Laughter and books make life a little easier

Posts tagged “J.R.R. Tolkien


Quote Saturday: Materialism leads to grief



Quote Saturday: Darkness fell

Darkness fell

Books read in January


Two long overdue reads, as well as reading plans for 2015.



Quote Saturday: Do what you can. Build a better world.

Do what is in your power

Books read in October


A return to old-fashioned fantasy after the bleak reality of war, nightmares and dystopia of the last couple of months.


Beginnings are very important. So are endings, but the most important thing is to begin.

The title is something that I have come realise afresh over the past two weeks. If you want something to begin, then you should work on that. With no action from you, there will be no beginning.

On a related note, I know some of you wanted a report on what is going on with my creative writing and anxieties about sharing it with my class. So, here, have a report.

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate and writing (and procrastination). That is my life right now.

Indeed, I have turned into that person who takes photos of her drinks and then shares them with everyone. (more…)

Random and really long-winded rambling on The Hobbit movie [vlog]

I finally recorded my opinions on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but instead of writing, I recorded a vlog, because, trust me, you don’t want to read the amount that I would gush write on this topic and you probably don’t want to watch this long video either, but it is probably less torturous than the writing would be.

And yes, this totally counts as this month’s book review! I didn’t post one last month anyway, so I’m declaring that this movie review counts! 😉 I wanted to write a review on either A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin or American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but I’ll leave those for a later stage when I have a shortage of time to read new books to review!

So, here’s the video! It’s really, really long, but it’s the shortest I could cut it to. There were just so many things I wanted to talk about! The original video I recorded was 30 minutes long (8 minutes of which was really long pauses during which I wondered what I meant to say next), so I’m quite proud of getting it to under 16 minutes.


Day 30 – Your favourite book of all time


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

* This post contains some spoilers! And I’m not whiting them out again, or I’ll have to do it to whole paragraphs.
You have been warned! 😉 *

This post is way too long – my apologies! Also, sorry it is so late. I left it without queuing it up so I could post it manually (and savour its writing longer) and then obviously I only got to it now. You’ll have to get used to this again! 😛

Did all you guess yet what I am going to write about today? Yes? No? Wasn’t it that obvious? Did I gush about too many different things? Or did you always know where all of this was leading up to? Here we go… the last day of the challenge.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I am certain that this is my favourite book of all time… most of the time. Sometimes, then I start to wonder of this is really the book that I love most of all. However, this is never for long. I always return to Tolkien. It doesn’t take much. A quote… a picture… I’ve shown you before some of the Lord of the Rings graphics that I make. It’s one of my favourite things to do and it always gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Sometimes I just decorate quotes, but more often I focus on a single subject, character or scene. I’m working on a collection of graphics – one for each one of the Fellowship. I usually take different scenes from the movies and then merge then together for a single graphic, add texture and a quote or two. It’s probably not the best graphics, but I love making them. Then, sometimes the unexpected happens…

Recently I was going through screencaps of The Return of the King movie. I was looking for the scene where Merry and Pippin are separated because I wanted to make a graphic detailing that scene. I couldn’t find it because I wasn’t sure how far into the movie it was. I was jumping around; looking for any scenes close to it that could give me a clue. Finally, I got closer and started going page for page. Eventually, I was a bit annoyed because the characters didn’t want to stop talking and just get on the horse and I didn’t dare skip a page of screenies in case I missed it. Suddenly, it hit me: it was as if the full pain of Merry and Pippin’s separation just hit me full in the face. Watching it happen frame by frame brought the truth home to me. It was not an aspect of the book or movies that I had ever paid much attention to (well, in the book it’s hardly there), but I finally understood how painful this was for both of them, but especially to Pippin, who’ve always had Merry to look out for him and now he was suddenly a child, alone in a strange country. Suddenly I couldn’t even imagine losing my best friend whom I’ve been friends with since we were little kids, much like Merry and Pippin, and especially not like this: not knowing if you’d ever see them again and not even if they are alive or dead. I started to tear up – and this is not a scene where I’ve ever been sad before. At the Grey Havens scene yes (I just can’t stand Sam’s face without tearing up) and sometimes at the scene when the Black Gate opens, I get such an icy thrill. But I’ve never cried with Merry and Pippin before.

