A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

Today is Tolkien’s 126th Birthday! Every year on January 3rd, we fans raise a toast! (According to The Tolkien Society, it’s at 9:00 p.m. your local time.) Here’s the official way from their website :):

All you need to do is stand, raise a glass of your choice of drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and say the words “The Professor” before taking a sip (or swig, if that’s more appropriate for your drink). Sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.

Current office decor

So tonight I’ll raise a glass, but thought it would be fun to share a few favorite quotes from the book and scenes from the LOTR movies!

1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

2. “Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo in The Fellowship of The Ring)

3. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

4. Samwise being Samwise

5. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer (The Two Towers)

6. “But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

7. Éowyn being awesome:

8. “He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” I love this because it shows the romantic Tolkien was (Return of the King)

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

I couldn’t resist, I had to sneak one in from The Hobbit:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo as he was dying)

What are some of your favorite scenes?


In Celebration of His Birthday: 11 Favorite Quotes of C.S. Lewis

In celebration of Jack’s (aka C.S. Lewis) birthday, I thought I’d share 11 of my favorite quotes of Lewis.

1. “He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

2. “It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.” The Horse and His Boy

3. “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground for religion: it must have been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.” The Problem of Pain

4. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The Problem of Pain

5. “When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were H. V. V. Dyson (then of Reading) and J. R. R. Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.” Surprised By Joy

6. “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” Mere Christianity

7. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Mere Christianity

8. “Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Weight of Glory

9. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” The Four Loves

10. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” The Great Divorce

11. “Dear Wormwood,
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause”…Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won you man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here,
Your Affectionate Uncle,
The Screwtape Letters

There are so many others (I made myself stop adding quotes from Narnia), you really can’t go wrong with words from Jack. What are some of your favorite books and/or quotes of Lewis?


The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Whenever reading Lewis’ nonfiction, I can’t help but think of his life experiences up until that point. This book, written a few years before he passed away, had plenty of experience to base his study on. It never fails to captivate me. I admit, I felt like I was googling some reference Lewis made every other page. There were also a few “I’m going to have to re-read that page because I’m not quite sure what I just read” moments.

This is one of those books though, you could read 100 times and still discover something new with each read. Can we are take a moment to appreciate that Lewis referred to himself as an “oldster” and used Jane Austen as examples? Alright, now onto a discussion which I hope won’t just turn into 97,000 quotes…. : )

I thought the “Likings and Loves for the sub-human” was an interesting section on the other things we humans can “love.” From his discussion of the dangers of patriotism (no doubt from his experience and living through two World Wars) to his thoughts of nature, especially this one:

“Nature never taught me that there exists a God of Glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one. I do not see how the “fear” of God could have ever meant to me anything but the lowest prudential efforts to be safe, if I had never seen certain ominous ravines and unapproachable crags. And if nature had never awakened certain longings in me, huge areas of what I can now mean by the “love” of God would never, so far as I can see, existed.”

How easy it is for humans to turn something good into an idol? “We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. Then they become gods: then they become demons….Love becomes a demon when it becomes a god.”

He’s been bringing it since 1898.

So this doesn’t once again turn into dissertation status, here’s a couple thoughts and quotes from each of the Four Loves:


I took this one to be the easiest to come by and basic, but not in a “not as important as the others” way either. Each of the other loves has Affection as a part of them as well.

“Affection is the humblest love.”

“Affection opens our eyes to goodness we could not have seen, or should not have appreciated without it.”


This will be hard to keep short. I don’t think it was by mistake the section on Friendship is the longest. This too can also be a part of the other loves and is so vital for life. (Sidenote: Did anyone else need to look up his examples of friendship? Folks like Pylades & Orestes, Roland and Oliver, Amis and Amile? Wiki and I hung out a lot reading this book).

Some of my favorite Lewis quotes come from this section as well:

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

“I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like are, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

His description and discussion of friendship was insightful (i.e. how friendship can be used for evil when it involves folks who are criminals) and so thought-provoking.

Then this. Way to make me get teary-eyed Jack. “But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work…The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others….they are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by His through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us now reckon without our Host.”


