Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Jumping into Summertime for June 2023!

Hello all! I think we’ve finally hit summer in the UK (I say that as everything has clouded over again and there’s a promise of rain). Last month passed in an absolute whirlwind of walkies, socialising, an exhibition, Sleeping Beauty and a near death experience… so as you can see not much going on 😉 And on that note, I’m going to dive straight into some of the media I’ve been consuming in the last month…

Queen Charlotte– I was positively engaged by this. If you’re going to write a historical fantasy, then this is absolutely how you should do it. Yes historical accuracy is sacrificed- but it is sacrificed on the altar of romance. And yes there is overt political messaging- but it is messaging about unity that will warm even the coldest heart. There’s an if only aspect to it, which distinguishes it from the modern rewritings we have seen. It humorously upholds the social mores and doesn’t throw out every concept of the age. All this is done to provide a backdrop to a truly unconventional love story- one marred by tragedy from the start. In a heartrending fashion, this is the most charming rendition of the madness of George III that I’ve seen (just watch out for the awkward sex scenes 😉).  

Seven Kings Must Die– continuing the royal trend, we finally have the finale to my favourite show of all time: the Last Kingdom. As we started the show with the last kingdom being the Anglo Saxon Wessex, we are now brought to the near formation of England with the last kingdom being the Viking kingdom of Northumbria. Our hero Uhtred has had many years enjoying the successes of the series 5 finale- but as we know from this show, that peace cannot stand. With poignant storytelling and deep character work, this provides a beautiful conclusion to a story I have followed for many years. More than that- it goes beyond the mere characters in the narrative. The story inevitably becomes about the formation of the English as well as England. It is utter perfection and I had tears in my eyes by the end.

House of the Dragon– well, that was some hot stuff. After my complaints about Fire and Blood being something of a damp squid, I didn’t expect to be so taken in by this series. And in truth, I was rather cool towards it at the start. Yet as the series progressed, the characters and narrative were ever more compelling. Based on some rather dry histories, the showrunners have breathed life into this Westerosi mythos. Somehow they managed to make me root for some truly heinous characters and reignite my passion for the world of Game of Thrones (which is no small miracle!). Do not go into it expecting romantic highs or happy endings- for this is very much grimdark fantasy. As graphic as I found it (unfortunately it is still too unnecessarily gratuitous) I could not look away. I have to confirm what all the critics are saying: this is television worth watching.

Final Girl Support Group– like all the other Hendrix books I’ve read, this is an intelligent horror. With the concept of the final final girl to examine themes of gendered violence and trauma. As an examination of the final girls trope, it’s on point. Not only does it explore the concept in modern media, bringing in multimedia extracts to add texture to the narrative, but it also becomes deeply mythical by the end. Entrenched in Greek mythological themes, the narrative journeys into the concept of becoming a monster to defeat the monster.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Small Things Like These- this isn’t a bad book by any metric. It explores deep and real emotions. It has a complex central character. It has a sophisticated narrative arc in a contained space. AND YET something about it feels incomplete. I felt it was more of a snapshot rather than an epic work of art. There’s more promise to it than it delivers- and in that way I guess it’s a typical Booker Prize nominee. And we all know what I think about Booker Prize Winners by now 😉

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers– this was a delight. Packed with fun characters and with a plot to die for, this was such a joy to read. Using malapropisms and some smart writing, Sutanto created the perfect cosy mystery with a 5* ending. I strongly advise you try it for yourself!  

Rating: 5/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

Step by Step Guide On How to Win a Booker Prize

***Disclaimer: this list is in no way guaranteed to work, as the Booker Prize is chosen by the industry, for the industry***

STEP #1: Start with character- a really, really pretentious character. Everything will revolve around them and their exhaustingly dull inner-monologue, so make sure they have as annoying a personality as possible. Don’t give them any positive traits- remember they need to be as off-putting as possible. We can’t have readers actually wanting to pick up this book.

STEP #2: Remove any semblance of plot; make the story as boring as possible. Remove any hint of entertainment- because this is serious literature (emphasis on the serious bit). Instead, this book should primarily spin around political discussions and go on an ideological journey. Think something that might be better suited to a lecture and write that.

STEP #3: Be “experimental”. Irritate your reader. By no means should your book be readable or pleasurable in any way. On that note…

STEP #4: Add a ton of existentialism. Nothing says high-brow more than a depressing dose of existential misery.

