Wednesday, 25 May 2016

New Releases by Brenda Novak and Linda Grimes and a Cover Reveal from Carol Riggs

New books!

Okay, I know my ROW80 goal of late has been to read all the books we own already. And I was doing really well. But how can anyone keep up when so many intriguing new books by already-loved authors are always coming out?

I put in a book order yesterday for the first time in many weeks -- there's a new Joanna Bourne, a new Neil Gaiman, a new Claire Legrand, and a new Simon Tolkien coming out! Not to mention I'll soon have to order the new JK Rowling, the new Louise Penny, and even a new Beatrix Potter! 100 years on -- isn't that amazing?

That's not the only reason I've been getting books -- I might be travelling to Kenya soon for work! I thought I should read a few Kenyan authors before I did so.

And there are two new releases and a cover reveal this week!

Discovering You by Brenda Novak
"There was a bloody man walking down the middle of the road."
What a great first line!

"Can she ever trust another 'bad boy'? India Sommers once had the perfect family -- until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, she feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life.
Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she's learned that her ex-boyfriend's trial ended in a hung jury. He's getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that's not all that scares her. She's extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome 'bad boy' type that's given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia.
India has to keep her distance from Rod—but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes."

I got to read an ARC of Discovering You, and am so glad I did. Been waiting to talk about this story! It feels like I've read all the Whiskey Creek novels, but actually, I haven't somehow I missed reading Dylan and Cheyenne's story and I haven't gone back to them yet. All that to say, this was my first story about the Amos brothers, and I'm glad I got to discover them through Rod. He's just the sort of tough-childhood survivor-instinct character that's interesting to read about. India too had to live through and learn a lot from her past life, and now has to fight her in-laws for custody of the best part of that old life -- I love the way Novak's story mixes the interpersonal stakes with the greater problems that need to be resolved; Rod and India not only have to fight for their happiness, they have to learn to trust in each other on the way.

Not to include a spoiler, but there's a teaser for another Amos brother, Mack, and his story with Natasha. I hope for their sake they can stay together, but I'm already intrigued to find out all about the struggles they'll undoubtedly have to go through first.

Brenda Novak's hosting a newsletter launch party!

"If you have already preordered Discovering You, or you plan to purchase it this week, you can RSVP HERE for the party (no proof of purchase necessary; to make it easy, we'll just use the honor system). Entering your name and email address puts you on a special Discovering You launch party list, which means you'll get another newsletter a week from today filled with some of my favorite recipes, a FREE story for everyone and a list of all the randomly selected winners from the launch party list (including directions for claiming the prizes). ... I have over 100 prizes -- including Barnes and Noble gift cards, Amazon gift cards, Apple gift cards, Whiskey Creek loot, autographed books, jewelry, Laurel Birch bags and other great stuff"

Read the first chapter here!

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes

Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients -- as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She's hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program... when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she's supposed to be, but means her harm.
When Ciel's elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated ... and it's starting to look like she's the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she's left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.
Staying alive, keeping control of her romantic life, and unraveling the mystery of why adaptors are being pursued becomes a harder balancing act than ever in this new Ciel Halligan adventure from Linda Grimes.

Enter the release day contest here!

Cover reveal for Bottled by Carol Riggs!

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters -- building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.
But someone else also hunts her. Faruq -- the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others -- is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.
As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she'll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Bottled is a YA fantasy novel. It will release July 7, 2016, from Clean Reads.

Advanced Praise for Bottled: "Bottled has everything you could want in a story: humor, suspense, action, and romance. The twists kept me glued to the pages." -- Elizabeth Langston, author of I Wish and Whisper Falls

Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, The Body Institute, released September 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her sci-fi YA, Safe Zone, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.
Connect with Carol: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog
Add this book to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED

And that is why the To Be Read pile never lessens...

What's in your reading pile this week?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

How Has Your Writing Changed Over the Years? Part II and Richard Thompson

How has your writing changed over the years?

I stumbled across this older blog post, and I'm going to repost part of it here:

Deniz, Age 5: A story about a cow, which went something like this: "Where was All? He did not know where All was. Aldo could not find All the cow. He searched and searched. He went up with a jet and All was with the moon."

Deniz, Age 10: The Kitchen Mystery

Deniz, Age 15: Trying too hard to be an adult, I started a story about two handcuffed convicts and a sheriff travelling through the California desert. Never mind the two long romances I had, featuring scenes like the one where the hero and heroine have a food fight... at the supermarket...