This section didn’t hit me as much as Friendship, but I think Lewis was spot on, on so many levels. It’s about the other person. That’s what makes Eros so beautiful and vulnerable.

“Eros wants the Beloved.”

“Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.”

Lewis doesn’t hold back on the dangers of idolising Eros either, while also recognizing its “grandeur and terror.”

“We must not give unconditional obedience to the voice of Eros when he speaks most like a god. Neither must we ignore or attempt to deny the god-like quality. This love is really and truly like Love Himself.”


Well. This section has one of my all-time favorite quotes…EVER:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”


THIS. “Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as He way in which they should break, so be it.”

He was also a fan of keeping the truth simple:

“God is love.” Amen Jack. Amen!

Discussion time! Keeping it pretty simple, so please feel free to answer any or all.

1. Was there one discussion that stuck out to you more (of the Four Loves)?
As I mentioned, for me it was definitely the section of Friendship, but there were also several tidbits that packed a punch in the Charity chapter.

2. I always love reading the quotes that spoke to people, so please feel free to share any that hit home for you. I admit, I have at least another page of quotes, but I’ll save them for another day : ).

3. Please include any other thoughts or insight!
I don’t know if this was his intent, but Lewis had me chuckling quite a bit. Especially with some of his descriptions of people, like referring to one of his students as a “not so nice Rodent.” Or the time he compared humans to donkeys? “Ass is exquisitely right because no one in his senses can either revere or hate a donkey.” Then there was also his warning about his closing thoughts on Charity: “Take it as one man’s reverie, almost one man’s myth: If anything in it is useful to you, use it; if anything is not, never give it a second thought.”

Looking forward to hearing from y’all!


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

How and where do I start with this brilliant piece of work? Whether Lewis had me laughing or yearning for things beyond this world, I love this book and I just need to let the world wide web know that the world of Narnia is pure genius.

I laughed a bunch in this book. Lucy and Mr. Tumnus’ early interaction was a favorite. His take on where she came from? Genius.

“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”

I want to have tea with you Mr. Tumnus!!

Reading The Chronicles of Narnia is numinous. That might be a strange way to describe it, but I see God’s story in every page and some of the ways Lewis discussed and described Aslan gave me the chills (in a good way!). Throughout the pages, we see humanity gone wrong, yet humanity restored. I saw bravery and love in the most beautiful sense.

Like the way we learn about Aslan’s character through people’s reactions. Check this passage:

“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different.”

It’s that joy (even if you don’t see it at first) of knowing you will be restored & redeemed.

Now how do I not just unleash of all things Aslan right now?

First there’s this song:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

Then there’s this:
“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.”

Aslan is simply awesome. I know, a terribly inadequate description, but he is!

“Safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Alright – discussion time! Here’s some questions for discussion. As always, please feel free to answer any or all and include any additional thoughts!

1. Which of the siblings (or parts of their personality) do you connect with?
Before I answer, I want to add how I thought Lewis’ description of how each sibling felt when they first heard the name of Aslan very telling (and how that carries over into real life reactions)
Edmund: “A sensation of mysterious horror.”
Peter: “Brave and adventurous.”
Susan: “As if some delicious smell of some delightful strain of music had just floated by her.”
Lucy: “The feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

I think I would have Lucy’s reaction to Narnia, pretty much running around saying “this is the greatest thing ever!!” And maybe a touch of Peter.

2. Do you have a favorite character?
Aslan! Since he’s probably a favorite for many readers, I’ll also add Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I love that they didn’t doubt when they knew (without seeing) and felt that Aslan was on the move. Then they were all in, not matter the dangers that surely awaited them. I really like Edmund’s change too.

3. What were some of your favorite lines or quotes?
When the girls were watching Aslan as he sacrificed himself, well the whole scene was beautiful, but especially this line during his moment of “weakness”, when the White Witch thought she had won and disgraced Aslan by shaving him: “…for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.” Sigh. Have I mentioned I love C.S. Lewis?

4. What’s one part of the story you connected with?
Another theme I really loved seeing played out was the one of bravery. For example, when Maugrim (captain of the Witch’s guard) is trying to get Susan and Peter is her only hope: “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.” That seems to be a recent theme in my life. Sometimes you don’t feel all that brave until a situation that requires bravery, is thrust upon you.

