Book Reviews

Books and Blogs – Do They Still Hang Out?

Are book blogs slowly going away? I don’t have an answer to this, but I’m curious to hear all of your thoughts. Is how we share our love of books changing? I find myself gravitating towards the Instagram world of books, but I do still read some blogs.

I don’t have any great revelations, but I thought I’d bring this to the table, since it’s something that’s been on my mind. A little bit because of my job, but honestly, mainly for myself. I don’t blog as much. I don’t have time as I once did. I would love to review and read more books from publishers, but I can’t commit to a full blog post, so I don’t request as many. I usually end up buying my favorite authors’ latest releases, but I do miss getting to read and share beforehand.

*Updating this post to include Goodreads as another absolute favorite. I check reviews there when checking out new authors or books and love to post what I’ve read!*

I’d love to hear your feedback on any and all of these questions:

Readers: Where do you go for book reviews? Is your main source blogs? Or a mix of places?

Authors: When looking for influencers, is a blog required? Do you have a preference?

Fellow Publishers: Are blogs still a requirement to join your reviewing programs? Would you be open to having links to an Instagram post or FB post count in the same way? Is this on your radar?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Ponderings

New Things and Old Things

Isn’t it funny how you start off the year with new goals and new ideas and then halfway through, you’re in a totally different spot. There’s many reasons for this, one being outside life circumstances, but sometimes the Lord is simply calling to you and stirring your hearts in new ways.

That’s where I’ve been (as I’m sure you noticed with the lack of posting on both blogs). Part of it has been life (the summer was really busy – I bought myself a house for my 35th birthday. Yay for mortgages!! :)), but also the Lord whispering to my heart. A change of direction.

I promise the next line isn’t “I’m moving to Europe!” (Although, um…so game!), but a shift in my online writing. I’ve had two blogs for a while, but the past several months I haven’t been sure where I was going with each one. It didn’t seem like I should have two, but I still really enjoyed writing for each one. Did I just stop altogether? I admit, that’s where I was for several weeks, but I didn’t feel peace about that either.

I know it probably seems a bit dramatic to talk about blogs this way, but I truly wanted to be faithful to whatever the Lord was asking of me. So what’s the final verdict? One blog, but a combination of the two. Will I be blogging every day? Not quite. My goal is at least once a week and will be a variety of life posts and bookish posts. I’m figuring out other details (like my Inklings), but I’m ready for a change. I’m also slowly moving over popular posts from each blog to have in the archives, so you can still find them. Plus it’s always nice to have the reminders of early blogging days – sometimes it’s cringe worthy, but worth remembering. (Although true confession, sad to lose all the comments – there were some fun discussions!)

When I first started blogging back in 2012, my time and desire fit my blogging schedule. But, as life happens with new chapters, I don’t have the time (and no longer want to) spend several hours a week on blogging (how different my weekends are with a house. Grass Internet. Grass. It likes to grow). I loved the years when I did that – it was exciting starting and pursuing something I loved. I still love it and am forever thankful it opened up doors to the career I’m in now, but I’m no longer in a place to spend my nights and most weekends working on the blog. And that’s okay. I’m excited to still be in the blogging and bookish world, but at a pace that is healthy for where I’m at now.

I’ll still have my newsletter and of course I won’t stop reading and sharing about my favorite reads on other social channels in addition to blog posts, but I’m excited about this new direction.

I’d love to stay in touch! Here’s how to find me:

Sign up for the newsletter here
Website | Instagram | Facebook | Blog Facebook Page | Twitter | Goodreads  (just note any review prior to 2014-ish may have been during my “everyone gets 5 stars!!” stage 😉
Email: jamie @ musingsofjamie.com

Inklings

In Which I Share My Love of the LOTR Movies | Inklings Week

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Welcome to 3rd Annual Inklings Week! It’s one of my favorite weeks of the blog year. It’s the best getting to chat all things Inklings with y’all! We have another great lineup this year and I hope you’ll stop by every day. There’s some fun giveaways, guests posts and lots of gushing about the Inklings. Plus, one step closer to making International Inklings Day a real thing right?!