STEP #5: Make sure there’s some navel gazing thrown in for good measure. Lots and lots of navel gazing.

STEP #6: And then add some more (because no way was that depressing enough!)

STEP #7: Add in some gross bits. Seriously, you’ve got to make this book as unenjoyable as possible.

STEP #8: Feel free to add in some colourless and bland side characters.

STEP #9: But don’t include any subplots (have you forgotten STEP 2?)- keep things simples!

STEP #10: End on a high- and by that I mean, go out with a whimper. This story can’t actually go anywhere! SERIOUSLY, DO NOT FORGET STEP 2!

Now go get this baby published and prepare to bring in the accolades! (Unless of course someone writes an actually good book that year and you inevitably miss out)

My History with Booker Prize Winners

Spoiler alert: it’s not good.

I think the bookworm world is divided into two camps: those who slavishly follow book awards and those who don’t. I am firmly in the latter camp. And I know this after a year and a half of research… Well, not really, but I have made a concerted effort to read more Booker Prize winning books in the last year. The only trouble was- finishing them!

You see, having gone through the list of 53 title winners, I’ve found very lacklustre results. Very few sparked my interest to begin with (just 39%), a fair few I managed to pick up were DNFs (4) and the majority I didn’t like (9 out of the 14 I finished)! That left very few successes- a mere 5 books in fact!! Quite simply that is not enough to inspire me to pick up more. Let’s break it down…

The DNFs:

Lincoln in the Bardo– not my thing at all. An experimental novel following real-life events, it came across as pretty pretentious.

Shuggie Bain– gloomy and not for me! As a bonus there were also hints of misogyny in the dehumanising descriptions of women.

Seven Moons of Maali Almeida– a part of me was impressed by this book. There’s an unusual use of second person, which works for the most part. There’s a poignancy to the political commentary. And there’s a power to the language. AND YET- for far too much of it I was bored and felt like I was going in circles. I simply had no compulsion to read on- which is the basic thing a book should get you to do.

Luminaries– I felt zero connection to this story and ergo no will to continue. Needless to say, this book didn’t exactly shine for me.

*Bonus* Nominee: Hot Milk– I picked this up specifically because it was nominated, but ye gawds I’d be damned if I was going to finish it. Such a slog.


Girl Woman Other– BIG NOPE! Call me old fashioned, but I actually like punctuation.

Finkler Question– WTF why did this win?! Lacking the wit and humour it promises, this is as much of a letdown as a whoopee cushion.

Midnight’s Children– we all know stream of consciousness is not to my taste.

Amsterdam– how?? HOW IS THIS ON THE LIST?? Look, I’m not a fan of McEwan, but even as a fan, how could you put this book forward? It’s not his most morally interesting (Atonement). It’s not the most structurally intriguing (Saturday). And it’s not even his most emotionally interesting (Child in Time). Amsterdam is a great big nothing. Read the premise and it might sound intriguing- but I assure you, it is not.

God of Small Things– OOF. This one started out as promising. I liked a couple of the lines individually and it’s well written, but by the end I was grossed out and not a believer in this book. 

Schindler’s Ark– as much as fictionalised stories can work, this really should have been non-fiction. I didn’t like the way this was written. It was too reverential of Schindler to be impartial and too focused on this one man to take into account all the countless people whose stories were interwoven with his.

The Sea the Sea– sluggish and endless as the ocean, reading this felt like drowning in dull dishwater. Desperate for you to see its cleverness, this is loaded with too much telling (even for me). It simply carries on and on, getting nowhere fast. I know the main character is supposed to be in love with the sound of his own voice- yet this really is insufferable to read. I am truly baffled by the acclaim- the plot is all over the place and the characters aren’t as interesting as the author seems to think they are. 

*Bonus* On Beauty– presented as a homage to Howard’s End, yet lacking all the charm of the classic.

The Ones That Were Meh:

Milkman– forgettable. I remember what this was about and nothing else.

The English Patient– I’ve no patience to talk about this. There were some good descriptions and characterisation, I simply never got attached to it.

*Bonus* Nominee: Treacle Walker– I had such high hopes for this one… and it was just ok. There were moments of beautiful prose, but not much in the way of a plot. For someone who is so good at writing compelling plots, this one was weak. It was more of a feeling than an actual novel. I liked parts of this; I didn’t love it though.

(And Last But Not Least) The Ones I Actually Liked:

Wolf Hall– one of the few historical fiction books based on a real figure I actually liked. And there’s good reason for it: Mantel’s masterful characterisation and perfect plotting.