“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know…that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

Excited to discuss with y’all!!


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Hello everyone! As always, I love these discussions and getting to chat all things Narnia with y’all and am looking forward to your thoughts! So let’s dive in shall we?

Everytime I read C.S. Lewis’ humor in his books, it gives me hope that if we lived at the same time we would have been great friends. This book starts off with this hilarious line:

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

It sets up Eustace’s character so perfectly.

I figured I’d start with some overall thoughts of the book. I love the adventures in this one. From finding out what happened to each of the Lords, to encountering Stars to sea serpents and other such mischief, I found this one most full of adventure. I also love how Lewis reminds us of the past stories (he’s done this before, not just in this one). It’s like the cool kids know what he’s talking about. I will admit to this geekery, I feel special knowing all the details.

“Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country. Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect. Their secret country was real.”

Sigh…I’ll never stop wishing this place was real.

Can we also all agree that Eustace is a bit of a hot mess early on? 🙂 His journal entries cracked me up, along with his thoughts on Reep. Like this one:

“Nearly forgot to say that there is also a kind of Mouse thing that gives everyone the most frightful cheek. The others can put up with it if they like but I shall twist his tail pretty soon if he tries it on me. The food is frightful too.”

I’ll get to more of this soon, but I absolutely loved what Lewis did with his character and what it took for Eustace to change.

This story is full of so much adventure, yet Aslan is still always there. When they least expect it, when their hearts are being tempted to go astray, Aslan loves them enough to remind them of who they really are. The process isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

Take the scene where Dragon Eustace became boy Eustace again:

“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it—if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”

“You mean it spoke?”

“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund

(Eustace describes the process a bit more…)

“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.

“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt—I don’t know what—I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”

“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”

I really love Edmund’s character. In all ways he isn’t afraid to mention his mistake and what he learned from it. Our stories have the chance to encourage and impact others.

In another Aslan scene, when all he does is stand on a hillside when Caspian and Edmund start fighting over a lake of turning things into gold? He doesn’t even have to say anything:

“Across the gray hillside above them—gray, for the heather was not yet in bloom—without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen.”

I loved the same impact when Lucy encountered the beauty spell while in the Magician’s house:

“But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming toward her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterward that it hadn’t really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once.”

One more thought on Aslan (I know, I’m obsessed), but I love that He brings comfort in their darkest of time. This part was after they were in the dark cloud creepy-as-shanaynays island where dreams (not happy ones) come to life. They had already picked up crazy guy who survived so far and were seemingly lost on the way out:

“Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.”

Then this (which y’all might recognize a favorite quote of mine):

“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”

I’d also like to take a moment to also say how much I love Reepicheep. Bound by honor and one of the bravest character you’ll meet in literature, he’s one of my favorites. Plus he cracks me up in this book. From picking a fight with Eustace early on to making it to Aslan’s country. I heart him. This scene:

“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not?”

No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued:

“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”

“But what manner of use would it be plowing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.

“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honor and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors.”

Several of the sailors said things under their breath that sounded like, “Honor be blowed,” but Caspian said: “Oh, bother you, Reepicheep. I almost wish we’d left you at home. All right! If you put it that way, I suppose we shall have to go on.”

You gotta love little Reep!

“Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
There is the utter East.”

This final quote I want to share is also one of my favorites of the series. It says so much about Aslan and who Lewis made him to be. It’s after Edmund and Lucy find out their adventures in Narnia have come to an end and Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

As always, feel free to answer any or all the questions. I’d love to hear from you!

1. How does this rank in the Narnia series for you?
I really enjoyed this, as I do with all of Narnia tales, but it doesn’t rank in my top of top lists. It’s hard to beat my favorites. Still loved this one though.

2. Do you have a favorite scene or part?
Outside of scenes I’ve already mentioned, I found the idea of the creepy/dark cloud island scene fascinating. That would have to be one of the most scary possibilities in existence.

3. What about favorite characters?
I really liked seeing how Eustace changed and of course little Reep!

4. Finally, what were some of your favorite quotes?


The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

“But in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir, they suddenly became, by no wish of their own, both important and renowned, and troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great.”