Alright, let’s do this! Since I had some “feelings” last year about The Hobbit movies (I stand firmly by my claim), I thought it would be fun to go opposite this year and share some of my favorite scenes from the LOTR movie trilogy.

I want y’all to know that I was COMMITTED to this post and it was rough. I had to watch all three movies again for research, but I didn’t stop there. I wanted the full and complete experience, so I watched the extended versions. This blogging gig isn’t for the faint of heart y’all.

Or it quite possibly looked like any other Sunday afternoon in my house, in which I tell myself to watch a new movie and somehow LOTR ends up playing. #Weird

I should also mention that this is by no means an exhaustive list of favorite scenes or quotes. If I listed every thing I loved, I’d pretty much be typing out the script. Be sure to share some of your favorite scenes!!

Images © 2001 – New Line Productions, Inc.

I love Gandalf’s research style. This is 100% how I feel in a used book store (you know, hoping I’ll be one of those people who finds a rare edition with a Tolkien hand drawn map hidden in the pages)

I’ve said this plenty of times before, but Sam is one of my favorite characters. He’s so brave and I love the scene right before he crosses the line of the furthest place he’s been. He doesn’t yet know all that he’s got himself into, but he goes all in. I also love the humor throughout the movies (and books). It is often found in Pippin and I’m pretty sure his love of food makes him my spirit animal. I’m with Pippin – the world is a much better place when there’s snacks, second breakfasts and afternoon teas.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.” Gandalf

“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” Gandalf

I also need to take a moment to stop and talk about Boromir. Yes, he was lead astray by the ring, but he made up for it. Even if he realized things a bit too late, that last scene with Aragorn gets me every time.

“Our people. Our people. I would have followed you. My brother. My captain. My King.” 😭😭😭😭

Then of course it ends with Sam being awesome (and you might recognize the hand scene in The Return of the King). “I made a promise Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to.” 😭😭😭

Images © 2002 – New Line Productions, Inc.

I’d like to start off with The Two Towers by saying I have always had a major crush on Éomer (the character and actor, let’s be real). I love him a lot more in the books (especially his friendship with Aragorn), but the movies weren’t too shabby either.

When it comes to Smeags (aka Gollum), he’s my favorite in this movie. Andy Serkis did such a phenomenal job with his character. From his self chat to “trust Master,” to his disgust with taters (“PO-TA-TOES”) to his dismay at when “Master tricks us” to his final plot to lead them to Shelob, I love how it was all portrayed.

I also loved Sam’s speech at the end:

“They had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t because they were holding on to something….That there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.”

Images © 2003 – New Line Productions, Inc.

What’s not to love about the conclusion? Everyone is just so brave and the bonds of friendship got me like 😭😭😭. I like that Aragorn takes on his destiny fully in this movie (hey King, heyyy!). He’s awesome in previous movies (but not as much as the books), but the way he leads in this one, he shows himself fully King. Éowyn with her “I am no man, so I can kill the Witch King of Angmar” business is one of my favorite scenes as well.

Some of my favorite parts of the whole series happen after the battle of Minas Tirith. From Aragorn commanding the troops to the Black Gates (in order to give Frodo and Sam a chance #ForFrodo), to Samwise’s final acts of bravery of saving Frodo (“I can’t carry it for you Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you!”), to Aragon’s “You bow to no one” speech to the Hobbits, I cry every single time.

“There may come a day when the strength of men fails, but it is not this day! Not this day!” Aragorn

Gimli: I never thought I’d die fighting side-by-side with an elf.
Legalos: How about side by side with a friend then?
Gimli: Aye. I can do that.

It’s safe to say, yes, I love these movies.

Alright, what are some of your favorite scenes?