Deniz, Age 20: Depressing stories about girls going out at night and failed relationships. I had a lovely one-page story called Eyes of the Sky but can't for the life of me find an electronic copy at the moment. This was the tail end of the thesaurus era, where I'd write a line like "the red sun sank into the dark blue sea" and then translate it into: "The crimson orb was lowered beneath the indigo billows" (blogged about here).

Deniz, Age 25: A lot of 'tell' and barely enough 'show' in my half-finished novel An Arnavutkoy Spring. Not to mention that I did no research whatsoever; for a story set in Istanbul in the 1910s I had hairdos from the 60s, clothing from the 50s and language from the 80s. I even threw in a reference to The Beatles! Come to think of it, perhaps I meant it to be set in the 60s after all. Only what does this line mean: "He eyed her easily, but without malice"?

Deniz, Age 30: A snip from Out of the Water, featuring Rosa, a Spanish girl and her lover, an Ottoman man, who's ill with consumption. On one of his better days, they've taken a walk above the neighbourhood of Galata, in Constantinople, 1493.

Deniz, Age 35+: Various samples under the Shared Writing Snips tab.

I hope I've improved, anyway. As part of ROW80 this round I'm trying something I've rarely done before, writing from a villain's point of view.

More music, after last week's three songs:

Amanda Palmer has a new song out, a cover of Richard Thompson's 1952 Vincent Black Lightning:

This reminded me of another Richard Thompson cover I like, REM's version of Wall of Death:

Are there topics that you used to write about but have since let be? 
Points of view that you're trying for the first time?
How has your writing changed over the years?

And which cover songs do you really like? 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Geneva Salon du Livre and Writing A Villain

Book fair!

Not a sale, but a fair and, although they had lots of booths with books for sale, I'm happy to report that I successfully resisted picking up anything new!

I was at the Geneva Salon du Livre mainly to watch an interview and attend a signing session with Swiss author Joel Dicker, whose books I highly recommend.

His first, Les derniers jours de nos pères (The Last Days of Our Fathers) is about secret service agents in World War II, and the last two are a kind of family saga, murder mystery, and coming of age story all in one, set along the Eastern seaboard of the United States: La vérité sur l'Affaire Harry Quebert (The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair) and Le livre des Baltimore (The Book of the Baltimores).

I took a couple of blurry photos
(as an aside, we just got our first DSLR camera, and I'm looking forward to some sharper and brighter images from now on!):

I didn't quite set it as my ROW80 goal but I'm still plugging away at maybe participating in this month's writer's exercise on the forum: writing a sympathetic villain. The limit is 750 words; I have three times as many! I can keep what I've written for the eventual novel, but need to do some editing to bring the scene into its best light for the exercise...

Three new Whisky Trench Riders songs for your listening pleasure this week:

Four different songs (different bands) coming next week!

Have you ever empathised with a villain? What made their motives understandable?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Contest Winner! Olympic Cup for the United Nations, plus Alphabet Soup: AtoZ Reflections, IWSG Day, and ROW80

First post-A to Z post!

The rush of posting every day is over. I did my Saturday posts in advance, and one day managed to do five posts in advance, which gave me spare room to catch up on all the lovely comments I'd received, and actually visit a few new-to-me bloggers, too.

Now's the time to post our Reflections on the 2016 Challenge.

For those who haven't done it, I definitely recommend a theme. It helps keep you focused, and it's easy to stray from the theme if you need to; easier than trying to come up with ideas at random in the middle of all that hectic blogging. Something conducive to lots of photos is definitely a plus. Even if you can't write them all in advance (and doing so does take away from the challenge and the thrill a bit), formatting them is helpful. I was able to do this this time around; I set up each post as a draft, and entered my daily drop cap, and added a few lines of what I meant to share that day, and as many of the links and photos as I could. Then, on the day of, it was easier to focus on the actual text, without all the time spent collating photos and references.

This sort of thing is helpful for insecure writers on Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, too!

That is, even for those of us who are pantsters, it helps to have a few kernels to play with. Especially during NaNoWriMo, for instance, when I try to end each writing session with a question or a comment for the next day (even something as simple as "why doesn't he just kiss her?" or "how is she going to keep this a secret from him?"). That way, when I come back to the story, even if I feel inspiration-less, there's a problem to be solved, and I can start working right away.

