Friday, 30 September 2016

The Little Mermaid: Disney vs Andersen

Made by Mélanie Delon
First off I want to say that I'm very sorry. I should have posted on fairy tale Thursday but due to an exam I had this morning (which went okayish) and an essay I had to hand in this afternoon (meh..) I was unable to write about a fairy tale on time (I could have but I prioritized). This week I will be talking about the Little Mermaid and comparing the Hans Christian Andersen version with the Disney film (which I loooove). Secondly I want to stress that Andersen really takes his time with his fairy tales. The Grimm brothers write down their stories and they are to the point. Some are only two pages if not less.  Andersen does not. The Little Mermaid is 20 pages and The Snow Queen (which I will be doing in a few weeks time) is 31 pages (yay!).

If you haven't seen the Disney film: it's basically about a naive little mermaid princess who is obsessed with the human world. She has a big collection of objects she found in the sea (from ships that sunk and such). One day she goes up and sees a handsome boy on a ship. She saves him when the ship is hit by a storm. However she cannot be with him due to the fact that she's a mermaid and he's a man. He does not even know her kind exists. After a fight with her father she goes to the sea witch, who convinces her to give up her voice in return for 3 days as a human (which was stupid because her voice would have been the one thing the prince could have recognised her with due to the fact that she sang to him as he woke up). Needless to say the witch almost defeats her but in the end Ariel ends up with the prince and is given legs by her father, who will miss her but accepts her decision (which is why the sequel is so confusing.. for some reason Ariel is no longer in touch with the sea and her daughter is not even allowed to swim). 

In the fairy tale Ariel is still the youngest, but all the sisters are allowed to go up to the surface to see the human world when they come of age (15 years old). Their grandmother is basically raising them (because their mother died) and teaching them things (one of which is helping them with the experience of going up to the surface of the water). Most of them do not necessarily enjoy what they find, others are interested but none really fancy going there. Ariel finds the ship and the boy. She wants to take him down with her but realizes that if she would do that he would die. So she holds his head above the water and takes him to shore. She does not sing to him thus he does not know that she saved him and this makes her sad.

It makes her so sad that she eventually tells one of her sisters, after revisiting the place where she left the prince day after day. Her sister of course tells all the others and soon everybody knows, one of them knows where the prince lives and this makes the little mermaid hopeful. She starts asking her grandmother questions about humans. Her grandmother tells her that, unlike mermaids who can live for 300 years and become sea-foam after they die, humans have very short lives but immortal souls (religion seems to  be a big thing in this tale). The little mermaid says that she would rather be human for a day than live 300 years without the prince (since only 15).

"Then I shall die, and drift on the sea as foam, never hearing the music of the waves or seeing the beautiful flowers and the red sun. Is there not anything I can do in order to obtain an immortal soul?". Her grandmother tells there is something that could be done: "Only if a man would love you so much that his heart and all his love to you, and let the priest place his right hand into yours, with the promise to be faithful to you here and to eternity, then his soul would flow over into your body, and you would receive a share of the happiness of mankind. He would give you a soul and yet keep his own".

Not long after this the little girl finds the sea witch who tells her she can help her, but after drinking the potion that will give her legs, she will always be in great pain. Each step will hurt more than the step before. He also tells her that she can never return to the say and if the prince does not fall in love with her, she will never obtain an immortal soul. As soon as the prince marries someone else, she will instead become foam on the sea like all the other mermaids before her. eventually marries someone else, she will become foam on the sea like all the mermaids who died before her. The Little Mermaid pays the sea witch with her voice. The prince falls in love with her but does not know she is the one who saved her. The girl he saw when he was aboard the ship. It happens much like the Disney film tells us it did. But instead of getting the prince in the end, he marries someone else and she becomes foam on the sea. 

Made by Tim Rogerson
It's a sad ending but we all know that fairy tales do not necessarily have good endings. I love how similar the tales are! It's almost exactly the same, safe for a few minor details (like there is no Sebastian who takes care of the girls, no singing, no seagull and no huge collection of human objects. In this story however it appears that it is not really about being in love with a man, it's more about obtaining an immortal soul. Is this Hans Christian Andersen saying that mermaid did not deserve internal live, because they weren't human or Christian (haha pun, lol). Is this tale instead about a girl who wants to become a good Christian but fails to do so because she uses dark magic to come to where she thinks she needs to be? I'm not religious so I wouldn't know exactly. I did a little research and found that Hans was religious. He may have been gay, though did not act on it due to his religious and moral beliefs. He also met Dickens a few times (oef.. I'll dream about the conversations those two might have had.. hmm)! That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know which fairy tale you want me to talk about next.