Bring Up the Bodies– it should be no surprise to see I was impressed with how Mantel brought the second of her Cromwell books to a close.

Life of Pi– I’m wowed by the plot, the prose and the philosophical musings.

Remains of the Day– stunning and human, Ishiguro’s sparse style beautifully illuminates the intricacies of people’s personalities and relationships.

The Sense of an Ending– in a sense, I shouldn’t really like this book. Much like the Sea, the Sea, it has an unlikeable hero, who makes you grind your teeth at times. Yet the teasing tone of the author, coupled with pockets of self-awareness made this intriguing. I was surprised by how much I liked it.

And that’s it! That’s the sum total of my Booker Prize experience.

Clearly, I am far from the expert, since I struggle to maintain enough interest in these books. Clearly, literary prize winners and I don’t often get along. None of this is intended to throw shade at people who enjoy Booker Prize books or indeed the people who write them (okay maybe a little shade at some of the books)- it’s just to say my taste doesn’t line up. I have been struggling to figure out why that might be (is it that these books are too lofty? too grown up? or simply too much??) I don’t have the answers. All I know is I won’t be making a concerted effort to read the next winner’s work.

And that’s all from me! What do you think of Booker Prize winners? Do you love them or loathe them? Let me know in the comments!

I Needed These Books – Some Self-Help and Motivational Reads!

I don’t know what it is about Spring- but I often feel really motivated and eager to do things! Conveniently, that’s meant I’ve read a good deal of self-help books lately. I thought I’d share some of these (especially since it counteracts my grumpier post about naff self-help earlier in the year 😉)

Dear Dolly– heartfelt and genuine, Dolly’s personality shines through this collection of agony aunt letters. With real empathy and not too much ego, she gives thoughtful responses to difficult problems. Not gonna lie, she’s definitely someone I’d want in my corner.

The Light We Carry– this is the kind of book you wish you’d read yesterday. No matter what your political leanings are, this is full of lessons for us all. Michelle Obama has life experience and wisdom to spare- so I got so much out of this. I was already thinking about rereading this before I finished!!

Failosophy– here’s a book with a simply list of rules to follow for every kind of failure. It will have you successfully failing in style!  

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone– a therapist’s journey giving and receiving therapy, this is full of insight about human nature and handling difficult circumstances. I’d recommend this to *everyone* because we’re all a work in progress and have a lot to learn.

Big Magic– this is a great book for creatives. With equal bouts of optimism and tough love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s warmth exudes from the pages of this charming non-fic.  

The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse– this sweet story has beautiful illustrations and advice- especially when it comes to cake (ie you should eat cake!!)

Man’s Search For Meaning– I’ve mentioned this book *a lot*, so I won’t take too much of your time, except to tell you to read it if you’re searching for meaning in life… which is everyone 😉

Alright- have you read any of these? What did you think about them? And do you have any motivational or self-help books you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn Just About Managed to Ignite

***Received from Netgalley in exchange for review, but any incendiary comments are my own***

I’m afraid I have mixed emotions for this book. I mean, it’s a book about books and libraries- so how could I be anything other than positive? Yet sadly, my feelings for a lot of it were pretty lukewarm.

As much as I was drawn in by the old school fantasy feel, it seemed to be missing that vital piece of magic that makes a story tick. While I connected quickly to the tough and tenacious Livira- named after a weed- I struggled to click with any of the other characters. And as much as I found the world layered and shrouded in mystique, I found the story a little on the dense side. The plot, quite simply, failed to fly. There was a time jump that threw me from the story and an uncertainty about where it was heading. It wasn’t until the last quarter that I found myself turning the pages at a rate of knots.

Honestly, that ending saved the story for me. There were some cool concepts packed in there that sparked my interest. There were poignant moments and depth. Still, I think it might have been too little, too late for me. Much as this was a love letter to books, I’m not sure I’m going to be writing home about it.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

And that’s all for now! Are you interested in this book? Have you read it? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Let’s Get Motivated for May 2023!

