Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CGP Grey Lord of the Rings Videos

Thought you might enjoy these videos--very concise and informative.

Cheers, everyone!!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Finding a Writing "Voice"

Every good author has a memorable and influential voice.

A good example of an author with a strong voice is Mark Twain, who, while not one of my favorite authors, has a very distinctive voice in his writing that not only is very memorable, but also contributes a lot to his characters.

Now it's one thing to read a great book with a unique and poetic voice, but it's another thing entirely to write with good voice.

Image result for mark twain

I've written short stories before, and my fiction writing style in the past has been very "telling, not showing" which is honestly the opposite of what it's supposed to be, and my nonfiction writing style (i.e. all my blog posts) are kind of wordy and rambly.

When writing a novel, it's very important to establish a strong and consistent voice early on.  I'm trying to do that within my own story, but it is really a challenge.

Normally when I write a draft, I kind of ignore my voice until I am more familiar with what the character is going to be like and then I try and go back and change words to fit said character.  This hasn't really worked well for me in the past, because I look back at the mounds of draft I have written and get really discouraged--I hate editing.

Image result for writing voice gif
My previous strategy for writing was just to randomly type thoughts.
This time around, I have done months of pre-writing, and I feel comfortable with my character's personality.  I think that I will be able to convey what she's like in the story right off the bat and start writing with voice that I want in the story.

Which brings me to my next problem.

I really, really, really, (and I mean really, really, really) adore Jane Austen's writing in Pride and Prejudice.  Everything is simultaneously witty and clever but poetic and heartfelt at the same time.  And her vocabulary--it's dreamlike.  So I really want to kind of try my hand at writing like her.

Image result for jane austen setting unrealistic expectations
Not only unrealistic expectations about romance, but writing ability also.


There's a reason Jane Austen is renowned as such a great writer--it's not easy to write like her!

I think I've kind of achieved what I want for the first part of my novel so far, but it's getting harder to maintain such a fancy voice and one I don't naturally come up with.

People have told me to write like I would speak, or to do what's natural to me, but I honestly don't enjoy reading books that sound just like I do regularly, and I don't like writing them that way either.

How do you find your writing voice?  Do you have one??

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Unrealistic Goals

Mae Govannen!

How's life going, friends?  I feel like I've been so busy with so many things I haven't had a chance to slow down and check in!

So the book marathon is over, and I'm nicely settled into an old textbook about Classical Mythology.  Gee whiz, I never realized how crazy Greek mythology is!  Everything is really interlinked and complex, not to mention the fact that some of the stories are really raunchy.  I seriously think the Greek gods are the most irresponsible literary characters ever.

Plus it's awkward to read in school because there are a ton of photos of ancient statues, most of which are completely naked, and I don't want someone to glance over my shoulder and just see that without context.

Image result for awkward meme

The tennis season is wrapping up this week, and just today I played in a tournament (first singles).  I won the first match and preformed well in the second.  I was really disappointed in the second match because even though I got a really early lead, my opponent was able to catch up and turn the tide.  Tennis is hard because the scores are very nonrepresentational of the actual match.  You and your opponent can have every game score at 40-40 and you can still lose 0-8.  Even if you are evenly matched, the scores don't always represent it.

My brother is on the board of a crisis pregnancy center where people who don't have access to support throughout a pregnancy can go to get medical help and emotional support.  Yesterday they held a fundraising gala which was all fancy and posh

My goodness, I thought it might be fun to get all dressed up, but it is honestly very hard to be a "lady".  I am no Natasha Rostov!

The gown I wore had this really tightly boned corset which restricted not only my breathing but my ability to eat, sit, stand, move my arms, function, move, and basically exist.  I'm surprised it didn't just pinch me out of existence.

Image result for corset pirates of the caribbean gif
Image result for corset pirates of the caribbean gif

The food was great, and I always save the best part of a meal for last, but every time I would go out of the dining room to take a "respite" from the corset, the waiter would come and clear the dishes with my food still on it. 

Image result for princess crying
All in all the gala was pretty fun and it included a silent auction and a live auction.  I've never been to a live auction before, and it was pretty intense!  They had people who were kind of trying to persuade people to bid which was kind of awkward but it was all very thrilling and I liked the excitement.

My grandma was there too, and she was really eager to bid, and my grandpa had to literally restrain her hand so she wouldn't keep bidding up.  It was so funny!

