Tag Archives: J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books I Love That Became Films or TV Shows

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I recently did a Top Ten Tuesday post on a similar topic, so it’s going to be interesting to see how many other shows I can come up with. My best guess is that the first two items on my list will be on everyone else’s lists, too!

Lord of the Rings

With all of the 1980s and 1990s remakes coming out these days, I hope that this trend ends before anyone decides to remake the early 2000s Lord of the Rings films. They’ve aged wonderfully in my opinion. I’d rather see studios take a chance on something new than remake these films even though I do love this story.

Harry Potter 

There are certain things that work beautifully in a novel but won’t feel the same in a film (and vice versa). Overall, I was quite pleased with how the Harry Potter films depicted the Potterverse. The first few movies in particular will always feel magical to me.

The Martian

This film did an excellent job of explaining how the main character used science creatively to get himself out of all sorts of life-threatening predicaments when he was accidentally stranded on Mars. My first experience with Andy Weir’s style of storytelling came from this movie, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.

Room 

Emma Donoghue’s original version of this drama about a young boy who had lived his entire life in the same room because his mother had been kidnapped by a violent stranger a few years before the boy’s birth made me stay up very late at night to see how it would turn out.

The film version of it was just as intense. Even though I already knew how it ended, I still found myself holding my breathe at certain key scenes.

Still Alice

Lisa Genova’s book by the same name was about a woman named Alice who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I was so excited when it was turned into a film.Both versions followed Alice from shortly before she was diagnosed until well into the progression of this disease. They were tearjerkers and I’d reread/rewatch either of them in a heartbeat.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, so it was especially meaningful to see what this illness might be like for the person experiencing it. The gif above is from a scene where Alice forgets how to get home again early on in the course of her disease. It was the moment when I realized just how amazing this story is.

Hidden Figures

Where there were a few fictional tweaks to the film version of Hidden Figures that I wasn’t a big fan of, the true story that Margot Lee Shetterly wrote of how these women made the calculations that sent humankind to the moon is still something well worth checking out.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Why I’ve Decided to Start Walking to Mordor

When I was a preteen, one of my uncles gave me copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I read and enjoyed The Hobbit immediately.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy took longer to get into. The vocabulary in it kept making me pause to look up words I’d never heard of before, and the pacing was slower than I was used to in the other stories I discovered at that age.

Still, reading about the roughly 3109 kilometres (1932 miles) that Frodo and Sam walked during the course of this adventure did grab my attention. I was the sort of kid who liked the outdoors in small doses before I ventured inside again to cool off and have a snack.

The thought of walking – and occasionally running –  as far as they did while being hunted down by all sorts of malevolent creatures and skipping second breakfast made me shudder.

As an adult, I wonder what it would be like to walk that distance for the sheer fun of it. There have been various points in the past when I’ve run across accounts of people who made spreadsheets that tally how far the characters walked to get to each each milestone in the plot  and when they as a fan can pretend like they’ve reached the next one based on how far they’ve walked in real life.

It was only recently that I discovered a site that keeps track of this information for you. Walk to Mordor offers free cellphone apps and also has a space on their website for people who prefer to log their miles that way instead.

The best part about this game is that it gives you notifications about what is happening in the story as the distance you’ve travelled reach specific plot points. It starts in Bag End, Frodo’s home and the opening scene for this tale, and it goes all the way through what happened in the Grey Wood after the battles had all ended. I like the thought of that.

The man who created it developed it out of his love of these books, and I’m talking about it today simply because I think it’s an incredibly cool idea that I thought some of my bookish followers who also enjoy exercising might want to check out.

As always, this blog does not feature sponsored content and I am not being compensated for this post in any way.

Why Mordor, Though?

Because it’s a challenge.

Over the past five years, I’ve been keeping track of some of my fitness-related statistics. I’ve walked an average of 9.7 kilometres (6 miles) a day since I first began recording this stuff. This includes days when I didn’t move much due to illness or injury, so that number is higher when I’m feeling well.

Weight training is my other main source of exercise. I still find it challenging, and there’s nothing I’d change about my lifting routine at the moment.

As much as I enjoy walking, it doesn’t give me that same sense of accomplishment that moving up to a heavier set of weights or noticing how my body changes when I lift weights and eat a good diet.

By no means am I bored with walking…but I do like the idea of seeing all of the distance I put in on the average day add up to something tangible.

