Breaking News: Evelyn Hugo is a KNOCKOUT!

the orangutan times

seven husbands of evelyn hugoSexy, layered and infinitely complex, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is not for the faint of heart! Orangutan Librarian reports.

Opening in the style of Citizen Kane, an article allegedly reveals “all” the sordid affairs of Hugo’s life- but don’t be fooled. Beneath the reports darker truths lie. With multiple voices- each flawlessly executed- the reality behind the rumours is uncovered in time.

And, of course, it’s all about Evelyn: compelling, deceitful and enigmatic- it’s no wonder Monique is in awe of her at the start. Naturally, she’s not a particularly moral person by my book, and there were times when I had serious problems with her, however one cannot deny that she makes herself Seen. What’s especially brilliant about her characterisation is how the author lifts her up to stardom and then brings her down to our level- much like a tabloid journalist.

It’s certainly sensational enough. With some serious emotional turmoil, the drama and intensity is there throughout- I didn’t want to put it down! As a mystery romance, it has all the hallmarks of a thrilling, twisty tale. I will admit, I did guess the first revelation- yet not the second. Oh boy, that second one was a shocker, making for a great ending.

Most of all, there was a sense of fun to the story. Believe me darlings, I was loving the tone 😉 I adored watching the relationships unfold and I teared up when the love of her life was revealed- it was simply a beautiful moment.

I’m afraid it wasn’t all plain sailing. I had some, shall we say, philosophical differences with some stances… but I am very rarely in the mood to get into politics on my blog (I can direct you to my thoughts on the matter here and here). Plus, I have way too much respect for this effortlessly *fabulous* book to be heavily critical of my personal niggling issues. Easily, this book got:

4½/5 bananas

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So have you read this book? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Marvel Avengers Book Tag

orangutan tag 2

Cos I’m in the Marvel mood, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a themed bookish tag! And fortunately there’s a tag on every topic, so I didn’t have to look for long 😉 Thanks so much to the wonderful Sam @Rivermoose Reads for (rather conveniently) tagging me to do this one!

Iron Man – a book that made you laugh out loud: 

AHA! This book is a hilarious fake-memoir, based around Steve Coogan’s fabulously funny character Alan Partridge. 

Captain America – a book that sends a positive message:

This is a wonderful book full of vital, life lessons- if you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough!

Thor – a book with a character’s strength you admire:  

I just love the strength of the women in this book. 

Black Widow – a book with a kick-ass female protagonist: 

I feel like I mention this book every other week now- but I can’t help it! Nona typifies *the best* attributes of the kickass character! Edgy and sharp and with hidden depths, she is an awesome heroine!

Hulk – a book that made you incredibly angry:

This. Is. Terrible.

Hawkeye – an underrated book you think more people should pay attention to:

So sad how few people have read this gem of a poetry collection outside of Hungary.

*BONUS* Loki – a book with a twist or surprise that tricked you: 

*No spoilers*- even if this book is by no means new, I still think the impact of the twist will blow most readers away! (plus it’s a book with evil Phaeries- need I say more? 😉 )

That was a fun one- hope you enjoyed- I tag:

Mim Inkling, Reading Hobbit, Bibliophalgist, Hammock of Books, Arubun Written, The Candid Cover, CJR the Brit and The Storyteller

And anyone else that wants to do this! Also, on the subject of great team-ups, what’s your favourite cast of ensemble characters? Let me know in the comments!

 

Monkey at the Movies: Marvel Phase 2

 

monkey at the marvel movies

Okey dokey I’m back- as promised- with phase two of my Marvel mini reviews. I’ve donned my superhero getup again and I’m ready for action! Again, spoiler warning- though really you should know I’m gonna spoil it- you’ve had enough time to watch them by now 😉