I shared a sneak peak of the novel I'm working on in a previous post, and I'm still frantically trying to find time to write.  It's seriously frustrating to try and do something like that, especially when it's just "part-time" (I refuse to call it a hobby--I mean business when I write!).

Image result for let's get down to business

The same thing happens to me with goals like getting better at tennis, piano, and violin.  On the one hand, I really want to be good at those skills, but on the other hand, I already spend a lot of time on them and I feel bad doing things like that for my personal betterment all day and not helping other people out as much.  It's tricky to find that balance, you know?


This problem has increased as high school started.  I am a very competitive person, and in junior high and elementary school I was usually one of the best at what I set my mind to--first chair violin, best science state test score, school vocabulary champion, etc.  But now that I'm in high school, there are so many people with such specialized talents that it makes me feel inferior.  

People on varsity tennis take private lessons year round, the violinists in the orchestra have been playing since they were six, kids in my grade are three years ahead in math, etc.  I once thought I was above average, but maybe I'm more average than I thought.  The bottom line is that I don't have the time or money to put into hobbies and talents like other kids--I can't rent indoor tennis courts in the winter, I can't afford private violin lessons, etc.  

Image result for inferior


Even if I do find time to write though, I don't always have the creative juices flowing.  Usually I reach my peak creativeness in the afternoon, particularly cloudy days, with candles, and tea.  And piano music.  Which sometimes makes me feel bad for not practicing piano.  Hmm.

Even when the time is right and the creativity is high, I can't write very quickly.  I prefer to formulate my sentences very methodically rather than "word vomiting" and just revising later.  I used to do that, but then I would get discouraged when I reread because it would sound so horrible.  Now I like to perfect a paragraph for half an hour and then move on.  Clearly this is a long and arduous process, but I feel a lot better about the little I have written.  Quality over quantity!

Image result for word vomit

I'm trying to just focus on getting words on paper, which leads me to my first unrealistic goal:

#1: Finish a Rough Draft by the End of the Year

I don't want my book to be super long.  I'm thinking somewhere between the length of the Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice, you know, the length of a book you could study in English class and actually have time to finish and examine thoroughly.  

I'm concerned this goal is unattainable due to my ridiculous writing habits I mentioned earlier.

#2: Finish Learning Dawn and The River Flows in You on Piano

My goodness gracious, piano is hard.  I've been told I have a musically oriented mind, but for the love of Pete I cannot sight read piano music.  Two hands at once?  Yeesh.

One good thing about piano though is that you don't really have to worry about intonation like you do on a string instrument.  

Here are the songs I've been working on for somewhere around two months:

#3: Learn Piano Man

This is the most ridiculous goal of them all, in my opinion.  There is no actual way I can learn this song at my level right now, but I really just love the song and I want to be able to play it.  I wouldn't call this a goal, I suppose, it's more of wishful thinking.

Oh, and where has all the time for studying Latin gone?  Is all that work I put into it just pointless?  Did I just waste two hours for every Tuesday and Thursday of last spring?  I feel like I barely retained anything because learning a language alone is so difficult.

Sorry, I just realized this is a really whiny post.  I don't mean to complain, I'm just feeling slightly pressured due to not having much time on a day to day basis to improve my skills and also help out around the house.  

Image result for theres never anyt ime gif jessie
I think I need a cup of soothing tea (I bid on a silent auction item--a silver tea set--at the gala which I won) and a nap.  

How's life going on your part? 

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Palantir Podcast

Rohan vs. Gondor

My friends Ben and Kolby joined me on this episode of the Palantir Podcast to offer their opinion on who would win in a fight: Rohan, or Gondor.

I know I didn't make a podcast last month, so to make up for it, I have an extra special long one for you this time around.

I had a lot of fun doing this podcast, and I hope you enjoy it!  

Remember to comment below and let us know which realm you think would win in a fight.

We reference a map of Middle-earth quite often throughout the podcast, so here's one for you to use:
Image result for map of middle earth

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Hobbit Day!

Today is of course Bilbo and Frodo's birthdays, and it's official Hobbit Day around the world!

This morning my mom made me a yummy "first breakfast" before she went to work which was perfect for a Thursday morning.

I brought Lembas for all my friends at school and it was a fantastic time.

