Woke by @TitaniaMcGrath is the most important book of our time

wokeWhat a STUNNING and BRAVE and MAGNIFICENT creature Titania McGrath is. It is an absolute pleasure to bask in her tweets that liberate us from reality and hear to her shrieking *ahem* spoken word poetry. We are all blessed to breathe the same air as her (except that we probably shouldn’t do that cos that is stealing air from minorities). We, the undeserving, are fortunate to merely be able to listen to this goddess of progressivism preaching how much better she is than us. Her wisdom is undeniable.

“It is no exaggeration to say I would rather be living in a Soviet gulag than a capitalist country”

Of course, it can come as no surprise that Titania experienced *horrendous* abuse from an early age, being brought up by wealthy parents and privately educated (the horror, the horror!). Worse still, she recently faced a twitter ban by the evil Nazi capitalist overlords over in Silicone Valley! I now thank my lucky stars that I have never experienced such inhumane treatment!

“That’s the wonderful thing about identity politics: you never have to explain yourself, or even develop your thoughts into what right-wingers call a “coherent argument””

Are we not all oppressed though? Titania teaches us that anything can be a form of oppression if shouted about loudly enough. I for one would love to share my invisible disability of extreme laziness but I’m afraid I’d have to get out of bed early to do that (#slovenlypride). But really, I recognise that my biggest obstacle in life comes from being a woman (obviously) and that even my cartoon depictions of myself are oppressed by the patriarchy (obviously) since no one recognises I’m a woman unless I put on a dress!

orangutan in dress

“When women are valued more than men, then and only then will we have achieved equality.”

Althoughhhh when I say everyone is oppressed, I’m not really talking about everyone. Straight white men don’t count. Even if they’re living in a dumpster, they have privilege. I mean, that goes without saying. I actually bought a copy of this book for my brother’s birthday because he needs to feel SHAME for being born male and having the audacity to stay that way. Maybe he’ll learn his lesson from our Great and Glorious Saviour, Titania McGrath! And on that note, given that I don’t have the power to award this book a Nobel Prize, I shall have to give it the equally prestigious award of 5/5 bananas:

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

Okay, I think I might have blown my cover by engaging in the imaginary free market with that endowment 😉 Of course, *disclaimer time*, this book and my review were satire. I’m afraid I must break character or you’ll all think I’ve gone totally bananas. Surprising as it may be, Titania McGrath is a fictional character invented by the hilarious Andrew Doyle. Having said that, if you’re worried about authenticity, this was replete with plenty of bonkers things real-live-people have actually said. Woke was an amazing antidote to some of the barmy media out there- I was belly laughing and chuckling throughout- so job well done! (and yes, I did actually buy this for my brother’s birthday and he thought it was brilliant too!)

Alright, did I fool you? Did you think I’d lost my marbles? Do you think you’ll pick this up? Let me know in the comments!

To the graduating class of whatever year…

graduating monkey

So, I was reading a book recently by an author that just so happened to get an honorary degree at my graduation and it brought back memories of that “auspicious” occasion. I thought I might recount what I remember of the Dean’s speech, for your amusement, since it left a distinct impression with me:

“Ah- what a charming but irrelevant non-denominational hymn we just heard from the obligatory choir. Greetings graduating class of… err wow is that the year already? Time really does fly by, but this speech won’t, so get comfortable!

“You are all people. You have all had- uh- experiences. Some of you, for instance, had cereal for breakfast. And if you did not have cereal for breakfast, you have probably had it at some point in the past. Unless you are a celiac- in which case I’m surprised you made it this far- just a joke! Just a joke! Please god, don’t get me fired!

My point being, I’m sure each of your journeys, while entirely dissimilar, ultimately bears some resemblances- however small. You have all raced, or in some cases strolled, to the finish line. Now you have arrived, I want you to take a long hard look in the mirror and feel proud. Or not. It is entirely up to you- this is in no way me harassing you to do something you don’t want to do.

I myself am incredibly proud to stand in front of a room of strangers and pronounce them all adults- except for the screaming baby in the back who is perhaps getting ahead of the game a couple of decades early? It was very nice to meet- err I mean mentor- you all.