I admit these are sometimes the hardest posts for me to write. All I want to do is say how much I loved it and then list a bunch of quotes :). It’s the balance of not writing out a dissertation and having a worthy discussion! But it’s not my fault Tolkien and Lewis were geniuses right? Moving on…after reading this delightful book again (years after my last reading of it), I have been reminded of the age old truth: the book is always better. I love the LOTR movies, but man! There is so much more that awaits in the book! You can’t understand Tolkien’s true greatness without reading the book.

For me, some of the biggest themes are courage, bravery, sacrifice and friendship. Take this interaction:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I also was a huge fan of the brotherhood and friendship of the hobbits. The commitment and loyalty to follow Frodo, knowing it would be dangerous, made my heart happy. Plus the forming of the Fellowship? Awesome all around.

Other tidbits worth noting:

  • Hobbits are sometimes feisty and witty fellows and it had me cracking up. When Gildor (an elf) didn’t answer Frodo’s question one way or the other, his response was “And it is also said ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'”
  • Glóin was at Rivendell and we got all the details on our dwarf friends from The Hobbit 🙂
  • Aragorn has pretty much been everywhere in Middle Earth approx. 100 times.
  • Lady Galadriel – love her character. From “tempting” each member of the fellowship to her gifts. Everything done with a purpose; to make each one stronger. The gift to Sam? His garden-in-a-box? Loved it!
  • The story of Beren and Lúthien..sigh. That’s worth reading The Silmarillion for.

“Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo)

As always, here’s a few questions to get the discussion going. Feel free to answer some, none or all and of course be sure to include any other insight and thoughts!

1. Which Hobbit do you identify with at this point in the book?
I appreciate Pippin’s love of food :). I understand Frodo’s reluctance to have people come with him, as he didn’t want them hurt. Merry has courage in him and Sam, well Sam is amazing. I’ll say this – I want to be the type of person Sam is.

2. If you could be one in Middle Earth, which would you pick: Hobbit, dwarf, elf, wizard or man?
An elf! They are wise and know how to handle their weapons.

3. What’s something you wished would have been added or done differently in the movie?
Two words: TOM BOMBADIL. Also Glorfindel deserved better.

4. What were some quotes that really stuck out to you?
This statement. Frodo is not only vulnerable, to me he shows such courage.

“I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.”

I want to memorize this in elvish:

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

Just because I love how Tolkien writes:

“The bow of Legolas was singing.”

One more quote on friendship:

“You do not understand!’ said Pippin. ‘You must go – and therefore we must, too. Merry and I are coming with you. Sam is an excellent fellow, and would jump down a dragon’s throat to save you, if he did not trip over his own feet; but you will need more than one companion in your dangerous adventure.’ ‘My dear and most beloved hobbits!’ said Frodo deeply moved. ‘But I could not allow it. I decided that long ago, too. You speak of danger, but you do not understand. This is no treasure-hunt, no there-and-back journey. I am flying from deadly peril into deadly peril.’ ‘Of course we understand,’ said Merry firmly. ‘That is why we have decided to come. We know the Ring is no laughing-matter; but we are going to do our best to help you against the Enemy.”

Other thoughts:
I love much of the new fantasy stories out there (looking at you Potter), but Tolkien really was the master and I see Tolkien influence in so many of these stories. But that’s okay because Tolkien was a genius. Times a billion.

I also need to mention I was reading the part of the CREEPY CRAWLING BLACK RIDER BY MYSELF. Any sound that night was clearly a creature fixin to attack me. So that was neat. But not really.

Can’t wait to hear from y’all! 

Bookish Radness

My Love and Hate of the Star Rating

You know what is the absolute worst in the world of book blogging? STAR RATINGS. Can we have a more confusing and nebulous aspect of reviewing books? I can talk to 100 different book bloggers and they’ll come up with 100 different rating systems. It’s not just blogging folks either – where we post these reviews? They only add to the confusion. A 2-Star rating on one website shares the same description of a 3-Star rating on another. Below is a comparison between Goodreads and Amazon, but I found the same differences/confusions with Barnes & Noble and CBD. I’m sure you’ll find them on others too.

