Tag Archives: J.R.R. Tolkien

The Liebster Award!

Photo from collider.com

Photo from collider.com

First and foremost, let us all wish a very happy birthday to the author of my heartsong, J. R. R. Tolkien. May his impact never fade. I shall be watching LOTR all day in honor of his memory.

liebster-award1

Now, we have been nominated for the Liebster award by BeingABookNerd and NutFreeNerd. Check out their wonderful blogs and thank you both for the kind nomination! At the time that I’m writing this, there seems to be something fishy going on with NutFreeNerd’s website, so I’m just going to answer BookNerd’s questions and we’ll check on NutFree again later. Also, I will be riding solo on this one because Hannah’s plate is full and I’m afraid that if I hold my breath waiting for her answers, I’ll quite simply pass away.

How Does It Work?

  • Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer 11 questions that the blog gives you.
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers.
  • Let the blogs know you have nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

I’m doing these out of order because the order above seems nonsensical. 11 facts:

  1. I’m in Grad School to learn how to be a teacher.
  2. I am a miserable companion if the weather is under 60 degrees.
  3. I work at a brewery and it is the best gig in the world.
  4. My house is Tolkien themed, including a Middle Earth map pillow cover, Gandalf/Saruman salt & papper shakers, a painting I did of the Hobbit meals, map printed coasters, a laptop sleeve, and everything else my boyfriend will tolerate.
  5. I’ve already run out of interesting facts about myself.

The Questions for me:

  1. What made you start blogging? We get this one a lot, and our story is pretty unique, so I don’t mind answering. Hannah and I have been bffs since birth (you think that’s a joke, but you’re dead wrong), so when we went to different colleges and moved to different towns, we wanted to read the same books so we could discuss them and share something, even when we’re miles apart. Our tastes and schedules vary, so we eventually started blogging about the things we read individually, and here we are.
  2. Which is your all time favorite book? The Hobbit; see my tattoo or this post for explanations.
  3. Which book did you have high hopes for but it disappointed you? The Girl on the Train and A Darker Shade of Magic were big disappointments for me. My reviews are linked.
  4. Which is your favourite genre of books? I’m really enjoying Sci-Fi space operas these days, but generally adult fiction is my favorite, or historical fiction.
  5. What are your favourite songs? Anything by Pink Floyd or Punch Brothers.
  6. A wish you want desperately want to come true. The continual safety of my boyfriend. His job makes him travel, and I’m constantly a mess with worry.
  7. If given a chance, choose one author you would like to meet and interact with. Actually, Malcolm Mitchell, author of The Magician’s Hat. He goes to UGA, like myself, and while I don’t give a flying fart about football or his involvement in ‘Bulldawg” success, he wrote his book because he used to hate reading and grew to love it in his later years. I’d love to pick his brain and find out what changed his perspective and how I can do that for my future students.
  8. What else do you do in your free time? Sing? Dance? Draw? Sword Fight? 😉 I do a lot of cooking, but I mostly like to go outdoors, hiking or kayaking as often as possible.
  9. Which is your favourite season? why? Fall, because it is beautiful and the weather is most tolerable in Georgia during fall.
  10. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Moving things with my mind, because I’m lazy and I never want to get up to turn on/off lights.
  11. Top 5 books you want to read in 2016. I assume most of my books will be assigned by my Grad professors, so I might not have much choice. But a year is a long time, so I imagine I can squeeze in The Story of Kullervo, Nemesis Games, Ready Player One, Schindler’s Listand Red Rising, since I’m reading that now.

My Questions for my nominees:

  1. How many books did you read in 2015?
  2. Which ones were your favorites?
  3. Which were your least favorites?
  4. How many do you plan to read in 2016?
  5. How do you pick which books to read next?
  6. Where is your favorite place to read?
  7. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
  8. What is your least favorite?
  9. Do you judge new people based on their book likes/dislikes?
  10. What book destination would you love to visit?
  11. What book character would you choose to accompany you?

OK, and now for my nominees:

Dana @ I Just Can’t Stop Reading

Eleonora Lydia @ Reading Experiences with Nora

Maria @ Marwhal Reads

Kiwi @ Kiwi Reads

Shannon @ Just One More Page

Emily @ Embuhlee liest

Alright, so I get that some, if not all, of you will have already received and completed the Liebster Award, so ignore this if you like. If you do complete it, be sure to link to this post or comment to let me know your answers. Thanks, again, to my nominators, and go check out their blogs.