Now I’d like you to queue up at the front to be boinked on the head with a mystical, space bonnet! (this is a real custom guys)

NB this was satire- *surprise*- so I have to say this wasn’t the actual speech read at my graduation- but it’s close enough 😉

And to anyone graduating this year, congrats! (and if you graduated once-upon-a-long-time-ago, give yourself a pat on the bat, cos there shouldn’t be an expiry date on self-congratulation 😉)

Hating on Fairy Tales: A Not-So-Serious Take on a Ridiculous Article

As much as I’d like to pretend that people don’t write pieces titled: “Five Reasons to Stop Reading Your Children Fairy Tales Now” this is a genuine title of a genuine article. I came across this gem while I was researching for my last piece and being a monkey I just couldn’t resist having my way with it. Rather than deconstructing all their ridiculous claims, I thought it would be far more fun to mock it *ahem* rewrite this piece for them in as honest a way as possible 😉 So *WARNING: INCOMING SATIRE and ALL THE SARCASM*. (If you’re looking for serious reasons I don’t agree with the article, maybe check out yesterday’s post 😉 ) Okay, with that out of the way, I’m heading each paragraph with their reasons to stop reading fairy tales and then I’m gonna respond- brace yourselves! 

monkey typewriter
Let’s get down to some (monkey) business…
  1. “Women are passive damsels that can only be saved by men”

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Well firstly, it’s really important to note for the sake of all the following arguments CONTEXT DOESN’T MATTER. Okay, now that we’ve got that covered, I think it’s really important to ignore all attempts Cinderella makes to save herself- because when in doubt erase women’s agency in a story. Also, Rapunzel no longer stands up to the witch, Snow White doesn’t make it to the forest and Gretel watches as Hansel is roasted… This last one is really important, because as the article states, violence is always bad. This leaves us with the comfortable conclusion that female characters are weak if they run away (presumably cos all male characters in the history of ever have stood their ground- although a young/inexperienced male character running away is a trope… but ahh who cares about that right?) or they’re too violent if they fight back (aka like men). My favourite example of passivity of course is Belle from Beauty and the Beast- since sacrificing herself for her father and inspiring a change in her foe aren’t heroic in the slightest… hang on a minute… Err maybe we should move on?

  1. “Marriage is the ultimate reward”

marriage mawwiage

Never mind that Cinderella got status and power from her new role AND that she escaped her abusive relatives. Let’s also forget the fact that this is basically the equivalent of winning the lottery in Perrault’s days, cos context doesn’t matter and we want to teach people to be ignorant of the past. Also, let’s pretend that the Little Mermaid doesn’t die (*coughs* cos apparently the original version no longer exists *cough cough*) which is nice.  I’m so glad we cleared up that the symbolic representation for future life is *e-v-i-l*.

  1. “Lack of racial/physical/sexual diversity”

Because there’s no such thing as a fairy tale or folklore from the non-Western world. Gosh, I am so progressive… Oh wait. I forgot- other cultures exist- silly old me. But let’s just pretend that’s not a thing and criticise Europeans for being historically European- cos context can eat it. Also this is my favourite bit of the article: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Disney princesses are beautiful, slim and more often than not, white”- cos it just goes to show that I think reading entails watching a movie. Take that book club!

throw books

  1. “Female characters are either bound to the home…”

All female character should strap swords to their backs and go off to their certain death- cos *context* doesn’t exist. But also fighting is toxic so the female characters can’t do that- which leaves me at a loss as to what would be an acceptable story? By the metric of the article, women can’t stay at home, but they can’t leave it to have “manly” adventures, they can’t get married (and we’re gonna cover a bunch of other stuff they can’t do in #5). So basically, are we saying that it’s probably better to just write about men cos then at least we won’t be able to criticise it into oblivion? Or are stories just bad in general? I get the feeling there isn’t an acceptable answer here.

it feels like a trap

  1. “Or they’re evil step mothers/sisters/witches- or fairy godmothers.

maleficent laughing

The point being that it’s not okay to portray women as good or bad. Pff- who needs complexity? I don’t think it’s okay to portray women as a binary- cos then people might get this crazy idea that women can be either good or bad. Then we might get something other than a Mary Sue for a main character- and no one wants that. We don’t want equality- only men should have the possibility to be either Prince Charming or the Wolf of the story- what we want, as women, is to be seen as the Angel (out of the house). What we want is flawless female characters that stroll into the story, take down all the men and then kick all the ass- is that so much to ask?