There’s also the fact that Walking to Mordor has a definite end date. If I continue at my current pace, it will wrap up at the end of winter or beginning of spring in 2020. I like the idea of starting something new while knowing that it won’t and can’t last forever.

(Relatively) Calm Entertainment

Photo Credit: Dawn Endico

This style of storytelling appealed to me, too. I’ve been looking for a fitness app that was somehow tied to science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction for a while now, but I was selective about what sort of adventure I was going to be signing up for.

First of all, It needed to be something that wasn’t going to track my location in the real world or sell my personal information to other companies. There is far enough of that happening in the world as is!

I also wasn’t interested in an app that tried to get me to move faster or for longer distances because of a storyline that involved anyone being chased by zombies or other dangerous creatures.

While I can see how that would be very motivating for some players, it’s not the sort of thing that I personally find appealing. Tell me a good story, but do let me move at my own pace while everything is unfolding.

Knowing how it ends for Frodo and his many companions was yet another reason why I decided to sign up for this game. I was definitely not feeling calm the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there is something to be said for returning to a world you’ve visited many times before even if it’s plot isn’t exactly what most people think of as a soothing one at first glance.

I was willing to pay for what I was looking for, by the way. The fact that I found a free app that fit my criteria was icing on the cake.

Join Me

If anyone reading this wishes to friend me on Walk to Mordor, do a search for Lydia Schoch. I kept my username there simple on purpose, and I’m happy to share my journey there if we’ve talked before and you’d like to link up.

Either way, I may be blogging about this game and others like it again in the future as I move through the various scenes. The thought of turning exercise into a non-competitive game appeals to me very much!

My 4 Favourite Fantasy Tropes

Last year, I had a blast blogging about my favourite science fiction tropes. It occurred to me recently that I’ve never given the fantasy genre the same treatment, so that’ what I’ll be talking about today.

Reluctant Heroes

Photo credit: Jackie lck.

Example: Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”

If someone were to knock on my front door and tell me that I needed to go with them on a quest to save the world, I would not be particularly excited about that experience.

Yes, we’d probably see some incredible things along the way, but I really enjoy sleeping in my warm, soft bed at night and not being eaten by giant spiders named Shelob.

The fact that Bilbo was so hesitant to go on this quest made me like him even more. I totally understand the desire to stay home and avoid danger.

Magical Forests, Swamps, and Other Places

Example: The creepy Fire Swamp in William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”

Nothing gets my heart racing faster than realizing that the hero of a tale is about to wander into a forest, swamp, or other wild place not usually inhabited by humans that everyone knows  is filled with dangerous creatures, unpredictable magic, or both.

I love seeing how characters react to the creatures and potential traps they find in these places, especially once they’ve wandered far enough into them that finding their way home again is going to be tricky at best.

Since I’d be perfectly happy to stay home and not wander around in these unpredictable spots, it’s nice to know that there are folks out there who are willing to see who or what might be lurking in them.

 

Quests That Go Terribly Wrong

Aslan, the creator and protector of all things Narnian.

Example: C.S. Lewis’ “The Silver Chair”

In the beginning of The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace, the main characters, were given a specific list of four signs by Aslan to keep an eye out for in order to help them find Prince Caspian and return him to his rightful place as the future king of Narnia.

The world they were visiting could be a tricky one, and there were many characters who would stop at nothing to prevent these kids from fulfilling their mission.

Why Aslan didn’t simply do this stuff himself is a question for another blog post, but I was intrigued as soon as I realized that Jill and Eustace had quite the journey ahead of them.

These were the signs they were to look for:

  • “As soon as the boy Eustace sets foot in Narnia, he will meet an old and dear friend. He must greet that friend at once. If he does, you will both have good help.
  • “You must journey out of Narnia to the north until you come to the city of the ancient giants.
  • You shall find the writing on a stone in that ruined city, and you must do what the writing tells you.
  • You will know the lost prince, if you find him, by this: that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan.”

If you haven’ read this book yet, I’ll leave it up to you to find out which of these signs these characters actually listened to. All I can say is that I loved seeing how these kids interpreted the signs and what happened when things didn’t go exactly as planned. It felt quite realistic to me that Eustace and Jill wouldn’t necessarily do everything they were meant to do when they were supposed to do it.