Hello all! Another month has rolled around and I’m glad to say April was a good reading month for me… a lot of which were motivational reads! So, I’m certainly feeling motivated to dive right in and share them with you now 😉

Landlines– springing right into it, with a book that lends itself to the new season, I walked myself right into Raynor Winn’s third travelogue. Evocatively following her and her husband’s trek across the United Kingdom, this third memoir in the series is more overshadowed by the potential impending loss. Not that it stops this book from being incredibly inspiring and hopeful to the end, carrying a message to just keep going in the face of whatever hardship life throws at you. For such a message, the setting of Scotland and the North of England feels most fitting. Full of hope, I will say that while all the books have been political, I felt some of the links here were more tenuous and distracting. Sometimes it was a bit more incongruous to the awe and the stirring wonder of the landscape- which fell into the background with these discussions. Still, this was well worth the read (or listen as the case was for me) if you want to know more about Moth and Raynor’s journey.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas    

Also, as a footnote, I very much enjoyed the “conversation with” at the very end- it’s like listening to a lovely mum and dad potter around and put the kettle on.

Dear Dolly– collating agony aunt columns can make for a peculiar (and in some cases rather irritating) book. Not in this case! Dolly Alderton’s collected thoughts proved to be refreshing and delightful. While I had mixed feelings about her memoir, I found her personality lends itself to advice. Non-judgemental and actually helpful, I found that she didn’t smother people with her opinion or experience (as many agony aunts are wont to do). Rather she did the most important thing when it comes to counselling others and actually listened. It was particularly useful to hear from someone who didn’t believe in their own perfection. And on that note, I also don’t entirely trust people that don’t have regrets (live a little and get some I say! 😉)

Rating: 4½/5 bananas    

Failosophy– this book was a huge success. There’s something very therapeutic about examining the things that have gone wrong in your life and working out where you go from there. I certainly have had more than the recommended three to mull over (one of which is not opening up about failures so don’t expect this to become a confessional 😉). What I especially liked about this book is that it doesn’t offer useless platitudes- because it’s okay to feel shitty about your failures and it’s okay to make bad decisions. Failosophy, however, can have you moving beyond ruminations of what was I thinking?! and into a more productive line of thought. None of us are perfect- but this book is pretty close 😉 (side note: there’s also a teen-appropriate version of the same book and it’s really good!)

Rating: 5/5 bananas

How to Fail– of course, after reading Failosophy, I had to check out Day’s original book on failure. Part manifesto, but more memoir, I wasn’t as impressed by the fragmented structure and writing style. There just wasn’t enough to it and I ended up distracted by the setup. Definitely not a bad book, but if you have to pick between them, I’d recommend sticking with Failosophy.  

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

Longshadow– ach my most disappointing book of the month (and possibly the year)- I almost don’t want to talk about it at all. As you may know from my previous reviews, I’ve been loving Atwater’s Regency Faerie Tales. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with Abigail as a character in the same way. Harsh as this may sound, I didn’t think she had sufficient personality to sustain my interest for long. Personally, I don’t think being a lesbian and magical is enough in lieu of actually creating an interesting character. In fairness, Mercy was far more interesting and I did like the ending. It’s just that the other two books were so character focused- with a distinct cast that leapt of the page- that I couldn’t help but be let down.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Five Survive– genuinely exciting and tense, this read differently to a lot of other YA thrillers. More on the action-packed side of the genre, this had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. And with characters who you will want to get to know (and in some cases avoid at all costs). I especially liked how unique the concept was in comparison to a lot of more staid stories I’ve tried. If you pick this up, be prepared for something a little more dramatic than your average high schoolers going on a trip 😉 And that ending was absolutely *to die for*.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas 

How to Sell a Haunted House– okay you know how I don’t read horror books? Well, Grady Hendrix is the exception for me. His books are just so darn funny and creepy and complex- I have to read them! And with a title (and cover!) like this, how could I resist? Fashioned in a way that made me think of it as a Toy’s Story for adults, this book definitely left its mark. Creepy and a bit too much on the gruesome side for my tastes, this haunted house story was intrinsically a family affair. In a sense, it was about the ways our history haunts us and the scars we carry into adulthood. At the same time, it’s an ineffably sad take on coming to terms with the concept of death- both in childhood and in adulthood. Absolutely worth buying what this book is selling- just watch out if you’re on the squeamish side!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

The Last Girl To Die– when I picked this up, I have to admit I thought I was in for something a little generic. This was not that. Set on the Scottish Isle of Mull, the remote location had echoes of timelessness and a strong sense of place. Dredged in a mythological air and powerful motifs, the plot was pulled along by the enduring images of a murdered girl. Mouths packed with sand and wearing a seaweed crown, this spoke to the silencing of women and the overbearing weight of femininity. With witchery at play, it felt like the story had a mind of its own, directed to a particularly good ending I couldn’t have fully predicted.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas 

