Eek Game of Thrones is back!!

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Hello all! Exciting news today: as I did last year, I will be reviewing all the Game of Thrones episodes now that it’s back! This will be full of spoilers because, dudes and dudettes, if you haven’t watched it three days after the premier, I don’t know what you’ve been doing!? Go away and come back when you’ve watched it!

Righty ho…

shall we begin

Let’s get straight onto what I loved about this episode, namely… THAT OPENING! Man, only in Game of Thrones do you get a payoff in season 7 for something that happened in season 3- but it was so worth the wait. That line “winter has come for house Fray” was literally killer. I mean, I knew from the fact that the recap alone gave me chills that I was in for a thunderstorm of emotions, but I didn’t expect for it to blow me away so quickly. Five minutes in and it was already the best TV I’d seen in a year.

There was of course that same old recap element to the first episode of the season. And even though it felt like I’d been grabbed by the throat by that beginning, the pressure did ease off a little as other characters were reintroduced.

That said, I enjoyed the initial character development you got in this episode. I do appreciate how dark Sansa has gotten- but, and I say this with the utmost respect for her character, her advice was shit. It almost reminded me of all the times I’d groaned at Catelyn Stark’s bad advice. I know I might get flak from her super fans, but Jon’s plan just seemed far more sensible- especially when you want to unite the north and don’t want lasting grudges to distract you from killing the Night King.

I did feel like there were probably more people crammed into this episode than was absolutely necessary- you had everything from a glimpse of Jorah Mormont’s arm to a cameo of Ed Sheeran (no joke!). And then there were a few story arcs that just slowed down the pace considerably. The middle lagged- especially when the Hound got his moment in the spotlight. I’m also struggling to get excited about Euron Greyjoy as this seasons’ big bad- unless he does something especially egregious (I mean worthy of Ramsey Snow egregious) I don’t think I’m going to buy that he’s so dastardly- only time will tell. Couple all that setup with a number of scenes of Samwell Tarley cleaning up bodily fluids and my attention started to wane.

Fortunately, the ending did perk me up again. With all the build up and talk of Dragonstone tying the episode together, I did have a hint this was where it was going- but there was always that worry that it would take weeks for Dany to cross the narrow sea. Luckily we didn’t have to wait that long! No- just wham bam thank you mam, she’s in Dragonstone.

And that’s where I’ll leave you too! All I will ask you today is how excited on a scale of 1-10 are you feeling about this show?! Let me know in the comments! (even if your answer is zero 😉 )

Fanfiction Vs Plagiarism – The Epic Battle (/Discussion)

Going into this post was a bit like staring down a can of worms that didn’t even belong to me. I had no business taking it, no desire to touch the thing and cracking it open will probably be considered grossly out of order. Because here’s the deal: I’ve no vested interest in fanfic. I don’t personally care whether people do or don’t write it and I won’t be branching into that territory any time soon. That probably means I should leave well enough alone and not try to discuss it, right?! WRONG! Cos I’m an opinionated SOB and I’m taking a metaphorical can opener to that can of worms right now- you have been warned!! (also- eww- why did I pick that metaphor?!)

So what even is fanfiction? Well for the uninitiated here’s a quick definition:

fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, film, etc.

(Quite a loose definition- but for the purpose of this discussion, I’m not going to go down the “all art is fanfic” route. Let’s not stretch the term till it ceases to be useful here- savvy?)

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Alrighty then, I’m pretty sure that people already know that a lot of people are divided into the *love* and *hate* camps when it comes to fanfiction (and if you didn’t know that, welcome to the internet, where everything is tribalistic as fuck). Defenders of fanfic like to say “what’s the harm? it’s just a bit of fun!”- and for the most part I am inclined to agree- writing fictional things about an already fictional world is hardly something to get your knickers in a twist over. Plus- a lot of great (Mortal Instruments) and not so great (*cough* Fifty Shades of Grey *cough cough*) work started out as fanfic. Not to mention the fact that parodies, which in a broader definition might get included in this genre, would not exist without it. Would we want to be deprived of so much literature? Okay- I can already picture the people screaming at the computer screen “YES!” at the examples I just gave- but you get the idea. It has some upsides- so who is anyone to judge if this makes some people happy?

And yet… the detractors do make good points too. There is a major downside to fanfiction in that it is decidedly not original work. And therein lies the rub- because this so easily crosses into plagiarism issues and many not-so-easily-answered questions arise. At what point does the character become yours? Where does the original story stop and yours begin? What can you use this writing for?