Now I have to go--Dad's been working on the computer so I have to use the iPad to type (which I strongly dislike, hence the short post).  Tomorrow I have a fabulous episode of the Palantir podcast for you all, so make certain to check back!!

Oh, and a sneak peak of my new novel, the Last Generation.

     I find that men who are most convinced of their prevailing intellect are often the most nonnescient of us all.  Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “All we can know is that we know nothing.  And that is the summit of human wisdom.”
     Of all the great fools throughout mankind’s adventure who have lived both on Earth and above it, I am positively and inextricably convinced I am the worst.  I am not particularly or specially stupid, or at base I hope I am not, but one fact I am undeniably, positively, and certainly convinced of, is that I am brilliantly and indefatigably a fool; for to be a fool is to be fooled, and I have been fooled my entire life.

Copyright Me

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Marathon Day XIX and XX


Guess what?  Guess what??

I finished!

This is the second consecutive book marathon I've completed, and I'm pretty excited.

I am sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I had to read all of The Return of the King between today and yesterday.  I had a lot of downtime luckily between my tennis match yesterday which gave me lots of time to read.  

I dearly hope you've had a productive book marathon, even if you didn't finish.  What really matters is enjoying the books and being inspired to read them.

Tomorrow is a very special day--can you guess what it is?  I'all give you a hint: I made a special batch of lembas just for the occasion.  Check back what was happening on the blog this time last year if you're stuck!  Can you guess?

Congratulations Ellen Gianni for answering the last trivia question perfectly.  Hats off to you, Elf-friend.  Also, I want to thank everyone for the outstanding participation the other day--it really made my day to see all your thoughtful and enthusiastic comments.

I've had a fantastic time marathoning with all of you--it's certainly been a journey.  And now, as Sam says, "Well, I'm back."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Marathon Day XVIII

Minas Tirith

Well I pulled another long-haul and got through The Two Towers.  At this point, I need to read about 160 pages for the next three days to finish the marathon.  It's not a ton, but it is a challenge.  Perfect!

As I was reading, I got to thinking about the Dead Marshes.  I found it pretty hard to explain exactly what they were to my mom when we first watched the movies, and still it is one of the more perplexing landscapes in The Two Towers.  

Image result for dead marshes

This time around, it kind of reminded me of the Mirror of Galadriel.  While the Marshes are a glimpse into the past, the Mirror is a glimpse of (at least in the case of the Hobbits) the future.  The Marshes draw Frodo dangerously in and seem to try and trap him in a watery grave, while the Mirror offers both perilous information and hope for Frodo.   I don't know how far the similarities stretch, but for some reason I was drawn to compare them whilst reading.

One of my favorite parts of The Two Towers is the very end when Sam debates whether or not he needs to carry on Frodo's mission and destroy the Ring, or if his ultimate duty is to stay by Frodo's side.  Sam is just such a sweet character.  He grabs Frodo's hand and just weeps over it, begging his friend not to "go where I can't follow".  Awww, Sam!  (Kolby, if you're reading this, that's a big reason why Sam is my favorite member of the fellowship).

Image result for don't go where i can follow

Another favorite quote is a little lecture Faramir gives in Ithilien:
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
And I was particularly struck by the description given by Faramir of finding Boromir dead.  It's such a sweet moment:
"Then the boat turned towards me, and stayed its pace, and floated slowly by within my hand's reach, yet I durst not handle it. It waded deep, as if it were heavily burdened, and it seemed to me as it passed under my gaze that it was almost filled with clear water, from which came the light; and lapped in the water a warrior lay asleep. 
A broken sword was on his knee. I saw many wounds on him. it was Boromir, my brother, dead. I knew his gear, his sword, his beloved face. One thing only I missed: his horn. One thing only I knew not: a fair belt, as it were of linked golden leaves, about his waist.

Boromir! I cried. Where is thy horn? Whither goest thou? O Boromir! But he was gone. The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream, for there was no waking."

Image result for faramir finds boromir dead


Chaeli Borchers won the last trivia question!  Congratulations!

The winner of this trivia question gets the title: Elf-friend.

What is the last sentence of The Two Towers?

Bonne chance!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Book Marathon Day XVII

The Taming of Smeagol

As I predicted, the pasta party for the tennis team took up a lot of my day, what with the cooking and cleaning.  The bottom line is that I only got a couple chapters in and I need to catch up desperately since there are only three days left of the book marathon and I am not even done with the Two Towers.