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Author Carrie Turanksy

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

One of the best parts of my job is getting to work and connect with authors. It’s seriously the best and Carrie Turansky is one such author. She’s so fun y’all and she has a book coming out later this month! I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did!

Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Maggie Award of Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals, Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband Scott. They have five adult children and four grandchildren.

4 Questions

1. What’s something about your life right now that you would never have imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago I attended a librarian’s conference in Philadelphia where I spotted an fiction editor I’d met before. I bolstered my courage, said hello, and I asked her what kind of book she’d like to see come across her desk. She said she loved Downton Abbey, and she’d like to see a novel set in the Edwardian Era with a governess as a heroine and a brooding hero, a bit like Jane Eyre. I thanked her, but I wasn’t sure I was the one to write that story. I knew next to nothing about the life in England one hundred years ago, and I’d only seen one episode of Downton. But after an encouraging conversation with an author friend, I decided to watch the first two seasons and jump into the research. It was fascinating, and I fell in love with the era. I developed a proposal for the Edwardian Brides Series and took a research trip to England. Before I returned, I had more than one offer! My writing career took a wonderful turn, and I’ve never looked back!

2. What is one thing you would go back and do differently if you could?
I think I would be more patient through those five years I was learning to write fiction and waiting for my first publishing contract. It takes time to develop your skills and perseverance to keep writing when you receive rejections, but I’m grateful for all those who encouraged me to keep writing!

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
This past Christmas all five of our adult children, their spouses, and our grandchildren were with us for a few days. We haven’t all been together at Christmas for twelve years because one son is in the Marines, one daughter spends a lot of time in Africa with her job, and another son and his family have been living in California, and we’re in New Jersey. Having them all here and seeing them all talking and enjoying each other was such a treat for me. Attending church together on Christmas Eve and lighting our candles warmed my heart in a very special way.

4. What’s one thing you want the next generation to know?
Faith is the anchor that will hold you fast in the storms of life. Nothing gives me more hope or peace than my faith in God and His love for me, which He has shown me through sending his son Jesus. Faith is not old fashioned. It can be as new and fresh as a spring morning. Hold on to your faith, let it grow and develop as you bring it into every area of your life and you will find great strength and wisdom.

Thank you so so much for joining in Carrie – I was so encouraged by what you shared! I hope you readers enjoyed it as well!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Bookish Radness

Books and Beverages 2016 Favorites

It’s that time! It’s my final post of 2016 (how in the why and what in the world?). It’s been a year hasn’t it? I can always depend on my books and wanted to share my favorites from this year. I’ve linked to my blog post or Goodreads (if I didn’t review). What do y’all think? What are some of your favorites?

(As always, the Tolkien and Lewis’ books aren’t listed, because y’all know how I feel about them. #NotEmbarassedOrAshamed)

Here they are in no particular order:

  • Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson
  • The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr
  • The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
  • The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris
  • Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs
  • A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte
  • Dressed For Death by Julianna Deering
  • The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
  • The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim
  • Jaded by Varina Denman
  • When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks
  • Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund
  • The Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
  • Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin
  • The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Another favorite from this year has been the start of The Diversity Series. I’m thankful the conversation is happening and look forward to continuing it in 2017.

What were some of your favorite reads this year?

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Ruth Logan Herne | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Y’all. Where do I even start? I meet Ruthy in Nashville this year at the CFRR and ACFW and 5 seconds in, I knew working with her was going to be THE BEST. She cracks me up, is so so sweet and we bonded over tacos, so really what more is needed? I hope y’all are encouraged by her today and be sure to check out her latest release (also, you can win on too!)

