Dear My Plain Jane – You Are Beautiful To Me!

my plain janeDear My Plain Jane,

I must confess I feel like I am cheating on My Lady Jane with this letter- but I cannot hold it in any longer- I cannot keep my feelings stashed away in the attic like a dirty secret! After My Lady Jane, I was bereft of witty fantasy company and there you were: dressing and talking and acting the same way. You lured me in with your wicked wiles, you made me pick you up. I could not resist peeking between your pages.

And I must say, your charms increased the more I got to know you. While you didn’t make me fall for you quite as fast as my first love, you did hook me with your premise. You weren’t quite the same as your predecessor; you had your own unique personality. I liked the new take though! The concept of a retelling of Jane Eyre where titular character was literally haunted was a great deal of fun. I was not prepared, however, for the little surprises along the way.

Initially, I thought the original characters were getting the rough end of the stick (yes, Mr Rochester is a jerk, but I still love him) yet in the end this was a kinder retelling than I expected. More than that, you went above and beyond to give the characters the story they deserved. Jane’s narrative was sweeter, more focused on friendship and focused more on how we deal with hardships. Even better was the meta take on Charlotte Bronte- giving a never-before-seen glimpse into her life (well, a fantastical, joyful take anyway). I did like the relationships and cute romances throughout. I especially liked how this all led to an aww-inspiring happy ending.

Your humour was breath-taking as well! I enjoyed every refence to pop culture- from LOTR to the Princess Bride to Scooby Doo! Each one made me throw my head back laughing. You were a riot! I think I guffawed the loudest when you mentioned My Lady Jane.

Anyway, I have to say as much as I am a fan of Jane Eyre, I was able to take this unique reimaging in the spirit it was intended and didn’t mind the changes it made (I know, I surprised myself again). Reader, this book was a lot of fun. Please find enclosed:

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana 

Sincerely, Orangutan Librarian

booklove orangutan

 

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The most pretentious post you will ever read…

Well hello everybody! So, two things have been irritating me lately: 1) people calling things pretentious when they’re not actually pretentious (no beautiful writing does not automatically equal pretentious) and 2) pretentious people being pretentious (usually the same people labelling things pretentious when they’re not). Which is why I’ve decided to do the totally “mature” thing and make THE MOST PRETENTIOUS POST IN THE WORLD just to set the record straight/show that anything you can do I can do better (*yes this is satire, thank you for noticing* 😉)

Alrighty then, let’s get into this discombobulation of an articulation of my emancipation from the oppressive forces that is the English language. Yeahhh look at all those “ations” going into my word salad- myself is a veritable genius 😉 Hope yourself likes myself’s use of hypercorrection there. Thusly, myself thought I’d share my hypnotic-transcendent-mind-boggling-patriarchy-smashing-dominative-sociocratic art with you- enjoy/be amazed by…

crease in the wallpaper

Crease in the Wallpaper

A reference, of course, to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s work, using shades of light and dark to obfuscate the question is anything even real? The fact that you can barely even see it represents how we are blind to the evils that exist in society purely to oppress us.

bleeding radiator

Bleeding Radiator

As the title suggests, this is a powerful piece reflecting on the wounds society invariably and unwittingly inflicts upon us with is shadowy gaze and accidental touch.

popped balloon

Popped Balloon

Like my hopes and dreams after this post- completely deflated.

peeled banana

Banana Peel

I’m a monkey, I just really like bananas. Also *symbolism* which you’ll have to figure out for yourself.

And my favourite:

frayed carpet

Frayed Carpet

I am poor. Send help.

(unfortunately/fortunately we temporarily got rid of the rising damp in the bathroom so you can’t see that in all its glory)

(NB: though I have been forced to use the typical trappings of frames that society superficially demands I use, this is only so that you take me seriously in an increasingly unsympathetic world where artists go underappreciated, NOT because I am a “total wanker” as critics claim.)