For the last question there is a seemingly straightforward answer. Currently you are not allowed to sell/profit from fanfiction without the author’s permission. Pretty simple right? Well no. As we’ve already established from the other questions the lines are not so clear to begin with. And what makes it worse is that people have always and will always tiptoe up to these lines and try to cross them- like Cathy in Fangirl, unable to see that getting a good grade on her paper for work based on another writer could fairly be deemed as “profiting”. It doesn’t matter to her that universities have very strict rules about plagiarism- to encourage good practices and for you to think for yourself- this is an *injustice* and the professor just does not understand fanfiction (or *muh feels*).

Now here’s the kicker: plagiarism is not okay. I know that things tend to be oh so chill on the internet and we can’t always be responsible for remembering everywhere our ideas came from all the time- but man, wilfully taking a piece of work and passing it off as your own… Not cool dude. I’ve seen people flip out over someone pinching their artwork (and rightly so). I have personally gone a little bananas when a youtuber decided to pass off Roland Barthes work as her own (sadly she also decided to do the sneaky thing and delete all the comments pointing this out, rather than address criticism…). Plagiarism is theft- simple as that. Stealing ideas is a bit like stealing a piece of someone’s soul.

And this is where I have the most discomfort with fanfic. I cannot deny that fanfic is a grey area. Changing the names and tweaking the plot may not be enough- especially if there are lines directly lifted from the original (or in the case of Cassandra Clare, other works). Even for something as light-hearted as fanfiction, it’s easy to get lost in the dark. All I can do is offer a word of warning if you do decide to tread these murky waters: the line may not be so clear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

So what do you think of fanfiction? Are you wary of plagiarism? Let me know in the comments!

Also: challenge for those with a good eye- since we’re talking lifting lines- who spotted the Shakespearean misquotation? 😉 

The disingenuous fantasy blurb

Alrighty then- it’s Sunday! The end of another week! And last week we learnt two things… 1) I like fantasy (okay we already knew that) and 2) I can be a bit lousy about keeping up with my blog (okay we knew that too, so really we learnt nothing). This post was consequently inspired by this simple equation:

Fantasy + Lousiness = Lousy fantasy

So without further ado here is my disingenuous fantasy blurb:

Read this book- I swear there will be dragons in it. The title is vaguely dragon related after all (what did we name this in the end? Fire-flaming-dragon-wings or something…?)

smaug

Also magic- expect magic- and lots of it. (Although this will mostly be in the form of staring mysteriously into fires and errr no one having actual powers… but still…)

Plus we put TOLKIEN on the blurb just now… so now you have to read it to be considered a proper fantasy fan

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We’ve also made this a juicy *thousand pages*- 99% of which will consist of infodumps- so yay!!

And have I mentioned that there will be DRAGONS!!

mushu

*Warning: will not contain actual dragons, just lizard people*

*Also, second disclaimer: don’t read if lots of walking gives you brain blisters*

Okay, hope you enjoyed that! Now I’m gonna try and do some blog hopping… wish me luck!

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Q&A Part 3 – The Cat Edition

Hello again- it’s been what, a few hours? Did you miss me? Just here to conclude my Q&A in a post that talks an awful lot about cats. Anyhoo, please do check out all the lovely people who asked questions and feel free to check out parts 1 and 2.

NEL @ REACTIONARY TALES

I would ask you if you’ve ever been to the states?

Sadly only as a layover (and btw my only impression was that the security is super strict, they took my fingerprints just for the privilege of going from one end of the airport to the other and grilled me about whether I wanted to stay forever…)

Is orangutan your favourite animal?

Well… This confession might get me in trouble, but my actual favourite animal is an ocelot. And also CATSSS in general

orangutan and ocelot

Which makes sense if you think about it, cos it’d be silly if it was an orangutan- like a human whose fave animal was a human…

Have you ever been to a book expo and/or met one of your favourite authors?

I’ve never had the chance to go to a book expo, BUT I was actually really lucky as a child that quite a few authors came to the schools I went to- the best one was the author of the Noughts and Crosses series Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman  June 2008

Also, can I come visit?

Haha sure, if you’re ever in London hit me up and we’ll go for tea 😉

42 is the meaning of life eh? Why 42?

Hehe and yes, Daley kindly answered, but just to clarify- 42 is the meaning of life according to Douglas Adams

BOOKSTOOGE

What is your deepest, darkest secret? The one you swore a blood oath to never reveal. Because we want to know.
*the following is to be said in Valley Girl accent*
“And we’re obviously WAY more important than some blood oath, duh!”