Whether people use stars or catchy phrases, there’s all kinds of rating systems. The stars kill me. I don’t use a rating system on my blog. Before it was because I had a hard time adding a rating. Now, not only have my ideas on ranking change (I’m not ready for such a commitment ; ), but the viewpoints vary so much with people, I’m afraid folks might have a different vibe by simply looking at how many stars I give.

Even thinking back to my early blogging days (I kinda am embarrassed to admit this), if I thought the book was good, it got 5 stars. To which I must ask my two-year-ago self what was I thinking handing out 5 stars like candy canes at Christmas?

Maybe you haven’t thought too deeply into this, but I’ve become very protective of my 5 stars. Do any of you feel the same way?

And since I brought this all up, if I was forced to have a system, it would probably look something like this:
5 – I own a hard copy and e-copy and I demand you read it immediately! I probably won’t let you borrow my copy though, because there’s simply too much risk in losing it :). (Although please don’t hold my ratings from previous years against me ; )
4 – Excellent book, so happy to have had the chance to read it and I’d recommend it.
3 – I’m not sad I read it (there were some good qualities), but it also wouldn’t necessarily be my first recommendation.
2 – Meh
1 – This probably means I didn’t finish the book.


Alright, how about all of you? How do you handle star ratings? Do you stick with stars or do something a little different?


The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

I thought I knew what to expect from Mr. Lewis. Really, I did. I’ve read enough of his works to know he’s awesome. Then comes The Great Divorce. I mean really, Jack, how many masterpieces did you write?! I love his warning at the beginning:

“I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course – or I intended it to have – a moral. But the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or speculation at what may actually await us.”

“The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world.”

I wasn’t sure what to think the first pages in. I wasn’t stressed that I wasn’t going to like it, but I was kind of afraid it was going to end up being meh. Then suddenly I found myself wanting to copy 97% of the book in my quote book. I love this book! It has become one of my favorites of Lewis.

The conversations our narrator had or overhead felt like conversations I’ve had in real life. Like the ghost who couldn’t see that he was missing the full truth? Instead the bits and pieces he did believe were weaved in other falsehoods of spirituality.

I love how much it gets you thinking from all the different responses to the narrator’s experiences. There was the cynic, where it was all propaganda and conspiracies and complaints, but the one who doesn’t actually want to change anything either. Plus the narrator’s change and development was done so well. I could understand why he questioned with the early ghost examples, especially after Debbie Downer Ghost (remember his commentary on rain?!)

“I have not fully made up my mind to go back to the bus, but wanted to avoid open places. If only I could find a trace of evidence that it was really possible for a Ghost to stay – that the choice was not only a cruel comedy – I would not go back.”

I was also genuinely sad for the lady who was too ashamed of her “nakedness” and didn’t trust that she would become solid again. How much she missed out on!

“What are we born for?”
“For infinite happiness,” said the Spirit. “You can step out into it at any moment.”

Meeting George MacDonald was one of my favorite parts of the book.

“Literary ghosts hang about public libraries to see if anyone’s still reading their books.” I caught the chuckles on that one.

Alright, I’m going to attempt to only include a “few” more quotes. I apologize in advance for the length, but I seriously can’t help myself. It’s like asking me to get rid of books. I just can’t.

“Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory…damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.”

Internet. THIS:

“There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing of God Himself…as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organiser of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all snares.”

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”

“This curious wish to describe Hell turned out, however, to be only the mildest form of a desire very common among the Ghosts-the desire to extend Hell, to bring it bodily, if they could, into Heaven.”

How many people is this quote perfect for? “They terrify lest they should fear.” Tacitus

Then this was this: After discussing those ghosts so grotesque that they made the trip simply to spit in the face of Heaven: “Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.”

Oh and then with the painter: “Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.” On a total cheesy geek note, my heart did a happy dance when the artists mentioned were Claude and Cézanne. Lewis even had excellent taste in art. One more piece of evidence to prove Jack and I would have been friends.

“Do you mean there are no famous men?”
“They are all famous. They are all known, remembered, recognised by the only Mind that can give a perfect judgement.”

I thought the whole interaction of the Lady and dwarf was interesting as well and here’s some quotes I pulled from that section –
“Here is joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness: but your darkness cannot now. No, no, no. Come to us. We will not go to you. Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?”