(NBB: all the photos are raw and unfiltered… except for the ones where I’ve used filters)

Wowwww what a treat that was for the universe. Now let’s get onto my poetry. Alas- there won’t be a live performance of me accosting-strangers-on-a-street-corner à-la-nouveau slam poetry style, so since you are robbed of that, you’ll have to use your imaginations to witness me shrieking wildly *in your mind’s eye*:

Everything

was

floating

above the

nothings

Of

my

human

membrane

Dying

in

the

infinite forevers And

hopping

around

on a

kangaroo…

THE END! Finito! *Takes bow*

I sincerely hope you did that justice by picturing me just like this:

stressed monkey orangutan0002

One day some lucky sod’s gonna be studying that prestigious work of art for GCSE. And on that beautiful note, I’ll love you and leave you 😉

In defence of classics- again!

thoughts orangutan

Prepare yourself, for I am about to say something *ground-breaking*, *momentous*, *lifechanging* even: classics are worthwhile and important. I know, I know, you can stop the applause now 😉 I’m pretty sure I’ve made my defences for classics before and talked about their upsides. Alas- this seems to be the perennial problem of our age that won’t go away. Every week or so, I still see people telling others not to bother reading classics. And I despair whenever I see someone using these horrible, terrible, NOT GOOD arguments. So, it’s about time to put down those swords, grab the much-mightier pen, and let’s break this down, shall we?

“They’re pretentious”- I hear many-a misled individual moan. Here’s the kicker- complex/beautiful/unusual language *is not* automatically pretentious. In fairness, I think there are multiple reasons for this misbelief, starting with the fact that they can be written in archaic language, which is less accessible to the modern reader. Now, where the mistake is being made is that using complex words and a style from 200 years ago DOES NOT mean the author’s intent was to impress upon you its importance in some hoity-toity way. Hard for the modern reader ≠ pretentious. A lot of classics were aimed at the “mass market” (as much as that existed) in the same way a popular paperback might be today. It is a truth universally acknowledged that poor people went to see Shakespeare back in the day 😉 This is not to say that there are no pretentious classics- BUT (and this will come as a shocker) classics are not all the same and come from a range of genres- as was brilliantly pointed out by Pages Unbound.

“There’s no benefit/it’s the same to just watch the movie”- erm no. I mean, I’m not sure I have to explain the difference between reading a book and watching a movie to a bunch of bookworms 😉 Let’s just say, I think we can all agree that there’s endless complexity when it comes to books, it stretches the brain and this is particularly important when it comes to children’s development. Because, yes, classics may provide more of a challenge, but that is really beneficial when it comes to education. You wouldn’t expect an athlete to get better only competing at the lowest level. The language of classics alone often makes a huge difference as well- you can’t just cheat the system by brushing up on sparknotes. There are so many literary devices that you miss if you don’t read it on the page. I’ve heard it said recently the difference is much like looking at a photo versus a painting- the depth is so much greater when you can see the layers for yourself.

“They’re elitist”- seems to be a very pervasive point of view at the moment. Unfortunately, it hurts the very people it pertains to help. Somehow, it’s supposed to help people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to tell them they don’t need to read classics- yet in truth this race to the bottom mentality stands in the way of self-improvement and stops poorer kids from levelling the playing field. Not only will it be impossible to out-compete people who have top-notch educations with this attitude, but it also means our societies will be less educated for it. In the words of headteacher and founder of the Michaela Community School, Katherine Birbalsingh “They are denying a decent education to black kids, because being able to understand Shakespeare is a right that my kids deserve and knowing who Mozart was and hearing his music is a right that they should be able to access.” We should be fighting for underprivileged kids to get good educations, not standing in their way! And on that note…

“They’re all written by old white men”- ahh the criticism that historically speaking Europeans were European. Aside from the what do you actually expect to come out of Europe? counterargument, I do think that there’s other problems with this outlook. One, you may need to re-examine the last few hundred years of the European literary canon; two, I will always advocate expanding your horizons and considering reading *outside* the Western canon. Go on, I dare you 😉 Though there are benefits of reading in the original language, which I’ve mentioned, you can still get access to the ideas and learn something new. But, even if we were to assume all classics were written by “old white men”, it doesn’t actually reduce their merit, make them less valuable or stop them being important for the reasons already stated.