I am getting a bit more nervous as to the outcome of the marathon...

Are you doing okay in the marathon?  Just keep your eye on the prize everyone.  If Frodo can carry a Ring all the way into Mordor, by golly we can finish this marathon!

For Frodo!!

Trivia questions and answers will be dealt with at sometime in the future...for now, I need to catch up on sleep.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Marathon Day XVI

I didn't get much reading done today, but I have done a few things for upcoming blog posts which I am keeping a surprise for now.

Tomorrow I am hosting a pasta party for the tennis team, and between all the cooking and cleaning necessary, I wonder how much reading I will get done.  Only time will tell!

Trivia questions and answers will be revealed tomorrow!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Marathon Day XV

The Road to Isengard

Well I've made a terrible miscalculation.  I though I was supposed to read 75 pages each day to meet my goal and finish by the 22nd, but after checking my math today, I realized that I need to read closer to 130 pages for the remaining five days of the book marathon.  

Challenge accepted.

Image result for i can do it

The most touching part of what I read today was hands-down the song of mourning for poor Boromir.  The whole episode is just so touching...
Aragorn sang: 
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
‘What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?
‘I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey,
I saw him walk in empty lands until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North, I saw him then no more.
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor,
‘O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.’  
Then Legolas sang:  
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones,
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
‘What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.
‘Ask not of me where he doth dwell – so many bones there lie,
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky,
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!’
‘O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward roads runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth’.  
Then Aragorn sang again:  
From the Gate of the Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls,
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
‘What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
What news of Boromir the bold? For he is long away.’
‘Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought,
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest,
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.
‘O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze,
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.
Image result for boromir death drawing

I just love Boromir.  He seems so rude at the Council of Elrond, but think about his life behind the scenes trying to please his faltering father, do what's best for his kingdom, and all the while battling the temptation to do what he thinks is right without listening to Elrond or Gandalf.

His parting words with Aragorn make me melt every time.

As I was reading, I thought to myself, if I could say one thing to Frodo and company at this desperate parting on Amon Hen when Boromir dies and the fellowship is split, but I wasn't allowed to reveal that there would be a happy ending or anything like that, if I could only say one phrase, what would I say to them?

I decided I would say:

Non Desistas.

Non Exieris

Never give up.  Never surrender.

What would you say?

Image result for frodo crying drawing


Good job, Benita J. Prins for answering yesterday's trivia question right.  She wins the title "A Lord of Wisdom" after Gandalf's title in The Fellowship.

Today's question is:

What is the name of the Ent who takes care of Merry and Pippin while Treebeard is meeting with the other Ents?  (Hint, this Ent had already made his decision at the Entmoot before the others and that's why he was free to watch over Merry and Pippin).

First to answer this question has "a sacred head" as Gimli says to Gandalf when Gandalf returns.

Image result for gandalf the white gif

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Marathon Day XIV

Life Update

Bonjour!  Comment ça va?

I have (surprisingly) been doing things other than reading and blogging.

School started--high school, to be exact.  Let me say that all those people who told me high school was better than middle school were exactly right.  Almost everything about high school is better than middle school was.  Of course I miss a few teachers and classmates, but on the whole I would say that I have more new friends at my high school within the first two weeks than I gathered in two years of middle school.  That just goes to show how nice everyone at my high school is!

Image result for high school

I went to my first pep fest which was really exciting--everyone was like a big family.  As a freshman I feel a bit left out of all the school traditions but I'm sure I will learn about them soon enough.  Most upperclassmen are pretty accepting--though some aren't.  For example, during the pep fest we do a game where the football players try and hype us up for their game by yelling:

Freshmen, freshmen, don't be shy! 
Let us hear your battle cry!

And then we do the school cheer, then they call to the sophomores, etc.  The first time we as a freshmen class did the battle cry some of the seniors boo-ed us but then some other seniors drowned them out by yelling "we love freshmen!" and doing the freshmen chant.  It was all pretty exciting.

