Thursday, October 12, 2017

"Luther: Biography of a Reformer" by Frederick Nohl

I'm pretty sure I've read this before, back in middle school or high school.  But I enjoyed re-reading it nonetheless, and I'm thinking I'll have my son read it as part of his homeschool curriculum this fall.  It's definitely easy enough that someone with a middle-school-level reading ability should be able to understand and enjoy it.

This book isn't even 200 pages long, so it's not a very in-depth look at Luther and his theology.  Rather, it's a good overview of his life, with lots of information about the political and social aspects of the world he lived in.  Anyone who is interested in understanding how and why Luther tried to reform the Roman Catholic Church, the impact his actions had on the world as a whole, and why we're still talking about him 500 years later would probably get a lot from this book.

I was not 100% crazy about the writing style, to be honest.  The author wrote most of it as a straight history, which is what I wanted.  But once in a while, he would write out a scene as if it were fiction, putting dialog in people's mouths and so on.  And I guess I'd rather have one or the other -- either straight history or biographical fiction, not a mix of the two. That is a personal glitch, though, and not one that would cause me to tell people not to read this!

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG.  It's very clean, but there are some stressful parts where Luther's life is in danger and so on.  

Obviously, this is another post in my series about the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 these to the Wittenburg church's door.  I've started posting more about this on my other blog too, if you're interested.

This is my tenth book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.  Getting close to my goal of twelve!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Would You be Interested in Another LOTR Read-along?

At the end of the Tolkien blog party, I asked a couple people if they would be interested in me hosting another read-along of LOTR.  

Ordinarily, I wouldn't consider hosting a second read-along of a book I've already covered, but it so happens I'm using LOTR in the high school lit course I'm teaching my niece this fall.  The whole reason I've had to quit doing read-alongs except in the summer is because I don't have time to teach her AND lead read-alongs.   Except, if I lead another LOTR read-along, I could just adapt my posts for her and use them for the general read-along.  I think I could handle that.

If enough people are interested, I will do this!  I would probably start it at the beginning of November, just to give people a chance to find out about it, decide to join, and get a copy of the book.

So... if you're interested, say so in the comments here, and let me know if a November start date would work for you!  We would do about 3 chapters a week, so this would take about 21 weeks, or from November 1 to probably the end of March.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Finally Fall Book Tag

I'm borrowing this from Joseph over at The Once Lost Wanderer.  We had about a week of what I consider to be fall weather in early October, but it's been hot and muggy again lately.  Still, the evenings are cool, trees are beginning to change color, and I've got that energized-and-creative vibe going on that I get in fall and spring, so yay!

For some reason, I keep hearing the voices of random cast members on Whose Line is it Anyway? reading these questions in the ridiculously perky voices they use whenever they're the "contestant" on the "dating show" game they do.  Which is cracking me up.

(Photo by me)

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!

I'm going to go with The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, because Middle-earth is so vivid, I want to live there.  And not just because of the movies, but because of the way he describes all the places.  Every time I re-read it, I am in awe of his world-building.

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

I think Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen is an amazing look at how the death of one person can so drastically affect others.  Mr. Dashwood dies at the beginning, and his wife and daughters have their whole world upended.

3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.  

The first one that comes to mind is Sixguns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western by Will Wright.  I learned so much about story structure from it, not only for westerns but just for all kinds of stories.  And I discovered a lot about what kinds of story elements really draw them, which I hope has helped me use them more effectively in my own writing.

4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

Today I pick the Curtis family and their gang in The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  I'd love to marry Darry and help take care of Soda and Ponyboy, or move in next door to them and become their friend, or whatever -- I've actually imagined being part of their lives on and off since I first read the book.

5. The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

All of the Nero Wolfe books are narrated by Archie Goodwin as if he were telling you a story, and I love them dearly!  My favorite is A Family Affair, but I don't recommend that you start reading the series with it, as it won't work as well if you aren't already familiar with the characters.

7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.

I don't read a lot of creepy books.  Can't deal with them, just like I can't deal with scary movies.  But I do like a dark story now and then.  My beloved Hamlet is quite dark, and creepy in spots too, I suppose.