“The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that He’ll should be able to veto Heaven.”

Alright, now that I’ve pretty much written out the book :), how about we discuss? Here’s a few questions, but as always, please share any other thoughts!

1. Which of the ghosts did you find the most interesting?
I’ll say the most annoying was the nagging wife. I kept calling her a wench. So edgy, I know. Man alive! Always the victim and I felt bad for her husband. Then she wanted him to come so she could have another “project.” Yet, she couldn’t forgive him either. For what? Who knows, but she was a mess.

The most interesting/sad for me was probably with the mother who lost her son. What did y’all think of Pam and Reginald’s conversation? I personally cannot imagine what losing a child would be like, but in her case, she lost both her children (and even husband) when she ignored her daughter and focused only on the past.

2. What was one of your favorite scenes?
I could simply say all of them, but I’ll go with the saucy lizard and the Ghost who didn’t want to quite let go of the sin. It was a perfect illustration of what it looks like to free yourself of the “lizard” in your life.

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”
“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”

I thought he was going to keep the lizard, but am so glad he didn’t. I loved Lewis’ description of what happened after too.

3. Any favorite quotes to share?
Please see all of the above 🙂

4. How does this rank in the works of Lewis?
I have plenty more to read, but this is right up there with Narnia for me. Man, what a fascinating look at human nature.

5. Any final thoughts to share?
Lewis reminds me that while the face of culture changes drastically through each generation, people don’t. The same things that hold people back in the time Lewis wrote this are many of the same today. And once again I wish I could have had one conversation with Clive. Just one.


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

J.R.R. Tolkien was truly a master story teller. Not only is this tale entertaining (the narrator made me laugh quite often), so many lessons come from the pages of this book. How greed can change a person, bravery, courage and how we might not think we’re ready for an adventure, but often we just need to step outside the door and go. Sigh…I can go one for days about this little gem of a book.

I not so secretly love Hobbits and how Tolkien describes them. Bilbo’s initial resistance, like the fact that going on adventure makes you late for dinner (a totally legit concern if you ask me ;))  is one of my favorite parts of the story. Not only because it makes me laugh (and we learn how golf really came about), but it makes his change all the more lovely.

This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbors’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

I also think this is the perfect book for readers to introduce themselves to Middle Earth. It’s not too overwhelming to tackle and you get bits and pieces of the history of Middle Earth. Of course I’m biased, but reading it definitely made me want to dive into more of Tolkien’s Middle Earth books.

I also like the glimpses into each race (elves, dwarves, humans, goblins, Wargs, etc). Not only because it’s interesting, but we get hints at a much larger story (i.e. Lord of the Rings). Alright, enough of just me talking about the book. Here’s some questions that got me thinking and please feel free (as always) to share any other thoughts!

1. Did you have a favorite passage? I cheated and picked four.
“As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”

“To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more.”

“Somehow the killing of this giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark…made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath. ‘I will give you a name,’ he said to it, ‘and I shall call you Sting.’ ”

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo before he died)

2. Do you have a favorite character?
I’m a fan of Fili and Kili – especially as the greed didn’t effect them as it did with most of the other dwarves. Plus the movie portrayal of them? Love them! But really, my favorite is Bilbo. At first, so resistant to going on such an adventure, yet he becomes a hero.

3. Thoughts on Thorin. Go!
My first thought is how perfectly cast Richard Armitage is for the role of Thorin. While completely beside the point, I can’t help it – I had to bring him up because he’s Richard Armitage and if I ever had the chance to meet him I wouldn’t be able to make a coherent sentence. He’s such an interesting character who I liked, disliked and ultimately liked again in the end (when he saw the error of his ways). I like that he wasn’t the perfect King of the Mountain – it makes me like the story that much more.

4. It always makes me so sad for the ones we lose in the final battle. Apparently there was a petition going around to change that in the movies. As sad as it was, I think Thorin dying is fitting. Although I’m still sad about Kili and Fili, even if they died defending their Uncle (Thorin) and showed true loyalty. It was kind of like Lupin and Tonks’ death in Harry Potter. Totally not necessary. What did you think of their deaths?