“They put children off reading”- well, I wouldn’t say this is true for a lot of children, as Briana @Pages Unbound wrote about in: “Why I fell in love with reading because of old boring books”. I feel much the same way and many, many literature students will tell you the same thing. Unfortunately, I can’t say that every teacher will be brilliantly inspiring. Plus, there is always the matter of personal taste (although I will urge people put off by a few books not to throw out the baby with the bathwater). Now everything I’ve said so far might indicate that I want children reading classics, whilst playing the violin and sipping tea. Truth is though, I prefer to take the middle ground when it comes to the “what kids should be reading” debate. There should be a balance in children reading for pleasure and for educational purposes. As Krysta @Pages Unbound pointed out in her post “The Unacknowledged Nuances in the Argument for Choice in School Reading“, left to themselves, children will never pick up certain types of books and will nearly always go for the easy option. While it can seem quite prescriptive, the real trick with reading lists is to find a balance- a lot of teachers try to find a mix of well-written/enjoyable/imaginative reads etc. But they’ll also understand that there have to be progressively more challenging books. After all, in the words of George R R Martin:

a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone

Classics are the *ultimate* whetstone. And on that weird analogy, I’d like to ask you if you think classics have value? What other defences do you have? Let me know in the comments

Identity Crisis Tag!

orangutan tag 2

Sooo it’s my birthday tomorrow and as often happens now that I’m getting older (yikes!) I may or may not be having an identity crisis… which is why I thought it would be a fun time to try and figure out who I am anyway? Am I the person I always thought I was? Is the sky still blue? Who knows? Obviously the most sensible thing to do at a time like this is answer buzzfeed questions to determine what book characters I most resemble… (cos #bookwormlogic)

Thank you so much to the marvellous No Reads Too Great– an avid book blogger with fantastic taste in books- so definitely recommend checking her out!

The rules are:

  1. Take all the quizzes down below and record your answers.
  2. NO CHEATING. You get one shot to take each quiz.
  3. Give credit to the creator Loretta @ The Laughing Listener or tag her on twitter @LaughnListener so she can see everyone’s answers!!
  4. Tag some friends to spread the fun!

Red Queen

WHO I AM: Maven

Woah people better watch out because you are not one to be messed with! You hold all the power and the truth is what you make it. You could set this world on fire and call it rain! (But please don’t.)

OMG I got Maven- laughing my ass off! I always like getting the evil characters- I hope this is a trend 😉

Shadowhunters

mortal instruments

WHO I AM: Charlotte Branwell & Mark Blackthorn!

You may be underestimated and some may count you out, but you’re a serious person when you need to be, and take responsibility very seriously. You’re incredibly loyal (though it may not seem like it at times), and your friends are lucky to have you.

I’ll take it!

Throne of Glass

throneofglass series

WHO AM I: Rowan and Asterin

You may come off as stand-offish at first, but once a new friend earns your loyalty, they have it for life. Not without good reason. You’ve been through your fair share of struggles and are careful to protect yourself from more.

Oof close to home…

Hunger Games

WHO AM I: Katniss Everdeen!

You’re smart, talented, and fiercely independent. You may not mean to but everyone looks up to you. Not only have you got a fiery spirit but you have a big heart — your friends and family mean the world to you. Keep on being you.

Hell yeah! (although I do think the Buzzfeed questions were totally random- book riot seemed a bit more logical)

Harry Potter

harry-potter-books

WHO AM I: Albus Dumbledore

You’re wise, quirky and very trusting. You’re loved and respected by everyone but sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to make everything right.

Pahaha not sure it sounds like me- but I’ll take it!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

WHO AM I: Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court

A prince of darkness with a heart of gold, you’re the most powerful High Lord in Prythian. Despite your smoldering good looks and mind-crushing powers, you still manage to make time to appreciate art and nature a few close friendships. You’d give your life for those you love, and sell your soul to keep them safe.

I think I got this just by virtue of being a night owl?

The Raven Cycle

WHO AM I: Noah Czerny

You are very observant, and mostly keep to yourself. A little too naive and gullible of others, your willingness to trust leads to you getting hurt quite often. You are extremely kind and loyal to those you love.