And that is what I love about Lord of the Rings. There is always a new discovery, a new truth brought home to me, a new connection spotted. I know I analyse lots of LotR in terms of Christian allegory and no-one else has to see it that way if they don’t want to, but to me, The Lord of the Rings is a story of endurance when all hope seems gone (but it never truly is), which is especially precious to someone like me who sometimes still struggles with the darkness inside me, and the receiving of grace when you don’t deserve it at all. There was redemption even for Gollum in the end and so we learned that the pity of Bilbo indeed ruled the fate of many.

Also… oh Frodo… he never deserved any of the horrible things that happened to him. Seriously, he lost everything: his home, most of his friends, his dreams, his health and the Shire that he loved so much. Eventually, in Mordor he also lost hope, but he still found a way of going on. Mostly, this way was Sam, of course. Frodo certainly wouldn’t have got far without Sam and that is probably why some people say that Sam is the real hero of LotR, not Frodo. I think they are both heroes. Both did incredible deeds bigger than them. It wasn’t one or the other, but together they pushed on to hope’s ending and heart’s breaking.

Then Frodo failed. He failed the Quest, he failed his duty and broke under the influence of the Eye. Yet, he still received grace. He was not too far gone, because you never are. You cannot be. He may have lost everything in Middle-earth, but he gained Valinor and that is truly something to look up to.

I’ve heard many people say that there are so many books these days with plots similar to Lord of the Rings. I totally agree with that. What I do not agree with is when people say that LotR may have been the first, or one of the first fantasies of its type, but there are now so many others resembling it that LotR is not interesting anymore and has no distinguishing features to make it better than the others. There I disagree. It has distinguishing features: how many other fantasies of its type have you read where the author eventually has the hero fail in his epic quest? How many others have you seen where the saviour (unintentional maybe) is Gollum, not Frodo? Not many, if any, would be my guess. Beyond  that, it is the sheer scale of Lord of the Rings that makes it the best, to me. Beyond this one stories, we also have an entire legendarium and more, for the great tales never end. Also, Tolkien was a master of the English language and he has a way of putting things and describing things that is so wonderful and unique…

Because of the epic size of this story, I also have to admit that I have read LotR cover to cover only once. It’s simply too big for regular rereads. It has 1,030 pages plus the appendices in my edition (The one pictured up there. It’s the 50th anniversary edition!). There are some chapters that I have read several times. I regularly pick it up and just read some part. I often catch myself just reading and reading when I was really only scanning for a quote to use in a graphic. On top of LotR, I of course also love The Hobbit and I am super excited for the upcoming movie. I also own The Children of Húrin, but I never quite seem to get to reading it. Anyway, I think I should probably read The Silmarillion first, before attempting that one. I’ve read parts of The Silmarillion before, but not all. It’s not an easy read for me because I always get confused with the names of all the Elves, because they sound so similar to me and then I have to page backwards and forwards to remember who’s who. However, I’ve read the part about the forging of the Silmarils and I’ve read about the Valar and the creation of Middle-earth. I’ve also read about the first murder and the Curse of Galadriel, but there is still much to go. I think this would be my next step into the Tolkien legendarium.


And with a complete change of topic I would declare that I love hobbits. Hobbits never fail to make me smile. I think if you just saw my graphics folder you would be able to deduce that already from the amount of graphics featuring hobbits that I make, compared to graphics featuring any of the other characters or races. It used to the be the Elves that I loved that much… and while I still love them and all the descriptions of their homes, lately I have come to realise the attraction of the hobbits’ simple lives… and the great deeds done by small hands to save Middle-earth.

And my OTP (one true pairing) also comes from LotR. I don’t know why it matters, because I don’t even write fanfiction. Not really, anyway. *cough* Definitely not romantic fanfiction, though! 😉


And here at last, dear friends, we come to the end of our journey through the 30 Day Book Challenge! *

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  • 35 posts (counting the introductory one),
  • About 40 books,
  • Some 26,000 words (that’s over half a NaNoWriMo-novel, eep!)

And hereby, by the power vested in me (because I hold the password to the blog), I declare this challenge over! Normal “Cartoons & Creative Writing” posting will resume in a few days!



*With apologies to Professor Tolkien for mangling his quote.