Long live Tolkien!!

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Filed under Book Tag/Award, Lindsay, Not A Book Review

Read This, Drink That – The Silmarillion

I may not be a great blogger, but I am a great girlfriend. My significant other is a huge Tolkien fan (like another this blog is familiar with). Anyway, because I am such a great girlfriend  I agreed to read The Silmarillion with my boyfriend. Yes, me. Who has read no other Tolkien than The Hobbit. Needless to say, this was a bit over my head.

The Silmarillion (Within this book there are 6 short stories.) is a “brief” history of Tolkien’s universe where his other novels take place. This universe is called Eä. This book describes the beginning of time. I mean, when Eä was just DUST it was so beginning of time. The first book tells the story of Eru (also known as Illúvatar) creating the world.

Y’all, I am being for real when I say this book is for DIE HARD TOLKEIN FANS. If you have never wondered “Who created the Elvish within the land of Middle-Earth?” then do not read this book. The beginning was so tough for me to get through, mainly because these characters have so many names: an “english” name, an Elvish name, another name, plus 3 more names. I had to keep reminding myself that Melkor, Morgoth, Arun, Bauglir, and Belegurth are all THE SAME CHARACTER!! And those aren’t even all his names!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I say this not to discount the book. It was published posthumously, created from Tolkien’s notes. This man’s brain must have been the size of a watermelon to hold all of this fantasy world and perfectly intertwine all the stories. Once I got past the “Genesis” (if you will) creation stories and into the battles that shaped Middle-Earth, it was tolerable. Learning how the beautiful jewels, The Silmarils, were created, lost, and rescued was a great story; just remember, if you are in Middle-Earth NEVER swear to an oath or you WILL die trying to uphold it.

My favorite story had to be Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age. It tells the tale of Sauron, who is known to any movie viewer as a fiery eyeball at the top of a tall tower. The story goes on to explain how the one ring was made and why it is so powerful.

I say all of this not for your praise or recognition of possibly deserving the Greatest Girlfriend Ever Award, but instead to present you with this Read and Drink. The book is so heavy, please, for the love of Illúvatar, have a light and refreshing cocktail to enjoy whilst reading. This may be the first R&D that has no relation to the actual story. That’s because this story made no mention of alcohol. So I got creative(ish). Cheers!

 

Silm R&D

Moscow Mule
Lime
2 ounces vodka
5 ounces ginger beer
Squeeze lime juice into glass. Add large ice cubes, then pour vodka. Add cold beer. Stir.

Book | Cocktail | Cocktail Shaker | Mugs | Bar Tools | Ice Bucket

Next up, we are reading A Christmas Carol. Since this is a super short story I hope to be sharing a Christmas themed cocktail with you soon! What’s the opposite of Bah-Humbug?!
-H

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Love the Look of Your Book

I have a problem that I don’t really consider to be a problem: I’m willing to spend way more money on a more attractive copy of a book that I intend to buy. Aesthetics are a big deal to me, especially when it come to my books. I love the idea of color-coding one’s bookcase; especially in those luxurious pictures online of a whole wall of sectional bookcases, with each section revealing the many spinal hues of each color. I, however, would never do this. In theory, it’s a great idea, but I like to keep “families” together and all too often, books in a series don’t maintain a constant color scheme. I refuse to separate my Harry Potter books just based on color. They must stick together, and thus the color-coding notion is discarded.

Image from weburbanist.com I am quite meticulous about book height, though. I have my bookcase organized based on height and in continual descending order. Again, books in a “family” must all be the same height. This may be particular to me and my preferences (I’ve seen some very haphazard bookshelf sorting that make me cringe), but it also may not. The main drive behind reading and buying books is preference; just browsing through a book store doesn’t tell you anything about the plot twists or character struggles. Sometimes, it’s all about what catches your eye, and for books, this makes looks very important.