Monday, 26 September 2016

The New York Times Book Tag

It's time for another book tag, yay! This one I found on a blog called 'nerdytalksbookblog' and it was originally made by 'Marie Berg' on youtube. I hope you guys will like it!

1. What book is on your night stand now?
Right now there are actually five books on my nightstand: City of Masks for pleasure and Lolita, The Tempest, King Lear and The Tame of The Shrew for university classes.

2. What was the last truly great book you read?
A Court of Mist and Fury. I read it over the summer and then I read it again immediately after. I don't know why but it just really got to me.

3. If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?
Oh man, this is difficult. I think Ella Wheeler Wilcox, or maybe Charles Dickens. Ella is not that well known but I found a book with her poems once and I just really like them. She seems like such a lovely lady. Then again maybe I would want to talk to Jane Austen and ask her about her life. Argh.. to many I don't know man. But definitely one that has since passed, because most of the modern writers have loads of interviews you can find online. I would rather talk to someone who was not around for that.

4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
Oeh.. eehm, I don't know.. I have a lot of books, but most of them make sense. I have a lot of classical books, and mostly Young Adult fiction. My shelves represent who I am and therefore nothing is all that surprising, I think. Maybe my Dutch books? I don't have a lot of them.

5. How do you organise your personal library?
Usually I order them alphabetically, just because to me that makes the most sense. However, I currently have my to-be-read shelf organised according to colour, and the rest I have organised according to how much I like them.

6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?
Oooh soo many books XD I think all my books on my to-be-read shelf right now. However I think most of all the fact that I have 19 books by Charles Dickens, a writer I admire, and I've only read one of them.. It's horrible I know.

7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you are supposed to like but didn’t?
The Hunger Games, Red Queen, Vampire Academy, loads of popular young adult fiction that I just don't really like.

8. Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
Oef.. Life of Pi, My Booky Wook, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but none of them due to boredom or such. I just have not had the time to finish them. And with Life of Pi it has been so long that I would have to start over I think

9. What kind of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?
I absolutely adore fantasy stories with a bit of forbidden or impossible love. I usually stay clear of romantic novels, because they often are to sappy.

10. What do you plan to read next?
Empire of Storms. I need to because I'm going to meet the writer on the 8th of October. Even if I don't have time to read it XD

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Angry thoughts on Dyslexia

Second year of university life. Honestly, I thought I had moved passed all the people unfamiliar with an issue I have, namely dyslexia. Most of my teachers know about it and honestly, it hardly ever bothers me in my daily life. However, every school year I need to get a contract at my university (which the exam board has to sign) that says I'm entitled to extra time during exams. I know I'm not the only one with this problem, though unfortunately for me there are not an awful lot of people who have Dyslexia AND study English Language and Culture. But for some reason I have to get a new contract every year, which I'm fine with, but honestly, really? It's not like I will be magically cured over the summer. Like poof! I've waited for 23 years and I'm pretty sure that's never going to happen and I'm fine with that. And I don't mind have to get a contract which tells my teachers I am indeed entitled to 20% extra time, especially when a lot of reading is involved. 

I'm currently taking three literature courses (why.. I don't know I thought it was a good idea). One of the courses I'm taking is not part of my original studies. It's part of Literature sciences (no idea if that's actually the English translation for it). I was again confronted with how difficult Dutch can be for me, again, but I'm a positive person and I believe I will be able to successfully finish this course.

Unfortunately, my teacher and I are not on the same page when it comes to the extra time thing. You see, due to some changes in the office of the university during and after the summer, I have not yet received my contract for this year, which tells my teachers that I am entitled to extra time. But because it was taking so long I decided to e-mail my teachers anyways due to the fact that they have to book rooms for exams and such. However, in response to my e-mail, my teacher said the following: The room is already booked, you'll just have to try and manage. Most of the students finish within the time limit, maybe you can too.

I swear to god.. if one other person tells me that I'll just have to try... I've known that I have dyslexia for more than 10 years. I took loads of extra classes in primary school so I would learn how to read, properly. And I did (obviously). I know I don't need certain things but after 6 years of high school and 3 years of higher education I know pretty well what I do need. Which is why I get a contract that says that I'm entitled to 20% extra time only. I could have asked for a computer, or enlarged papers and such, but I know I can manage perfectly without those. However I also know that I cannot read and write a literature exam within the time given to every other student, simply because my brain does not function as smoothly as others when it comes to reading and processing words. 

