lord of the Rings.

Without Christopher’s efforts, the Silmarillion would never have been finished. This act in itself speaks of immortality. If someone else picks up the story where you left off, then does the story end?

Which reminds me of something Bilbo says, “Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.”

Indeed, Tolkien is immortal, even in death, because of the love his son has for him. Chris loves him so much infact that he is very protective of his father’s works. He wasn’t particularly fond of Jackson’s films, so it’s very unlikely that we’ll see a Jackson adaptation of the Silmarillion. sigh …

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Speaking of Peter Jackson’s films. Whether or not Chris thinks they measure up to the integrity of his father’s work, they are helping to preserve Tolkien’s memory by rekindling an interest in his writings and creating new fans of his works.

Even when Chris Tolkien dies, Tolkien will live on because of his fans. His work continues to inspire readers even to this day. With holidays celebrating Tolkien (such as Tolkien Reading Day) it’s practically impossible for Tolkien to be forgotten.


 

Life, Immortality, and Death in Tolkien’s Works

This would be a never ending blog post if I listed all of the stories that have to do with life, death, and immortality. However, if you’re looking for a passage to read to observe Tolkien Reading Day, you could read Boromir’s death, The end of the Return of the King where Frodo sails west, The Appendix: Story of Aragorn/Arwen, Thorin Oakenshield’s death, the story of Beleg and Turin, The Story of Glorfindel, or the story of how Aule created the dwarves.

I chose a story that combines all three: life, death, and immortality. This Tolkien Reading Day, I’ll be reading chapter 24 of the Sil where Elrond and his brother Elros are given the choice which kindred (man or elf) they will join. Elrond chooses the side of the Firstborn and remains immortal while his brother chooses to be a king of humans, thus forsaking his immortality–though he does live for 500 years. I can’t think of a better chapter to read than one where characters literally have to choose between death and immortality.


 

The Story Must Continue

Tolkien’s life was full of loss: his mother died at an early age, his wife died before him, he lost many friends to war. This is why he is so able to successfully articulate the feelings of loss in his writings: The death of Beleg, of Boromir, of Frodo.

Despite that, he seemed to have an optimistic attitude about death with descriptions of white shores and a land of ever green. He seemed to view death as a beginning, not an end.

While I don’t share his sentiment, I find his attitude regarding death to be very hopeful and optimistic. I hope that’s the feeling you’ll come away with this Tolkien Reading Day.

Please share and comment below. Let me know what you’ll be reading today. Will you be reading a passage with the theme of life, death, or immortality?

 

 

 

 

Yes! It’s A New Book by Tolkien! ‘The Story of Kullervo’

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Good news for Tolkien fans!

A Tolkienist's Perspective

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In what seems to be a yearly tradition, the Tolkien Estate is treating us to a new book by our favourite author.

If you’ve done some reading about the Professor (beyond Middle-earth, that is), you may have encountered many references about Tolkien’s love for the Finnish epic tale of the Kalevala.

Well, turns out when he was a young man – already teeming with ideas and exquisite writing skills – he decided to write his own version of the book.

Here’s what an excerpt of what Harper Collins had to say on their site:

Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.

Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major…

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Speak Friend and Read Tolkien

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Happy Tolkien Reading Day! Today is the day to celebrate with your favorite passages and works by the late and great J. R. R. Tolkien.

MV5BMTkxNDQ0MjQ3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDE1NTE1MDE@__V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_The theme this year is friendship, which I think is really appropriate considering friendship is an important theme throughout his works, not to mention the movie about the famous friendship between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis comes out April this year.

The theme of friendship in Tolkien’s works has been studied by critics who have debated whether or not his friendships are based on his own personal relationships and if there is homo eroticism in his works.

When I think about friendship, the Fellowship of the Ring immediately comes to mind, but the theme of friendship appears in Tolkien’s other works as well. You don’t have to read an entire book to celebrate Tolkien Reading Day (impossible to do in one day). Just read passages that focus on friendship. Here are some of my favorites.