By contrast, what I'm doing now is about the worst thing that can be done -- not writing at all. Inspiration or muses or not, what the writing muscle needs is constant use. The fact that I'm thinking of new stories is not enough. I ought to write! Even if it's 10 minutes a day (and 10 minutes are so easy to find), even if it's only 100 words (100 words is nothing!) each morning. My trouble is that because I should be editing already-written stories, I feel badly for starting a new story. But that's silly. Better to write than do nothing at all!

I did get a sponsor post written for ROW80, though! And I'm going to try (but I'm not committing to it for fear of failure) to write something for the May writer's exercise on the Forum, set this month by author Barbara Rogan:

"Here's a challenge to stretch your writing muscles. Create a character who does something very wrong. You don't have to show the awful deed unless you want; it's enough to allude to it. Use POV and any other techniques you can muster to induce readers to sympathize with (even if they don't approve of) the evil-doer. This is a bit complicated, so I'm going to allow 750 words for this exercise—but extra credit to anyone who can carry it off in less. On your marks, get set...go!"

But back to the A to Z. Having been both a mere participant and a minion for those tireless organizers, I'm struggling to come up with suggestions to improve the challenge -- I think it works very well, and seems to run almost seamlessly!

I'm going to admit something here... I was in the middle of drafting one of the final posts, X or Y or Z, and suddenly, I thought of a great theme for next year! Only 365 days to go...

Don't forget to pick up some A to Z Challenge gear!

And now...drumroll...our contest winner!

In the past, to draw winners, I've used babies and cats. This time I went with the simple and efficient Random Number Generator.

And the winner of the 30$ gift card to the online book retailer of her choice is...Hilary!

Congratulations, Hilary, and thanks to everyone for playing along and commenting!

In other awards news, the United Nations was awarded the Olympic Cup last week:
The ceiling sculpture is by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló.
"The sculpture consists of many layers of coloured paints composed of pigments from across the globe, sprayed across the ceiling to create stalactites. The work is groundbreaking both artistically and technically and represents the themes of multiculturalism, mutual tolerance and understanding between cultures."
 The Olympic Flame in two lanterns. It looks so small!

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave an inspiring speech. This year, for the first time, refugee athletes will be participating, under the Olympic Flag. The Secretary-General said, "win or lose, they are champions of the spirit. ... They want a flag that waves for their rights. ... They want hope, not tents. ... Sports give children the basic human right of being children, who at least for a few moments can laugh and play."

He added, "Let us all be on the team of the refugees until there is no need for such a team at all."

Congratulations to those of you who made it through the A to Z.
Whether you participated or not, what suggestions do you have for the challenge?

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for Tolkien Photo Challenge Part 3 of 3 and 1000 Posts Contest Last Day! (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

Z is for Z end of the list and the third and final part of the #TolkienCollection Photo Challenge!

Part one of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter K and answered the first seven questions. Part two of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter R and covered questions 8 through 14.

Here's part three of the #TolkienCollection:

15. Item you consider to be a must-have for every collector -- authorised editions of the books, of course! I don't mind collecting other editions, but during my annual rereads I only ever read the 50th anniversary edition, since it has most of the typos and errors corrected. I'd like to get the 60th anniversary edition...

16. Top three items you'd take on an adventure -- The Lord of the Rings and copies of The Lost Road and The Notion Club Papers plus some of the poems. Also the original Caedmon recordings. Is that a lot of books to carry in one's backpack? Maybe, but I've always done that -- carried more books than clothes or other items, everywhere I go!

17. The oldest item you own -- maybe the hardcover The Lays of Beleriand? No, that one isn't a first edition or even a first printing, so it must be my dad's copies of The Lord of the Rings from the 1970s and the biography of Tolkien from the same decade.
Besides the truly rare (like the recent discovery of a Tolkien poem called Noel), there are few items that were actually published in Tolkien's lifetime. To own something old, then, would mean first editions or printings of The Hobbit, Mr Bliss, The Lord of the Rings, Farmer Giles of Ham, and a couple of other items. Maybe one of those letters or postcards that comes up at auction once in a while.
I don't own even a copy of the first edition of The Hobbit, with the original Riddles in the Dark chapter! Must get on that...
Cursory research shows I can get one of the original 1, 500 copies, first impression of the first edition, published 21 September 1937, for only 12,000$. Perhaps we could sell our car...