Day 19 – Favourite book turned into a movie


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

Ahaha! An easy one at last! I knew as soon as I saw the topic. My favourite book turned into a movie is Lord of the Rings. (x3!) I’d watch those movies constantly, only they are a bit long for that. 😛 I think that Peter Jackson and his team really did a great job on this story and they told it on-screen as close as it would have been possible to portray it. Obviously, they changed some things, but I really cannot say that any changes really detracts from the storyline. Like most fans, I’m disappointed that Tom Bombadil’s piece was cut, but really… when you start to think about it, his entire story would have been irrelevant and a waste of screen-time if you do not include the whole story of Valinor, the Eldar, the Maiar coming to Middle-earth… and so on and so on. Tom Bombadil is mostly interesting for speculation about who he really is, if he was the First and for the dream that Frodo had while in his house. He is a hugely entertaining character as well, of course, but without his backstory, he would simply have been reduced to a rather interesting and intelligent fool. I’m not angry that he was not included.

I did read the book before I saw the movies. I know I got the three DVDs for my 18th birthday, which was one of best presents ever. I read the book sometime before that. Actually, I don’t really know when I first read it, not only because I can’t remember, but because I read it across a period of months. So when I started and when I finished, that was quite far apart. I’m not one of those people who managed to stroll through it at age 12 and loved it ever since. I don’t think I’d have been able to read it at that young age. I was still reading Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl at that stage!

In my opinion, there are some of the pieces of the story that is better in the movies than in the book. The chief is example is, of course, the King of the Golden Hall piece. Théodred’s funeral and everything surrounding it was absolutely lovely in the film and it is of course missing in the book. Oh, it’s there, but not nearly in the emotional detail that the film gives to it. Always now, I feel as if the book is a bit lacking there, because of the piece that the movie added in there. I always feel that part was masterfully executed on the part of Bernard Hill.

Another improvement that the movies made was cutting Sam and Frodo’s hike through Mordor shorter. People tend to always comment that Tolkien’s style is too long-winded, but I have never minded that. The only time that I really felt that now he is getting too long-winded was after Cirith Ungol when the two hobbits were creeping across the plain and Tolkien started describing every rock and depression and blade of grass. Then I felt it was getting a bit much. The movie balanced that out much better, with lots of cuts to the other characters, so that the plains of Mordor don’t get so boring.

The three Lord of the Rings movies have made the story accessible to people who would never in their lives have read such a thick book. Both my parents never have and never will read the book. But they watch the movies with me. My mother loves Sam and she actually recognises him when I’m working on LotR graphics. I was quite surprised, because usually she doesn’t recognise these things. I’m not sure how much my father understands of the story, because he keeps asking me and switching the characters up, but he also know what a hobbit is and he refers to people he describes as hobbit-like. Anybody who looks vaguely hobbit-like gets referred to as a hobbit in our house, and everyone understands that, even though only one of us has read Lord of the Rings. That really is something that we have to thank the movies for.

The score to the movies is definitely another masterpiece. I think Howard Shore really outdid himself in that score. The full 10-hour version is something I play when I do assignments. It really helps and I can really imagine Middle-earth playing in my ears. It is very recognisable as well and I caught myself singing the main theme the other day. That is another thing that we have to thank the movies for.

All in all, I love The Lord of the Rings-film trilogy. It’s the whole combination of score, storyline and scenery rolled into one. It’s just wonderful. 😀

Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite romance book… oh dear… 😉


Day 17 – Favourite quote from your favourite book


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

*** I suppose this post has some slight spoilers about the ending of Lord of the Rings. ***

If you ask me what my favourite book is, I say “Lord of the Rings” without hesitation. And then I hesitate. Is it really? Really? Out of all those hundreds do I really have a favourite? Often I am not sure and I would rather make a list of favourite books than name a single favourite. But then, when I get to work on the graphics that I love to make so much and I follow the familiar pattern… taking several stills from the movies, layer masking, blurring, sharpening, colourizing, adding textures and finally a quote, usually from the book but sometimes from the movies… then I know from the warmth that I feel that this is my favourite story in the whole world.

There are so many wonderful quotes and moments in the 1,000 pages of The Lord of the Rings. This was one of the hardest choices that I yet had to make in this challenge, but I finally decided on a favourite from all of them. I love these Gandalf-quotes below. (I have no idea where I found this graphic, so I can’t credit it, sorry.)