Last Letter from Your Lover– oof I have some mixed feelings about this one. And not just because the central plot focuses on infidelity. Because there is heart to this dual timeline romance that will have you investing in spite of the controversial subject matter. Indeed, Moyes has proved to be the writer who can take difficult subject matter and humanise it. No, my problem was not the issues the story deals with- but how the plot wove together. You see, this is a bit of a mess structurally. Rather than having the story as an interlocking narrative, you get long patches of one story, only for it to jerk into the other timeline. And that creates a very manufactured feeling of tension that left me deliberating over the quality of the book. Frankly, as much as I liked the story, the flaws showed too much. 

Rating: 4/5 bananas

The Seventh Bride– last but certainly not least, I read yet another unconventional Kingfisher fantasy. Now that I’ve read a few, I can absolutely say these books are pure magic. Fairytale-esque and with a wonderful tone, this is reminiscent of Bluebeard (whilst not being a direct retelling). Focusing on female relationships, this is about a young miller’s daughter forced to marry… only to discover her wealthy intended has had many wives- some of whom are still living! Yet while you might think this would be centred on her relationship with her future husband, this instead is about sisterhood, with women working together and supporting each other. Thoroughly unromantic, with the beastly man being quite simply a beastly man, this covers different kinds of female relationships and is an unusual coming-of-age tale. Here is a story where it’s not just our young hero who must learn to endure and fight for herself- but also where the other women must learn the importance of helping each other and trusting your instincts. If something seems off- it probably is! I loved everything about this and would recommend it forever!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

No, it’s not for 11 year olds

So, I’ve discovered yet another off-colour book trend. Working in the library, I’ve given quite a few age categorisations the good ol’ side eye- but there was one lately that really takes the biscuit. And that was deciding the Princess Diaries series is for 8-12 year olds (or Middle Grade as it’s known in the US). Considering that the main character is in her teens, dealing with teen concerns and that the later books are far less PG, I’d say this raises a few concerns.

Because unfortunately this bizarre obsession with aging everything up isn’t a one-off. Not only am I seeing this trend across the board in YA (with many, many adult books mischaracterised as such) but I’ve also seen a lot of books I’d typically regard as YA aimed at a much younger audience. Books that I liked as a teen like Sabriel, Alex Rider, Girls in Love are all being given to pre-teens. Despite the fact that they have teen protagonists and the subject matter is very much geared towards that audience.

And it doesn’t stop there. In a misguided attempt to get younger children interested in classics, I’m also seeing an increasing number of adaptations of classics for younger readers. There are now whole series of simplified texts of Austen (because pre-teens must surely be interested in the marriage mart of regency England) and even a rather graphic retelling of Les Miserables aimed at 5 year olds (I kid you not).

Frankly, I think this is a misstep. Without life experience, the subject matter is both uninteresting and difficult for a young child to understand. I know that when I first tried to pick up an adult book, I struggled to relate to a story about a middle age divorcee- a subject I still have little experience or knowledge around. There’s a reason Pullman states that he couldn’t enjoy Middlemarch when he was young. There’s a reason I didn’t take a shine to the intricacies and ironies of Austen when I was small. And I’m sure you all have your own examples! It’s not insulting or patronising to recognise that children are not fully formed adults. That’s why we have entire categories of books to cater to younger people.

Look, far be it for me to say what is and is not appropriate for children- but it does seem odd to be including an off-putting range of books in the children’s section. Far from encouraging children to read more broadly, it’s actually resulting in children saying they do not like what they are finding on the shelves, with parents wanting a more tailored list of what their child might actually like to read (that’s for the interested parents- think how hard it is on children who do not have that!) As Briana far more eloquently explained on her post over on Pages Unbound, it’s important for books to have some kind of guidance when it comes to age categories. It’s not simply about protecting children- it’s about giving people the books they actually want to read.

Alright then- have I overstepped the mark? What do you think of this debate? Let me know in the comments!

The Magic of Rereading Children’s Books

Lately I’ve been rereading a lot of children’s books- which has turned out to be a lovely change of pace.  