So teacher, please don't tell me that I, you know, could just try to do it like other students because most of them finish the exams before time runs out. I cannot read as quickly and  as smoothly as other students, which I know and which I am fine with. Nobody is perfect. Stop trying to force my brain to do things that it cannot do. I've accepted it. Now please can you just accept it too, like this stupid piece of paper signed by the exam board, tells you to do. I have tried, over and over until I knew what I needed, when I needed it, to be able to succeed.

End of rant. Thank you for listening. Glad I got it off my chest.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Little Riding Hood: Grimm vs Once Upon A Time


This week I had to do things somewhat differently. Simply because there is no Disney film dedicated to the story of Red Riding Hood (that I know of). Sure she is a character in the Disney live-action Into The Woods, but she hasn't had her own animated film like Cinderella or Rapunzel. So instead I'm going to compare it to the story-line they use in the TV show Once Upon A Time (which I recently started watching and now I'm completely obsessed with it! So many characters. I looove it). The first thing I noticed when I opened my Grimm book is the fact that it's not called Red Riding Hood at all. It's just Little Riding Hood. So over time, Red must have snuck in there. Funnily enough, in Once Upon A Time they just call her Red.

Like most of us probably know, in the original story Riding Hood, goes to her grandmother to bring her cake and wine, because her grandmother is ill and weak (I don't know why her mother puts wine in the basket. Does not seem like something an ill old woman would need). While she's walking a wolf convinces her to stray from the path to take some flowers for her grandmother, too. Even though her mother told her not to get distracted. She's a naive little girl and the wolf is just distracting her so he can sneak into her grandmothers house before Riding Hood gets there, and eat her grandmother. When she arrives with the wine, cake and flowers. She wonders why her grandmother looks so different: 

"Oh! grandmother, what big ears you have!" - "The better to hear you with, my child,"
"But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!" - "The better to see you with, my dear"
"But, grandmother, what large hands you have!" - "The better to hug you with."
"Oh! But, grandmother, what a terrible bit mouth you have!" - "The better to eat you with!"

After eating Hood, a huntsmen saves them all. And the next time a wolf comes onto her path, Little Riding Hood is not distracted by him and she hides in the cabin with her grandmother until he leaves, instead. Which makes a lot of sense. I feel like that's a good happy ending. It's weird though because it says that, after devouring the grandmother, the wolf puts on her clothes. So did he undress her before he ate her?

Once Upon A Time changed this plot majorly. The TV series is all about powerful women. Of course some of them still need to be saved by men, but the men get saved by the women quite often too (if not more). In the story Red lives with her grandmother due to the fact that her parents died when she was just a baby. Every full moon there is a wolf looming around the town and her grandmother always tells her to keep on the red hood she gave her, after which she closes and locks the cabin. The people of the town are sick of it and decide to start looking of the wolf. However, they don't realise how dangerous it is. Thus Red starts looking for the wolf too, to save everyone from an awful lot of pain. Soon after Red thinks her boyfriend is the wolf, so she tries to convince him of this too and chains him to a tree while watching him, thinking everybody will be safe now. However, we soon realise that her boyfriend is not the wolf at all. Red is. She literally eats her boyfriend. Her grandmother finds her and throws the red cloak over her after which she changes back into a woman, because the cloak contains magical powers to keep her from changing into the terrible beast. 

I just thought this idea was awfully clever. Not only did they modernise the tale. It is no longer a children's fairy tale, it's a twenty-first century story. Later we realise that Red doesn't even need her cloak as long as she learns to accept the wolf part of herself. She will be able to control it that way. I really like this idea even if it changes the plot majorly. They are not two different characters, they are two parts of the same coin. 

However, the moral behind the story is completely lost after these changes, because in the original Riding Hood, she learns what we are always told as kids too: do not talk to strangers on the street. But in this version this message is left out or at least there's nothing left of it. On the other hand there is no need for such messages in the TV Series, so why try to keep it? Maybe the new moral of the story is that accepting who you are will make life easier? Trying to capture how important it is to love yourself. What do you guys think? I'm only on season 3 of Once Upon A Time so far, so I don't know what will happen further down into the story (because new things happen everyday in this TV series). I hope you liked it!

Love,
Alyssa

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Thoughts on Parents


I want to talk about parents and children. This issue has been bugging me for quite some time now, due to a conversation I recently witnessed between a mother and her child, in which the mother told her kid that she needed to show respect for her because she sacrificed so much for her. The mom was blaming her kid for everything she was unable to do or unable to achieve due to being a mom, to the point where the child had to apologise for everything this specific person sacrificed. And all I could think was. No. You cannot say this to your child. Why? Because we did not ask for it.