The other thing is that I feel so much more free in high school.  In seventh grade my district was arranged with a junior high (grades 7-9) and a senior high (grades 10-12) but in the middle of 7th grade they voted to switch to a middle school (grades 6-8) and a high school (grades 9-12).  I went to one year of junior high (7th grade) and then they switched to a middle school format (8th grade).  I went from the youngest class in the school to the oldest.  In junior high things were moderately free, but when we switched to middle school it felt like taking a giant step backwards.  The way middle school is structured makes everything seem so elementary.  But now I am free of the middle school set up and life is good.

Vita bona est.

Tennis is closing up this next week--the last match is Tuesday.  I'm hosting the team pasta party at my house on Sunday which should be really fun and I'm pretty excited.  Tennis has been great for making friends and just yesterday the team spirit wear came in from shipping so now well all have matching shirts which is pretty cool.

Image result for tennis success

Orchestra has been cool--a lot of my old friends are in orchestra since there is only one hour of 9th grade orchestra--but I've also made some new friends in orchestra (including the LOTR friends I mentioned yesterday).  The great thing about orchestra is that you are all together virtually every day for all four years of school and some close relationships can be formed.

Today I was supposed to film a "playing test" where you basically record yourself playing a couple measures of a song and send it in to the director so he can see how you are playing and decide where to seat you in the orchestra.  I forgot my violin at the school today however and so I was panicking because I was going to turn in my first orchestra assignment late (since I couldn't record without my violin).  What a bad first impression to make to the director!  Fortunately I was able to borrow a friend's violin this evening and go over and record my piece.  When I drove over there (I'm not kidding, this is totally true) it was pouring rain and lightening.  When I drove back, there was a double-rainbow and a sunset at the same time.

I think one of my new LOTR friends is going to be a guest on the Palantir podcast soon, so keep checking back for that.

Book Marathon

I finished the Fellowship today!

I noticed/remembered a couple things.

This is from a few days ago, but have you ever noticed how the dialogue in the first chapter is in italics instead of quotation marks?  Why is this?  Bilbo's speech, for instance, is all in italics while the rest of the dialogue throughout the book is in italics.  I couldn't find a grammatical reason for this, and I find it very odd.  Is this to make it look like Bilbo is speaking poetically?  Or perhaps the Hobbits as they wrote his words after the events of the War of the Ring were quite sure what he said and felt confident enough to preserve it in italics while the rest of the quotations are just approximations?  What do you think?

Image result for bilbo speech

Secondly, I want to share a quote from Haldir that is so wonderfully perfect:
"'Folly it may seem,' said Haldir.  'Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.  Yet so little faith and trust do we find now in the world beyond Lothlorien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land.  We live now upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp.'" (pg. 363)
Haldir makes a fantastic point here.  What good reason is there for going to war?  Saving your people?  Okay, as Faramir remarks later on, defending yourself against an evil being who "seeks to devour all" is fine, but the petty requirements and prejudices the Dwarves and Elves have are only dividing the alliance further.  I just love this quote.

Also, I noticed a typological parallel between Galadriel and Melian:
"'I say to you, Frodo, that even as I speak to you, I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves.  And he gropes ever to see me and my thought.  But still the door is closed!'" (pg. 280)  
Galadriel learned from Melian in Doriath during the First Age, and I remember in The Silmarillion it says, "To her [Melian] often the thought of Morgoth reached out, and there was foiled."  The two powerful women seem to be playing similar roles here.

Image result for melian and galadriel


I'm happy to announce that Chaeli Borchers has once again won the title "A Merry Fellow" from the previous trivia question, since she answered it correctly first.

Fawnabelle Baggins also answered correctly afterwards, so she gets the honorary title "Not Dark but Beautiful".

Congratulations to you both!

The winner of today's trivia question wins the name: "A Lord of Wisdom" which is a title given to Gandalf in the mourning song sung in Lothlorien (if you haven't noticed, each of the titles are taken from somewhere in the books).

The question:

What are the wooden flets in Lothlorien called by the Elves?

Image result for lothlorien

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Book Marathon Day XIII

The Council of Elrond

Guess what?  Guess!

I made two (TWO!) friends who are LOTR-fans!  And not just LOTR, but Silmarillion fans!  You know, the type that are learning to speak Quenya and all that.  I've never had a friend in person who is a fan and now I have two!  So much excitement!!

I can't chat long, I just wanted to keep you up to date.  Tomorrow I will hopefully have more time to blog and since the tennis season is ending in a few weeks I will have much more time to blog.