18. An item it took you a long time to obtain -- just started this year, purchasing items I've known of for ages but somehow never bought before! I've gotten Bilbo's Last Song, a copy of The Devil's Coach Horses, Tolkien's brother Hilary's book Black and White Ogre Country, and so on. I'm still missing two major items: the original Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Tolkien Family Album by Priscilla Tolkien. Hammond and Scull also have two massive companion tomes out that I really want (who can resist a big fat book?).

19. An impulse buy -- a few months ago I got a print of Pauline Baynes illustration from The Chronicles of Narnia, signed by Baynes! Okay, so that's not a Tolkien work, but...

20. Your choice -- I ought to have taken a photo of this to share. I have a notebook I started writing in about 20 years ago, where I kept lists of interesting words Tolkien used, doodled line drawings of the walls of Minas Tirith (this has been one of my stock doodles since about the age of 12), copied out some of the poems, and worked over and over again on translating Errantry and a couple of other poems into Turkish.

It seems as though many people have stock doodles. When you're sat in a meeting and trying to concentrate, and you pick up a pen or pencil... Besides Minas Tirith, mine feature geometric shapes, sunset on a sea, a branching tree (another Tolkien-inspired item), a cat silhouette, fish outlines, and a few other bits and pieces.

 Tree of Amalion and Stylized Tree, from Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien

Here's to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and all the hosts, participants, and commenters!

You can still keep commenting on all the R to Z posts, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest -- The winner will be drawn this weekend and announced on Wednesday!

What kinds of doodles do you draw?

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y is for Dorothy Sayers and W. H. Auden (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

Y is for Dorothy Sayers and W. H. Auden.

Lewis and Tolkien both admired many of Sayers' works -- except for the Lord Peter Wimsey stories.

"'She was the first person of importance who ever wrote me a fan-letter,' [Lewis] later recalled, and he added, 'I liked her, originally, because she liked me; later, for the extraordinary zest and edge of her conversation -- as I like a high wind.' She did not, however, come to any meetings of the Inklings. ... 'She never met our own club,' Lewis said, 'and probably never knew of its existence.'" (all quotes from Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings and The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien)

She was also an admirer of Charles Williams: "'I got in from Magdalen last night about 12 and found her sitting up' [he wrote to his wife]. 'We conversed till 2.15. I like the old dear, but she's rather heavy going. I should find 2.15 late for one's dearest friends -- but what can one do.'
"[Later on] she sent him a thirty-six page letter. 'She has, under the compulsion of [The Figure of] Beatrice,' Williams told his wife, 'been reading Dante and Milton, and feels she must write to someone, and to whom but me? Quite a sincere letter; I begin to admire Dorothy seriously as a human being, which I never did before!'"

Interesting to think that if it hadn't been for Williams, Sayers might never have translated Dante's The Divine Comedy.

Auden was an admirer of both Tolkien and Williams. "'I had an extraordinarily moving note from W. H. Auden in America,' Williams told his wife in the spring of 1940. 'He said he just wanted to tell me how moved he was by the [Descent of the] Dove (and he no Christian) and he was sending me his new book "as a poor return".'"

Much later, Tolkien, in a letter to Auden, noted: "It was most kind and generous of you to send me a copy of About the House. I do not pretend that in me (a less generous-minded man than you) your writing arouses the same immediate response. But I can report this. I took the book away (when I took my convalescent wife to the seaside). I took it up to read one night when I was about to get into a warm bed (about midnight). At 2.30 a.m. I found myself, rather cold, still out of bed, reading and re-reading it."

I haven't read this book of poetry before, but now I really want to!

Here is Auden's review of The Lord of the Rings, which appeared in The New York Times in 1956:

Don't forget to keep commenting, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!

End of the A to Z tomorrow, hope everyone's had a great month!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for X Marks the Spot (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

X is for X marks the spot!

Not strictly Inklings-related, but a recap of some Tolkien travel-related places I've visited, in Switzerland, England, and Italy.
Lauterbrunnen is widely thought to be the inspiration for Rivendell.
Click on the photo for the post featuring all photos! 
A very Shire-like place.
Can you see me in the tree?
Click on the photo for the post featuring all photos!
Bookstore with books in a gondola...and a gondola gliding by!
Click on the photo for the post featuring all photos!