Ruth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print, including eighteen Love Inspired contemporary novels and Back in the Saddle, Book 1 in the Double S Ranch series. Ruth is a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Well, this question is easy-peasy! Five years ago I was delighted to see my first books hit bookshelves across the country… and it was thrilling! I was in shock… good shock!! I was a published author! I’d always believed it would happen, but the thrill of seeing my work on shelves was over-the-moon… And pure joy and thanks to God, absolutely. (Imagine me singing the “Hallelujah” chorus right now). As the next few years passed, my amazing agent began locking in more contracts. More books. More stories! I have been blessed to work with some of the best editors in the business, and it is amazing to me that I’ve got novels and novellas out with multiple publishers… But a huge thing for me, and something that would have been deemed “unbelievable” is my “Double S” series with Waterbrook Press… The chance to write these beautiful stories set in the hills of Central Washington… to have traveled out there to see the Kittitas Valley… and to set things right for the Stafford family, a group of men with wounded souls, each one too stubborn to see their own path clearly. Time, faith, hope and love helped heal those wounds, and bring each man home again.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
This is a conundrum. There are several things I’d change, and most of them involve working long hours and not being home more with my kids during their junior high/teen years. We’d fallen on some tough times and it was all hands on deck… it worked out all right, and I didn’t mind the work aspect (in fact several of my restaurant customers were big encouragers, knowing I wanted to be a writer. One couple actually donated their daughter’s Brother Word Processor to me when she went off to college so that I could start writing. There are so many good people in this world!) But… If I could have changed that situation so that I was home in the evenings, I would do it.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
This is back to being easy: Having my children. They are my cheerleaders, my joys, my first gifts from God, you know? And they’re all so excited for me… And I love that! And I have fourteen grandkids now, which is amazingly wonderful. And they all love me! 🙂 Of course, I bribe them with cookies and chocolate milk because who doesn’t love cookies and chocolate milk, Jamie??? (Editor note: #truth)

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Being smart is a wonderful thing, but brains without a good work ethic generally get you nowhere. Never be afraid to work hard and well. Do your best with each and every job, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time. I had so many hairnet and nametag jobs that it’s almost funny… but each one helped prepare me for using those jobs, businesses, and situations in later stories. So I got paid to research. BONUS!!!! 🙂 I encourage kids to work hard, love God and stay focused… and to build a solid platform of goodness, day by day. If you make being good a habit, it’s a whole lot easier to stay that way when temptations come your way.

You are the so great and thank you so much for sharing!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I told you readers, isn’t she the best?! 

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Inklings, Movie Musings

It’s Been Long Enough: My Thoughts on The Hobbit Movies

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here!)

I realize I never really shared my thoughts on The Hobbit trilogy movies. I admit, I had plans to and I never got around to it…I’m sure my feelings will help explain why.

Before I dive into my nerdy post of angst, I will say I love the music from all three. When you have Thorin, Pippin and Ed Sheeran singing, bound for musical brilliance (the LOTR soundtrack is my background jam right now)

I also need to add I don’t think PJ (Peter Jackson) is a terrible director or producer. He’s insanely talented. I remember picking up the first LOTR movie on sale at Target (I had seen the cartoons long before that and remembered pieces of it) and after watching it, I vividly remember thinking “WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THIS BEFORE?!” It was love at first sight. I read the books immediately and was first in line for the two other movies (I took off work on release day).

BUT. Even he admitted he was making it up with The Hobbit as he went. So it’s not just me.

Alright, now let’s get honest and real…..

Movie One

“YAYYYYYYY!!! We’re back in Middle earth!!”

https://giphy.com/embed/knFyKpWwkFfMI

I was so ready!
https://giphy.com/embed/HVr4gFHYIqeti

After the movie, I thought “You know, PJ added some things and mixed them up, but that’s okay…he changed a few things in LOTR too…I think these will still be so great!” I have to say though, the Gollum/Bilbo scene was spot on and I really enjoyed the riddles scene.

I mean, y’all, who didn’t get chills when Thorin began singing “Misty Mountains?” Chills!