Also, moving on from the article, thanks to a few recent remarks by celebrities, I now know not to take food from strangers- OBVIOUSLY Snow White was subliminally telling me to take apples from people I don’t know, even if it kills me. Also, I do not consent to magical true loves kiss- never mind that this is fantasy and it kinda reminds me of mouth to mouth resuscitation- LALALA NOT LISTENING!!

Alrighty then- I think I might have offended enough people for one day- see you all in the next post 😉

Books that are just cat propaganda

*Attempt at humour alert- take this post seriously at your own peril!*

cats and dogsSince that incredibly note-worthy film Cats and Dogs was released, the fact that cats not-so-secretly want to rule the world has been exposed for us all to see. Well, I posit the theory that cats have an even greater agenda! Cats are ever-present in books and their oft sympathetic portrayals are evidence that a lot of books are just propaganda, designed assist this feline takeover. Let’s look at the evidence shall we…

Dick Whittington and his Cat– cat heroics- need I say more?

dick whittington cat
This one even inspired a cat statue in London!!

The Warriors Series– more cats fighting the good fight. No points for spotting the hidden messages here 😉

warriors into the wild

The Tiger Who Came to Tealast time I mentioned this book I was larking about making fun of people that read a little too much into children’s books- but not this time! This time I’m DEADLY SERIOUS. The message of this book is very indirect, because some might even forget that a tiger is in fact a BIG CAT. But if you look below the surface, it’s basically telling young and impressionable souls to open their doors to felines, let them take advantage of hospitality and then saunter off as if nothing has happened. Well, I’m onto these disgusting fiends!

tiger who came to tea

Samuel Whiskers– even though it’s about a rat, you support the cat. Because that’s what the cats want!

tom kitten

Garfield– the ultimate fat cat teaches us to indulge our furry “friends” with lots of lasagne and basically let the scroungers sponge off us (little suspecting that they might one day pounce on an opportunity to enslave us further!)

garfield

We also can’t forget movie adaptations…

the birds

The Birds– this is super subtle, but just think, when you’re watching this movie, didn’t the thought occur to you that the problem could have been solved with a bunch of cats? Portraying their mortal enemies as our mortal enemies is one of the ways cats ingratiate themselves into our lives. I’m telling you, they’re conspiring against us!

illuminati conspiracy

Disney was also very pro cat (no I’m not skirting over the fact there are dog movies and the logo is a mouse- that’s all a front I tell you!)

Ermm yeah- so that’s my really logical argument that cats are trying to indoctrinate us through different forms of media. I doff my tin foil hat to anyone I’ve convinced- which, I’m sure, is everyone. So what books do you think are on board with this pro-cat agenda?

Also- at the risk of starting a flame-war in the comments- what do you prefer, cats or dogs? (I’m gonna disappoint you all and say that I don’t actually have a preference, I just wanted to make this silly post 😉 )

All the ways you can shoehorn politics into your book

Hello!! After my post yesterday, I thought it might be fun to talk about all the ways you can (and some of the ways I’ve seen) shoehorn politics into books- enjoy!

Usual *disclaimers* that this is satire and should not be taken too seriously applies…

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room: Donald Trump is ORANGE- and there’s no way that joke’s been overused- so make it at least five times. For no reason. Preferably with cheerleaders over lunch. Because cheerleaders are very politically engaged.

orangutan and trump
Yeah laugh it up… but all us orangutans are *offended*

While we’re at it these high schoolers are having a normal conversation and then BAM *moralising*. It’s been a lonnng time since I’ve mentioned this but you can and you must *insert the most banal opinions* into dialogue. Preferably something that virtue signals just how on message the author is and strawmans the opposing view. My favourite is the good, old-fashioned “war is bad”. You can follow this up with “yes, but it’s necessary”, then “but it’s b-a-d”. Etcetera, etcetera, until the bell tolls.

saved by the bell
Well done, have a pat on the back

Oh look, your character has litter- and you know what that means don’t you… GLOBAL WARMING (of course there are several stages in between, but who cares, what is science anyway) And you know when I’m reading a fluffy teen romance, I want to be reminded that the polar ice caps are melting. Please, tell me more. Time for a page long monologue while they walk the halls…

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Remember: “catch it, bin it, kill it”- put that on your book’s tagline 😉

Now your character is sitting in class. Perfect time for some internal thoughts! Perhaps akin to: “Something, something, red button, something something, we’re all gonna die… oh is that a hot guy! Never mind.” That’s called stream of consciousness and it’s for only the smartest writers!