We all know that nostalgia is powerful (as many Hollywood execs will tell you 😉). Children’s books can easily cast their spell over us and transport us back in time. It is quite natural to get all dewy-eyed over our childhood reading- since they remind us of why we got into reading in the first place. At this time of year, with the spring renewal in the air, I often find myself returning to old favourites. Books like the Hobbit make me feel prepared for new journeys; the Secret Garden reminds me of the power of nature. For me, children’s books are the perfect antidote to the chaos that surrounds us and give us a window into a simpler time.  

That’s not to say that children’s books are by any means straightforward- there’s far more than meets the eye. Rereading Wind in the Willows recently, I was struck by how there’s so much more to this than you see as a child. It is, if anything, quite an adult story, with adult characters and their adult concerns. Yet, with a parodic touch and a hint of mock epic in many scenes, it is a story that adults and children alike can enjoy, laughing at the foibles of adulthood.

Indeed, there is so much pleasure to be had in children’s books. The humour of a children’s story is frequently unmatched- particularly in picture books (think How to be a Lion or the Day the Crayons Quit). One of my favourites lately is Mr Wolf’s Pancakes, which draws you in with sympathy for the storybook villain of the wolf, while simultaneously transforming traditional fairy tale characters into selfish caricatures. In the end, when all the goodies-turned-baddies are eaten by the baddie-turned-goodie, we cheer.

Stories like these are designed for play. We have fun with them, turning reading into a game- one we can all take part in. Rereading and getting back in touch with the child-like delight is a reminder of that pure unadulterated happiness.  If rereading is a joy, then rereading children’s books is all the more joyous. And if you haven’t tried rereading one of your childhood favourites lately, I recommend you do. A whole world of happiness awaits.

What do you think? Are you a fan of rereading? Do you revisit children’s books? Let me know in the comments!

Not all Villains are Ugly (And Not all Heroes are Handsome)

In an effort to move with the times, Horowitz (who is somehow still producing Alex Rider novels) has decided to make his villains “perfectly ordinary”. Which is fine- every writer is entitled to state banal and bland missives to get attention for a series that has frankly gone on too long. Yet something about this doesn’t sit right with me- particularly after the Dahl debacle.

You see, much as it’s an interesting point… it’s not entirely true. As common as the hag or inhuman villain is in fiction, it is equally likely to find an alluring adversary. Fiction, particularly children’s fiction, is one of extremes. Stories are illustrated with vivid visuals of beautiful maidens and ghastly dragons. It is full of the exceptionally beautiful and the terrifyingly off-putting. Quite simply: not all villains are made ugly- for a reason. They would lose all power if a wicked person could be identified at a glance. There is a reason the idea of a simply hideous villain has moved into the realms of parody and humour- and I’m afraid Horowitz is a little late to the party with his statements.

Horowitz’ premise can further be dismantled by the Beast motif- which is so deeply embedded in romance and fairy tale genres. The idea that a character may not be what they seem from appearances is a penetrating message. We see the moral not to judge what we see as far back as the Wife of Bath’s Tale. We see in more modern fantasies, such as Echo North, unconventional heroines bearing scars. Even the likes of gothic novels, like Frankenstein and Dracula, deconstruct the concept of beauty and evil. Evil does not always come from where you might expect. Playing with the concept of so-called ugliness is present in many-a tale.

I’m certainly not saying we need more ugly villains. What I object to is this sense of unreality in literary discussion. Really, this seems like a meaningless bit of virtue-signalling rather than an attempt to stifle creativity- yet this point-scoring in the “I’m a good person” game gets us nowhere. If we are to have real debates about appearances in fiction, can it at least be based in fact? Thanks!

Alrighty then- what do you think of Horowitz’s views? Let me know in the comments!

Luminaries Was Dreamily Dark

*Received from Netgalley in exchange for review- but all the bright ideas here are my own!*

Entering into the nightmarish world of Luminaries, I was immediately taken by the moody setting and beastly concept. Inventive and intriguing, the narrative was instantly compelling. The opening drew me in, with atmospheric writing and exciting storytelling.

Voicey and with distinct characters, the audiobook was an excellent choice for this story. A balance of romance and friendship and family kept me invested in the cast. Most importantly, the language and voice acting lent itself really well to the medium. 

I became very quickly swept up in the saga. With plenty of mystery and monsters lurking in the plot, I was kept on my toes throughout. Admittedly, there were aspects about the ending that were a little lacklustre- yet still enough intrigue to make me want to continue the series.

Overall, an engaging start to a series, with plenty that has piqued my curiosity for more.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

And that’s all for now! Have you read this book? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!