Magical Schools

Examples: Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians,” or, obviously, Hogwarts

The Great Hall at Hogwarts

What could possibly be cooler than going to school to learn how to be a magician, witch, or wizard? It’s even more interesting when one or more of the characters weren’t aware they had any magical powers at all until that fateful letter or invitation arrived one day.

I could read a thousand books with this sort of setting and still want more examples of it.

The only thing I’d change about this trope is adding more examples of magical schools for adults. I think that even the strongest magician would eventually need to take a course or two to freshen up their skills or learn some new spells as such things were invented.

What are your favourite fantasy tropes?

 

Adventures in Making Lembas Bread

Have you ever read a book that described fictional foods you desperately wished you could try? I blogged about this topic in detail a few months ago. Recently, I decided to finally try the closest thing to real Lembas bread that exists on our planet since the elves left Middle-earth at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

Not only is this recipe simple, it uses ingredients that are very common. You might have all of them in your kitchen already!  Not having to shop for obscure ingredients that I probably won’t use in any other dishes was one of the main reasons why I chose this particular recipe to try. I bake pretty infrequently (as you’ll hear about below), so I generally only buy seasonings, spices, and other things that I can use in multiple ways in the kitchen.

I’m copying over the ingredients and instructions into this post so that they’ll still exist somewhere if the site I linked to above ever goes down. Do click on over for the nutrition information and for a gorgeous picture of the final product, though.

If you want to know my detailed thoughts on making this recipe and how I’d change it in the future, keep reading.

Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups of flour
    • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
    • 8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) of cold butter
    • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
    • 2/3 cup of milk or heavy cream (or more, if necessary)
    • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

 

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius (425 degrees Fahrenheit).
2) Mix the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
3) Add the butter and mix with a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine granules.
4) Add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix them thoroughly into the mixture.
5) Add the milk/cream and vanilla and stir them in with a fork until a nice, thick dough forms.
6) Roll the dough out about 1/2 in thickness.
7) Cut out 3-inch squares and transfer the dough to a cookie sheet.
8) Criss-cross (DO NOT cut all the way) each square from corner-to-corner with a knife.
9) Bake for about 12 minutes or more (depending on the thickness of the bread) until it is set and lightly golden.(the recipe makes about 10-12 pieces of lembas)

The first time I try any recipe, the only substitutions I make are to replace any milk and milk products in it with foods that won’t cause any allergic reactions for me. It’s important to know what something is supposed to taste like before you fiddle around with the ingredients too much.

I used vegan butter instead of traditional butter and almond milk as a replacement for the milk/heavy cream. If you consume dairy products, I’d love to know how this turns out with them.

The dough did feel slightly dry when I was rolling it out. That made it a little challenging to keep the dough together when I was cutting it into pieces. When I make this recipe again, I’d like to see how it turns out with a full cup of almond milk. I suspect that will be just enough additional liquid to solve the minor issues I had with getting the dough ready to be baked.

As I mentioned above, I don’t regularly bake stuff like bread or sweets. My supply of brown sugar had dried out, and I didn’t know that was the case until I’d reached that section of the directions. It was slightly challenging to mix that ingredient into the dough thoroughly. The little brown speck you see in the final product was a result of that.

Next time I’ll use fresh brown sugar and won’t have that problem. Raisins might be a nice addition to it as well. Despite my minor problems with the dough, the final product tasted delicious. It is definitely something I’ll be making again.

I know that my tastebuds have changed since I started eating a low sugar diet, but the combination of cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar made me think of it as a dessert.

Keep in mind that this isn’t as sweet as a typical dessert, but it does have a sweetness and chewiness to it that made it an appealing snack.

The Lembas bread I made two days ago has been keeping well so far. It honestly tastes even better after it’s had a day or two to rest. I love non-fussy recipes like that.

As for whether or not it will sustain you on a long journey or vex the Smeagols in your life, only time will tell. 😉

3 Embarrassing Things I’ve Learned From Books

Today I have three embarrassing stories to share with you.

Before I dive into them, let me explain a few things about my childhood to the new readers of my blog.

I grew up in a series of small towns and rural communities in the United States. I was also homeschooled for the first several years of my education. While the Internet has technically existed since before I was born, it wasn’t until I was older that it became at all well-known. In fact, I was in high school before my family finally bought a computer that could surf the web.(Based on how much I begged them to do this, I’m going to take the credit for it, too. LOL!)

My parents were lovingly protective of their children. There were certain facts of life – and, as I like to joke, a particular English sweet as well – that they shielded us from until we were old enough to fully understand them.