8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

I think it would be hard not to be warmed and cheered by A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.  It's so sweet and quirky and cheerful.

9. Fall returns every year: name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon.

I get very much in the mood for The Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle in October, and this year is no exception.  Not sure if I'll squeeze in a re-read, but if not this year, then next year!

10. Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favorite cozy reading “accessories”!

Well, I kind of just read anywhere, anytime?  I read when I'm brushing my teeth.  I read when I'm waiting for water to boil while making lunch.  I read in the car (when I'm a passenger, don't worry).  So really, my favorite cozy reading accessories are a book and a bookmark. 

I mean, it's fun to sit by my fireplace on a chilly evening and read.  Or to sit on the swing in the backyard in the summer and read.  But really, I just want a book and a bookmark.

I'm not going to tag anyone with this, but if you love books and autumn and tags, feel free to fill this out!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Winners of the "Cloaked" bookmark giveaway!

Congratulations to Niki T, Lydia B, Olivia F, Faith T, and Jessica G!  You won the giveaway of five bookmarks (handmade by me) that reflect some elements of Little Red Riding Hood that I used in Cloaked.  

Winners, I will be contacting you later today via the email address you supplied to the Rafflecopter widget.  I'll need your mailing address so I can send you your bookmark, so please keep an eye out for that email!

And everyone, thank you again for supporting me as I wrote, revised, and prepped Cloaked for publication.  In case you hadn't heard, I'm already working on the next story for my Once Upon a Western collection -- a retelling of "Twelve Dancing Princesses" set in the Old West!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Frames" by Loren D. Estleman

I was reading merrily along in chapter 18 when all of a sudden, I stopped breathing.  Not because I was choking, or because the book was suddenly terrifying.  But because, at the bottom of page 176, a character said, "I haven't seen so many cops in one place since they arrested John Landis."

And I stopped breathing and my heart started to pound because I know why John Landis got arrested, and the reason he did makes me EXTREMELY ANGRY AND SAD.  And the book as a whole has nothing to do with Landis, though it's all about Hollywood and movie-making and old movies and things like that, so it's not like this reference was out of place.  It was in perfect place.  I just wasn't expecting it.  

I stopped reading right there too, and told myself to breathe, and gathered my courage, and then made my eyes travel to the top of the next page where, sure enough, the next sentence was: "That would be for the accident that killed Vic Morrow and two child extras on the set of Twilight Zone--The Movie."  And I was very happy that Estleman included that, but I couldn't read any farther for like twenty minutes because I had to sit and think about Vic Morrow and be sad all over again for him.

You see, Vic Morrow is one of my favorite actors.  He starred as my favorite fictional character (Sgt. Saunders) in my favorite TV show, Combat! (1962-67).  And he and two children died, tragically and violently, on the set of Twilight Zone--The Movie when Landis broke all kinds of safety regulations and child labor laws.  And Landis was acquitted, in what I believe to be a terrible miscarriage of justice.  So, yeah, I got a little emotional over having that whole subject come up suddenly in the middle of what is otherwise a charming and playful mystery book.

As for Frames, it's a delightful book.  A film historian and preservationist named Valentino buys a crumbling old theater, finds a long-lost silent film inside, and then finds a dead body.  I liked the major players, the minor characters were memorable, and the mystery was engaging.  I will read more of this series.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  a soft PG-13 for some mild kissing and innuendo, the discovery of a skeleton, and possibly a little mild bad language, though I can't right now remember any words used in particular.  It could almost swing a PG rating.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God" by Martin Luther and Jason Jaspersen

I had grand plans to do posts all year long to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg church on October 31, 1517.  So far I've managed to do one over on my other blog.

Well, it's October.  And if I get myself in gear, I can STILL do a pretty cool series of posts about this. I've got quite a few books about the Reformation and Martin Luther I can review, plus some other thoughts to share, so I'll be doing that throughout October both here and on Hamlette's Soliloquy, Lord willing and my life doesn't get even busier.  And I'll begin with this review of a brand-new picture book!