Also trivia questions and winners will be announced tomorrow.

À demain!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Marathon Day XI and XII

Flight to the Ford

Forgive me for not posting yesterday--I was surprisingly chosen to play in a tennis match I was not planning on participating in (which was terribly unnerving and completely threw me off my game; the match went horribly bad).  Because of that, I spent a total of 13 hours of my day at school which meant I desperately needed to get my homework done quickly and get to bed.

Image result for tennis match frustration
When you just don't know why your ground strokes are all just a little bit shy of the baseline...

Also, I didn't have much time to read because of the change of plans.  I've only advanced a couple chapters.

Oh before I forget--I changed my profile picture.  That's me and my sister Molly (I'm the one in the orange sun-glasses).  This photo was taken a couple years ago (and my hair is all wet and not really the same color) so I look a bit different, for the record.  I just wanted to let you know that because it sometimes bothers me when there are two people in a profile picture and I don't know which one is the actual person.  

I have to say, Strider is so mysterious in these early stages and I can't help but think that the reason for this is because Tolkien himself stated he had not planned Strider's character and was basically flying by the seat of his pants after Bree.  I think it's so impressive Tolkien was able to just keep on writing and make everything fit in at the end without much pre-planning.

Image result for around here he's known as strider

Well, I'm off to go do more geometry (yay for intersecting parallelograms ;), but first, let me congratulate Chaeli Borchers for earning the title "A Merry Fellow" for answering yesterday's trivia question correctly.  

Today's challenge is:

Name three of Strider's other names.

First person to answer correctly wins the title "a stout fellow" for a day.  Good luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Book Marathon Day X

Fog on the Barrow Downs

I am officially caught up since I'm about 150 pages into The Fellowship of the Ring.  I got a blanket, set up reading-HQ outside on the deck with my Legolas cup full of iced tea, and just charged through the story.  It was such a beautiful day outside--it was pretty windy, but the sun is still strong in the sky and since it's getting to be fall it's at the stage where it's not the bright white summer beam, but is more like a soft orange glow.  Autumn is my favorite season and I am so excited that it's fast approaching!

A photo I took of the pathway to the archery range from a few years ago--it's so beautiful when the leaves turn colors!

Anyway, I noticed a couple things this time through.  First of all, the almost comical attention paid to the "Authorities" of the Riddles Game in the Prologue.  There is close to a formal statement about why Bilbo didn't cheat in the Riddles Game he played with Gollum in The Hobbit.  I find it hilarious that Hobbits pay so much attention to such a little game and debate over rules violations.

Furthermore, I came to the realization that the Sackville-Bagginses are pretty similar to the Thenardiers from Les Mis (probably because I was humming Master of the House while reading A Long Expected Party).  But think about it:
  • they are both very greedy
  • they both use sneaky tactics to swipe money/goods from people
  • they take advantage of other people
  • they are very rude and snobby
Just read this quote about Lobelia Sackville-Baggins:
"A little later Frodo came out of the study to see how things were going on and found her [Lobelia] still about the place, investigating nooks and corners and tapping the floors.  He escorted her firmly off the premises, after he had relieved her of several small (but rather valuable) articles that had somehow fallen inside her umbrella."
Image result for thenardiers stealing gif

They just remind me of the greedy Thenardiers and I found the comparison sort of funny.

Another thing I just adore about the first chapter of The Fellowship is the description of the gifts Bilbo gave to his relations.  He has two intentions for each gift and his kind rebukes are so hilarious:
"For ADELARD TOOK, for his VERY OWN, from Bilbo; on an umbrella. Adelard had carried off many unlabelled ones. 
For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large waste-paper basket. Dora was Drogo's sister and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century. 
For MILO BURROWS, hoping it will be useful, from B.B.; on a gold pen and ink-bottle. Milo never answered letters. 
For ANGELICA'S use, from Uncle Bilbo; on a round convex mirror. She was a young Baggins, and too obviously considered her face shapely. 
For the collection of HUGO BRACEGIRDLE, from a contributor; on an (empty) book-case. Hugo was a great borrower of books, and worse than usual at returning them. 
For LOBELIA SACKVILLE-BAGGINS, as a PRESENT; on a case of silver spoons. Bilbo believed that she had acquired a good many of his spoons, while he was away on his former journey. Lobelia knew that quite well. When she arrived later in the day, she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons."
Image result for lobelia sackville-baggins spoond
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
I personally find the whole sub-plot about the Hobbits and the tiresome relations with family quite funny because I relate a little bit to family feuds, but the inclusion of this idea in The Fellowship raises a question.  Was Tolkien applying a little bit of his life experience to the book?