iron man 3

Iron Man 3– the great thing about this film is it really sets up the idea we create our own demons– which is a clear theme for phase 2. The flashbacks are okay in this one- the only problem being that they set up a very clear “misdirection” with a super obvious villain. I did really like that this features a less sure Tony Stark and that there’s a real sense of character development- lacking in Iron Man’s last instalment. It’s especially great that there’s a double meaning to the idea that Iron Man creates his own enemies. BUT there’s no way around the fact that I loathe the plot twist- taking a sinister-seeming villain and swapping it out for a lacklustre loser? GAH! Not good. In fact, this very stupid, dumb, not-smart shift might be one of the worst in the whole Marvel cinematic universe. I also feel like it *has to* be a plothole that no one has figured out the Mandarin is a fake- when he’s literally just chilling in a mansion in the US. With plenty of people coming in and out to deliver him whatever he wants. Pure nonsense. Add to that the villain’s motivation is weak (dude, if someone doesn’t meet you on a rooftop on New Year’s Eve, don’t you think there could be a million explanations?) Plus, the barrel of monkeys was just silly (and offensive to us monkeys 😉). In the end, I’m a little torn on this one, cos there’s definitely upsides to this movie and it’s vital to the series… but I didn’t actually enjoy it all that much.

2½/5 bananas

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thor the dark world

Thor: The Dark World– or as I like to call it- Loki 3 😉 And yeah, I keep thinking of Loki as the main star in all the movies he’s in, cos he’s often the most interesting character, with the best arcs. Especially cos, sadly, Thor doesn’t have a very good arc in this one. In fact, my favourite part he had in the movie was in Loki’s death scene… which makes me just sound like a Loki fangirl again- I can’t help it!! By far the worst part in this was how dull and impersonal the villains were. It does make sense that this movie is important for the MCU- especially with regards to the infinity stones- it’s just a shame it wasn’t explored in a more interesting way. That said, I did largely enjoy this movie- it’s not great, it’ll never go down as one of the better Marvel movies, but I think it’s entertaining (even seeing some London landmarks get destroyed… I’ll admit just about killed me when they smashed up Wren’s masterpieces!). Naturally, I also liked the captain’s cameo in this one!

3½/5 bananas

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captain america the winter soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier– I rewatched this one the most recently… and I have the least to say about it. I just got too absorbed in it to write notes. This is one of my favourites of every movie they’ve put out. Obviously, I knew the twists going in, and yet they still wowed me. I still felt the emotional punch. And I will admit, it made me cry (again)- cos POOR BUCKY!! I also really like the espionage element and how central Black Widow is to the plot. It really expands and develops on the themes of friendship- which I think are so integral to Cap’s character. Heroes- real heroes- like him make me all warm and fuzzy inside. As cheesy as it sounds, they’re a symbol for hope and justice- and that’s what I want in my superhero movies.

5/5 bananas

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guardians of the galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy– what an entertaining movie! I mean, everyone knows it is, so I’m kinda stating the obvious. I will admit, when I first watched this, I thought it was a tad overhyped, cos everyone and their mother told me it was *the best* superhero film ever. And in my opinion, it’s not that… it’s a hella lot of fun though! I love the comedy in this one and even the silly villain works in this kind of film. In fact, it’s thanks to him playing the straight man that the dance off for the universe works so well (easily the best bit of the movie). And somehow it manages to have emotional depth as well- particularly when it introduces the conflict between the daughters of Thanos. This was solid on the rewatch and I’ll happily give it another whirl soon. Plus, the fact it has an awesome soundtrack doesn’t hurt!

4½/5 bananas

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age of ultron.jpg

Avengers: Age of Ultron– I never liked this movie as much as the first Avengers. Annnd to be honest, my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s just okay. There’s not much about this that makes me excited. I did think Ultron’s voice is great. Also, seeing people’s weaknesses and faults was a great part of the movie- thanks to the fantastic inclusion/portrayal of the Scarlet Witch. Sadly though, the story didn’t feel cohesive enough for me. While I liked the quiet scene in the middle, I think it adds to that fragmentary feel to the whole piece. Despite all the explosions and destruction, I often felt distant from the stakes. I was pretty frustrated with the fact this brought in new characters just to kill them off- I feel it could’ve been more impactful if I’d had a chance to get to know them. In the end, this felt like just another sentient-robot-tries-to-destroy-the-world story- not a bad tale, yet one that I’ve come across a few too many times. I wish I enjoyed this movie as much as I want to:

3/5 bananas

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ant man

Ant Man– I will admit I had such low expectations for this… that said, this is a movie that fortunately doesn’t take itself too seriously- and ended up being awesome because of that! The style is vibrant and had a lot of laugh out loud moments. This movie definitely shows how Marvel has got its successful formula down. I also liked Hope as a character and Rudd was *fab*. Of course, I knew who the villain was the second I saw him, however he fulfilled his role sufficiently so I had no real complaints… until it was revealed he was a part of hydra (really?!) That unnecessary detail aside, I appreciated the other curveballs the story threw at me and thought there was great deal of excellent setup for the next movie… which you can hear about next time!