My mother used to work night shifts at a gas station during the weekends, so she would be able to give us her full attention during the week. When we were really young this meant that my mom would take us (all three of us) to the town to do groceries. It meant that we could go home during lunch, that she would be there to pick us up from school, she would be there to help us with homework after school, that she would take us to our sport/practice and she would cook dinner for us. Day in day out, while my dad was at work. It meant that during the weekends we would get my dad's full attention and during the week my moms. It meant that we always had at least one parent around to take care of us. 

But I did not ask her to do any of that. I understand why she did it, but it was a choice she and my dad made 9 months before I was born. It was a decision that came after a lot of consideration and time. They knew what they were doing, they had been married for 9 years when I was born. My mom was 29 and my dad was 34 when I entered this world as Alyssa, something I also did not ask for. I did not ask; mom I want to be born and I need you to be there for me all the time. You are not allowed to ditch me in day care after school. I want you to be there.

I did not. Nor did either of my brothers. So, in my opinion it is unfair to say to blame your child for the things you were unable to do, due to being a parent. To say: I did it for you so you better be grateful. It was a choice they made before I was born. Better even they decided that I should be alive and should live in this world that is already overpopulated. I did not do that myself. 

However, this does not mean that I don't understand. I appreciate my parents and I love them for everything they did for me as a child. They never send us to after school care because they would be home. They didn't go on luxurious holidays to expensive sunny places without us, they took us camping all through Europe. They were okay with living in a relatively small house, if it meant that we would be able to play musical instruments, or do sports, or both. I grew up in a town where a lot of kids rarely saw their parents due to their careers and lifestyle. Kids who would laugh at me because my mom worked at a gas station (what kind of job is that, lower class job, pff). But I never felt like they had it better than I did, because my parents where there for me and they appeared to be happy while doing so.

I have a ton of memories that continue to make me happy on a day to day basis. For example: when I was 8 years old my mom took me to a musical (Elizabeth) and through the years she continued to take me and my brothers to musicals. Or how my mom used to take me to singing competitions. I don't remember her telling me to win, I don't even remember her urging me to do my best. I remember my parents always being there and giving me the choice to sing if I wanted to. I remember them being proud, I remember them telling me it would be okay whenever I was to nervous to breathe. I remember my mom fighting her ass off to get my teacher to see that I was dyslectic, rather than stupid. I remember her taking me to extra lessons while other kids had gymnastics or such. Which I will be forever grateful for, because otherwise I would have never fell in love with books. I remember my dad driving me home after harp-lessons. Or always taking me to the station or picking me up if I asked him to. I remember the endless Saturdays and Sundays spend on the couch watching TV-series and movies together. I remember the things he build for me. I remember my dad taking me for a walk with me not long after my first boyfriend broke up with me (I stayed home sick that day) and trying to make me feel better. I don't remember what was said, but I remember him being there. I remember my aunt (who now lives in Australia) telling me stories about how much my dad loved me right after I was born. That she learned to love my dad more due to his love for his children. My parents are pretty bad-ass. 



I would not trade my childhood for anything because my parents clearly loved me and did anything in their power to give us a good childhood, one in which we were allowed to and could play, learn and see places. Of course they made mistakes, but who doesn't? Nobody is perfect and raising children is hard and difficult (especially when you are a very angry teen, like me haha). I guess what I'm trying to say is that,  I love my mom and my dad, for everything they gave me while I was a child, and continue to give me. And even though I feel like parents should not blame their loses on their children, we as children should still respect them for it or appreciate it and even feel gratitude. We, as children should stand up for what we want and believe in, but not forget to be respectful and grateful in the process. We may have different opinions and lifestyles than our parents, but that does not mean that we can't show them how much we appreciate them. How much we love them for all the love they have given us over the years.

I used to be like, 'hey why don't we have kids day, there's a mother's day and a father's day but we don't get a day'. But now I realise that everyday was kids day. And maybe I won't truly understand what it feels like until one day I am a mother myself (if at all), but I know that when I do I will never blame my child for something I could have done or had instead of them because it would have been my choice to become a mother, not theirs. I haven't really mentioned my siblings through all of this. Sibling love is a completely different matter, one I will not even dare to get in to right now because its such a complicated relationship.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Snow White: Grimm vs Disney