5. As always, please share any other thoughts!
Me? I want an Eagle.


Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)

“A violet yellow sunset was pouring through a rift in the clouds to westward, but straight ahead over the hills the sky was the colour of dark slate.”

How have I not read this until now? I feel like a fake fan! It was a fabulous read to kick off the series and I look forward to reading the other two in the series, but first to discuss!

The first book in C. S. Lewis’s acclaimed Space Trilogy, which continues with Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity. First published in 1943, Out of the Silent Planet remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force.

Here’s a fun fact to kick things off (in case you didn’t catch last month’s read): Tolkien and Lewis once flipped a coin deciding who would write a time travel story and who would write an outer space novel. Thanks to that coin toss, Lewis wrote Out of the Silent Planet and Tolkien wrote The Notion Club Papers (a time travel set in the future of the 1980s :).

I wish I had a better way to say this, but the way C.S. Lewis paints a story is rad. I constantly found myself pausing during the book and just thinking how talented and gifted he was as a writer (and by my description of “rad,” you can see we’re on slightly different playing fields).

Like this:

“Pulsing with brightness as with some unbearable pain or pleasure, clustered in pathless and countless multitudes, dreamlike in clarity, blazing in perfect blackness, the stars seized all his attention, troubled him, excited him, and drew him up to a sitting position…

…now that the very name “Space” seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam.”

I mean….

Now onto the actual storyline :). Not only did we once again see the creative and imaginative genius of Lewis, but I found myself wishing all the creatures on the planet were real and that one day I could hang out with them (add that list to Narnia and Middle Earth). I loved what got Ransom to speak with Hyoi was he heard him speaking and his love of language took over, especially since both Tolkien and Lewis loved languages.

I laughed quite a bit too, like with this line: “For a moment Ransom found something reassuring in the thought that the sorns were shepherds. Then he remembered that the Cyclops in Homer plied the same trade.”

When Hyoi was shot and killed (which, by the way did not see coming 😦 ), I thought Lewis portrayed the aftermath in such a poignant way. How do you explain someone kills something for no other reason than they wanted to?

As I mentioned before, I haven’t read the rest of the series, but I hope there is more to come battling Weston and the forces behind him.

“…our cry is not merely “Hands off Malacandra.” The dangers to be feared are not planetary but cosmic, or at least solar, and they are not temporal but eternal. More than this it would be unwise to say.”

I also really enjoyed the Postscript and the letter between Ransom and the writer. Not only was it a creative way to gain more insight into the world Lewis created, but I like that we got more of what it was like when Ransom returned home.

Here’s some questions I was thinking about:

1. How the hey was Jack (aka Clive Staples aka my BFF) so creative?!
I mean, geez, save some genius for the rest of the world. Obviously this isn’t really a question I expect answered, but I still needed to get it off my chest :).

2. How does this rank against Lewis’ other fiction books for you?
It might be too early for me to make this statement (since I have to read the others), but I think Narnia still holds the top spot for Lewis’ fiction work. But please don’t take that to mean I didn’t enjoy this – I thoroughly did. It’s just hard to beat Aslan. 🙂

3. I love that Lewis used a sci-fi novel to take a look at humanity. Did that stick out to any of you?
It could be because I’ve been watching Breaking Bad and I love The Walking Dead, two shows that reveal both the bad and good of humanity in different/unique/dire circumstances, but that kept popping up. Take Weston. He’s arrogant and refuses to truly learn about the lives he encounters. He only sought power and dominance. Devine clearly didn’t grasp mo’ money, mo’ problems. Greed drove him, even when he encountered something no one else from planet Earth had. Then there was Ransom. Sweet Ransom. The complete opposite of the other two. I kinda think Lewis wrote pieces of his personality in Ransom’s character too.

4. Did you have a favorite of the Malacandra beings? Between the sorns, hrossa, Oyarsa and pfifltriggi?
I want to pick the pfifltriggi based solely on their name. I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it makes me laugh! This really is a tough one though, but I think I might have to go with the hrossa. They were the first we really encounter, so that probably has something to do with my bias.

What about you readers? As always, please share any other insights as well! Looking forward to reading what you thought of the book!

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