4/5 bananas

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Okay, I know there are probably a few more contentious points in this volume, so it’s with somewhat more trepidation that I ask: do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Let me have it in the comments!

What even is YA?

thoughts orangutan

Eh- that’s a tough one.

There are all sorts of things that can go into a YA book: coming of age stories, themes around “firsts” and a heightened sense of emotion to name a few. One thing’s for certain- it has to be about *teens*. And not just people that start out as teens and then grow up, like in Assassin’s Apprentice, the protagonist should start and end a teenager for it to really fit in this category.

And I say category, because as Alexa Donne points out in her very comprehensive video on the topic, it’s more of a marketing category than a genre. Which means: anything goes. It’s the wild-west of the publishing industry these days (that ironically doesn’t put out many westerns 😉 )

Because of all this, there have been many instances of missmarketing. I could probably fill a post on the books that have somehow ended up in this category, even though they don’t belong, but here’s just a few:

Now, while a little part of me wants to be cynical and say this is a cash grab, the reality is a lot of teens enjoy this content. As a teen, I personally liked reading books that pushed boundaries and explored darker topics. I’d have most likely been insulted if you told me a book like, say the Book Thief, was technically not aimed at me and therefore off limits (and I’d have definitely read it anyway 😉 ).

Perhaps it is a reflection of this that YA has increasingly been exploring taboo topics.  For better or worse, younger readers have access to books with, dare I say, adult content. Books like A Court of Thorns and Roses is a great example of this- because it was written for adults and yet often mistaken for YA (in fact, I have never seen this book in any part of a library or shop that wasn’t the YA section!) Part of this is thanks to the failure of NA taking off (more for the industry than readers). But a larger part seems to be that the question of what’s appropriate for children has blurred beyond recognition- to the point where many can’t see the line between adult and young adult content anymore.

And while it can be a good thing that adults are buying YA- the expanding market means more books, more bookish industries and more opportunities for authors- it also means that they are the ones driving the market in this direction. Sales, after all, dramatically effect which books publishers choose to put out. This raises all sorts of issues- not least the continuing of this *I have no idea what YA even is anymore* trend.

So, with all that’s said and done, is the term becoming defunct? 

Well obviously not. As much as there have been discussions about the YA genre not doing as well last year, I don’t believe this is because the massive market that exists has gone anywhere (I have my own theories). This isn’t me saying it’s “too big to fail”- it’s merely acknowledging the fact that there will always be a market for high stake drama, with teens at the forefront, exploring the world with fresh eyes. And these are all aspects that this “genre” has in spades. It is also why adults and teens alike will continue to gravitate towards YA no matter what name you give it.

That was rather inconclusive. Looks like I did this whole post just to say who gives a monkeys about genre classifications 😉 In all seriousness, what does the term YA mean to you? Are you a fan of YA? Let me know in the comments!

Thousand Perfect Notes Played Like a Dream

A thousand perfect notesI’m so excited to talk about this book today! Especially because it was written by a fellow blogger- the incredible Cait from Paper Fury. I actually bought this book the second it came out- however, it’s taken me so long to read it- partly thanks to, ya know, falling off the face of the earth for a few months last year, but also because it takes me a while to psyche myself up to reading books with extremely dark subject matter.

Cos, fair warning, this deals with domestic abuse and is not an easy read. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m very picky when it comes to books on this topic, but I think Cait did an incredibly sympathetic job. It never shied away from the grim reality and exposed hard truths. There were points when there could have been more build-up and consequently the heightened drama occasionally hit a false note for me- yet anyone that knows music will also know that this makes not an iota of difference when the end result is raw, passionate and beautiful. Looking back on the piece in its entirety, this emotionally charged book reaches sublime heights, delivers a tremendous symphony of action, ultimately flowing to a harmonious conclusion. The whole experience was a spectacle, which explains why most of my notes are simply oohs and ahhs!