Speaking of books, here's what I got at the Library in English book sale!

And just a couple of days ago at a lunchtime book sale hosted by the staff association of the World Meterological Organization:

Don't forget to keep commenting on the A to Z posts, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!

Two posts to go in the challenge! How's everyone doing?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for World War I (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

W is for World War I.

The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is this summer.

While at King Edward's School in Birmingham, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith, and Christopher Wiseman, formed an unofficial and semi-secret society called the TCBS (The Tea Club and Barrovian Society name alluded to their meeting spots -- tea in the library (which was not permitted) and Barrow's Stores near the school).

They kept in touch after leaving school and, following a "council" of the TCBS in 1914, Tolkien began devoting more energy to writing poetry, thanks to the shared ideals and mutual encouragement of the Society.

Tolkien, Gilson, and Smith were at the Battle of the Somme. On leaving, as he crossed the English channel with his battalion, Tolkien wrote a poem called "The Lonely Isle", a haunting verse subtitled "For England".

Gilson was killed in action almost on the first day of the battle. Smith was killed in 1916.

Christopher Wiseman and Tolkien survived, and Tolkien named his third son after Wiseman.

(Other interesting stories in and around Tolkien's war time experiences are in Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth, and on Garth's website.)

This is the reason for the line in the introduction to The Lord of the Rings refuting the suggestion that the story is an allegory of World War II: "To be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than in 1939... by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead."

Another intriguing character from this time is H. B. K. "Rex" Allpass, who witnessed a friend's suicide, and then was lost on a battlefield in World War II. There are so many story possibilities hidden in these very brief details...

Tolkien, in a letter to his son during World War II, had this to say on refugees and the general misery and destruction:

It all seems just as relevant now, sadly.

I've got a new ROW80 goal!

Since my goal for the last little while had been to try to read all the books we already own, before I got to attend the Library in English book sale, and since the sale happened last week (more to come in tomorrow's post!), I needed something more concrete as a goal, to at least make me feel less guilty about not editing.

With that in mind, I volunteered as a sponsor for the current ROW80 round!

I've got to write a -- hopefully -- inspiring post for the official site. My last sponsor post was way back in 2011!

Don't forget to keep commenting on posts, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!

Have you reshuffled your goals lately?
What projects are most important right now?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

V is for Various Readings, Knitting, and Byron at Villa Diodati (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

V is for various readings.

I love the idea of the Inklings reading aloud from their essays and stories and poems, discussing all sorts of ideas having to do with myth and fairy tales and history and language... All over a pint or two in firelit rooms...

It's funny to think of, but they probably sat with their hands idle. Whereas a group of women, when they met, would have had a quilting circle, or a bit of sewing or knitting in their hands.

Speaking of which, I never really specified it as part of my ROW80 goals, but I still try to keep up my knitting projects! The only thing is, I seem to have been a bit lax in taking photographs. I'm in the middle of three things at the moment, a blanket for a cousin's new baby, a shawl for a friend, and a sweater for myself (that one is not likely to ever be finished). In between I made a few more new-baby items, including these wee hats:

It's a good thing that I have other photos to share instead!

It's interesting that I can't seem to find any direct reference to Tolkien's views on the Romantics (Byron, Shelley, Keats, and so on). C. S. Lewis's ideas I could distill -- if I had all my books from storage! I know I keep saying this. But there might be a light on the horizon! We're looking into having everything shipped...

All this is bringing me in a roundabout way to our last visit to the villa that Lord Byron stayed at, 200 years ago next month, when he arrived in Geneva. We've visited the Castle of Chillon, which inspired his Prisoner of Chillon poem, but we've also been up to see the villa Diodati, which is still a private residence, across the lake (roughly) from our village:

Byron's meadow

Villa greenhouse

Road behind the house



Villa Diodati

It was so quiet back then that you could hear the lake lapping on the shore far below

Peering in at the gate...

Don't forget to keep commenting on as many posts as you like, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!

And if you've seen any interesting/strange/weird/must-see A to Z posts, share them in the comments below!
Have you seen any related to poetry or knitting?

Monday, 25 April 2016

U is for the University of Oxford (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

U is for University of Oxford.