Of course writers can write about things they never experienced.  But this sub-plot is clearly meant to be comedy, so we can assume that Tolkien himself thought it was funny, right?  And how did Tolkien find this funny unless he related a little bit to it?  

Now this is purely speculation and I hope Tolkien isn't mad at me for trying to apply biographical information about his life to his story (though he very well may be...sorry!!) but I was just thinking about it a little bit.

I know when Tolkien was young he had a bitter relationship with his mother's extended family who basically cut ties with him when he, Hilary, and Mabel converted to Catholicism (his mother's side was Protestant and at that time there was a very big divide between the two groups).  

But then again, maybe Tolkien just knew about how funny family feuds can be just like how I know people think sky-diving is fun even though I've never done it.  He may or may not have written this based on personal experience, and I suppose it doesn't really matter.  It's funny either way!

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The final thing I would like to point out, is how happy I am to get a lot more dialogue in this book.  The Silmarillion and The Hobbit don't have as much dialogue as The Lord of the Rings, and I think that hearing the characters actually speak gives a lot more character to the story.  

Congratulations to Chaeli Borchers for answering yesterday's trivia question!  She wins the title "Honest Burglar".

Today's trivia question winner gets to be called "A Merry Fellow".  The challenge is:

Can you name one of the subtitles from the Prologue to the Fellowship?

Good luck! 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Marathon IX

A Long Expected Party

Guess who didn't read at all today?  Yes, it's me...

I thought to myself: Mom's going to Grandma and Grandpa's, and Dad is playing golf with his siblings, so I will have the whole house to myself--nice and quiet for lots of reading.  That was this morning.

What actually happened was I took advantage of the fact my house was empty by blasting Les Mis and doing a power cleaning-session.  To be fair, though I don't have any reading done, I do have a clean house now.

The weather is also incredible right now, so I got into the fall spirit and made a few centerpieces and decorations which took up a lot of my time.

Needed a place to put onions,
garlic, and a gourd.  Thus was
this little hangy display born.
Someone in the neighborhood randomly
placed this iron stand near our door,
so I made some little candles 

A bowl of apples, an old Christmas wreath, and some
popcorn seeds created this little centerpiece.

And now, here I am, with no pages read.

Tomorrow looks like it's going to be a lot of reading which is fine by me.  I would read tonight but I already promised Mom I would watch Les Mis with her (I was originally planning on watching with friends--who asked if they could come over and watch this morning--but then they said they had other plans which is kind of lame; why even ask me if you already have plans?? This is made even worse by the fact that I already bought a lot of snacks and stuff for them.  But now Mom and I get to eat ice cream and pizza mwhahaha!!)

Who needs friends when you have your mom? XD

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I hope your book marathon is going super well!  

Congratulations to Meredith, Child of the Kindly West, for answering yesterday's trivia question most correctly.  The exact last line of The Hobbit is:

"'Thank goodness!' said Bilbo laughing, and handed him [Gandalf] the tobacco-jar."

Today's trivia question is:

How many pages are in The Hobbit (state your answer and the edition you are guessing about)?

The winner earns the title "Honest Burglar" for one day.  Comment your answer below :)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Marathon Day VIII

A Long Expected Party

I finished The Hobbit!  I am now officially 2/5 of the way through the book marathon and right on track.  There are thirteen days left which means I have about seventy-five pages, give or take a couple, to read each day.  

The end of The Hobbit was just as adorable and comfortable as I remember it, and going back to Bag End with Bilbo felt like I was returning home with him.   I guess you could say that Bilbo is not the only person who changes throughout the course of The Hobbit!  Every time I read the book I recognize something I didn't see before and there are so many layers of meaning to unpack each time.

Image result for bilbo auction gif
Whoa, I just realized this is a chapter of The Hobbit; Not at Home.
Do you think the film makers put this in on purpose like they did with other
chapter titles (A Shortcut to Mushrooms, Riddles in the Dark, etc.)?