This book is seriously cool.  The text is all four verses of Martin Luther's great and glorious hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," and it's illustrated by Jason Jaspersen, a guy who attended the same college I did.  If you want to see what it looks like inside, the publisher's Facebook page has a video showing the interior pages.  The book also includes the tune at the back in case you don't know it or want to play the melody, and it includes the first verse of "God's Word is Our Great Heritage" at the back too, which can be sung to the same tune.

Jaspersen's illustrations are really striking and unique.  You know how in the Lord of the Rings movies, whenever Bilbo or Frodo put on the ring, they enter this sort of shadow world with unseen foes?  This feels a lot like that -- shadowy forms of angels, demons, and people all blurring together into one realm.  The "old evil foe" and his minions are depicted as a vast army in pointy armor trying to overtake the church and believers, and Satan is in one place depicted as a dragon-like creature being slain by Jesus as a knight in armor.  In fact, some of the pictures might be a little scary for very little kids -- my five-year-old (who just renamed herself Mad Dog yesterday) was fine with them, but I could see my three-year-old nephew finding them a little too freaky.  Just so you know.

In case you didn't know from my "Who Am I?" page or guess it from the fact that I want to highlight stuff about the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther, I am a Lutheran.  I'm working on a post about what that means to me for my other blog, and hope to have it up before the week is out.  I'm putting that "500" icon with the Luther's Seal in it on the sidebars of both my blogs, and if you click on that, you'll go to all the posts in this series for that blog.  

Friday, September 29, 2017

"Cloaked" Release Day + Giveaway!

Today's the day!  Cloaked is officially available in paperback and e-book from Amazon right here.  

Wow.  This feels slightly surreal, to be honest.  I mean, I've spent how many decades thinking, "Someday, I will publish a book."  And someday is today.

Thanks to my ARC readers, there are already several reviews up on GoodReads.  Thank you, ARC readers!!!  You can now post reviews on the Amazon page too :-)

Yesterday, I asked people to hold off on ordering copies until today so we can see how big of a splash this book can make on Amazon's charts.  Today is here!  You can order now :-)  I'll pop back in later on to report on its stats.  I'm hoping we can show Amazon that yes, people want to read clean, wholesome, God-pleasing books.  #RebelliousWriting!

And yup, there's a giveaway.  Because, you know... I just can't resist doing them.

The picture shows one bookmark, but I'm giving away FIVE of them.

This is open world-wide.  Enter using the widget below, and please be sure to use an email address you check often.  I'll draw FIVE winners on Saturday, October 7, and notify them at the email address provided.  If you don't reply to claim your prize within one week, I will have to draw a new winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to everyone who has supported me with your encouragement, time, prayers, and assistance!  Today would just be any other day without you, not my someday come true.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Request for Anyone Who Has NOT Ordered "Cloaked" Yet

Tomorrow is release day!!!

If you have not already pre-ordered Cloaked, could you do me a favor and hold off until tomorrow?  I'd like to see what happens if a whole bunch of people order all on the same day, namely Friday, Sept. 29.  Maybe we could make it climb a decent way up Amazon's charts for a bit!

Here's a link to its Amazon listing, for your handy reference.  And also a snippet from an advance review:

Tomorrow, I have a little giveaway planned to celebrate release day, so check back in for that!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Second Fiddlers

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Books with ___________ Characters."  I'm going to focus on "unforgettable secondary characters" which is kind of a vague way of saying this is my Top Ten Books With Secondary Characters I Care More About Than the Main Characters.

I have a habit with becoming extremely fond of side characters.  Who, in turn, have a habit of getting killed off and making me very sad.  But that doesn't happen to all of them, whew.  Here are ten books/series where my favorite character is actually not the main one.  If I've reviewed the book, I've linked its title to my review.

And Now Tomorrow by Rachel Field.  As much as I like Emily Blair, it's Dr. Merek Vance I read the book for.  This is probably a direct result of him being played by Alan Ladd in the movie version, I admit it.