This Thursday I give you Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. Personally I really enjoyed the version with Christ Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart, simply because it is a lot darker than the disney version. In the original tale by the Brothers Grimm, in the beginning of the tale the (current) Queen pricks herself with a needle and three drops of blood fell into the snow as she said "Would that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood and as black as the wood of the window-frame". So it happened, but the Queen died while giving birth. Years later the King remarried to a woman obsessed with her good looks and as you may very well know she did not want anyone to surpass her beauty. Her mirror keeps informing her that she's the most beautiful of all, until one day he informs her that Snow White has in fact surpassed her beauty.
She therefore asks her huntsman to take Snow into the forest and kill her. He needs to bring back her heart as evidence. But Snow asks him to have mercy and let her go. So he does, thinking she will be killed by the animals in the woods, giving the Evil Queen the heart of a young boar as evidence. She goes on the actually cook and eat the heart (can you imagine.. she thought it was Snow's heart..). The next part is quite similar to the Disney adaptation. Only there are no sweet animals helping her and she does not clean the house of the dwarfs, instead she eats their food and drinks their wine after which she is exhausted and decides to go to sleep in one of their beds (the biggest one, considering she's only 13 or so she does fit in one of them and does not need three beds).

The dwarfs immediately know that something is different when they return to the house. They find the child in one of the beds and decide to let her sleep because she's so young. The next morning they make a deal, she's allowed to stay if she cleans and cooks for them. It goes on like that for a few days, though the dwarfs warn Snow that the Evil Queen will come looking for her at some point. One day the Evil Queen paints her face and dresses up like an old woman and goes to the house of the seven dwarfs, where she finds Snow White. The queen tricks Snow into letting her lace her, but instead the queen chokes her and Snow loses consciousness. The queen, thinking she has killed Snow, leaves.
As the dwarfs return, they cut the lace from her throat and Snow wakes up again (I know, no Prince, such a shocker). Soon the Evil Queen realises she has failed again and decides to make a poisonous comb. Naive little Snow is tricked again. Fortunately for her, the dwarfs find her again and take the comb of her body, after which she wakes up again (still no Prince). Of course the Queen is quick to check if it worked this time and finds out that it has not worked, again. So she creates a poisonous apple (there we go) and returns the next day. Snow is tricked again but this time the dwarfs believe her to be dead because she's not breathing anymore. 

After putting Snow in a glass coffin, a prince came into the forest and passed the sight. He falls head over heals for Snow and asks the dwarfs if he can please have the coffin. The dwarfs and let him take Snow away. As they travel towards the castle the prince and the servants pass over a tree truck and the coffin moves, at which point the apple, which was stuck in Snow's throat, falls out. She wakes up and opens the coffin. She is confused but the prince asks her for her hand and of course she says yes. The Evil Queen comes to the wedding and Snow put her in iron slippers which have been heated in a fire. "She was forced to put on the red-hot shoes, and dance until she dropped down dead."
I'm getting the feeling that the Grimm brothers like to do things in three's, and also like people to suffer (especially the bad guys). I feel like this version of the story is better though, because the Disney adaptation is a lot like Sleeping Beauty. I mean she falls asleep and is woken by a kiss. However, I understand why they changed the plot. It makes more sense for Snow White to agree to marry the Prince, having met him before she went to the Dwarfs. The ending is somewhat cruel, similarly to the Cinderella ending so I understand why they decided to change that too. The queen falls to her death after being chased by the dwarfs, but it is an accident (sort of). I don't understand why they decided to only do the apple scene. I feel like they could have stayed closer to the original plot, but you know, the film was made in 1937. Disney also stays true to their happily ever after endings, because in the fairy tale the dwarfs don't even find out that Snow wakes up again and in the film they get to see her wake up. I hope you liked this blog entry too. Let me know which fairy tale you would like me to do next!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Ultimate Book Tag


I really liked doing the previous book tag, so I decided to do another one. This one is not necessarily about books or characters, but more my likes and dislikes. It was created by Chapter Chicks (though I found it on a different blog). I deleted a 3 questions simply because I did not read books (that I remember) that involved those elements. I hope you guys like it!

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
When I was younger (around 8 years old) I used to get sick in the car a lot. I wasn't into reading as much then so it didn't even have to do with that. Then at one point, from I think my 13th until my 18th, I could read books in moving vehicles like crazy. Now? Not so much. I don't know what changed. Still don't get as nauseous as I used to but can't read books in cars anymore :(

2. Which author's writing style is completely unique to you and why?
I don't know if this is really true, I only read one book by this person but it really really surprised me and I had never read anything like it: A Visit by the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.


3. Harry Potter or Twilight? Give three reasons to defend your choice.
Even though I read and enjoyed both, I will go with Harry Potter. For one because it has a lot more books, more to enjoy, more time to fall in love with the characters. Secondly, the characters are more diverse and have such depth to them. Last but not least, it has cute creatures (Dobby <3 ).

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)?
I don't carry a specific book bag, however I rarely leave the house without a book in my bag.