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BREXIT (there’s no punchline, just put that in and leave your reader to squirm)

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Also, the teacher gets to use their lesson as a soapbox for their political views- YAY MORE MORALISING! (actually this happens … I don’t know why I’m being so sarky about books for, they’re kinda just representing the politicisation of everyday life- which means all of the above is actually just representing real life- which makes me wonder WHAT THE HELL is happening in the real world arghhhh)

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Annnd that’s all I have for now! What other ways do you think politics can be shoehorned into a book? Let me know in the comments!

Worst Fantasy Novel Plan- EVER!

*Lovingly made for all fantasy fans*

Ever wonder how cliche fantasy books get written? Well wonder know more, because this is the ultimate guide for writing the WORST fantasy novel imaginable! Enjoy!

pathetic fallacy sad-face-doctorBefore we get started we need a prologue about *mysterious forces* at work. It must be overladen with plenty of pathetic fallacy- make sure that wind roars and rain falls- you set that tone! Please note that this can’t have any actual bearing on the plot, because that would be daft. Instead, let’s flashback 10000 years, before the dawn of mankind, to where a magical talking rook-creature-thing lived. There- that seems sufficiently random and obscure. Now we can forget all about that and get to the actual plot…

*****

Welcome to the village of Farplace where nothing ever happens and say hello to this random farmhand Nut M Portant (Nut for short). He doesn’t have many hobbies, except horse riding, being the only person around who practices sword fighting with a staff, and visiting the old guy with the long white beard who lives on the edge of the village (watch out- he’s gonna be important). Also he spends a lot of time complaining how bored he is.

bored

wargBut then!- lo and behold- something dark and evil and wolflike (but with a human voice for convenience sake) comes to the village late at night and kills the Nut’s father, who, with his dying breath tells him to go to the old guy for help. It turns out that old guy is an important wizard known as The Last Wizard Standing (didn’t see that plot twist coming, did you?).

Yet Last Wizard is not feeling particularly helpful right now. He sends Nut on his way *immediately* without giving him any information or guidance, just an old sword.

Also at the same time an elven woman with an unpronounceable name (something like llwellgenlle). She’s from an order of Only Women-No Men Allowed (seriously keep out!) comes to the village seeking the slayer of the wolfthing (shall we just call Swargs- from the old tongue title meaning It’s A Warg- and be done with it?) She’s totally not allowed relations with ANY MAN- which means she’s perfect for a prospective love interest.

sword fightingNut runs into said love interest just as he’s coming out of Last Wizard’s hut. He is instantly struck by her beauty. Conveniently- for the sake of the plot- a Swarg pounces just as they cross paths- but Nut really easily smites the beast! (very important to note here Nut’s amazement as he’s never handled anything more than a practice sword before). The female falls into his arms in a swoon.

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“Hail fair maiden, I thee help!” he says to her (note: always mess up the syntax for conversations- we don’t want the dialogue to be too comprehensible).

She responds in her native tongue (he understands- naturally- even though till now he’s only spoken “common”- keep up!) (any and all translations must be done by the reader using the helpfully provided dictionary in the glossary)

“Ah fair maiden!” Nut goes on in common, for the reader’s sake. “Never fear- I have thee saved, thou wilst now be my love interest and have no need to speak at all, except for the occasional incomprehensible word, you are most welcome.”

Last Wizard comes out of his house and applauds. “That was all a test- congratulations!- you’re not dead- that means you passed!”

Yay! That’s a relief, isn’t it? As we let that sink in, Last Wizard explains that he has some very important information (though he’s shaky on the details cos *reasons*) pertaining to a quest because of a prophecy that he can’t remember the exact details of…

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“Prophecy? What prophecy?” Nut asks, emboldened by Last Wizard Standing’s words.