Eragon (and entire series) by Christopher Paolini.  Eragon's okay, but his cousin Roran Stronghammer gets all my attention and allegiance in the series.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schafer and Annie Barrows.  Not that I don't like Juliet Ashton, cuz I do.  But I LOVE so many of the minor characters, especially Dawsey Adams and Isola Pribby.

Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling.  My favorite character is Sirius Black.  He's barely in most of the books, and gets talked about more often than he actually shows up, but I don't care. 

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.  The only character in the book I liked much at all was Dustfinger.  I loved Dustfinger.  (I like the movie TONS better than the book.)

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.  Granted it's been over a decade since I read this, but as I remember it, Wilfred of Ivanhoe was an unrealistically good and flawless character.  Both Brian du Bois Guilbert and Rebecca were millions of times more interesting than he is.  So was Wamba.  And Robin Hood.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Here's another one where I do really love the main character.  But Alan Breck Stuart is just so many kinds of amazing and wonderful that David Balfour kind of pales in comparison.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.  Boromir is only in about half of one of the three books.  And he is absolutely my favorite character.  Though Sam does run him a reasonably close second -- and he's not really the main character either.

Middlemarch by George Eliot.  Dorothea is a fascinating, nuanced, real-seeming character.  But every time Ladislaw shows up, I just pay attention to him instead.

Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery.  I'm probably going to be stoned for this opinion, but I don't like Rilla Blythe much at all.  I make it through this book by paying attention to Susan, who is loads more interesting.

Okay, that's it for this week.  Did you do a TTT post this week?  If so, what sorts of characters did you focus on?

Monday, September 25, 2017

"House of Living Stones" by Katie Schuermann

Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this book?  I've had it on my TBR shelves for like two years now, and yet I just kept putting it off.  Silly me.  This was, overall, a delightful book.

Emily Duke arrives in the small Illinois town of Bradbury looking for a fresh start.  She's got a new job at the university there, and Zion Lutheran Church hires her as their choir director.  At Zion, she encounters a staggering number of odd, eccentric, quirky, or troubled individuals -- my one real criticism of this book is that I've belonged to seven different congregations in my life, and not one of them had this many outré individuals.  But, hey, it's fiction.  I'll let it ride and enjoy the fun.

Emily is hiding something about her past.  She finds herself attracted to Zion's bachelor pastor.  The organist decides to feud with her for reasons Emily can't fathom.  One of her fellow professors keeps asking her out for coffee.  She gets a pet rabbit.  It's non-stop excitement, I tell you!

Okay, not really ;-)  It's a sweet, fun, sometimes thought-provoking look at life in a small town.  I laughed many times while reading this, and got tears in my eyes a couple times too.  Schuermann has written two sequels, and I hope to read them before the end of the year.

I've seen this book compared to the Mitford books by Jan Karon, and that description is fairly apt, though I feel like this is a bit edgier than the Mitford books I've read.  But the first Mitford books were written more than twenty years ago, so, you know, whatever.  By "edgier" I just mean there's a character that others suspect of being gay (he isn't), and there are some downright unpleasant people here.  Plus very gossipy ones.  So much gossip.  Which is portrayed as being bad and wrong, at least.

In the end, yup, I liked this, want to read the other two books, and have already recommended it to several friends.  And my mom.

Particularly Good Bits:

The Word of God was preached in its truth and purity that morning, the body and blood of Christ was rightly administered, and all God's people sang, "Amen."  As soon as the first notes of the postlude rang out in the church, young and old spilled out of their pews to make their exodus to the land of coffee and muffins before the Sunday school hour (p. 28)  (That's just the most Lutheran paragraph I have ever read in a fiction book, and it cracks me up in a happy way.)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some gossipy speculations about marital infidelity and a person's sexual orientation.  No bad language or violence or racy scenes.  