Hahaha well I have to confess now and this relates to my mentioning of CATSSS before- I have been harbouring a fugitive- meet Cecil the Lion:

 

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I am so full of pride that I managed to keep it a secret for this long, but I suppose the cat’s out of the bag now… (yes I did just share that so I could make that joke #noshame)

MARIE @ DRIZZLE AND HURRICANE BOOKS

What countries / cities would you like to visit ?

I’d really really like to go to Athens is at the top of my list right now (so maybe I’ll get to go in a few years 😉 )

athens]

Not really a question but would you share MORE about your WIP? Like, a snippet, a sentence or anything?! 

Haha I’m so stingy with info about my WIP, I just get too nervous about sharing anything, but here’s a pithy line from the last chapter I edited:

“Power was a treasure trove and all politics was piracy”

What’s your favourite animal ?

lions-and-tigers-and-bears-oh-my

JK but as you may have noticed from my early cat-related comments, I do really like CATTTS, specifically ocelots.

What’s one thing that other people do that you can’t stand?

Ask me if I’ve been blessed by the beautiful light that is JC… and by that I mean Jeremy Corbyn (hello Corbynistas- please can you stop spamming me- thanks!) So yeah, annoying political spammers…

jeremy corbyn spammers

Did you think you’d blog for so long? 

To be honest, I *never* thought I would fall in love with blogging like this. When I first started I was blogging I wrote a post a month and just thought I’d review books every so often.

BRUCEONTHEFRINGE

If you were shipwrecked on a desert island and the waves were about to wash away the complete collection of Terry Pratchett’s books and you only had time to save one, which would it be?

mort nice edition

OH GOD SO HARD!! I’m gonna go with Mort, but I’m so tempted to say Going Postal or arghhh see what I mean, hard!

Also, if you weren’t an orang-utan what other creature would you like to be? (mooses are pretty awesome)

Hahaha moose are awesome! I think this post might be getting feline heavy- so I’m gonna pick a penguin. I mean check out their waddle 😉

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BOOKS, VERTIGO AND TEA

If you had to compare yourself to a fictional character, who would it be and why?

Well I always think something of a cross between Luna Lovegood and Alice

Do you have a favorite recipe for bananas? 

I like banana bread but I am a horrible horrible baker.

What is something that the blogging community does not know about you?

Haha today is just full of confessions, isn’t it? Hmm some people are actually surprised to find out I like dresses (oh and I’m also a girl, not everyone knows that)

orangutan in dress

DANI @ PERSPECTIVE OF A WRITER

What book describes you best? (Is it a particular character, the cover or the story?) Oh and it would be super cool if you could draw something for your super reveal post!

isla and the happily ever after

Hard question! I think I find more in common with characters, rather than stories or covers. I’ve already mentioned Luna and Alice, but I think someone else who I really relate to is Isla from Isla and the Happily Ever After. And even though the story doesn’t really describe my life (I mean, there is a distinct absence of bananas) I feel like I’d have done *a lot* of the same things in her position.

(I also hope I fulfilled the drawing requirement 😉 )

So that’s all for today- hope you enjoyed these Q&As- I certainly enjoyed making them! And now I want to know what is *your* favourite animal? And how do you feel about CATSSS? Let me know in the comments!

Q&A Part 2 – Books and Weirdness Edition

Hello all- I’m back with part 2 of my Q&A. In case you missed it Part 1 is here and I’ve linked to all of the *awesome* bloggers who provided questions, so please do check them out!!

And cos there was an awful lot for one post- I’ve ended up putting the last set of Qs and As into one more post for this afternoon! Trust me, you won’t wanna miss that one 😉

DREW @ THE TATTOOED BOOK GEEK

If you wrote an autobiography what would you call it?

Confessions of a Bananaholic

Bananas

What colour are Orangutans? Orange or Ginger?

Orange!

If you were given the chance to rewrite a book which book would you choose and why?

talon

Hmm this one’s pretty hard- but I’d probably pick one of those dreadful dragon-but-not-really-a-dragon books like Talon- I’d just make them act like *actual* dragons. (You know, eat hunters instead of falling in love with them)

If you could punch an author in the face which author would you choose and why?

Hahaha what a question!! Well I don’t want to punch any author in the face, but can I pick someone like Chairman Mao or Hitler since they technically wrote books? Or maybe a Hitler apologist like Roald Dahl (yeah I think I might have just ruined some people’s childhood…)

Snog, marry, avoid and the choices are Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May or Turtle face himself Nigel Farage!

Eww what a question! Okay… so I actually asked advice on how to answer this one, cos I was stumped, and they said just go in age order, which means…

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Snog Farage, marry May, and avoid Corbyn. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just thrown up in my mouth a little…

DALEY DOWNING @ THE INVISIBLE MOTH

If you could change the ending to one particular book, which book would it be and how would you rewrite the ending?