Bits and bobs of this could be true- but Noah and I do have things in common.

Twilight

twilight series

WHO AM I: Jessica Stanley

The friend that everyone needs in their life, you must be Jessica! Sure, humans might not get to have as much fun as vampires, but you’ll show ’em how it’s done. You’re ever so curious, ever so friendly, and a little bit crazy — who wouldn’t want you as a BFF?

I mean, not the best, but there are A LOT of worse options in this series!

Folk of the Air

WHO AM I: Locke!

You have a way with words and aren’t afraid to use them. You’re a natural charmer and people tend to like you right away.

Oh wow I wasn’t prepared for that- yeesh- not such a good one!

Lunar Chronicles

WHO AM I: Cress

A Lunar shell confined to a satellite to aid Queen Levana with hacking and surveillance of Earthen countries. She is a petite girl with very long honey blonde hair, a heart-shaped face, and freckles. She has a very overactive imagination, and nervous around people due to her lack of social interaction growing up.

I am so relieved to get her cos I relate to this character so much!! Even if I’m no hacking genius, I definitely have an overactive imagination! Finally one I can rest easy on!

I don’t think this exercise has taught me much about who I am, but it was a helluva lot of fun! I tag:

Katie @Never Not Reading, Rivermoose Reads, Hammock of Books, Journey into Books, Bibliophagist, Meltotheany, Sophie, The Awkward Book Blogger, Roaring Bookworm and anyone else who wants to do it!

And anyone else who wants to do it! What do you think about my results? Do you relate to any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Where have all the good men (and women) gone? Favourite heroic heroes!

orangutan fairy tale knight in shining armour0003

Truth be told, I happen to have a soft spot for dark/broody/morally ambiguous heroes. I know I’ve tended to talk about villains and anti-heroes in the past- BUT NOT THIS DAY! For today, I thought it would be fun to talk about some awesome heroes (and heroines) that really stand up for traditional heroic values. These are the people who always find a way to do the right thing- no matter what stands in their way. These are the more stereotypical “goodies” as opposed to our more modern, realistic take on heroes. These are basically what I’d call the archetypal heroes. And yeah, as the title suggests, I decided not to just make this about blokes, cos plenty of female characters exhibit the same traits. Let’s get into it:

orangutan list

brothers karamazov

Alexei Karamazov– now I often spotlight Prince Myshkin from Dostoevksy’s the Idiot, but Alyosha is much the same in personality, if not more noble. He’s by far my favourite Karamazov- yes, above even the allure of Ivan- because he’s a pure soul, intent on doing the right thing and standing up for all that is good in the world. (I have heard people say he’s basically supposed to be Jesus as well, which makes sense).

the-lord-of-the-rings-book-cover

Faramir– ahhh Faramir doesn’t have the highs of Aragorn or the lows of Boromir, but he is the most human of all Tolkien’s, well, humans. He is definitely my favourite of the bunch. Yes, he does struggle, but he always chooses the right path. He’s the perfect partner for my favourite LOTR heroine as well…

the_lord_of_the_rings_first_copies

Eowyn– I mean, could I really leave her off the list? Did you expect me to make a post about traditional heroes and heroines and not do more than one Tolkien character? You kinda shoulda seen this coming (so really this is all your fault 😉). Okay, enough kidding around, cos this lady seriously means business! You know what I was saying in the intro about girls being able to have the same traits? Well Eowyn stabs the myth that only men can be heroic straight through the heart/right through Nazghul’s face…

lioness-rampant-9781442427662_hr

Alana/the Lioness- I mean, if you wanna talk about original *girl power* stories, then look no further than Tamora Pierce. This typical fantasy adventure features the very best of heroics and danger in equal measure.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Harry Potter– okay, so I had to resist the urge to let my bias show and choose another Gryffindor for this one. But I think that other than possibly Neville, most of the other Gryffindors have more glaring character flaws. Other than Harry’s random bout of adolescence in Order of the Phoenix, however, he pretty much fulfils the role of good, old-fashioned hero. Sooo that’s why I went with Harry Potter above all the others… or maybe I’m just under the Imperius curse 😉

bear and the nightingale

Vasilisa– Vasilisa is one of my favourite modern heroines! She’s definitely the kind of character that would make the Sorting Hat scream GRYFFINDOR! She stands up for herself, what she believes in and all of Rus!