5. Do you smell your books?
Yes, but not only my own books. I like to smell books in stores. Actually, if I don't like the smell of a book, I'm less likely to purchase it. 

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
That really depends on the book, but mostly no. I rather have books without illustrations because it takes up space and I like to keep things to the imagination. I really love maps though.


7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn't quality writing?
Twilight would be the easy choice, haha. But instead I think I'll go with the Deltora books (there are a looooot of them). I really enjoyed reading them, but I didn't really read fantasy at that point in my life and thus I did not know what was good and what was not.

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? 
Honestly, no. Not really. I didn't read books when I was really young due to my Dyslexia.

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Illustrated Stories and Poems (seriously, it's massive).

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself becoming an author someday?
Yes and no. I dream about becoming an author, but the chance is super super tiny so no. I don't see myself becoming a published author. 

12. When did you get into reading?
Rather late actually. As I mentioned before I did not really read books when I was really really young, due to the fact that reading was really super hard for me and I hated that. But I got a lot of extra classes when I was about 8/9 years old and after that I slowly fell in love with reading, but l I was 15/16 when I really really got into it (that's when the book-buying-addiction started).


13. What is your favourite classic book?
The Complete Fairy Tales of The Brothers Grimm.

14. Was English your best subject in school?
I was pretty good in English, but I guess that question is not really fair considering it's not my first language. I was not particularly good in Dutch.

15. If you were given a book you've already read and hated as a present, what would you do?
That would never happen. I'm very organised. Besides people know I buy books a lot, they often don't get the chance to give them to me. But if they do then I'll just explain, because honestly that's better for everyone.

16. What is a lesser known series you know of that is similar to Harry Potter of the Hunger Games?
Hmm.. I think most of them are all rather well known. Maybe my book? 

17. What is your favourite word?
Books! Wauw I can't believe I actually had to think about that one XD

19. Vampires or Fairies/Fae?
If I were still 16 I would have said Vampires (I really liked Twilight) but now I'm going with Fairies/Fae. Especially considering I really really like Sarah J. Maas her stories and those involve Fae.

20. Shapeshifters or Angels?
Half-Angels.

21. Love Triangle or forbidden love?
Forbidden love. Love triangles are rarely really love triangles and if they are they usually suck. I adore forbidden love because those can be really intense and heart breaking (which hurts, true. But it's really cool if the story really grabs you). 

22. Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action-packed novel with love scenes. Romance books often turn into erotic books or well, very sappy and rom-comy.

That was it for today!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Cinderella: Grimm vs Disney

I really enjoyed writing about Rapunzel, the differences between the 'original' fairy tale and the Disney adaptation, so I decided to do the same with Cinderella. I'm thinking about posting a new fairy tale (and it's movie adaptation) every Thursday. I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up now uni has started again but I can certainly try. I think we have all seen at least one version of the story, be it Walt Disney's Cinderella, Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez, A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff, Into the Woods, or the new live action version with the lovely Lily James and Richard Madden. It's all about a girl who lives with her evil step-mother and step-sisters. Somehow she finds a beautiful prince and bewitches him with her beauty and kind heart. It ends in another happily ever after.
But the Grimm version is somewhat, well, grim. Her mother's dying wish is for Cinderella to be good and pious. Unlike most versions, the step-sisters are beautiful, the step-mother behaves like an evil witch from the very beginning. Making Cinderella clean, calling her names, taking away her things (like a bed to sleep in, she sleeps on the floor in front of the fireplace instead). Her father lets it all happen. One day he goes out to a fair for business and asks the girls what they want. He brings the step-sisters beautiful dresses and Cinderella a branch from a tree, which Cinderella plants on her mother's grave. She goes to it tree times a day and cries under the branch, which has grown into a tree (due to her tears apparently). She wept and prayed, and one day a little white bird started giving her the things she wished for. 

The girls are invited to the dance to be presented to the prince, but of course Cinderella is not allowed to go. She has to help her step-sisters with their appearances. After doing all the things she was asked to do with the help of the birds around the house, she goes to her mother's grave. She wept again, and said: "Shiver and quiver, little tree, silver and gold throw down over me", and the bird threw a gold and silver dress and slippers at Cinderella. Her family did not recognise her in the pretty clothes and the prince sees how beautiful she is too. After refusing to dance with any other maiden all night he declares Cinderella to be his partner. But when she wants to go home, insist on coming with her, so she escapes from him and flees into the pigeon-house. 