If only the awesomeness lasted…

Movie Two

“Well at least the dragon was really cool. I’m trying to just enjoy Middle Earth and not focus on what is happening to one of my beloved books. I’ll just pretend the love triangle isn’t actually happening. Instead, we’re just going to pretend it’s like LOTR all over again.”

https://giphy.com/embed/kl3F9X1zETOW4

Movie Three

“These movies are dead to me.”

Let’s go ahead with some bullet points:

  • THAT’S NOT HOW KILI AND FILI DIED. THIS IS LAME. I HATE THIS MOVIE.
  • Why hate on the eagles? They deserved better.
  • Ignoring Beorn are you PJ? Why? He’s awesome (he took out the Goblin leader in the Battle) and why did he get 17 seconds towards the end of the battle which consisted of jumping off an eagle while transforming?
  • The love story…just no.
  • Have I mentioned Kili and Fili deserved better? They died protecting their King, they weren’t killed by the pale jerk of an Orc (WHO WASN’T IN THE BOOK) (And before you get angry, yes I know Azog is in Middle Earth history, but he was not in The Hobbit and did not need such a role. The enemies they had were just fine). Also, neither died protecting a non existent elf either.
  • Did PJ watch Tremors while writing this?
  • I don’t understand the obsession with the creepy unibrow fellow (he doesn’t deserve a Google search to remember his name). Why was he in the movies again? Besides to haunt your dreams?

Suffice to say my Hobbit heart was broken in two when all was said and done. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy it on DVD…that means something Internet…

Alright, did y’all like the movies? I promise not to hold judgement if you do! 😉

Inklings

A Guest Post From Wesley – All Things Tolkien and Lewis!

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! Today is another fabulous guest post from my friend Wesley! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here.) 

Hi everyone! I’m Wesley and I blog over at Library Educated. When Jamie asked me if I wanted in on Inklings Week I could not say yes fast enough! I’ve been a C.S. Lewis fan for a long time but have come to appreciate J.R.R.’s thorough world building and vast landscapes!

I think that it is fair to say that the people who love the books of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are a fairly rabid bunch (maybe not like, One Direction fan base type of rabid, but I think that that’s okay). People have expressed their love of these books in all types of ways: tattoos, art, reimagined book covers, things that I MUST HAVE on Etsy, and of course – memes.

It’s hard not to be inspired by the books even before you open the books up and dive into their stories, look at some of these covers!

And my personal favorite of the Tolkien group:

Did you know there was a Queen who illustrated Lord of the Rings? Yeah! Check it out!

And onto some of my favorite CS Lewis covers (many from the same editions):

#saddragonissadbecausehisnameisEustaceandhealmostdeservedit
(Long hashtag is long)

Tattoos

(You guys, this whole post could be made up of “Not all who wander are lost” tattoos for the Tolkien end of things. We will keep it to one.)

Any my favorite, random funny things on the internet (everyone’s favorite really, right?)

Ring ding ding ding ding ding ding!

And a Narnia – X-Men crossover? Yes please!
Awwww!
When you wish upon a scary floating eye…..

So basically my Inklings Week post was me messing around on the internet for hours and I couldn’t be more grateful to Jamie for the opportunity!

Yay!! Thanks so much for joining in Wesley – this was so much fun to read (lots of laughs too!). So y’all have a favorite from Wesley’s post?

Inklings

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Inklings

The Reason I love C.S. Lewis | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I’m excited to have the lovely Katherine Reay on the blog today chatting about C.S. Lewis! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here!)

Welcome Katherine!

If you’ve read any of my books, you know I love books. The stories I write are saturated with the stories of others because I believe books form a common language. The Classics are not “classic” merely because they are old. They endure because they are timeless and true. We return to them again and again because they speak with relevance to our experiences, our thoughts and our lives.

If you’ve read any of my books, you also know I love C.S. Lewis. He isn’t mentioned or quoted or cited as often as Austen, Bronte or Dickens – and there’s a reason for that. He is my little secret and the foundation, if not the propulsion, for everything I write.

