Vinegar Girl | Anne Tyler

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The Book

The Taming of the Shrew. But modern. And a little bit Russian. Featuring: Adaptations, Green Card Weddings.

The Plot

– It was surprisingly interesting. Despite it being a 500 year old story that I literally studied in school.

– The introduction of the Green Card Wedding was an interesting way to do it and it wasn’t super Fake Married troupe.

The Characters

– Pyotr was an interesting character. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see more from his point of view.

– We see it from her point of view, and she’s actually nice. She’s not just mean and cranky. She’s relatable, and for real made me want to have a garden more than anything else I’ve seen or read.

The Conflict

– It was different than what I expected. I was wondering how she was going to do it and make it not sexist and Anne Tyler did a pretty good job of it.

– It was also pretty logical. The Green Card Wedding, and the main conflict. I didn’t suspend as much disbelief as I expected to.

Points of Dis/Interest

– I liked the Pyotr/Piodor variation.

– Kate wasn’t as shrew. Which is always nice.

Etc. Adaptations made classics more accessible. 

So, I had to read Pride and Prejudice in high school. Grade 11, 2011. I was so glad when I finished it, I thought I’d put it on my shelf and never look at it again. Then The Lizzie Bennet Diaries came out.

I had enjoyed the other two popular adaptations of Pride and Prejudice before, don’t get me wrong, but The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was an experience like nothing else, and seeing it unfold in real time is a thing I wish I could do over and over again.

After I finished TLBD I decided to pick up P&P again. All of a sudden, the people were straight, the plot was understandable and I could relate to the characters. When I read P&P now, years after the rush of TLBD has worn off I still hear Mrs Bennet (chairwoman of the 2.5 WPF club)  in her southern accent and Mr (Ricky) Collins talking about Winnepeg between the lines.

Watching an adaptation isn’t cheating. It’s finding new ways to better understand the text.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

The Lunar Chronicles | Marissa Meyer

Alternatively titled: Sometimes I play tricks on myself by assigning something and forgetting about it until I have to write it.

The Series

Cinder is a cyborg in New Beijing. Unbeknownst to her she is the long thought dead Lunar Queen. If only her Aunt would let her be. Scarlet just wants to find her grandmother and work on their farm. If only Cinders Aunt would let her. Cress just wants to get off her satellite and be in love with Thorne. If only her queen would let her. And Winter just wants Jacin. If only her step-mother would let her.

The Plot.

– Possesses a solid plot. The story progresses at a good pace and I never found moments where I needed to know what was happening elsewhere when our heroes were split up.

– Although the “bio-electricity” felt a little like Marissa Meyer wanted to have this feature and had to think of a science-y way to do it. That was the weakest part for me.

The Characters.

– I love them.

– I felt that their character arcs were strong and they didn’t progress too quickly or anything.

– Also their relationships to each other is just… amazeballs.

The Conflict. 

– Occurred naturally without excess.

– I feel like the conflict was only necessary because otherwise there would be no resolution, but I don’t think you’d miss too much without it. If that makes sense. The book holds it’s own without it.

I know I’ve done these books separately before, but I wanted to do them as a series because it’s an incredibly well written quadrilogy and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new YA dystopia.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

 

 

The Chronicles of Narnia |C.S. Lewis

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Narnia holds a special place in my heart (or my wardrobe as the case may be lololololololololol) my earliest memory of it is probably my older sister reading it to be before bed. And doing the voices. I have very few memories of my parents reading it to me. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that they did, I just don’t remember it) Even now my sister can talk about Narnia all day if you let her. And it was her birthday on Wednesday, so Happy Birthday Marley!
Here’s what happens to Narnia when you try to take the christian out of Narnia: It becomes a shell. you take the nut out and all you have are a few pistachio kernels that when you line up make lines. And then, because you need something to serve to the guests, you smoosh some cream in there and that’s your main. The problem being that cream in a pistachio kernel isn’t much to eat. It’s not good for you and it certainly isn’t as filling as actual pistachios. Do you see where I’m going with this analogy?

Now, I don’t know why Disney decided to come at the book with a hatchet, but what they did was take the very obvious Christian message out of a series of books that it literally meant to be about it. That’s like if someone decided to make a bible movie but didn’t want it to be too “christian-y” that’s how hard you failed Disney.

I’m not going to list everything wrong with the movies as nobody got time for that. and it would be a waste of space as the films are already made and the people who are going to be influenced by them already have been. I hear that the silver chair is being produced as a reboot (although why we really needed it is anyone’s guess) but The Silver Chair is my favourite. So I just hope they don’t ruin it.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Scarlet | Marissa Meyer

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Curtesy of Icebooks.com

The Book

Scarlett is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles series. It follows Scarlett as she searches for her grandmother and is pulled into a far bigger story. This would be the over all story started in Cinder. Scarlett meets Wolf who she enrols to assist her but ultimately it all turns into a crazy mess and nothing turns out how they want it.