skyward

Spensa– I recently read Skyward and fell hard for Spensa! She is a kickass heroine- she’s bold and funny and definitely someone you want watching your back!

the martian

Mark Watney– there’s more than one way to be daring in space- and Mark Watney definitely deserves all the awards for bravery! (and also for being a certifiable genius and great wit!)

daughter of smoke and bone

Karou– like I said, there’s more than one way to be a hero. Karou isn’t the conventional hero- her story is more complicated than that- but she does have the purest intentions and the drive to see it through to the end. She would (literally) die to save the ones she loves.

one word kill

Nick HayesNick is the sort of timeless hero who always tries to do the right thing- wherever he might turn up. Even up against the odds, he finds a way to do the right thing and that’s all you can ask for!

guards-guards

Samuel Vimes– speaking of people who always do the right thing, Vimes might be a little bit rougher round the edges than others on this list, but he has a good heart, the best intentions and is such a fun character to boot!

So those are just a few of my heroes- did you like them? How about some of yours- which fictional heroes do you admire? Let me know in the comments!

In Defence of Girly Girl Genres

thoughts orangutan

A while back I did a discussion on genre snobbery and one of the things that sparked that debate was something I never actually got around to mentioning in the post: the way a lot of women’s fiction and frankly anything aimed at women is treated with derision. I ended up going in a different direction for that piece- though I still had *so much* to say on the topic- which is why we’re finally gonna get into this sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice (and totally not controversial) topic 😉 Hold onto your bonnets and try not to get your petticoat in a twist, I’m about to go into the trenches!

keeping fait review
Needless to say, I don’t agree with this review

It’s not uncommon to see denigration of media aimed at females- particularly when it has the audacity to exhibit typically feminine traits 😉 In fact, recently, I was reading a review for the TV show Keeping Faith, when I saw this inane and ridiculous criticism that it had too much “girly music”. To me, a show about a female lawyer, fighting for justice, whilst also being an incredible mum and genuinely caring person is pretty positive piece of media, but what do I know? Apparently, even showing the teensiest bit of femininity must be slated 😉

And I can hardly pretend this is the first time. On a grander scale, Taylor Swift has oft been criticised for being “too girly”. And we can all remember the “AHH TWILIGHT SUCKS!!!” craze- which one could argue ended up being just as hysterical in the end as screaming girls shouting “bite me Edward!” (okay maybe not 😉). Funnily enough, I’m not arguing that Twilight is somehow a fantastic piece of art, but it’s surprising to me that it got so much backlash in mainstream media in a way that other trashy things don’t. For instance, I never see the same level of mockery for James Bond- even though it’s equally as fanciful and has its own issues. This is not an invitation to hate on James Bond- I think everyone is entitled to enjoy whatever they want- yet this chill attitude seems to go out the window when it’s a girly thing that people are enjoying. And, as entertaining as it may be watching everyone from college professors to 50-year-old blokes ripping into something aimed at teenage girls, I do think it would be good if there was *a bit* of perspective here. Not only is this taking said media much too seriously, but I personally believe women and girls should be able to explore their fantasies in a healthy way, free from this ridiculous level of scrutiny and judgement.

BUT I hear many people in the back shouting, why are you complaining, don’t you get a bunch of superhero/action-flick/dramas with female leads nowadays? Well, I’m glad you brought it up, kind heckler, because that’s part of the problem. I’m gonna be brutally honest: these are mostly movies made for men, by men, with a female lead shoehorned in. Don’t get me wrong, I usually enjoy a good action flick, yet I’m not seeing how a woman portraying entirely masculine traits represents most real women. We are constantly bombarded by the idea of what women *should* want to consume and how we *supposedly* behave, all the while any sign of femininity is snuffed out.