Here’s a peek behind the curtain…

The idea for Dear Mr. Knightley came from a few sources. One can readily recognize Daddy Long Legs (Jean Webster) behind its structure. But rather than an homage to that story, Dear Mr. Knightley only “hides” within its framework much as its heroine Sam Moore hides behind literary characters. Rather Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters helped me form the basis of Sam’s journey.

The Screwtape Letters is a “diabolical parody” written in a series of letters from a top devil, Screwtape (an Under Secretary and “affectionate uncle”), to a beginning devil, Wormwood. The subject? Advice on how to secure a “patient” – a human soul – for their father in hell. The story is packed with humor and incredibly accurate insights into the human psyche as the patient is bombarded again and again by obstacles, temptations and pressures – anything and everything to keep his eyes off eternity. Reading this, I wondered how might a woman react today to getting hit again and again. Could she recognize the eternal or even begin to ask and answer those deeper longings for love, trust, safety in the midst of such trials?

It may not have been a nice way to treat Sam, but I did enjoy her tenacity in seeking wholeness. She – and we – keep asking those deep heartfelt questions and seek answers no matter our sufferings. We may even ask more loudly and fight harder for truth in the midst of them.

Lizzy and Jane, my second novel, came to me as I read another Lewis favorite: The Four Loves. In this non-fiction work, Lewis outlines and examines the four loves in our lives and the order in which we could/should regard them. Affection. Sibling love. Romantic love. God love. This examination prompted me to ask what could or would happen to a woman if I took all four loves away. What would force her to recognize their loss and seek them again? Although I consider Lizzy & Jane my “sister story,” Lizzy’s journey is one answer to this question.

As an aside, if you get a chance to listen to The Four Loves’ audio recording, please do. It is one of the only remaining recordings of C.S. Lewis reading his own work, and his voice, intonation and occasional jokes will make you smile.

The Bronte Plot is my most obvious homage to Lewis. His The Great Divorce is a wonderful dream and a fascinating journey. While asleep, Lewis travels to heaven where he witnesses souls journeying “upward and onward.” Decisions must be made and burdens relinquished. Wrapped within fantasy, he introduces us to the idea of free will, choice and consequence – strings pulling at our hearts and the nature of surrender. This was a touch point for me when I wrestled with Lucy and Helen’s choices in The Bronte Plot and planned their journey both internally and throughout England.

My next book, A Portrait of Emily Price, will release in November and it too began with Lewis. I had a bit more fun in this story as I examined Lewis’s Surprised by Joy and Till We Have Faces. Emily Price is a look at one young woman’s search for surrender and joy amidst some beautiful Italian scenery, delicious food, great art and a very handsome husband.

I could go on and on… There’s so much Lewis to explore. There’s Narnia (Lewis liked Reepicheep and Puddleglum best. I favor Edmund and Eustace.), there’s his science fiction (Out of the Silent Planet etc.), there are essays, there are letters… And there are countless biographies and collections that bring Lewis’s humanity and brilliance to us. Currently, I’m thoroughly enjoying C.S. Lewis: Man of Letters by Thomas Howard. Howard is addressing each of Lewis’s fictional works and his analysis overflows with the joy he finds within Lewis.

And there is the crux of it… The reason I love Lewis. Joy! He sought joy, expressed joy, and he reveled in joy. Absolutely everything Lewis wrote points to it. I read Lewis because he not only provides a wonderful story, but because I agree with his motivations to write and enjoy such stories. He would assert that Joy exists, “story” always comes first and a “deeper magic,” a deeper story, propels the best fiction.

Thank you so much for inviting me here and letting me indulge in one of my favorite subjects. If anyone wants to comment, I’m sure Jamie would love to chat and, if she doesn’t mind, I’ll chime in as well.

Have a joyful and joy-filled day!

KBR