We’re a very visual society; television, cinema, video games, etc. have increased in popularity with the increase in technology and visual capabilities. If a book wants to get noticed, if it doesn’t already have the cult following of many classics (which pretty much ensures continual reading among future generations), or if a book wants to set itself apart from all the other things you don’t want to read on just that shelf at the bookstore, it will HAVE to employ some sort of eye-catching cover art, interesting title, or elaborate spine decoration which makes it the one you pick. A book needs to catch your eye for survival purposes! Maybe it’s a library book and it has to remain popular or it will get the boot; maybe you bought it, read it, and are now letting it live on as decoration in your home. It has to look good to survive. I have a huge stack of books that weren’t attractive enough to take up much-needed space on my shelf. They cry about it everyday, but it’s their own fault for not being better looking.

I remember when Hannah begged me to read the A Song of Ice and Fire series for months before I actually picked it up. I thought the cover was boring, that was my whole reasoning. Not only do books have to compete with technology these days, but they often have to employ the advancements in the visual arts for cover art the will capture my eye. I was generally offended that G.R.R.M’s publishers didn’t try harder. “Um, let’s just make each volume a solid color with some vague symbol on the front, okay?” No, not okay. I’m sure I’m not the first to look at that cover, think “well that looks boring” and pass it up for something far less entertaining and worth my while. Publishers need not be so lazy!

FGN In the spirit of this topic, I postponed purchasing my own copies of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series until I found just the right set. I wanted them to be old, preferably hard cover volumes, used but with no notes or blemishes, and all of the same “family.” Well lucky me, I found them this past weekend at a used bookstore in Nashville, TN. They don’t have the hard covers, but they have been loved by someone before me, have unique, eye-catching covers and all belong to the same family (and they have that amzing smell that buying new versions just can’t provide). On a sidenote, I also got a hard cover used copy of Rebecca so I’m also stoked about that! Patience and superficial preferences pay off and I found some really great treasures!

I know I’m not the only one! Does anyone else have preferences in regards to your books? I’d love to hear from you!

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Filed under Lindsay, Nerdiness abounds, Not A Book Review

Top Ten Tuesday

I frequently scour the interwebs for book-related news or factoids or anything remotely interesting to discuss on this blog right here. Today, I happened across a “Top Ten Tuesday” segment that obviously made me stop and think of what I would say if asked to list my ‘Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors.’ I could pretend to be modest and assume that no one is genuinely all that interested in what books I would pick (or that you’ve all hopefully followed Untamed Shrews long enough that you can already predict my picks), but I’d rather pretend someone has a (fake! Duh!) gun to my head and will NOT rest until they know my “Gateway Books.” “Okay, endearingly obsessed maniac, I will tell you my picks.”

200px-TheHobbit_FirstEdition

1. OBVS!! The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien – I suppose expounding upon the huge impact this book has had on me is ultimately unnecessary. I’ve written many a blog post about the book, my tattoo of dedication, and how it feels to me like literary sunshine; thus, I will consider it sufficient for me to say that it is my favorite thing ever and the rest of this list is practically irrelevant in Bilbo Baggins’s shadow. (So, “irrelevant” is a little strong, and I take it back.) If you want to really know how I feel, I’m including some links at the bottom of the page so check those out.

2. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling – This is one of those instances where the book means so much to me that I can’t truly, adequately describe how much it means to me. The series affected me as a reader partly because I was the same age as Harry when the books came out, so I could relate to the awkward youthful angst and desire to be something “special.” However, it had a seriously life-changing effect on me, in that I saw books as a treat instead of a chore, I for once sought out more books with similar levels of entertainment, and literally abandoned the t.v.-watching lifestyle that had previously nicknamed me “couch-potato Lou.”

3. Beowulf – I tackled this for the first time in my high school Medieval Literature class and loved it from the very beginning. I loved how old and mysterious it was, I loved the language and monster-filled subject matter, and I loved the almost “bad boy” image it had among young readers (since the mass hatred and aversion everyone else my age felt towards it made it that much more appealing to me). It helped me choose English as my major in college with an emphasis in Early World Literature.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I have to say this one was a big deal because it surprised me so much! My bread and butter, in terms of literature, is Early World Lit or Classical Gothic Lit (contrary to the fact that my “Top 2” are generally for kids), and I typically hate “soft” literature about bland romances and boring, Victorian-style plot twists. I wrongly considered Austen to be within this category of “boringness” and avoided her up until just a couple of years ago. I was so surprised by how witty and forward Austen was with her language, characters, and plot subjects. My eyes have been opened to a writer all but new to me and hopefully to a whole genre of bold, witty female authors.