This is my 9th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Winners of the 2017 Tolkien Party Giveaway

Here we go!  The Rafflecopter winner-picking widget has spoken, and I've done my best to match the winners it picked with prizes they will like.  Congratulations, winners!  Everyone else... there's always next year :-)

Four postcards -- Savannah Grace
Four postcards -- Olivia
Four postcards -- Natalie
Tolkien quotation stickers -- Cecilia of Frell
Gandalf stickers -- MiddleEarthMusician
Gandalf stickers -- Fawnabelle Baggins
Hobbit hole stickers -- RM Lutz
Bard the Bowman stickers -- Movie Critic
BBC dramatization of The Hobbit -- Anna Holmberg
Tolkien Trivia -- John Smith
Necklace #1 -- Mary Horton
Necklace #2 -- Erudessa Aranduriel
Necklace #3 -- Dynal Roberson
Necklace #4 -- Maura Martin

Winners, please check your email later today -- I'm working on emailing each of you at the address you provided to the widget to get your mailing addresses so I can send you your prizes.

I regret to say that this is the end.  Of this year's festivities, I mean.  If you haven't filled out the tag yet, though, you can still do that!  And if you're like me and still haven't finished reading other people's tag posts, then you still have Tolkien fun ahead of you :-)  

"Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you!"  (The Fellowship of the Ring)

Answers to the Middle-earth Movie Songs Quiz

Here are the answers to the lyrics quiz from earlier this week!  And everyone's scores are below.

1.  Now I see fire, inside the mountain.  I see fire burning the _trees_.  ("I See Fire")

2.  May it be an _evening_ _star_ shines down on you.  (2 words) ("May it Be")

3.  The tears we cry Are falling rain For all the _lies_ you told us.  ("Gollum's Song")

4.  Blunt the knives, bend the forks, Smash the _bottles_ and burn the corks.  ("Blunt the Knives")

5.  You can drink your fancy _ales_, You can drink 'em by the flagon.  ("The Song of the Green Dragon")

6.  The _pines_ were roaring on the heights.  The winds were moaning in the night.  ("Misty Mountains")

7.  What can you see on the _horizon_?  Why do the white gulls call?  ("Into the West")

8.  Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many _paths_ to tread.  ("Pippin's Song")

9.  But in dreams I still hear your _name_.  And in dreams, we will meet again.  ("In Dreams")

10.  Many places I have been.  Many _sorrows_ I have seen.  ("The Last Goodbye")


MiddleEarthMusician -- 10
Anna Holmberg -- 9
Elanor -- 9
Erudessa Aranduriel -- 9
Farm Lassie -- 9
Olivia -- 9
Savannah -- 9
Cordy -- 8
Marian H -- 8
Evangeline Yackel -- 7
Mary Horton -- 7
Gabby A -- 6
RM Lutz -- 6
Maura Martin -- 4
DKoren -- 3

Nicely played, my friends!

Answers to the Shire Quiz

Here are the answers to the "How Well Do You Know the Shire?" quiz, and everyone's scores.

1. The Brandywine River separates the Shire from ____________.

a. Buckland

2.  The Shire is divided into four ______________.

b. Farthings

3.  Bilbo Baggins (and later his cousin Frodo) lives in a hobbit hole called _______________.

d. Bag End

4.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins sells his home and moves to a house called _______________.

c. Crickhollow

5.  Bilbo Baggins lives in the village of ______________.

a. Hobbiton

6.  The hobbits have a museum called a "mathom house" in the town of _________________.

c. Michel Delving

7. The only brew for the brave and true comes from the ________________.

b. Green Dragon 

8. Peace in the Shire was traditionally kept by a voluntary group known as the _______________.

a. Shirriffs

9.  The two main crossing points of the Brandywine River are the Brandywine Bridge and _____________.

c. Bucklebury Ferry

10.  Which of these is NOT a place in the Shire?

c. Cobas Haven


Cecilia of Frell -- 10
Erudessa Aranduriel -- 10
Mary Horton -- 10
Olivia -- 9
Gabby A -- 8
Marian -- 8
Maura Martin -- 8
RM Lutz -- 8
Cordy -- 7
Elanor -- 6
Farm Lassie -- 6
Movie Critic -- 6
Natalie -- 6
Savannah -- 6

Well done, everyone!  Thanks for playing!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power" by Jane Chance

There are several different places in this book where I wrote "mind = blown" because the nuances Jane Chance teased out of Tolkien's storytelling were so amazing.