And I also love this song by Sam which he sung when his life looked at its darkest:

However, my favourite quote is neither of these. It is

“They cannot conquer for ever!”, Frodo Baggins – “Journey to the Cross-roads”, Book IV, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Frodo says this during a brief respite when hope blooms until the darkness of Sauron returns. You can read the relevant passage here. To me, this quote encapsulates one of the themes of Lord of the Rings: staying strong against adversity. As the narrator will later state:

“Frodo raised his head, and then stood up. Despair had not left him, but the weakness had passed. He even smiled grimly, feeling now as clearly as a moment before he had felt the opposite, that what he had to do, he had to do, if he could, and that whether Faramir or Aragorn or Elrond or Galadriel or Gandalf or anyone else ever knew about it was beside the purpose.”

Spoiler alert: {Gandalf knew Frodo was doomed from the moment he accepted the burden of the ring. One way or another, he knew it would be a death sentence. Frodo himself later comes to this conclusion, but he also accepts it.} The task is too great and the risks too high. His success was highly unlikely. {Because Frodo ultimately does fail in his quest}, it only emphasises the courage with which he walked into Mordor. The hope for Frodo was very small, but ultimately, hope is always there. It may be gone for the moment, but evil cannot conquer for ever because the world moves in circles. Hope will ultimately return.

{One of the names given to Frodo by Gandalf wasn’t “Endurance beyond Hope” for nothing.}

Lord of the Rings is not about honour or glory or heroism, but about doing your small part, because even the smallest hobbit can change the world. Because Frodo accepted his fate with courage, he shows that there is true nobility and heroism in this too. This is existentialist fatalism at its very best, but Tolkien also undercuts it again by bringing in the theme of hope. There was always hope in The Lord of the Rings, even when circumstances appeared at their darkest. The environment is, of course, psychotropic and, in this case, hope is symbolised by light. In the quote, in the darkness a ray of sunlight fell through the clouds and it was that which led Frodo to exclaim that the evil in the world cannot conquer for ever. In this, Tolkien brings in a combination of fatalism and hope and I love it. I’m not too fond of fatalism in literature and neither am I too fond of works that preach that you should never lose hope. What if hope gets taken away from you? What if you can find no hope to hold on to? Tolkien answers these questions by saying that you will still find the will to find your way, because you have a duty to do, even if you cannot find the hope that is always there behind it all. I don’t really want to bring religion into this, but I firmly believe that you will always find the strength to go, hopeless or not, because that is the way that God outfits us: strong enough to face the future he plans for us.


This one’s mine:

This favourite quote shortly precedes what has to be my favourite chapter of Lord of the Rings: “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”. It’s a pity they cut this part out of the movie, but at least they included the message in other parts.


The great stories always go on.
History ever moves in cycles. Hope will always come again.
And never dismiss the Gollums of the world.


Tomorrow’s post is about a book that disappointed me.


Day 13 – Your favourite writer


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.


Oh dear, now I’m stuck again. So many choices I’m quite overwhelmed. I think Terry Pratchett (yes, I know, again) is probably my favourite living writer, but I read dead people too. So what should I add here as well? I absolutely love J.R.R. Tolkien’s style and all his works (as far as I’ve progressed so far). I adore Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries. And of course Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is not to be left out of this list either. So how can I weigh such a diverse bunch of authors up against each other, every one (perhaps excepting the last two) from a different genre and style? Personally, I think it would be very unfair to try to compare any of them, because they are just too different from each other to find any matching points for comparison.


Agatha Christie wasn’t called the Queen of Crime for nothing. There’s no one who can compete with her ability to twist a story on the last page and blindside every single reader. Who else would have thought of making the criminal pretend to be the victim and so attempt to escape suspicion? Who else could have created a character such as Hercule Poirot, who is just in a class of his own? (Actually, I’m a Miss Marple fan. :P)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… well, no else created Sherlock Holmes. It is not the mysteries that make Conan Doyle’s stories, it is Holmes and Watson. Conan Doyle is not able to or does not want to keep the reader in the dark up to the last page in the same way that Agatha Christie does. In many of his stories I could see through the mystery before the end, which has never happened to me when reading Christie. The wonder lies in the way that Holmes tackles each case: his eccentricities and methods that you get to know so well after a couple of dozen of stories.

J.R.R. Tolkien is not any less deserving to be called the father of modern fantasy than Agatha Christie is to be called the Queen of Crime. To me, there is nothing to compare to the scope of Lord of the Rings, including the languages, mythology, songs, poems and appendices. He was an author with the ability to paint a picture in words: you can see it, smell it and feel it all around you. His charm lies not in his characters (which are still great), but in his imagined world: the landscapes, creatures and races, and history.