Well I’m gonna resurrect my Marauder’s fangirl stage and bring Sirius Black back to life

STUART MCEWAN

If you could create an entirely new genre of books, novels and all things readable and glorious, what would it be

Orangutan steampunk-fantasy crossover 😉

ZEZEE

For some reason, I can’t think of any questions. My mind is blank.
Actually, my question is what do you do when your mind is blank and you’re stuck at a work cocktail party where you MUST talk to other orangutans?

Hehehe well I’m actually a rather chatty ape- when I get excited I talk, when I’m bored I talk, when I’m nervous I talk… you get the idea. Here are some actual conversation topics I’ve talked about at work dos:

  • Lucid dreaming
  • Why are there no medium sized models?
  • Places I’d like to visit
  • Internet strangeness
  • Politics (on second thoughts *don’t* do this one- it never ends well…)

ANNA @ TSUNDOKIST 

Which book character makes you so angry that you want to punch them in the face/throw the book against the wall/feed them vomit-flavoured Bertie Botts beans, etc?

lolita

Humbert Humbert hands down. He deserves to eat nothing but vomit flavoured Bertie Botts beans forever (FYI Lolita still holds the record for “book I threw against the wall the most times”)

EMMA THE BOOK LOVER

My question is: What was the last book you gave 5 stars to and why? 

six of crows

Just looking at this sexy book makes me want to read the second one- WHY IS THE POST SO SLOW!!! (seriously I feel a bit like a drug addict waiting for my next fix right now)

Well hope you enjoyed that craziness!! See you all again very soon!!

 

Q&A Part 1 – The Happy Ice Cream Edition

Hello all!! Phew- I’ve been so lousy with blogging lately- I do hope to rectify that asap- but in the meantime, here’s my promised Q&A! Well the first part at least- I found it was much too much for one post, so I split them up.

Thank you so so much for the absolutely incredible questions!! All the questions are linked up to the bloggers- do check them out- they’re all amazing!!

KRISTIN @ KRISTIN KRAVES BOOKS

I would love to know what your perfect day looks like!

sunny beach

What a wonderful question! I’m not sure exactly- but it would probably involve a sunny beach, a book and lots and lots of ice cream!! And fireworks!

JOURNEYINTOBOOKS

I’d love to know what your favourite historical period is and what your perfect reading nook would look like 

Definitely the roaring 20s! And something like this…

reading nook

CHARLOTTE

If you had the ability to write like any author, who would you choose?

Hard one! Well since we’re talking *any* author I would choose to be (or not to be) Shakespeare- forsooth why not? I may as well pick the best author of all time!

Also, would you rather bungee jump or go sky diving?

Hahaha well that’s a scary question for an acrophobic!! I don’t think I could ever jump out of a plane- so bungee jumping (though I hope I never have to do either!!!)

JACKIE B @ DEATH BY TSUNDOKU

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Chocolate!

ice cream

What is the book that hooked you into reading?

Harry Potter- the most standard answer ever 😉

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

If you could build the perfect home library with unlimited funds what would it look like?

This:

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Why do you blog? How did you start and what keeps you going?

Well I started it to rant about Captain Corelli’s Mandolin… And I continued cos it ended up being so much fun and I met so many wonderful people doing it- you guys are the best!!

AMELIA IN HULL

What is your fave number?

22 because my friends and I were stalked by it for a year… (ooh scary I know :p )

LIIS @ COVER TO COVER

If you could be a plant which one would you be and why?

Haha I have no idea- a rose maybe cos get prickly sometimes 😉

ba dum tish

If the supply of bananas ran out what would you do?

Cry

Why Orangutan?

Well if you’re asking how I came up with the name, I based it on Ook from Discworld. But if you’re asking why on a more metaphysical level, it’s because I *am* an orangutan 😉

Provided the Mars colonisation comes to plan, would you go live on Mars or stay on Earth, why?

mars

Haha there is NO WAY I would go to Mars- I’ve read the Martian! Mostly cos I’m too busy trying to convince my enemies to go 😉 (you know standard “it’ll be great, you’ll have an amazing time, we can communicate by skype maybe…”)

If you could time travel what year or decade would you go to live in for 5-10 years?

Ha- well I already used up my 20s answer- so the 60s! The music was ace! Also the fashion was better than the 70s- I mean look at this craziness:

70 fashion

If you could genetically modify humans, what new ‘ability’ would you choose to give humans?

Telekinesis- cos then I’d never have to say “pass the remote” again.