I'm serious.  She brought up things I never, ever thought of, and I'm on my seventh reading of The Lord of the Rings.

I'm trying to find words to explain all the wonderful things I learned from this book, and I'm falling so short.  I'm going to have to re-read it again and again to really internalize and remember a lot of what I learned, but I'll share a couple of the things I found most interesting.

How about the fact that Denethor and Theoden's names are basically mirror images of each other?  Den-e-thor.  The-o-den.  And that their "leadership styles" are also mirrors -- one is a kind and loving leader who "commands through respect and love," and the other is a "tyrant [who] commands his followers by edict, rule, law" (p. 90).  HOW did I never notice this?

Or how about the fact that, while Gollum calls the Ring his "birthday present," it literally is Frodo's birthday present because Bilbo left it to him (along with Bag-End) on their shared birthday?  I mean, dude.  So amazing.  And again, now that I see it, that's so totally obvious, but it's not anything I ever thought of.

My favorite chapter was probably the one at the end, "Heroic Narrative and the Power of Structure."  I love studying the structure of myths and epics, also called the "hero's quest," and how they get used over and over in new and interesting ways.  I'd previously identified a lot of things in LOTR that draw from the classic myth structure, but I had never before noticed that "[i]n each of the three volumes, Tolkien matches the heroic structure of the initial book to that of the second book" (P. 19).  Which means for instance, that in book 1, everyone's at a great gathering at the beginning, Bilbo's party.  At the beginning of book 2, they're at the Council of Elrond.  In book 1, Frodo and friends go down into the valleys and encounter an ancient being who consumes some of them, Old Man Willow.  In book 2, they go down into Moria and encounter an ancient being who drags Gandalf away, the Balrog.  And on and on it goes.

Just fascinating stuff that I not only never noticed myself, but that I, as a writer, would never have come up with!  My appreciation for Tolkien as a writer and storyteller have grown so much while reading this book.

But this book is probably not for everyone.  If you don't enjoy analyzing texts, looking for deeper meanings, and somewhat scholarly pursuits like that, you probably wouldn't enjoy this book.  Certainly you can understand The Lord of the Rings without it.  But if you're like me and have read the trilogy quite a few times and enjoy peeling away layers to see the wordcraft and deeper meanings below a book's surface, I definitely recommend you try this book.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some discussions of things like violence.  No bad language or anything like that.

I wrote this review as part of this year's Tolkien Blog Party.  If you haven't yet, check out the blog tag and giveaway and other posts for the party!

This is my eighth book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Middle-earth Movie Songs Quiz

Here's the second party game I've come up with for this year's party!  I usually try to gear one toward people who are more familiar with the books, and one toward those who are more familiar with the movies, so here's one that involves the movies.  (And if you're familiar with both, then you are probably going to be good at both!)  These are the lyrics used in the movies, so although some of them might be in the books as well, I'm looking specifically for the lyrics sung in the movies.

Here are ten lines from songs used in Peter Jackson's six Middle-earth movies.  You have to supply the missing lyrics.  I'll post the answers and your scores on Saturday.

No fair looking them up online!  Leave your guesses in the comments.

1.  Now I see fire, inside the mountain.  I see fire burning the ___________.  ("I See Fire")

2.  May it be an _______ _______ shines down on you.  (2 words) ("May it Be")

3.  The tears we cry Are falling rain For all the _____ you told us.  ("Gollum's Song")

4.  Blunt the knives, bend the forks, Smash the ______ and burn the corks.  ("Blunt the Knives")

5.  You can drink your fancy ______, You can drink 'em by the flagon.  ("The Song of the Green Dragon")

6.  The _________ were roaring on the heights.  The winds were moaning in the night.  ("Misty Mountains")

7.  What can you see on the ____________?  Why do the white gulls call?  ("Into the West")

8.  Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many _______ to tread.  ("Pippin's Song")

9.  But in dreams I still hear your _________.  And in dreams, we will meet again.  ("In Dreams")

10.  Many places I have been.  Many ____________ I have seen.  ("The Last Goodbye")

Randomly, I found this nice little piano version of "The Last Goodbye" on YouTube and thought I'd share.  Contains no lyrics, so listening to it here is not cheating!