I feel badly that I don't have new photos to share. We've been talking about taking a quick weekend trip to revisit Oxford; I'd especially like to see the parts I haven't gone to yet, including a visit to Tolkien's grave, a visit to Lewis' grave, a drink at the Mitre, a drink at the Lamb and Flag, afternoon tea at the Eastgate hotel...

Until then, though, I leave you with two quotes from Tolkien's collected letters:

During the war, Tolkien was involved in teaching forces cadets at the university, on the wartime 'short courses'. He reports in a letter to C. S. Lewis on a fellow teacher, M. R. Ridley, who was "astounded at the ignorance of all 22 cadets" and adds in a PS:

"Ridley's first question in the test-paper was a group of words to define -- apposite, reverend, venal, choric, secular, and a few others. Not one case got any of the words right."

If I'm being completely honest, I have no idea what venal and choric mean. Looking them up in the Oxford English Dictionary, I don't feel as badly; they're from Latin and Greek, respectively. I never had a classical education, after all.

Here's Tolkien on children and adults and vocabulary, from a draft letter to New Statesman:
"Life is rather above the measure of us all (save for a very few perhaps). We all need literature that is above our measure -- though we may not have sufficient energy for it all the time. But the energy of youth is usually greater. Youth needs then less than adulthood or Age what is down to its (supposed) measure. But even in Age I think we only are really moved by what is at least in some point or aspect above us, above our measure, at any rate before we have read it and 'taken it in'. Therefore do not write down to Children or to anybody. Not even in language. ... An honest word is an honest word, and its acquaintance can only be made by meeting it in a right context. A good vocabulary is not acquired by reading books written according to some notion of the vocabulary of one's age-group. It comes from reading books above one."

Reminder: Don't forget to keep commenting, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!

And don't forget to support our A to Z hosts, who've been doing such a great job!

Co-Host Helpers/Assistants 2016; Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassadors

J Lenni Dorner What Are They?  @JLenniDorner
(honorary member-at-large)

Hope you all enjoy the last week of the challenge!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

T is for the History of Middle-earth and Tolkien's son Christopher (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

T is for Christopher Tolkien,Tolkien's youngest son and, later, editor and publisher of many posthumous works, plus the 12-volume History of Middle-Earth series.

[Reminder: Don't forget to keep commenting, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!]

There is a LOT of Tolkien we'd never have seen, if not for the tireless efforts of Christopher!

Christopher Tolkien talks about his father:

Christopher Tolkien talks about his father and languages:

Christopher Tolkien talks about The Silmarillion:

Christopher Tolkien read the end of The Lord of the Rings:

I like this entry from C. S. Lewis's brother's diary in 1946 (quoted in Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings):

"'An exquisitely lovely spring day. [To] the Bird and Baby as usual in the morning, where I had started on my second pint before J [C. S. Lewis] arrive. When Humbhrey [Harvard] came, he suggested an adjournement to the Trout at Godstow; which, picking up Christopher Tolkien on the way, we did, and there drank beer in the sunlight. The beauty of the whole scene was almost theatrical, and that notrhing might be lacking to show off the warm grey of the old inn, there was a pair of peacocks.'"

Peacock in the Geneva Botanical Gardens

Doesn't that sound an idyllic afternoon?