EVA@BRILLIANTLY BOOKISH

If you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

banana split

Banana split- no word of a lie it’s my favourite- it has all the best things- especially ice cream (life is better with ice cream)

MEGGY | CHOCOLATE’N’WAFFLES

What’s your favorite letter of the alphabet?

Q

Which seat do you choose when booking a flight?

Preferably one far away from everyone else 😉 JK I usually let the airline decide- I’m not really fussed

Skirt or shorts?

Shorts! (maybe just cos I have these awesome ones from banana republic that I’m loving right now)

What’s your favourite crisps flavour?

Okay- so this is a very British thing and all the Europeans are gonna say “ewww” but salt and vinegar crisps (one problem when you’re travelling is you can never find them *anywhere*) So yeah, the way to my heart is through a bag of these:

snack a jacks

SOPHIE @ BLAME CHOCOLATE

What’s the strangest book title you’ve ever come across?

So I had to google that and this is what I found (among other things):


Smooth peanut butter or crunchy peanut butter?

Hmm smooth, but I don’t really mind crunchy on occasion. It’s not like juice with pulp 😉

If you could travel to any place right now, and money was not a problem, which one would it be?

Hong Kong!

hong-kong-island-half-day-tour-in-hong-kong-114439

Okay I think that’s a nice note to end on for now- I still have *loads* of awesome questions to get through- so stay tuned for more! And let me know in the comments what your favourite flavour of ice cream is!

The Evolution of the Fairy Tale – Retellings in the Modern Age

*Where I ramble on about fairy tale retellings*

I think it’s been a really long time since I did a rambly thought post like this. Today, I just wanted to talk a bit about the modern fairy tale retelling.

grimm's fairy taleIn many ways, fairy tales are coming full circle. Retellings are getting darker and grittier- “back to the basics” of the horrific Grimm versions. Yes, Disney did pretty them up a bit, once upon a time, perhaps because of changing theories about the of the need to protect childhood innocence, but what I’ve noticed in recent years is that there is more of an appetite for “adult” retellings. Though I don’t think this is coming from the realisation that darker stories help people adjust to the real world, I do think that free markets are a huge influencer in this, because, even if the theorists don’t get behind this idea (and many do), the fact of the matter is the markets will provide what people are willing to pay for.

PrincessAuroraSleepsBUT this is not to say that they haven’t changed drastically at the same time. These modern day retellings are clear subversions of the originals. If it is true to say that the women are passive in early Disney versions, then this is nothing compared to the portrayal of “heroines” in the like of Grimm, Perrault or Basile. In fact, I am even reluctant to call them heroines, for the simple reason that sometimes all they do is lie there and get impregnated by random princes… Yeah that actually happens to Sleeping Beauty in the Italian version. The heroines now are so far removed from that they have taken on the role of an almost Greek goddess type figure- unstoppable, wildly powerful and sometimes a little unrelatable (hello Mary Sue).

This drive to the other extreme has had interesting consequences for fairy tales. Because before we put on the hat of superiority about our own time, we should probably note how it is flawed in different ways. One of the drawbacks to this approach that I have noticed is a tendency to turn male characters into the damsel in distress ie Kai in The Lunar Chronicles. Now, I don’t personally think it is such a problem to have a “damsel” character, be it male or female, because the need to save another human being, especially a loved one, is an incredibly powerful motivator. This role reversal is just an interesting phenomenon that I have noticed. The issue I often find with this is that it can end up emasculating the male characters to the point where they feel superfluous or uninteresting. Whether male or female, if a character constantly needs saving, they can be a bit of a bore. A healthy balance, where they save each other, while cheesy, often works best for me personally.

Cinderella_2015_official_posterYet those are just some of the drawbacks I’ve noticed in modern retellings. What really gets me is the loss of the central messages. Take Cinderella, where one of the core messages is that goodness will be rewarded. To my mind, it was never about being “saved” but to “have courage and be kind” (to coin the Disney live action maxim). But where are the morals in so many retellings? Sometimes they just seem to be about how kickass a character can be, which, don’t get me wrong, is a lot of fun- but hardly connected with a story about being kind. For instance, by making Celaena an assassin no less (not exactly the most “kind” profession) I fail to see any connection with the story it’s supposedly retelling. It’s no surprise to me (though a little disappointing) that it’s ended up going the Messianic route in terms of plot and seemingly abandoned all  hint of Cinderella. Thus we are back to the idea of subversion and, oddly enough, in some ways abandonment of the core messages altogether.

So I don’t really have any happy or comfortable conclusions to draw from this. Fairy tales have changed, they always will change. But do those changes work all the time? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!