Sir Terry Pratchett… well, I don’t even what genre it is that he is king of. But I do know that no one can beat his wit. There have been more energetic authors (though I believe they are few and far between), there have been authors better at characterisation, but I have never before read an author that can make you laugh on every page like he does. And when you’re done laughing, he’ll make you cry from guilt, because you can suddenly recognise your own faults in the “bad guy” and suddenly you realise how presumptuous you are for judging him: you’re as bad as he is!

And of course… I think I’ll always admire J.K. Rowling‘s attentiveness to fine detail and her ability to give reasoning and a backstory to the most minor of characters.


I’m honestly still stuck, even after writing this. I don’t know who my favourite author is. Well, now you at least know my options, because I can get no further than this. To try to choose would just be… wrong…


Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite book by my favourite writer and will probably not be any more sensible than today’s was.


Day 05 – A book that makes you happy


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.


This topic was more difficult for me to write about than it would look at first glance. I was looking at the topic, thinking “A book that makes me happy? What do you mean? BOOKS make me happy! I am happy with a good book. It does not have to be a certain book.” So I was wondering what to write about. What can I write about now that I have not already written about. I’ve already talked about rereading, I’ve already talked about favourite series and favourite books. What can I write about now?

And so I went on Tumblr like I always do when I’m procrastinating and I’m not sure what to do (which is usually why I’m procrastinating with writing in the first place) and read my dashboard. Then the answer came to me: not in a dream or revelation, but on a humble Tumblr dash. The Hobbit makes me happy. I am super excited for the first movie coming out and just reading about it on Tumblr makes me happy. The graphics, the quotes, the GIFs… I love this sense of excitement and all of it is rooted in the book for me.

I love hobbits, which is probably why I am so fond of this book. It lacks the shadow that hangs over Lord of the Rings. It’s a children’s book after all, and it shows in the happy innocence displayed by Bilbo Baggins. He is not interested in adventure, or so he thinks. But it sweeps him up and carries him to a faraway land in the company of thirteen dwarves (I just wrote “drawers”. That could’ve made a great story too! Smile with tongue out) and, of course, Gandalf the Grey. There, Bilbo must learn what he is really made of: he is not just a hobbit looking for his tea, but also brave and righteous. What he undergoes is a foreshadowing for what his nephew Frodo will have to undergo in Lord of the Rings.

Bilbo Baggins goes There and Back Again and so returns a changed hobbit. The quest has marked him (again, a foreshadowing for Lord of the Rings) and he will always stand slightly apart from the other inhabitants of Hobbiton and Bywater. He is the subject of many a story and song, but hobbits still stand a little in awe of him. It is hard to know how to handle someone who has so much more experiences of strange and wonderful things than you could ever imagine.


I’m very fond of Bilbo and I am fond of all the hobbits in Lord of the Rings, but especially of Sam and Pippin. There is something about this race that completely sets them apart from the other races in Middle Earth. They are not just Little Folk – they have completely different characteristics and approaches than Men or Dwarves or Elves. The descriptions of their simple way of life make me happy and inspired.

In a hole in the ground

* And then I make things like this. I want more Hobbit-graphics to work on! *

I’m excited about every developer’s blog released by the production team of the movie and I’ve watched each several times. It is just fascinating to watch this wonderful world of the book come to life on screen. I’m happy just to think about the upcoming movies and I am convinced that it will be as great as Lord of the Rings. It will be a chance for a new generation to discover Tolkien’s work and it will be chance for people like me, who were too young to see the first trilogy in theatres, to see Middle Earth on the big screen for the first time. I’m counting the days! Winking smile

With that said, I can happily come to the conclusion that The Hobbit is a book that makes me happy. Everything that it has grown into makes me happy. It started off as bedtime stories for the Tolkien-kids and became a book and a will be a movie and it is becoming a culture. I love how the anticipation for the movie can bring people from different countries and cultures together in their enthusiasm for everything Tolkien. It is so nice that it is giving the fandom a chance to revive, after the original trilogy of movies has died out a little.


Yet, it all begins with a book. All of this. A lovely book, a sweet book, but also an epic adventure. Oh, I just love everything about this book. I plan to reread it before the movie comes out and I am excited just to think of it. I don’t want to read it too early, in case I forget some, but… actually the anticipation is lovely. Winking smile


Tomorrow I will talk about the opposite: a book that makes me sad.