The prince waits for Cinderella's father and he cuts the house to pieces with an axe. It appears to be empty and they find Cinderella lying in front of the fireplace (she was a clever girl). That night the same thing happens again, only then with a pear tree in the garden rather than a bird-house. On the third night, the prince decides to smear pitch on the staircase (Into the Woods was not that far off) so Cinderella cannot escape again. Hence he finds her slipper in the pitch. The prince goes to Cinderella's house and the first sister takes the slipper into her room. She cannot get the slipper to fit, her big toe is in the way. So her mother tells her to cut the toe off and she obeys. Now she fits the shoe and so the prince puts her on his horse and they right towards the castle. They pass the tree (which Cinderella planted) and the birds sing, or rather tell the prince that there is blood on the slipper and the girl does not fit the slipper at all. So he took her back.

The second sister also has trouble with the slipper and so her mother tells her to cut of her heel, and she too obeys her mother. The prince is once again tricked and puts the maiden on his horse. When they are about the pass the tree the birds tell him once again that this is not the right girl. He takes her back too and asks the father if there is no one else. To which the father says: "No, there is still a little stunted kitchen-wench which my late wife left behind her, but she cannot possibly be the bride". I know right, what an ass. But as well all know, Cinderella does fit the slipper and so the prince put Cinderella on his horse and they rode towards the castle too. As the pass the tree the birds sing that he has at last found his true bride. The birds sat down on Cinderella her shoulders (one each) and rode with them to the castle. Her evil step-sisters show up at the wedding, one stands on her left and the other on her right. Asking her for forgiveness. They want to have part of her fortune. In response the birds pick out their eyes, a punishment for their "wickedness and falsehood".
I guess that's Cinderella her happy ending. As you can see, the two versions differ a lot, but I understand why Disney (and others) decided to change the plot and characters. It's a bit cruel if you ask me, but then again it makes sense too. What kind of father treats his daughter like that? It's a shame he and the step-mother got away with it. However, I don't understand why Disney decided to go with mice rather than birds for little helpers? Why did they decide to go with a blue dress rather than gold and silver? Or why a fairy godmother rather than a loving mother, who protects and helps her daughter from the grave (in a way). I can appreciate that they still partly used the two birds at the end (as you can see in the gif). I'm not a huge fan of the Cinderella franchise, even though I watched a lot of different versions, including Cinderella 2, 3 and 4 (seriously, don't watch those they are horrible). I don't have a favourite. I like the idea of a girl being kind and gracious when others mistreat her, in a very very bad way, but I never understood what this story was trying to tell me. You need a man to escape uncomfortable situations..? Blind those who mistreat you? What do you think?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Red Queen

I'm currently super excited about the new Throne of Glass book that is coming out in a few weeks, so excited that I had to find a book with similar dynamic to distract me from my excitement. Which is when I found this novel, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I was warned about the similarities with The Hunger Games, Divergent and so on. I remained hopeful though, because according to A Court of Thorns and Roses, it was a lot like Beauty and the Beast but that did not spoil my enjoyment either. However, I soon realised what they truly meant. This book is almost exactly like The Hunger Games, with a few additional elements and a few changes here and there. Or at least that´s how I experienced it. 

Mare Barrow´s world is divided by blood, those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but hen her best friend is conscripted into the army, she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own - an ability she didn't know she had. Except her blood is red. To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard - the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince and Mare against her own heart. From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.
The synopsis of the novel is more or less a summary of the whole plot. Mare is supposed to be a pawn in a dangerous game. The king and queen want to use her against her own people. She has to lie and try to convince them to stop fighting the rebellion, while also being part of the rebellion. She is like Katniss and Peeta in one. She also has a younger sister and a family she is trying to protect, and a male friend at home who she's secretly very much in love with but will never be able to be with due to her predicament. He then goes on to join the rebellion too. It's all a big blur of things I feel like I've read before and I could not get passed that feeling ,which is probably why I did not enjoy it as much as I could have (or like other have).

But let me tell you why it works. It works because it is exactly what people like and want. If you go to Goodreads you will see that this books gets 4 out of 5 stars and has a lot of lovely reviews, because this combination (the characters, the world divided in two, etc) is what people like to read about. And with people I also mean myself. I'm not in love with this book, though I admit I really liked Maven. I took me only two days to go through the whole thing and that usually means that I like it. And due to lack of having another book with me I decided to read the sequel too. I have to admit though, more than anything, I purchased this book for it's cover (and the rating it has on Goodreads) and once again I have learned from that mistake.

Mare is a very weird character. I don't feel like I know her or like she even knows herself. She is very confused and stupid most of the time. She confuses a lot of things for love (and the other way around), she trusts the wrong people and does not seem to think an awful lot about those she does love/like. She does not think twice about sacrificing them, even if she judges and hates most of the Silvers for how they treat other people (or Reds). She almost accuses every single silver of having blood on their hands but fails to realise that she is no different. She does whatever 'needs' to be done for the greater good, but I don't even think she knows what that is.