Without a doubt, the writing was excellent. I loved the writing style- it was very much in the unique vein of her blog and held so much personality. The language was gorgeous and measured. I really admired the use of fragmentation- it reminded me of Lockhart’s poetic We Were Liars. And most importantly, the descriptions of music were exquisite. Every bit of the sound imagery came together and contributed to the story- creating a resonant narrative about being made to hate the thing you love.

I really liked the characterisation as well- especially of August, whose presence brightened up the novel. I also appreciated the little details, like the Maestro’s nickname, which brought the story to life.

All in all, it was wunderbar (I only know compliments in German 😉 )

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Books with Tropes I Like

 

orangutan list

So a couple of weeks back, I did a post about tropes that don’t bother me (and some I even like) and Katie @Never Not Reading requested that I do a follow up with recommendations in each of the categories. And since I am nothing if not accommodating, I obliged 😉 Althoughhhhh, I have to be honest, this might not be the most comprehensive list in the world, since a fair amount of the time I pick up books with these tropes, they disappoint. Either way, here are some books I did enjoy:

Forbidden Love

Gotta admit, this was the easiest category to do- there are just so many!!! And I love them all!! (most of the time 😉 )

Fake Dating

Ah this was the toughest. Truth be told, ever since I picked up To All the Boys, I’ve been trying to find more in this category, but a lot of them fall flat. Still, there are some good ones out there if you know where to look 😉

Enemies to Lovers

I had so many for this, but I decided to split them up so that there would be some for my other fave trope…

Secretly a sweetheart

Yeah there’s a lot of overlap with Enemies to Lovers here! These two tropes go hand in hand for a reason!

Descent into darkness

Annnd basically every other Shakespearean tragedy 😉

Redemptive arcs

This was another super popular one in classics- maybe because it is a classic! (oof- that joke was painful- I’ll see myself out)

Rags to riches/Cinderella stories

Is it just me or does this happen more in movies? I could think of a gazillion rom coms with this and for some reason it was a struggle to think of more than a few books! (I also think someone’s going to tell me at least one in the comments that I’ll be kicking myself for not remembering).

Do you like any of my recs? Or do you plan on checking any of these out? And do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

Monkey at the Movies: Marvel Phase 1

monkey at the marvel movies

I’ve always been a fan of superhero movies- from the old Christopher Reeve Superman to the Toby Maguire Spiderman (which I snuck into the cinema to see, cos I wasn’t quite 12 #whatarebel 😉). So obviously the last decade of Marvel films has been fun. I’d like to say that I kept up with all the exciting developments and stayed on track with all the releases… buuut that wouldn’t be strictly true. Let’s be real though: men in spandex can always coax me back 😉 (that sounds so much worse than I intended lol!) That’s why over the course of the last 9 months I’ve been *finally* catching up and rewatching all the Marvel movies (technically speaking I didn’t havae to rewatch the old ones, but hey, that just goes to show what a motivated monkey can do when they set their mind to something 😉). Which brings me to today- since Infinity War is just around the corner (and I don’t want all my aimless movie watching to be for nothing) I’ve decided that once a week for three weeks, I’ll pick up Cap’s shield and whizz through reviews for each phase. Enjoy!

(oh and *spoilers* of course- these films have been out for ages)

(also if I get the order slightly wrong according to the timeline… I don’t care)

(I’ll stop using brackets now I swear! onto the reviews!)

iron man

Iron Man– let’s get this party started with hunk of metal! I have to point out the obvious: Downey Jr is amazing in this role. He is a huge part of why this was a massive success- and consequently why Marvel was able to get this massive project off the ground. It’s a clever story too. Yes, we may be familiar with a lot of the now-typically-Marvel techniques of misdirection and framing- but no matter how many times I’ve seen this film, I still find it absorbing. All the components work so well, it’s emotional and there’s a *huge* amount of foreshadowing for Avengers 2 and even Civil War. It’s so cool to watch it back now and think “I know where that’s heading”. I’m not going to say this is a personal favourite- but it’s a great movie.