“Prophecy- oh er- mumble bumble… Yes it’s important… but I think the soup’s burning…”

Okay so that’s enough explanation. I think it’s a good time for the Priestess/Elf/Love Interest to announce she was looking for him too- so she’s joining the quest as well. And it’s probably a good time to infodump about why she thinks it’s important to save the world- something about the trees talking and the origins of Village Farplace came and some crucially-non-crucial stuff about magical creatures… (be sure to include as much of your world-building notes as possible here- you never know how many opportunities you’ll get and you must make the most of every. single. one.)

so damn bored

wizardAlrighty then, time for the quest! Make sure to bring this forgetful wizard along for the ride, but make sure he forgets anything expedient when asked and only use his powers when you’ve written yourself into a particularly tight scrape you can’t get out of with logic (it happens). You now have the perfect plot-foil. You’re welcome 😉

Where are we going? Who knows! How long will it take to get there? Doesn’t matter! Just make sure to include these landmarks on the journey:

  • A secret cache of weapons in a not-at-all well-hidden tomb (make sure to describe weaponry and helms in excruciating detail)
  • A very beautiful, peaceful place they can rest (but not live in permanently) that’s home to the elves- preferable to visit after a run-in with some more swargs and norcs (not orcs- keep up!)

rivendell

  • An inn where they drink yummy yummy mead (actually I have had this at a fair once and can confirm it’s pretty darn good, so I get why people in fantasy drink it now, but I digress…)
  • blanked out writingA place where “natives” live- description is blanked out for offensiveness (no I didn’t actually write this bit, what do you take me for?) Here they learn important *lessons* they never thought they would from *insert ambiguous term* people.
  • You can also pad out this section with creatures like: A dragon with a hoard, some friendly dwarves, sex goddesses, a thieves guild, a rebellion, goblins, riddlers, ents, basically anything from Tolkien you’ve not managed to rip off yet.

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Please insert intermittent exposition because, as the author, I’ve done all this work on the world building and you need to hear all of it damn it!

mordorFinally they arrive in scary, scary Ochaye- which is supposed to be the villains’ lair, but this early into the story you’ll only get a projection of him. We have the opportunity to drop lots of very mysterious truth bombs like “I killed your parents… something… lost prince… something something… chosen one.”

That sort of thing- make sure it whets the appetite, but doesn’t actually reveal anything too expedient this early in the story. Oh- did I mention- this is obviously going to be the start of a series (of an indeterminate number of books). But don’t worry- you won’t get a sequel for years cos this is a fantasy… Annnd I’m leaving it there.  The projection of the baddie disappears in a cloud of smoke. I’m sure I’ll continue this one day, but in typical fantasy fashion I’m gonna go focus on writing something else now. (Maybe an anthology of all the backstory I couldn’t squeeze in…)

Voila- you now have a terrible fantasy novel! Leave it for three years, let your readers stew, and come back when they’ve lost interest. 

Honest YA Dystopian Book Blurb

(Un)inspired by the subject of my last review, I decided to write my own Honest YA Dystopian book blurb- enjoy!

This is one hundred percent about important issues- sort of…

I mean there will be an end of the world plot… even though the world already ended before this book began… But who cares? The world can end twice, right?

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Plus- get excited cos we have not one, but several oppressive governments nested inside each other like a Russian doll (really this book is a bargain- that’s why it’s £9.99 for a kindle edition)

And don’t worry about Instalove- IT WILL BE INCLUDED- we know how much you love it. And expect plenty of staring at the main love interest to- *lots and lots of stares*- to convey all the *emotions*. We wouldn’t want this “love at first sight” thing to be subtle. Also, we know this is important to you as a reader, so THERE WILL BE NO LOVE TRIANGLE (until book 2)…

LOVE triangle of doom

You’ve probably read about ten (better) versions of this before- but ho hum, what’s an eleventh gonna hurt? So sit up and take notice- cos I swear this will not be as exciting as the Hunger Games or Divergent (nor will the protagonist be nearly as kickass, but the narrator will tell you she is on countless occasions)

Also, if this blurb makes you *in any way* afraid for the main character, don’t be! We all know corrupt systems of government are totally useless at stopping teenage girls and their hunky boyfriend(s).

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Annd that’s it- you’ll have to read the “book” to know more  😉 Hope you enjoyed that!