Hope you've been enjoying this year's party so far!  This is the last game, but I've got another book review coming up yet.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How Well Do You Know the Shire?

Time for our first party game!  The rules are simple:  put your guesses in a comment.  I've enabled comment moderation, and I won't publish people's guesses until after I've revealed the answers on Saturday.

1. The Brandywine River separates the Shire from ____________.

a. Buckland
b. Breeland
c. Mirkwood
d. Rohan

2.  The Shire is divided into four ______________.

a. Districts
b. Farthings
c. Quartos
d. Counties

3.  Bilbo Baggins (and later his cousin Frodo) lives in a hobbit hole called _______________.

a. Bagshot Row
b. Buckleberry Hole
c. Bottomless Barrow
d. Bag End

4.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins sells his home and moves to a house called _______________.

a. Applethwait
b. Baggerlee
c. Crickhollow
d. Delft

5.  Bilbo Baggins lives in the village of ______________.

a. Hobbiton
b. Bree
c. Michel Delving
d. Bywater

6.  The hobbits have a museum called a "mathom house" in the town of _________________.

a. Hobbiton
b. Bree
c. Michel Delving
d. Bywater

7. The only brew for the brave and true comes from the ________________.

a. Sleeping Owl 
b. Green Dragon 
c. Prancing Pony
d. Ivy Bush

8. Peace in the Shire was traditionally kept by a voluntary group known as the _______________.

a. Shirriffs
b. Archers
c. Crows
d. Bandylegs

9.  The two main crossing points of the Brandywine River are the Brandywine Bridge and _____________.

a. Withywindle Ford
b. Longbottom Crossing
c. Bucklebury Ferry
d. Oldbrook Bridge

10.  Which of these is NOT a place in the Shire?

a. Willowbottom
b. Undertowers
c. Cobas Haven
d. Little Delving

Good luck!  

Monday, September 18, 2017

"Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware

This is a fantastic little book.  It goes through the whole trilogy in chronological order, pulling out events and examining them in the light of Christianity to see what they contain.  Faith, hope, love, sacrifice, redemption, grace, desire, fear, death, weakness, danger -- there are so many wonderful topics packed into this book!

While it's set up so you could use it as a devotional, reading one section a day, I didn't read it that way -- I gobbled it up as fast as I could, underlining and scribbling madly in the margins.  I'm teaching my niece high school lit again this year, and we're reading The Lord of the Rings together as our first project.  Delightful!  I'm drawing on this book for a lot of the themes we're discussing.

Particularly Good Bits:

Tolkien understood that our lives are part of a grand drama that both transcends and explains our experiences.  The drama's narrative infuses meaning into scenes and events that would otherwise seem arbitrary and meaningless.  Tolkien saw the adventure of our lives, like the adventure of his hobbits, as part of a story that began "once upon a time" and is moving toward its eventual "ever after" (p. xi).

C. S. Lewis believed that our desire for something better is a gift, a way of reminding us of what it is we lost and what it is we hope to regain (p. 2).

Tolkien saw our world as neither completely right nor completely wrong, but rather as a good that has been violated, a beauty marred.  He realized that the only way we can understand that which occurs within time is to view it within the context of that which occurred before and beyond time (p. 4).

The true forces of evil in our world are rarely haphazard or indiscriminate.  The occasional mad gunman notwithstanding, the history of mankind shows that the most destructive wickedness is devious and determined.  Violent insanity is far less trouble than diabolical brilliance (p. 18).

It is only when we humble ourselves by acknowledging that we don't know everything that we are able to learn from others (p. 22).

Middle-earth, in other words, is a hauntingly luminous mirror image of our world.  For we know that the world in which we live is a perilous place, a place where good and bad, light and dark, innocence and horror, glory and depravity march side by side and sleep back-to-back.  We forget this at times, of course.  In the course of our dull daily routines we often grow numbly accustomed to it all.  But there are those moments when we wake suddenly in the middle of the night and remember that we are, after all, surrounded by terrors (p. 33).

