Book Review: J. R. R. Tolkein, by Mark Horne

Mark Horne’s J. R. R. Tolkein biography is part of the Christian Encounters series published by Thomas Nelson.  Horne details Tolkein’s life and faith in this beautifully -bound little paperback.  From his orphaned childhood, through his school years and the first world war, Tolkein transforms into an intellegent young man, with a love of literature and languages.  As a student at Oxford, and later a professor, Tolkein found ways to indulge these interests, which eventually lead to the creation of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which are considered by many to be the forerunners of modern fantasy literature.
I greatly enjoyed this book.  I don’t often read biography, and I only requested this book because there was nothing else on Booksneeze at the time that I was interested in. The writing was fresh and interesting, keeping my attention through all 130 pages of the little book.
My favourite parts related Tolkein’s struggles as a writer, because they mirror my own.  He wrote to his publisher that it was “only too easy to write opening chapters” (p.98).  I can relate!  Tolkein, a perfectionist, was never satisfied with his work, constantly revising and editing.  He took twelve years to write The Lord of the Rings.
If you’re looking for an insight into the writer who created hobbits, but don’t want to crack open a large intimidating tome, I recommend this book.
My copy of this book was provided free from in exchange for an honest review. The opinions noted are mine alone.  

Book Review: Tiger Lillie, by Lisa Samson

Lisa Samson’s Tiger Lillie is about a 31-year-old woman, Lillie, who is still
mourning the disappearance of her high school sweetheart while trying to keep her extreme wedding planning business going and striking out in the dating scene.

This book shocked me.  In a good way.  The story is entertaining and intense and emotional, and it seemed I was learning something new about the craft of novel-writing on every other page.  Here are just a few of those things:

1.     “…”  Brilliant. Much better than using words to state silence.

2.     Rabbit trails can be good!  Lillie is a very well-developed character, and even though her somewhat rambling thought process seemed disjointed at the beginning of the book, it all was necessary to understanding the story and the character.  Besides, Lillie thinks the way I think!  And apparently, it’s ok to write that way!

3.     It is ok to write in both first person POV and third person POV in the same novel.  This is one thing I’ve been vacillating about in my novel-in-progress.  I intended to write it all in third person POV because I want to show some of the antagonists’ thoughts.  But the first scene just came out in first person POV, and it was so much better than it would have been otherwise.

To anyone wanting to write contemporary fiction, Christian or otherwise, I say: Read Lisa Samson’s work!  I have another of her books waiting for me at the library.

To anyone wanting to read edgier contemporary Christian fiction, I say: Read Lisa Samson’s work!

Thanks to The Koala Bear Writer for recommending this author.