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • A Pocketful of Rye by Agatha Christie
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Ox-Tales anthology
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • How to Write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina (essay)
  • A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert Gertrude Bell (compiled by Georgina Howell)
  • Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome
  • Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A River Town by Thomas Keneally
  • Free Fall by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • New Europe by Michael Palin
  • Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
  • The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie (possibly a reread)
  • Husli the Dwarf
  • Winter Birds
  • Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (reread)
  • Wish I Might by Kait Nolan (novella)
  • A Walk in the Countryside A B C (National Trust and Nosy Crow Books)
  • My First Touch and Trace 1 2 3
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  • A Secret Vice by J. R. R. Tolkien (edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins)
  • A Pocket For Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • The Narrow Corner by Somerset Maugham
  • Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham
  • Le gout d'Istanbul (anthology) (skimmed)
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • Blue Nowruz by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
  • secret beta read!
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain
  • The Mewlips by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • Just for This Moment by Kait Nolan
  • To Err is Human -- To Float, Divine by Woody Allen (short story)
  • the collected works of Beatrix Potter (Folio Society edition, over 30 books)
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman) (only half read)
  • At Home by Bill Bryson
  • Millions of Cats by W Gag
  • Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
  • Discovering You by Brenda Novak
  • Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson
  • Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
  • Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame
  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  • The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (reread)
  • They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
  • The Creatures of Number 37 by John Watts
  • The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter (reread)
  • A Mother's Confession by Amanda Palmer (lyrics and liner notes)
  • Where Eagles Dare by Alistair MacLean
  • Guide to the Names in the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, in A Tolkien Compass
  • Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay (poem)
  • For my Wife, Navid by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • An Evening in Tavrobel by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • The Lonely Isle by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem; reread)
  • Bilbo's Last Song by J. R. R. Tolkien (poem)
  • Ancrene Riwle, preface, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley (poem)
  • Absence of Mind by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Peoples of Middle-earth - Book 12 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter (reread)
  • The Young Magicians edited by Lin Carter (anthology; includes two poems by J. R. R. Tolkien and all of rumble rumble rumble rumble drum belaboured by C. S. Lewis, referred to in The Last Battle)
  • Black and White Ogre Country by Hilary Tolkien
  • The Devil's Coach Horses by J. R. R. Tolkien (essay)
  • Guido's Gondola by Renee Riva and Steve Bjorkman
  • Save Our Public Universities by Marilynne Robinson (essay in Harper's Magazine)
  • Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh
  • Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
  • Career by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Human life in this century by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Willow by Anna Akhmatova (poem)
  • Sonnet LXVI by Shakespeare
  • Sir Walter Raleigh to His Son (poem)
  • Fair Jenny by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • MacPherson's Farewell by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • World's End, the collected Sandman No. 8 by Neil Gaiman
  • O Wert Thou In The Cauld Blast by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • The War of the Jewels - Book 11 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Rolling English Road by G. K. Chesterton (poem)
  • The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
  • A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four by Thomas Hardy
  • The Hierophant by Lee-Ann Dalton (short story)
  • The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (reread)
  • Lonely Planet guide to Switzerland
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  • beta read!
  • Ode on Venice by Lord Byron (poem)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Lucky by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Trouble by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Homage to Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway (short story; reread but I really don't remember it after 20 years)
  • The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (reread)
  • Sing a Long Children's Songs
  • Emily's First Christmas
  • Up At the Villa by Somerset Maugham (novella)
  • Telling Stories by Tim Burgess
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Marble Collector by Cecilia Ahern
  • Sophie's Throughway by Jules Smith
  • Baby Animals (Little Golden Books)
  • The House That Jack Built (Little Golden Books)
  • Scuffy the Tugboat (Little Golden Books)
  • The Saggy Baggy Elephant (Little Golden Books)
  • Morgoth's Ring - Book 10 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Who's A Pest by Crosby Bonsall
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • The Case of the Hungry Stranger by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • extracts from the diary of John Evelyn (Volume 1 of 2)
  • extracts from Lord Byron's letters about Villa Diodati
  • Pippin the Christmas Pig by Jean Little
  • Ite Missa Est by Anthony Martignetti
  • The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Red Angel by G. K. Chesterton (essay)
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
  • The Boy Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was by the Brothers Grimm
  • The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • Preludes by Wordsworth (extracts read aloud)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves
  • Dance Me A Dream by Kait Nolan (ARC)
  • Once Upon A Coffee by Kait Nolan
  • England and Switzerland, 1802 by William Wordsworth (poem)
  • Once Upon A New Year's Eve by Kait Nolan
  • short story by Becky Morgan (
  • Blood In Blood Out by Brenda Novak (short story)
  • That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch (short story)
  • Distraction by J. L. Campbell
  • Humble Bundle Peanuts collection (strips by Charles Schulz)
  • Peanuts Volumes I to VI (bought via Humble Bundle; very disappointing as it's mostly new strips -- how is that even allowed?!)
  • Sandals and Sangria by Talli Roland (short story)
  • Over the Hump by Talli Roland (short story)
  • issues of Journal of Inklings Studies and Amon Hen and Mallorn (Tolkien Society)
  • Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier
  • Babar and his Family by Laurent de Brunhoff
  • Illusions Lost by Byron A. Maddox (short story)
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • Lost My Name book for Emily (
  • Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne
  • When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne (reread)
  • Neil Gaiman comics on Sequential app
  • Moranology by Caitlin Moran
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  • see the 2014 list and statistics at
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at