4½/5 bananas

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captain america.jpg

Captain America: The First Avenger– okay confession time: I am #TeamCap all the way. I will save you time accusing me of bias- I AM BIASED. And a huge amount of that is thanks to this first movie- cos I *love* it. The framing is fantastic, the plot is simple but effective and there is plenty of tension. This is thanks to having a really solid villain- a guy that is both too evil for Hitler and matches the hero in strength. I also love Bucky (aww poor Bucky!) and am forever moved by the emotional ending- it gets me every time! This is a story of real sacrifice and heroics- and is basically one of the reasons I got into this genre in the first place. There is another movie by DC (that shall go unnamed) which does try to do all of these things again- but I can safely say, having watched this more times than is healthy, Marvel did it better #sorrynotsorry

5/5 bananas

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incredible hulk

The Incredible Hulk– yes, I even watched this one, cos I am just that committed. No, it is not a good movie. It does have kinda cool visual effects and I love Edward Norton… However my love for him can only stretch so far- and as good as his acting is, giving real psychological depth to the character, the movie is boring because of these diversions. And what little there is in terms of plot makes next to no sense, because I can’t make head or tail of his motivations or plan (at one point he wants to prove to his daughter the hulk is dangerous by getting him to hulk out… therefore putting his daughter in danger?!) Ultimately, I just didn’t enjoy this one. The Stan Lee cameo is brilliant and I liked the end credit scene though.

2/5 bananas

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iron man 2.jpg

Iron Man 2– this is one I’m also not crazy about. I like the opening, the introduction of Black Widow and the end credit scene is a treat… Everything else is not great. Pepper does wayyy too much screaming. This one has to win the award for the most annoying villain (actually I think Iron Man might collectively have the worst villain). No one talks like a person in this movie either. And there’s not much character growth, making this feel unnecessary. Oh and the ending was godawful. This is turning into a list of complaints, so I’m gonna say I liked the link to the Thor movie and just move on from this messy movie.

2½/5 bananas

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thor

Thor– or as I like to call it, Loki 1 😉 I’ll be the first to admit, this is not an incredible movie. That said, I’ve always enjoyed it. Maybe it’s cos I’m okay with campy fantasy-style settings or more likely it’s cos I think there’s actually some real depth in some of the characterisation. Most notably, Loki’s arc is fascinating- since it all begins with a lie/half-truth that he could be king… which Odin knew full well wasn’t a real possibility. All the actors really pull their weight in this movie- it has a star cast and it shows. That said, Thor’s friends are a bit boring at times and there’s a lack of chemistry in the Thor/Jane relationship. Because of that, Thor’s transformation into a hero isn’t easy to buy. Other than that, there’s a couple of technical issues with the structure- such as the use of too many frames at the beginning and they’re not all employed well. If you’re not focusing too much on that though, I reckon most people can have a good time with this movie. So here’s my first (of many) unpopular opinions:

4/5 bananas

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avengers

Avengers Assemble– this movie rocks! From that tune dropping at the start and the opening credits rolling in, I always feel excited to see this movie. It’s pretty much the movie that will determine whether you’re gonna get into these movies or not. Sure, it’s not perfect- but it’s damn good fun! It’s a simple story, packed with humour and lovable characters (I’m still rooting for Cap). I really like how this allows so many characters from Fury to Black Widow to shine. Of course Loki is great value as a villain too- even if his plan is flawed (I mean, I get that he’s trying to infiltrate their base and make them fight each other… but he’s got an alien invasion coming anyway and they weren’t a team before that point so *not a great plan*). I do kinda get why Loki, who revels in chaos, would come up with a plan like that though. As much as he postures, he’s not so keen on actually leading, rather on stoking the flames… And being able to get into this about the character is one of the reasons it’s so great: there’s so much depth here! Even with a large cast, there seems to be plenty of room for the characters to develop (except for Hulk- I still don’t understand the whole “always angry” thing- what does that mean?!) As much as I like Loki, my favourite part is when Hawkeye outsmarts him and Hulk SMASH! While this movie falls into the category of summer blockbuster, I still believe there’s something groundbreaking in the way Whedon was able to bring such an ensemble together and balance emotion with entertainment. Well worth the rewatch:

4½/5 bananas

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So what are your thoughts on these movies? Are you a fan of Marvel? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Let me know in the comments!