The Good Bits

– Scarlett (the Person)

I probably go on about this way too often, but Scarlett is a wonderfully strong female character. She’s emotionally and physically strong while being motivated by something as sincere as her grandmother. She never gives up, despite what other recommend and she allows herself emotions which, let’s be honest, can sometimes be forgotten in the quest for “strong female Characters”.

– Thorne

Just hilarious

– Iko

I might be just naming characters here, but the idea of Iko being a consciousness I suppose and not being tied to a single body is interesting. And it looks a little into anthropomorphic characters. They don’t have arms, they have handles or this or that. And it’s okay that they don’t have arms. So Iko doesn’t have arms in this new body. She doesn’t need arms. Her stabiliser fins or whatever aren’t her arms. They’re her stabiliser fins.

– Location

I love the idea of seeing all these people come together not just from one place, but from around the world. Cinder in China, and now Scarlett in France. Maybe we can have someone from Australia. (wishful thinking I know)

The Not-So-Good Bits

– World building

With stories set in the not-now it’s important to world build to show the readers the world that the characters interact with. It’s particularly important when you show two different locations that we know to be different now. I understand that in a dystopian future things might get a little muddled, but muddled enough that France and China are that similar?

Thoughts from the Back Cover | Should Kai marry Levana?

Because it’s not just about him. Sure he knows that the moment he says I do she’s going to kill him. but all he is doing is putting off the inevitable. Levana wants to rule humanity, she’s not going to stop because she get’s hitched.

So say he doesn’t marry her. The LSOPs keep attacking until what? they kill everyone on Earth? Congratulations Levana, you don’t have anyone else to rule. And if they stop and enslave everyone the only difference is that Kai is not dead and is there to maybe protect the people a little, before defeating her in a glorious battle where her subjects become disillusioned with her and everyone overthrows her.

If he does marry her then he is killed and Levana is allowed to roam around unchecked until in many years the people are able to rise up and defeat her. Maybe. If they’re lucky.

There are of course many courses of action, none of them result in 0 deaths. none of them are perfect. But in war there is no perfect.

(also disclaimer, I haven’t yet read the succeeding books, so this is all conjecture)

There are no winners in war.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet | Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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Curtesy of thelbdofficial.tumblr.com

On the web format of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and it’s importance.

In 2012 Hank Green and Bernie Su did something no one has ever done. They did Pride and Prejudice Lonelygirl15 style. On April 9th 2012, Ashley Clements made her Lizzie Bennet Diaries debut as the title character. She rants about her mother and father and sisters and chats  about all sorts of topics. Nearly all the characters have (and used) twitter and none of them were self aware. (or all of them, I guess, most of them did promote their videos after all.) Since TLBD Literary Inspired Webseries (LIWs) have progressed to the characters have instagram and other social media as well, all improving our immersion in the story. To be thorough I’d have to say something on every single LIW. but that’s going to be time consuming, so instead, I’m going to talk about some of my favourites and why they are important.

  1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is important because it not only sparked a new sub genre, but also in the way it humanises Lydia. Let’s be real here. Book!Lydia and Film!Lydia aren’t nice people. They’re stuck up and rude and vapid. TLBD!Lydia starts off the same way, but through the telling of the story (and the skill of the writers – I’m looking at you Kate Rorick) Lydia is humanised and becomes many people’s favourite characters. She could possibly be mine, although whether that’s the character or my love of the actress, Mary-Kate Wiles is anyone’s guess. We care about what Wickham’s done, and what he’s done to her has a bigger impact. He betrays her trust and manipulates her and we see that. Lydia becomes more than what she was. Her character develops and we see that. It reminds us that even though someone could seem terrible, that’s not the end of them, and it certainly doesn’t mean they deserve badness.
  2. Green Gables Fables is important because of the way we can understand ourselves in specific uploads. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR S2. So Gilbert tells Anne he loves her and she rejects him, thinking that he was only her friend because he wanted to date her. Nothing particularly special about that I know, but she uploads it and puts it on YouTube. If your best friend just told you they loved you and you turned them down, would you stick it up for your large following to see? I know I wouldn’t. So why did Anne? Barring plot bunnies of course I have this theory: Anne thinks that Gil never wanted to be her friend in the first place and is angry with him. She’s furious and she doesn’t have time to film a new video. She figures she’s uploaded personal footage before, with Video_42 (Matthew dies – not on camera or anything), and she uploads it a little to get back at him. After all, he wanted the camera on. He wanted to film it, he should live with the results. Sometimes it’s hard to understand other people’s actions towards us, but Green Gables Fables reminds us that it’s not always as about us as we think.
  3. Jules and Monty, I really love this because I’m a sap (episode 9 everyone!!) but also they didn’t end up doing what they could have done with the personal nature of the whole thing and had Jules and Monty end up together. SPOILER ALERT: They don’t. Monty just misses her, and as Imogen and Ed (creators)  have said, they probably wouldn’t get back together if they met again a few years later. (I seem to remember them saying that anyway) It reminds us that not all stories have happy endings and not everything in real life does either. And that’s okay. That doesn’t mean the series is terrible. that doesn’t mean the characters regret everything. It’s that thing: don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

I could go on and on about this forever. And these aren’t by far my only favourites. They will all be linked below. But LIWs are important because they remind us about ourselves. They tell us to be kind and to care. You are your own protagonist, but everyone else is too.