It is our human destiny to participate with God in the ongoing work of creation (p. 112).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Absolutely clean and God-pleasing.

I wrote this review specifically for this year's Tolkien Blog Party.  If you haven't yet, check out the blog tag and enter the giveaway.  There will be more posts coming this week, including games and another Tolkien-related book review.

This is also my 7th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Tolkien Blog Party -- 2017

Can you believe this is our FIFTH Tolkien Blog Party?  I had no idea when I first came up with the idea back in 2013 that it would become an annual thing, but I'm so happy it has :-)

The Tolkien Tag 2017

As usual, it's time for you to copy these questions onto your own blog and answer them, add your post to the linky thingie here, and then raise your beverage of choice in a toast to Bilbo and Frodo -- their birthday is on Friday! Some of these are repeat questions from past parties, and some are new -- if you want to repeat some answers from a previous year, you may.

1. How long have you been a Tolkien fan?
2. Has your love of Middle-earth affected your life?
3. If you had to take the One Ring to Mordor, which character would you choose for your sole companion?
4. Which is scarier, Shelob or the Balrog?
5. Which two towers do you think Tolkien was referring to in the title The Two Towers?  (i.e. Orthanc, Barad-dûr, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul, or Minas Tirith)
6. Whose wardrobe would you like to have?
7. What do you think an Ent Draught would taste like?
8. Where in Middle-earth would you like to live?
9. Do you have any Tolkien-related opinions that surprise other people?
10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the books or movies.

Here is the linky thing:

Once you've filled out the tag and added the link to your post, check out other people's posts and make some new friends.  And don't forget to enter the giveaway right here!  And check back all week for more fun -- I've got some Tolkien-related games and book reviews coming up.

Giveaway for the 2017 Tolkien Blog Party

Hobbits give presents to their guests on their birthdays instead of receiving them, so maybe I should be a hobbit after all -- I do love giving things away!  I've got some very cool prizes this year, if I do say so myself.  Here they are!  Because this is my FIFTH Tolkien Blog Party, I got rather celebratory and so... there are quite a few this year.

THREE sets of four postcards each featuring Middle-Earth locations
Erebor, Edoras, Rivendell, and Minas Tirith
(I will draw three winners, each will receive one set of 4 postcards)
ONE set of three stickers with cool Tolkien quotations

TWO sets of three Gandalf stickers

ONE set of three hobbit hole stickers

ONE set of three Bard the Bowman stickers
A USED copy of the BBC's full-cast dramatization of The Hobbit on four CDs.
I bought this used from my library -- I have not listened to all the discs,
but disc one plays just fine in my CD player.

A USED copy of Tolkien Trivia -- in excellent condition!

Four necklaces made by me!  I will draw FOUR winners for these and give
ONE necklace to each of those winners.  They are themed as follows:
1. Hobbits -- mallorn leaf, green stone, "hope" pendant
2. Rohirrim -- "freedom" pendant, earth-colored stone, horse
3. Aragorn -- "Not all those who wander are lost" pendant, green stone
4. Lonely Mountain -- key, Arkenstone-like stone, dragon

This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE.  I'm mailing these all myself, and most of them are small, so no matter where you live in this wide world, you are welcome to enter.

The main way to gain entries is to participate in the party, in other words, to copy the questions I posted (here) and answer them on your own blog, then add your post's link to the Mister Linky widget at the bottom of that official party kick-off post. But that isn't required! You can also earn entries by telling me your prize choices and by commenting elsewhere on my blog.  I do my best to match winners with their choice of prizes, but that doesn't always work out -- that's why I ask for your top three choices.

This giveaway runs through the end of Friday, September 22. I will draw the winners on Saturday, September 23 and post the names of the winners that day, as well a notify them by email.

PLEASE make sure your information for the giveaway widget includes your current email address so that if you win a prize, you'll get the email informing you that you won! If you don't reply to my email by Saturday, September 30, I will choose another winner and award your prize to them instead.

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