Sam & Frodo

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This is probably the most famous and controversial friendship in Tolkien’s writing. A friendship founded by loyalty and love, this friendship could easily have been based on the bonds he formed during his military career.

This friendship stands out because of the extreme devotion Frodo and Sam have for each other, but also because of the accusations of their relationship being homoerotic (a theory that was made even more popular after the release of Peter Jackson’s adaptations). Stroking and kissing doesn’t necessary mean they are romantic, though the idea they are romantic is supported by the philosophy of C.S Lewis as outlined in his book,The Four Loves. Without going into great detail about the four love types, Frodo and Sam fall into the romantic category.

I think it’s open to interpretation whether or not their relationship is platonic or homoerotic. I like it either way. The friendship is based on values that we can all agree relationships should have. To borrow a little from Thorin’s quote, I think if we all valued friendship as much as Frodo and Sam, the world would be a merrier place.

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The Fellowship

Fellowship Another friendship that may or may not have been based on personal friendships. Critics have argued that the Fellowship is based on the Inklings, a literary group Tolkien was a member of with C.S. Lewis. The group was founded in friendship instead of the goal of gaining power (cough, cough Boromir). The members of the group became friends through the shared quest of writing. The members of the fellowship become friends through the shared quest of destroying the one ring.

Like the members of the Inklings, the members of the fellowship divulge very little information about themselves. Hence why no one knows for the longest time that Strider is the lost heir Aragorn. They focus on the common goal, not personal commonality.

Legolas & Gimli

picProbably one of my favorite friendships because they start off hating each other. If you want to read about their friendship, it really doesn’t start until after they leave Lothlorien. By fighting with each other Gimli and Legolas form a bond out of mutual respect. This friendship could also have been based on his military relationships or even his Oxford days.

Thorin & Bilbo

tumblr_nfal4rNEIF1sns9vwo1_1280You have to love the friendship of Bilbo and Thorin. Their’s is a friendship founded in trust and loyalty. I’m still reading The Hobbit, so I haven’t gotten to the end. I like how Peter Jackson’s films portray the friendship, but I wished he would have played it up a little bit more like he did with Sam and Frodo. I wanted more of that.

 Túrin & Beleg

doriath___beleg_and_young_turin_by_ekukanova-d55u100A lesser known friendship. This one is from the Silmarillion. It’s about Túrin, also known as Neithan, Gorthol, Turambar (you get the picture). While he was known as Túrin, he was the adopted human son of the elvish King Thingol and brother-in-arms with the warrior Beleg. Essentially Túrin is accused of murder and is exiled. His friend Beleg is extremely loyal to him. He gets permission from Thingol to go in search of him. In a series of reunions, he begs him to return, but Túrin won’t go back with him. Since Túrin won’t return, Beleg ultimately decides to stay with him. Eventually Túrin is captured by orcs during a raid that leaves Beleg gravely wounded, but he is a great warrior and an even better friend, so he goes after Túrin. His loyalty, love, and devotion aren’t exactly repaid when Túrin accidentally kills him while he tries to free him from the orcs. If you think this friendship sounds one sided, it’s not. Túrin does love Beleg. He grieves his loss and sings a song for him called “The song of the great Bow” in honor of his friend.

My sister, the C.S. Lewis to my Tolkien. The Frodo to my Sam.

My sister, the C.S. Lewis to my Tolkien. The Frodo to my Sam.

This Tolkien Reading Day, celebrate the friendships in Tolkiens works as well as the ones in your personal lives. My best friend is my sister. We do everything together, even write together like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. We often joke that we are Lewis and Tolkien reincarnated because of our bond and our writing styles. Today I will celebrate with my sister by watching The Battle of the Five Armies and reading The Hobbit.

Whose your best friend? What is your favorite friendship in Tolkien? How will you celebrate Tolkien Reading Day?