Mean-Girls-GIF-Cady-Heron-Lindsay-Lohan-Falls-In-Trash-Can1

In fact, we only have to look at what became of the rom com in Hollywood- cos it’s not like they died a natural death. No, instead, producers told us we didn’t want them anymore and stopped making them. Oh really– we don’t want them, even though most women I meet talk about how much they miss the rom com era of the nineties. Oh sure- we don’t want them- despite the box office success of Crazy Rich Asians, popularity of Netflix rom coms and (remarkably) the surge of affection for the Hallmark channel of all things!

None of this is to stoke revolutionaries to *punch the air* and shout “LET’S TAKE AWAY JAMES BOND FROM MEN THEN!” Unfortunately, I do see this response and I find that attitude counterproductive. As I’ve already mentioned, I actually like plenty of more masculinised media and think that men should have just as much space for their fantasies. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean I want girly stories pushed aside. I think we can move past the idea that “girly” automatically means “less good”. I want to see women being more fairly represented as we are. And that shouldn’t be a controversial statement.

orangutan in dress

Really good content on this:

The Attack on Femininity in Fiction: Masculine Women and Disempowered Men by the Authentic Observe – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jumw30_j9cs&t=2s

Trope Talk – Strong Female Characters by Jordan Harvey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReE5n3jLdzk

Dear Stephanie Meyer by Lindsay Ellis – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O06tMbIKh0

Let’s Not Judge People on Literary Taste https://franlaniado.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/lets-not-judge-people-based-on-literary-taste/

Chivalry Dying in Books by Kelly @Another Book in the Wall https://anotherbookinthewall.com/2018/03/07/chivalry-dying-in-books-wednesday-rambles/

Also, Strong Female Characters, Mary Sues and Manic Pixie Dream Girls- What the Heck is Up with Female Characters in Books, by me 😉 https://theorangutanlibrarian.wordpress.com/2018/12/09/strong-female-characters-mary-sues-and-manic-pixie-dream-girls-and-what-the-heck-is-up-with-female-characters-in-books/

So do you agree or disagree with my defence of girly genres? Let me know in the comments!

Falling for more fun and fluffy books!

Woohoo- it’s Fall!! (or autumn as we call it on this side of the pond)

autumn monkey 2

I absolutely love the autumn. I love getting out my cosy clothes, I love getting ready for winter and most of all I love the excuse to stay in with my books (c’mon, we all do it 😉) And what better books for this time of year than some super sweet fluff!

orangutan list

the flatshare

Flatshare– if you’re after a modern love story then look no further! Cos OMG this quirky romance is the perfect homecoming if you’re still craving something summery 😀

cinder and ella

Cinder and Ella– I know I mention this a lot (because I ❤ cinderella retellings) but man, this book is so good!!

geekerella

Geekerella– yes I am addicted to Cinderella retellings, yes at least one is always bound to end up on this list. And really, you can’t go wrong with this refreshing fandom-themed take on the classic fairy tale! Also, tis the season to get dressed up in funky costumes and pretend to be someone else 😉

kindred spirits

Kindred Spirits– it’s been a long time since I mentioned this adorable novella and it’s very much overdue! This really relatable story features so much geekiness and I am SO HERE FOR IT!

eliza and her monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters– another story that’s super relevant to the modern world, this book is so relevant to the likes of us who like hanging out online… which is everyone here 😉

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– admittedly not modern, this is most definitely a contemporary take on the story of Lady Jane Grey. Hilarious, quirky and with plenty of *magic*- you can’t go wrong with this unique read! (and the next one in the Lady Janies series is good too)

goose girl

Goose Girl– admittedly with sadder aspects, nothing could have a fluffier, happier ending than this Middle Grade retelling. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

ps i like you

PS I Like You– PS I liked this book 😉 Okay don’t let my cheesy joke put you off- this is possibly my favourite Kasie West book because it is SO CUTE!

kiss quotient

Kiss Quotient– I swear Hoang is my new love in the contemporary genre- I can’t count the times I’ve recommended this- and can estimate I’m gonna mention it a lot more in the future!

zenn diagram

Zenn Diagram– with more of a magical realism twist, this book certainly adds up to a good time. And you get a really deep romance and aww-inspiring ending to boot!

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to? And what books do you think make great fluffy reads? Let me know in the comments!