Sometimes People Get Pregnant Before They Get Married

The time: Early 1990s

I should warn my sensitive readers that this section of today’s post post contains two brief references to infant deaths.

My parents were married long before they conceived their kids. This was a pattern that was also repeated with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, and the vast majority of the other adults in my community.

While I met some kids whose families didn’t fit that mold when I began attending public elementary school, my assumption about the world was still that this was a rare and very recent occurrence.

Due to all of these assumptions and previous experiences, I was endlessly confused by a line I read in a biography of Winston Churchill that gave a date for his parents’ wedding that was much less than nine months before his birth.

Shortly before I picked up this book, I’d read a Reader’s Digest article* about a premature baby who died despite many heroic efforts by her doctor and nurses to save her. My family knew at least one other family who had lost a baby this way.

Due to all of these facts, it didn’t make any sense to me that premature babies born in the 1980s and 1990s who had access to wonderful medical care would die while one who was born at a time when no one knew anything at all about keeping preemies alive would thrive in the 1870s.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time assuming that his parents had been unbelievably lucky and resourceful instead. There was even moment when I briefly wondered if Mr. and Mrs. Churchill had shared their amazing knowledge with their local doctor. Maybe he was the first doctor who ever began testing new theories on how to keep premature babies alive?

You really don’t want to know how long it took me to figure out that Winston Churchill was probably conceived months before his parents got married and not a micro-preemie at all.

*Yes, I literally read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. I even read my mother’s nursing school textbooks!

The Meaning of Words Can Change Drastically Over Time

The time: Late 1990s

One year I decided to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Winter felt like it was never going to end, so I hoped I could pass the time by finally finding out what happened during Bilbo and Frodo’s adventures.

Suddenly, I began to notice references to “faggots” in these stories. Characters wandered into the woods to pick them up without any explanation of what was really going on there.

The first time it happened, I thought Tolkien was being vulgar, homophobic, and nonsensical. When I looked up that word in a dictionary, I was completely confused by the idea that such a hateful term was originally used as a unit of measure for wood.

As much as I enjoyed the storyline itself, I shuddered every time that word appeared again. Knowing that the author in no way meant it as a slur definitely helped, but I was still horrified by the thought of an innocent word being twisted into such a vile one over the centuries.

Turkish Delight Is Real

The time: The late 2000s

I briefly referred to this story a year and a half ago, but now it’s time to tell it in full.

The first time I read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, my mouth watered at the thought of Turkish Delight.

Like talking animals and lamp posts growing in the middle of a magical forest, I assumed it was yet another piece of this fictional world that I’d always wish could become real.

It was hard to picture what Turkish Delight really was. Edmund loved it so much he betrayed his siblings for it, so I imagined it was the most delicious candy that would or could ever exist.

Occasionally, I’d try to picture it over the years for the sheer joy of challenging my imagination. Sometimes it was some sort of dairy-free gourmet chocolate that I could eat. At other times I imagined contradictory combinations of treats that couldn’t possibly exist in our world. For example, the softness of cotton candy combined with the warmth of hot fudge might have tempted me into climbing into a strange woman’s sleigh as a kid if Narnia was capable of producing such a thing.

I grew up, moved far away from home, and got married. Turkish Delight occupied less and less of my speculations about the world until one day I spotted a box of it sitting on a perfectly ordinary candy store shelf.

“Wait, Turkish Delight is REAL?” I said in a voice that was slightly too loud for the occasion.

“Yes,” my spouse said.

“Since when?” I asked. Another film version of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe had come out a few years before then, so I assumed that the producers of it had taken a look at all of the wildly successful Harry Potter candies and decided to make this treat a reality as well.

When my spouse explained that this wasn’t a new type of sweet and that it had existed back when C.S. Lewis first wrote this series, my brain practically exploded. Why hadn’t Turkish Delight become commonplace in North America since this series was released? Was it a common treat in England? Why was this the first I was hearing about it?

I still don’t have the answers to those questions, but I smile every time I see it for sale at the store. Maybe one of my British readers will have answers for me someday!

What is one funny, embarrassing thing you’ve learned from a book?

Writing Influences: J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be sharing about the authors and books that have influenced my writing style in some way. When I was a kid, my uncle gave me a copy of The Hobbit as well as copies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It took a couple of years for me to… Read More