Get Reading.  Get Travelling.

Ash

Nothing Much To Do.

From Mansfield With Love.

Autobiography of Jane Eyre.

 

Princess of the Midnight Ball | Jessica Day George

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Curtesy of cannontheatre.com

On Gender Roles (or why men need Feminism) part 1

So, I love this book. It’s a re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and I love retellings. So when it came time to pick a topic for this week I was a bit stumped. The amount of times I’d read to story meant that I was having a hard time seeing anything worth walking about. And then I remembered the sweet summer prince (metaphor) Galen and is marvellous knitting habits. Nowadays knitting is a task reserved for grandmothers and crafters, but it wasn’t always the case. If you were fighting in a war and your socks had holes in them, you didn’t always have a grandmother or a crafter to knit new ones or fix the old ones. Men used to knit. And it wasn’t seen as some effeminate thing either. “Macho men – not women – dominate the history of the craft.”(x) So men were the knitters until, hey presto, industrial knitting machines started in the 16th century. no one could knit as fast as those machines and it was dropped by the men only for the women to pick it up as a hobby.

In WWI and II, school boys were asked to pick up needles once more to help the war effort. They’d knit all sorts of things to send to the war, there’d be competitions and such.

But now, there’s nothing of that sort. Typically knitting is seen as a female thing to do (worse still, a grandma thing to do) but why? it’s not like you need the female anatomy to knit. And I’ve found knitting good because it means I have something for my hands to do. I think we need to stop having this stigma around ideas and activities typically seen as female because boys can like knitting too. Boys can like sewing hell, men dominate the womens fashion industry. but on the small, “molecular” level of it all it’s effeminate. Someone pointed it out in the kitchen as well. if a woman’s place is “in the kitchen” why then do men dominate the chef jobs?

Don’t let anyone tell you who you need to be. Boys can like sewing and girls can like guns. It’s the 21st century, so if anyone tells you otherwise, tell them to shut the eff up.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Treasure Island | R.L. Stevenson

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Courtesy of moviepilot.com (ps. isn’t this pic just the best?)

I’m still here and paternal relationships.

To be honest, I found Treasure Island terribly difficult to read, so I’ll mostly be talking about the absolute genius that is Treasure Planet (2002).

Question One: Is it possible to have positive relationships with people who are bad?

Answer: Yes

Reasoning: Well for a start it’s possible to have terrible relationships with people who are good, so why isn’t the opposite true? Also I would say that that (in this case) John Silver’s relationship with Jim has very little to do with him being a pirate. (spoilers)

That said: John Silvers piracy does put a negative spin on his relationship with Jim. It makes it seem like Silver was grooming Jim to be a pirate and hand over the map. And, Silver’s last scene aside, he could have been, but from what we see through the I’m Still Here Montage and the affect it has on Jim, his relationship with Silver has had a positive affect in his life.

Question Two: Is it possible for positive relationships to turn into negative relationships in retrospect? (with relation to Jim and Silver)

Answer: Yes, but it didn’t.

Reasoning: We see Silver humanised more than ever during the events of the film.That Silver have up a ship full of gold to save Jim definitely implies that Jim has had a positive impact on Silver, and that Silver doesn’t want to lose the relationship he has with Jim. We see this reversed when Jim let’s Silver, a pirate (still illegal in this future, I’m assuming) leave. He trusts Silver and while sure, it probably wasn’t the best thing for Jim to let Silver go, it shows the relationship to the fullest. Particularly when Silver gives Jim some gold to restore the Inn he wouldn’t have even cared about before the relationship.

Question Three: Is it possible for negative relationships to turn into positive relationships in retrospect?

Answer: No

Reasoning. If a relationship is having a negative impact on you no amount of thinking will successfully turn that relationship into a positive one. Take Jim’s father for instance. At no time do we see Mr Hawkins utter two words to Jim (whether for montage sake or not) and he barely interacts with him at all. He then leaves quietly early in the morning in an attempt to get away before his (I’m assuming) wife and child even know. This is not a positive relationship. There is no way to spin that into a positive relationship. That is most assuredly a negative relationship, particularly since it’s implied that the reason Jim is so reckless is because of his issues with the relationship between himself and his father.

The positive relationship between Jim and Silver does not negate the harm he does in the film. It doesn’t justify it either. Sometimes they’re two different things.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash