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

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Percy Jackson and Friends | Rick Riordan

The Book

What I have come to call Percy Jackson and friends follows two book series. Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus, both of which feature a certain Percy Jackson, thus the name. Basically Percy Jackson discovers he’s a (spoilers) demigod and is the son of Poseidon when he is twelve and then over the next umpteen books he proves his awesomeness by defeating a Titan and and then Gaia. Freakin’ Gaia. Featuring: The Clueless Hero, BAMFemales, demigods, YA treasure tropes.

The Characters

  • The characters were well written and they had a long time to be fleshed out.
  • There are just so many characters there is no way I’m going to write up on all of them.
  • The relationships develop over time into what they become and they change and mutate as things happen and time flows which is always really super good.

The Plot

  • He starts out young which is always surprising for a YA.
  • It’s very similar to Harry Potter in some respects (such as these) but I found the beginning of the series a little too young for me as an adult. They’re still entertaining, don’t get me wrong, but they’re young in a way that draws me out of the immersion process.

Conflict

  • While there is Deus Es Machina, there is a whole lot less than expected. It’s a series about gods how can there not be! But most of the time the group had to solve the challenges on their own.
  • Anna Kendrick once distinguished musicals from movies with singing by saying that in musicals the songs move the plot forward or they reveal something about the character. So too with conflict. The conflict needs to move the plot forward or reveal something or there’s no point in it. Percy Jackson and friends does this well. Each conflict has a clear purpose, and most of the time it does more than just move the story forward.

Points of Dis/Interest:

  • Everybody gets paired up. To us single people that’s just a slap in the face.

Etc. The Importance of YA Lit.

My sister likes to say that if you only read popular lit then you’re not a real reader. I’ll tell you a secret: She buys classics because they look good on her shelf, not necessarily to read. I’ll tell you another: Classics are usually in the public domain and can be purchased, legally, for free, for your kindle or e-reader which is far more sustainable. (don’t hate me I love real books)

I value what my sister thinks of me so I don’t usually argue with her on this topic, but the chances of her getting this far down my blog is slim, so I can say whatever I want. I think you are a reader if you’ve only read Twilight and I hate Twilight I hate what it tells to young girls and the writing is really bad. But if that’s what gets you into reading that’s great. I tried for years to get my best friend to read and she wouldn’t. But After she picked up Twilight she was off, so I can begrudge it a little something.

YA lit can often be heavy handed and obvious. It’s not always the best writing in the world. But what it can do is start a conversation. The Hunger Games is a seriously popular series. it’s not always nuanced and “clever” like Harry Potter or C.S. Lewis, Marley, but it gets people talking about the sort of violence we expose ourselves to on a daily basis for a start. And isn’t that better than nothing.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

The Hero and the Crown | Robin McKinley

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The Book

Despite being the only daughter of a king, Aerin has been pushed aside and barely been accepted as Royalty all her life. As rebellious as YA heroines typically are, even Aerin cannot predict where her path shall take her. Featuring high fantasy staples such as: Princesses, swords, Dragons, and Magic, The Hero and the Crown provides us with an undaunted, Strong Female leave who steps up to the plate.

The Good Bits

Aerin is a strong female character, not just because she’s rebellious, but because she is strong willed and literally caused herself years of illness to prove a point. She’s determined to prove her family wrong about her and is motivated, not by a passing cousin, but by her people and a need to do what’s right.

Dragons – honestly Dragons are the bomb-diggity. Need I say more?

As we all know, fighting dragons is not as simple as Shrek or any other Prince Charming make it seem. Aerin’s struggle with her Dragons cause her pain and it’s not glossed over. After fight with Maur, she’s not left barely standing Hollywood style. She’s left half dead, most of her hair burnt off and burns covering most of one side. It takes her actual magic to get rid of it all.

The Not-So-Good Bits

Robin McKinley has an obsession with hella long hair??

Galanna could have been cooler than just a bitchy enemy for Aerin. She could have had more motivation than she liked someone who liked Aerin. Come on people!

It was a surprise to me at the end that Aerin loved Tor (particularly after loving Luthe) instead of getting a bit of angst about leaving him we have less than a sudden realisation. It would have been better to have a greater build up.

Thoughts from the Back Cover | Just because a boy likes you it doesn’t mean you have to like him back.

We see this is Aerin and Tor, Harry and Corlath (see The Blue Sword) and about a billion other stories. A boy loves a girl, so of course she ends up loving him back. Be it the best friend, the love interest, or variations thereof. Because otherwise he’s been Friendzoned! and God forbid she doesn’t like her Friend in a romantic way!

Just because a boy/man/anyone really, likes you, it doesn’t mean that you have to give them the romantic time of day. You don’t owe them anything, regardless of what Hollywood would have you believe. “Friendzone” a million guys if you don’t like them. If they don’t stay, then they have the problem, not you.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Rebel of the Sands | Alwyn Hamilton

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I FINALLY HAVE INTERNET!!!

The Book

Have you ever wanted to run away with the first stranger who would take you? Take all the money you can muster and run as far away as you can get? Amani does. So when she actually takes off with him, what happens next is far from Amani’s control. Featuring: The good looking Love interest, Strong Female Character, Quirky Sidekick/Best Friend. Guest starring: magical truth telling outlaws, and Anakin Skywalker’s least favourite thing.

The Good Bits

  • I would say that it challenges traditional YA fantasy structure in that half the book is about escaping the people trying to kill them, not facing the people trying to kill them.
  • We see so much of the media trying to tell us that deserts are just hot and sandy, not so Rebel of the Sands I honestly didn’t know why Hamilton liked it so much, until I read this book.

The Not-So-Good-Bits

  • Of course she’s a “special” because we couldn’t have a YA novel whose main character isn’t super important to the revolution/operation/people/cause etc.
  • In every YA novel with a Strong Female Character, there has to be sexism to go along with it. because they can’t rise out of sheer talent, they have to rise out of sexist idiots. It’s a fantasy novel, you can make a not-sexist world!

Thoughts from the Back Cover | Sexism for Heroines sake.

I read quite often. You might know this because it’s my book blog. Right. So, now that we’ve got that out of the way. I see a lot of female characters. Often. I also see a whole lot of Strong Female Characters. (For a definition of SFC, please see here) The one thing I always see in these cases is a whole lotta sexism. The reason why Hermione is a strong female character, but Amani is a Strong Female Character is simple: Hermione isn’t getting beaten down for being female. Muggle Born yes, but not Female. Amani on the other hand has to pretend to be a boy (oh the troupes) in order to walk around freely (remind you of medias perpetuation of a desert bound country at all?)

So what story writers need to do is pick another ism. We don’t want your sexism here! pick Racism. Pick Homophobism. Pick anything. Because we need more Hermiones.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Tales of Beedle The Bard | J. K. Rowling

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Curtesy of io9.com

The Book

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of wizard children’s tales in the Harry Potter universe. They consist of The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortue, The Warlock’s Hairy Heart, Babbitty Rabbity and her Cackling Stump, and The Tales of the Three Brothers. If you have the Harry Potter books, you might recognise a few of the tales. Or at least their names.

The Good Bits.

– Morals

Like muggle fairy tales, wizarding ones have morals as well. And it’s important to instil good moral fibre into our children. We can then use these stories to teach children important lessons about life.

– Charity

Like most of the Harry Potter expanded universe books (is there a name for these) The Tales of Beedle the Bard was written and published to raise money for a charity. For this one it’s Lumos which is working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children. Now, isn’t that something?

The Not-So-Good Bits

– Length

I read this in about an hour and honestly I would love more. There’s not much by way of not-so-good bits. It’s a childrens book? that’s not really a not-so-good bit but it’s all I”ve got

Thoughts From the Back Cover | The Importance of Universe Expansion

One thing that The Tales of Beedle The Bard does quite well is expand the Harry Potter Universe. It shows us a book in the world and then gives it to us. With the secrecy of of the Wizarding World, this extra book only serves to immerse us further into that world. We might even forget that (spoiler alert) Wizards aren’t real.

Another thing that it does is draw in further readership. Someone might pick this book up first (unlikely given the popularity of ol’ HP but bare with me) and through this novel buy the rest. Some parent might buy this for their kid and then discover Harry Potter through Beedle the Bard. Harry Potter has produced a generation of readers, why can’t it produce the next one as well?

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children | Ransom Riggs

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Curtesy of seacoastonline

The Book

Tucked away on September 3rd 1940 sits a large house. By September 4th 1940 the house is obliterated by a bomb, but September 3rd is an endless day, repeating in a loop for the people within it. Jacob Portman is now one of those people. Spurred by his grandfather’s death, Jacob heads to a small Welsh Island to investigate Miss Peregrine, where he ends up in two times. Now, and September 3rd 1940. But what is so peculiar about Jacob? Well, he can see the hollows.

The good Bits

– The images

They’re so creepy and they give the feeling of realism to the novel

– Jacob

Not only is he a pretty compelling character, but boys in YA lit are hardly ever given any time and so to have a male protagonist, I think, is pretty great.

-Pre-established plot

Often in YA lit the protagonist is surrounded by the action the whole time, but I felt that with this that the action was happening everywhere. The protagonist wasn’t special, he just happened to be there when they needed him. I also felt like they probably could have gotten by without him. Definitely not as easily, but I felt that even though Jacob is peculiar, within that group he’s just like everyone else. I’m kind of sick of “chosen one” plots.

The Not-So-Good Bits

-Pacing.

After the importance placed on Miss Peregrine’s Home, it takes 131 pages to meet another Peculiar from the Home and 148 pages to actually meet Miss Peregrine. I mean, I read it pretty quickly, so while it was annoying, it didn’t stop me reading. But if you have to stop and start a lot then I could understand why this book would be too slow to read.

Thoughts From the Back Cover| How we treat people

So we don’t have any peculiars so how we would treat them is fair game. You might argue that we’d treat them like gods or whatever, but what they are is different from “typical” humans. Who else do we have that are different? Well there are a few.In Australia the LGBTQ community have been in the news recently. They’re “different” from “typical” straight Australians. They may not have any powers (that they tell us about) but we sure as hell don’t open our arms to them. Honestly I think having powers would give the government greater reasons to ostracise them. “That LGBTQ person can fly, they’re flying up to your windows to spy on your children!” “That LGBTQ person is super strong, they’re going to assault our women in bars!” Let’s be clear, in no way do I believe this.

We have so many neuro-divergent people in our world and we can’t even deal with that either. (FYI, Neuro-divergent people are people who have a developmental disorder or mental illness – thanks urban dictionary) There is such a stigma around “divergent” people that I have a hard time believing that we’d stop ostracising peculiars long enough to understand their humanity. And that’s a problem. For the peculiars, and for the LGBTQ’s and the neuro-divergent people and anyone else who isn’t typical. So before you start judging people and putting them into little boxes, maybe think about their humanity for a second.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash

 

 

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