Glass Sword (the sequel) is no better. It's a lot longer than it needs to be. Things are either way to easy or way to hard. Mare not fighting for equality, she's fighting for the opposite. Red power. I can't like her, because even though other characters are more evil, at least they don't try to pretend they are not. Don't even get me started on her feelings towards Maven or Cal or anyone because honestly, I don't even think the writer really knows what's up with that. As the image above states, she may be betraying her own heart or the other way around but all my insides scream is: SHE HAS NO HEART! All in all, I understand why people like this story, what appeals to them. I feel it too, because I used to like stories like this one. But this one just did not grasp me. I just really do not like Mare and that's ruining the whole thing for me. If you enjoyed reading the Hunger Games (even Mockingjay), this is definitely a book you would like to read. I'll just enjoy the pretty covers and leave it at that. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Rapunzel: Grimm vs Disney

Made by Manual D'Andrea
Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply I love the movie Tangled. It is my go to movie whenever I am ill, sad, happy or when it's just a normal day. I love Rapunzel's happiness and her will to find what she is looking for. No matter what others think of her. In their eyes she's naive and stupid, but they fail to see how her innocence and kindness make her live rather than survive, even if it brings her in harms way from time to time. I think a lot of us have seen the film or know the story from when they walked through the Efteling as kids (or you know, as grown-ups like me)(if not, spoiler alert). But how much was it changed to suit the twenty-first century children? We all know Disney over-romanticises everything. It all ends with a happy ending and only the bad guys get hurt (badly or beyond repair). 

In Tangled we travel with Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder (a criminal)  to see the floating lights, her dream since she was a little girl. It is only after she returns to her tower that she realises who she really is and that she was taken as a baby by mother Gothel, a woman who kept herself young with a special flower. A flower that was used to cure the queen right before Rapunzel was born, transferring it's gift into Rapunzel. Mother Gothel used and kept Rapunzel in order to stay young and beautiful. After realising all this, Rapunzel manages to escape with Flynn and she returns to her parents and everyone lives happily ever after (seriously, there's even a short to stress how happily ever after they are actually living). The evil witch falls to her doom, Eugene/Flynn is brought back to life and all is right in the world. What really speaks to me is that even after Rapunzel realises who her 'mother' really is, she reaches out for her right before she falls to her doom.


The Grimm version is obviously a little  different. Like most fairy tales, it's rather short (only 5 pages in my version of the Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm). In this story it is not the enchantress (or witch) who is greedily looking for something, but the wife (not king and queen in the slightest). She desperately wants to eat some of their neighbours rampion (or rapunzel) and so her husband steals some for her. However, when he sets out to do so a second time he is caught in the act by the enchantress to whom he goes on to promise their first born child in return for as much rampion as he wants.

And so it happens, a girl is born, the enchantress calls her Rapunzel and takes her away. The girl grew up to be a beautiful thing, so the enchantress locked her into a tower when she turned twelve. With only a window through which she could enter if Rapunzel, you guessed it, let down her hair. Two years later, the prince hears Rapunzel sing as he travels through the forest. He is so enchanted by it that he comes back everyday to hear her sing. One day he sees the enchantress call out to Rapunzel, after which she lets down her hair and goes on to trick Rapunzel to do the same for him. They agree to get married and think of a plan to get Rapunzel out of the tower (let's keep in mind that she is only 14 years old at this point, she's 18 in Tangled). However, Rapunzel cannot keep her mouth shut and asks mother Gothel (also known as the enchantress) why she is so heavy compared to the prince.

Gothel angrily cuts Rapunzel's hair and sends her to a desert where she "had to live in great grief and misery". The old woman uses Rapunzel's hair to trick the prince, after which he jumps out of the window and is blinded by the thorns into which he fell. He roams through the forest for a few years, quite lost without Rapunzel. Until he hears her voice and finds her in the desert with a boy and a girl (twins, because somewhere along the story they apparently had sex).  She cries two tears, which heal the prince's eyes and together they return to the kingdom where they "lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented". Mother Gothel and Rapunzel's parents are never mentioned again.

As you can see, the two are quite different. Where Disney does not even show blood, the Grimm version does not stay away from the idea of physical harm. In Tangled we don't even see a body after mother Gothel falls out of the tower, and in this version we read how the prince is blinded because he fell onto thorns. However, they both have a rather happy ending. I plan on doing this with a few other Brothers Grimm (and maybe Hans Christian Anderson) fairy tales. I hope you liked it.