I'm really looking forward to starting The Fellowship of the Ring tomorrow because I really love the chapter The Shadow of the Past.  It seems so mysterious and enthralling and is one of my favorites.  I'm not particularly excited for the Tom Bombadil chapters since Tom is not one of my favorite characters, but I am hoping to look for more clues as to Tom's identity as I go through.

Where are you in the marathon?  Don't worry if you're falling behind a little bit--the weekend is coming up and remember I'm always here to offer tips.

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Congratulations to Benita who won the trivia question again (sort of by default--come on guys, take a stab at it this time please!).  Today's trivia question is:

What is the last sentence of The Hobbit

The winner gets the title "Child of the Kindly West" for one day.  Good luck!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Marathon Day VII

Inside Information

I completed my reading on the bus ride to school and during foundations, which is sort of like homeroom.  The predominating memory I have from today's book marathon is of the chapter Flies and Spiders which is quite long and very intense.  It marks another turning point of Bilbo's change into an independent and capable individual.

Image result for bilbo fights spiders

One thing I learned from the Tolkien Professor, Corey Olsen in his book Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and that I have noticed throughout this read-through, is Tolkien's ability to share dark story lines but keep the tone uplifting and kid friendly.  When Bilbo is surrounded by giant Hobbit/Dwarf eating spiders (quite scary!) he sings a silly song:
Old fat spider spinning in a tree!Old fat spider can’t see me!Attercop! Attercop!Won't you stop,Stop your spinning and look for me!

Old Tomnoddy, all big body,Old Tomnoddy can’t spy me!Attercop! Attercop!Down you drop!You'll never catch me up your tree!

Lazy Lob and crazy Cobare weaving webs to wind me.I am far more sweet than other meat,but still they cannot find me!

Here am I, naughty little fly;you are fat and lazy.You cannot trap me, though you try,in your cobwebs crazy.

This use of a funny song definitely softens the gravity of the situation and is downright entertaining.

Congratulations to Benita J. Prin who answered yesterday's trivia question.  She is to be referred to as "O Benita the Tremendous" today ;)

Today's trivia question is (remember, try not to cheat by looking in your book):

Name two of the titles Bilbo bestows upon himself in the chapter Inside Information when he is telling Smaug who he is (ex. "I am the clue-finder...").

The winner is to be honorary King Under the Mountain for a day.  Bonne chance!

Image result for smaug meme

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Marathon VI

So...about yesterday...

It was my first day of high school, so can you blame me for neglecting the book marathon (don't answer that)?

For those of you wondering, the first day was great: my teachers all seem really cool and I think I'll be able to manage my classes.  The only bad things that happened were that a pin either fell or was stolen off of my backpack (it was that snazzy Legend of Zelda: Windwaker one I posted a picture of) and also I only had about three seconds from the time I got my lunch to the time lunch was over.  I was hungry.

Anyway I am finally caught up on the book marathon since I had a lot of time to read this afternoon in between tennis matches.  It felt good to be reacquainted with the whimsy of Bilbo Baggins' Middle-earth and I particularly enjoyed the Elves' song in Rivendell:

O!  What are you doing,
And where are you going?
Your ponies need shoeing!
The river is flowing!
O! tra-la-la-lally
here down in the valley!

O!  What are you seeking,
And where are you making?
The faggots are reeking,
The bannocks are baking!
O! tril-lil-lil-lolly
the valley is jolly,
ha! ha!

O!  Where are you going
With beards all a-wagging?
No knowing, no knowing
What brings Mister Baggins
And Balin and Dwalin
down into the valley
in June
ha! ha!

O! Will you be staying
Or will you be flying?
Your ponies are straying!
The daylight is dying!
To fly would be folly,
To stay would be jolly
And listen and hark
Till the end of the dark
to our tune
ha! ha!

This is such an odd song to be singing, especially in light of the solemn and somber presentation of Elves we get in The Sil and The Lord of the Rings.  I for one think it is a demonstration of the childlike quality that makes the Hobbit different from Tolkien's other works.

And now, a trivia question for all you book marathoners (and even if you aren't participating).  Try to answer this question without looking in your book for an answer:

How many total riddles to Bilbo and Gollum ask each other (combined)?

Who ever gets the correct answer first earns the title "O ___________ the Tremendous"!

How is your book marathon going?  Are you on track?