Dr_-Seuss-Collage

5. Dr. Seuss – Yep. I freaking love Dr. Seuss. Loved him as a child and still love him to this day. Dr. Seuss was (and still is) such an important influence in children’s literature, because he wrote about adult subjects (racism, bullying, preserving our planet) in a way that children willingly received and really loved. What child doesn’t love a good rhyme?! The good thing about this is that, no, the child may not initially understand the message behind the Dr.’s silly words, but they just eat that “one fish, two fish” stuff right up, so that the message has plenty of time to set in and be contemplated during the one million times the child requests that you, the parent, read it to them. I think Dr. Seuss was a genius and I fully intend to buy/read every one of his books when I reproduce.

As you can see, I did not list ten picks. If the aforementioned polite gunman expects complete honesty, there are way fewer than ten books (I count a series as one influential unit) or authors worthy of such a profound impact on my life. Just like with all “favorites,” I have a few here and a few there. To have too many devalues the few. If asked to list my top five instead of ten, it credits much more power of influence to those five, than if they were listed among five other, lesser-amazing picks. I could probably come up with five other works or authors that I think are just grand, but what would be the point? The five listed above have made me the person that I am today; any other works were simply adding “fluff” to the person that Rowling and Tolkien already made. Sorry, everybody else; you snooze, you lose.

Anyway, check out the links below for a little more detail on my favorites. I’m still reading Persuasion and I have no idea what Hannah is doing these days, so we’ll be in touch. Let us know what you think!

Smaug Tattoo, The Hobbit is my fav, Ode to Harry Potter, Pride & Prejudice

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L: Silmarillion Review

Back in college (I’m feeling exceptionally old after saying that), I studied Homer’s The Iliad epic for a critical analysis paper. I hardly remember anything about it, except that it had to do with lineage and influence, and because I am a visual learner, I took it upon myself to draw out a family tree with as many characters, details, and connections as I could fit. I found this method to be tremendously helpful in terms of reigning in a work with a ridiculous number of humans and gods, all of whom have aliases, relations, allegiances, and special powers or influences. I knew that Tolkien’s The Silmarillion was going to have the same ability to overwhelm readers by the sheer number of characters, so I turned to my trusty friend, the family tree. The book came with three or four family trees already laid out for me in the back of the book, and although that was often useful, I wanted to avoid saying “okay, now who is that?” and holding my place while I flip to the back of the book to see how Tuor fits into the story. My tree stayed right next to me while it grew and spread and branched into what, I must say, is a really bangin’ family tree.

Somehow this makes things more and less complicated at the same time

Somehow this makes things more and less complicated at the same time

So, clearly, The Silmarillion requires a bit more “reader assistance” than your average book. My version had a map, three family trees, and an appendix listing all the characters and places, just in case there were a couple hundred pages in between mentions of Eonwe and you may have forgotten who he was. Having said that, though, I thought this book was great! The Silmarillion is meant to preface his other Middle-Earth-related works and tells the story of the creation of the Elves, the creation of Middle-Earth (Arda), the banishment of most Elf races to Arda and the fight of Elves, Men, and Dwarves against Morgoth (Sauron’s predecessor) and the many evils of Arda. Tolkien has been credited with a tendency to seem long-winded and overly descriptive; while I think this is cockamamie, I can agree that he takes explanation and description very seriously. When describing Iluvatar’s (the “God” of Tolkien’s story) creation of Arda, he explains which of the Valar (Elf gods) controlled each earthly contribution, such as wind, water, elements, the moon, etc. It remains similar to The Iliad in that the Valar show preferences for certain Elves, Men, and Dwarves, and they often intervene in the many conflicts of Arda. You find yourself pulling for certain characters and I, personally, love knowing the stories that so heavily influence The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Although I’m very fond of this book, I can’t say that I suggest it to just anyone. I can see that, based on reader preferences, it could seem like overkill or hard to follow; however, it is exactly my favorite type of book and I would suggest it to anyone who loved The Iliad or anything mythology-related.

On another note, I don’t know about you, but I am just flat-out tired of that book challenge. It was interesting at first, but the questions for the second half of the challenge are boring. Feel free to review the other questions and ask me if you truly want to know, or you can let us know any of your own answers, as we’re always glad to hear from our readers. Hannah recently gave our profile a makeover, so check out the Book Reviews tab and our new and improved Reading Lists. We’re starting with The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith once my copy comes in at the library. Yay, libraries! Anyway, we will keep you all posted on our progress and we’d love for any of you to follow along or just comment. Have a great weekend!

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Read This, Drink That – Hobbit Edition

I know you all have been dying of thirst; in honor of Lindsay’s recent literary tattoo, here’s the latest edition of Read This, Drink That. As the Middle Earth-traveling group would have needed a drink to keep them warm on the inevitable autumn nights, I have selected a fiery hot toddy latte.

ReadDrinkHobbit

Maker’s Mark Latte
1 part Maker’s 46
2 tablespoons finely ground Espresso
4 parts Spring Water
3 parts + 1 part Organic Milk
1/2 cup ice cubes
1/2 part Vanilla Vodka
1 Rock Candy Swizzle Stick

Prepare espresso in stove top espresso maker. Bring 3 parts milk in a small saucepan or Turkish coffee pot to a light simmer. Mix espresso and milk in coffee mug. Add Maker’s 46™. Make the vanilla vodka foam: Add vanilla vodka and 1 part milk to small shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until frothy. Pour foam over espresso milk mixture. Add swizzle stick and pinch of nutmeg. Stir and enjoy.

Book | Cocktail | Thermos | Rock Candy | Bottle Opener | Leather Flask | Bar10der | Ice Bucket | Adventure Flask

Cheers!
-H

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L: Book Challenge, Days 11-13

Alright, I decided not to dive right into second volume of Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle series. This is due mostly in part to the fact that I didn’t care enough to continue the story. Oh well. Guess I’ll never know what happened. Guess that I’ll also never actually care.

So, instead, I’ve decided to reread The Silmarillion by Tolkien. I read it years ago and I’ve already forgotten everything about it. Kids, ya know?! They’ve got no respect, no respect at all! So I’m rereading it. I’m 50 or so pages into it already, and I LOVE IT. It reminds me a lot of all the Greek and Roman mythology I studied in college. I keep a notepad handy while I’m reading so I can draw out the family trees, individual powers, and connections for the numerous characters. I love reading this because of these fascinating details, but also because I’m learning the history of so many of my favorite Tolkien characters. I’m excited to be reading something I love. I’ll keep everyone posted as progress continues.

Now, I can finally make my way back to the book challenge I suggested forever ago. I’ll do a few of them in a row in order to satiate all you readers.

Day 11: A book that you hated – Easy. Atonement by Ian McEwan. I don’t even want to talk about it. Read my review, if you must. Just don’t make me remember my hatred for this book.

Day 12: A book you love but hate at the same time – I don’t know about this one. I guess I would have to say A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. I adore this series. Reading this particular volume, however, was painful. Nothing happens! There are so many twists and turns in this series, but it seems like none of them happen in book three. It’s one of those books that spends 400+ pages prepping readers for something super crazy. And let me tell you, book 4, A Dance with Dragons has about a million plot twists. I feel nothing but love for the other 4 volumes of this series, but A Feast (…) was agony. I knew the goodness was coming, but it took a whole volume before it finally came. I loved it and I hated it.

Day 13: Your favorite writer – Oh, this is a hard one. I don’t really know who… JUST KIDDING. Tolkien. Easy-peasy. I’ve encountered a lot of writers who have one fan-freaking-tastic novel or series, but they encounter trouble for their other works. They often are somewhat of a one trick pony and wear out their writing style or theme while showing little to no ability to come up with something different. Other times their successful work(s) throw them into a niche that they can’t escape. Some of my favorite authors fall into these categories. Tolkien, however, has written so many different types of works that he seems to avoid these traps. He wrote things like The Hobbit and “Roverandom” to appeal to adults and kids alike, while The Silmarillion is more “historical fiction” and The Lord of the Rings series is more action & drama-filled fiction. He’s versatile (enough) while still being successful. Love him.

Hannah’s turn! See you guys soon!

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