AWESOME Authors I Discovered in 2017 *and* Am Looking Forward to Reading More From

Technically this was a Top Ten Tuesday topic… buuut it’s not this week’s, so this is a fail 😉 Ah well, pish posh, who cares about rules when it comes to sharing great books? I certainly don’t. And I really wanted to do this topic, because there’s nothing I like more than talking about AWESOMENESS (aside from griping about suckfests… moving on…). Besides, it was this or talk about *nothing* for Nothing Day (yes that’s a thing to, happy Nothing Day everybody!)

Anyhoo enough rambling- gonna try to not repeat myself too much from my best of 2017 post, although it can’t be entirely avoided 😉 Here’s some amazing authors I discovered in 2017:

solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn– I’m beginning to sound a lot like a broken record when it comes to the Gulag, but that’s not the only book I read by Solzhenitsyn last year. I started off my journey into the Siberian wastes with One Day in the Life of Ivan Densovitch and that motivated me to continue reading. Speaking of Siberia…

ruta sepetys

Ruta Sepetys– WOW what a writer. Of the two books I read by her last year, I preferred Salt to the Sea to Between Shades of Grey, but either way her stories pulled me in and were impossible to forget. There’s no question that I want to read more by this author.

murder-on-the-orient-express-agatha-christie

Agatha Christie– two things happened on my blog last year relating to Christie: 1) I announced that I had zero intention of reading her work and… 2) I actually read her work. I have since seen the error of my ways and plan to read more soon 😉

ice twins

S. K. Tremayne– gosh Tremayne reminded me reignited my zest for thrillers… I have to read MORE!

alan partridge

“Alan Partridge”– I read two books by “Alan Partridge” last year- I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a book so much. It’s easy for me to say, considering that there are hilarious (yet totally mundane) asides on getting a car into gear in these books, that Steve Coogan could literally put out *anything* for this character and I’ll read it.

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Robin Hobb– it took me long enough but I finally read Assassin’s Apprentice last year! And as some of you may know, I was so blown away it that I ended up going a little crazy, reading both the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies in one go… Yeah, it’s no wonder I got a bit Hobbed out by the end of my massive binge. Still, though my appetite may have been dampened temporarily, I want to *jump right back up on that horse* and continue reading in 2018!

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Mark Lawrence– I read a very respectable 4 books by Lawrence last year and they were all fantastic fantasies- now I want MORE… Lucky for me Grey Sister is out this year 😉

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Ed McDonald– Blackwing was certainly one of the best debuts I’ve ever read- WOWEE- you can make a safe bet that I want to read the next one!

bear and the nightingale

Katherine Arden– what list about 2017 would be complete without Arden? You all know by now how much I loved Bear and the Nightingale (if not, hi nice to meet you, I’m the Orangutan Librarian and I loved this book). So naturally I’ll be reading and reviewing Girl in the Tower soon- watch this space.

snow child

Eowyn Ivey– gorgeously atmospheric and beautifully written- I adored how this was a fairytale retelling woven together with a historical setting. I will definitely have an eye out for her other books!

Phew- managed to only repeat 3 from my top ten! Have you read any of these? What’s the best author you discovered in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

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Drafts, Drafts and More Drafts

It’s been a slow week for me online…So I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I haven’t done on my blog and I thought it might be fun to do a chill post, where I discuss some of the ideas I’ve had over the years and posts I’ve written that I’ve never shared. Some of these I may be persuaded to share one day (probably not though because polishing them up into half readable pieces would be more work than starting from scratch). Anyhoo, here are some of the ideas that have been left on my computer going stale for eons and eons:

(oh and *disclaimer*, as always, not for the easily offended)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverMy Thoughts on Harry Potter– this was inspired by some comments on my Monstrous Confessions piece, where I talked about having some criticisms (I also have plenty of praise, before peeps get their panties in a twist 😉 ). The reason I haven’t shared this yet is simply because I was waiting for a time when I could/wanted to reread the whole series-it’d be quite good to give a sense of before and after- only trouble is I’m a mood reader and the desire to reread HP hasn’t quite struck me of late. Oh well. One day…

strike outStrike Out Tag– now I usually have a never say never attitude when it comes to tags HOWEVER as grateful as I was to be tagged for this one, I honestly felt these questions were a tad personal. And frankly it also got a little dark. To give you a snippet of what I mean, it had questions like “have you ever gone fishing” next to “have you watched someone die”- yikes! Still, it’s been taunting me in my drafts for ages, gonna have to delete it.

monkey typewriterDrafts, Drafts and More Drafts– the original post by this name- I know, how meta is this post getting? Originally I used this opportunity to gripe about something blogging related. Unfortunately it got a little confused and I can’t really follow the train of thought, so I abandoned that idea in favour of this! Speaking of the blogging related…

smaug burningHow I Blog– such a pleasant title, such a crap would-be post. There was a part 1 and 2 as well and it was ready to go. BUT I was super cranky when I wrote it and it was basically a response to trolls (as I pointed out in my Me In Book Characters Tag I’m somewhat hot-headed), so when I took a breather and cooled down, I lost all desire to share (really it was a lousy post, you all had a lucky escape 😉 )

shudders.gifTriggered by Trigger Warnings– this will remain in draft form- partly cos I’ve more or less used that title for Gaiman’s book, mostly because the current document stands at 10000 words and counting. Somehow I don’t think this post is ever coming- it’s wayyy too long and complicated. One of the things that inspired me to write it was reading all the uninformed pieces online- yet while what I’ve written benefits from actual *citations* (*geeky shudders*) I do think that another inexpert view probably won’t be productive. I’m also frankly a little bored of the topic by now. Oh well, it was a good learning curve for me anyway.

Gulag Archipelago, 3 volumesA Post on the Gulag Archipelago– again, lack of qualification comes into it, but also HOW ON EARTH DO YOU SUMMARISE A BOOK LIKE THIS- ARGHHH?! (Genuinely asking cos I don’t have a clue) Also it was painful enough reading this let alone analysing (not cos it’s bad, it’s excellent, but it’s reallllly not a fun read). The thought of going through all my notes doesn’t exactly fill me with glee. That said I will try to put *something* together for it- even if it’s just an “I read it, you probably should” post.

communist manifestoSnarking on the Communist Manifesto– yes, you read that title correctly. This was something I actually just did for fun- yet reading it back got a chuckle, so I thought about sharing it- but no, this is so weirdly niche, even for me. (Plus it’s ridiculously long, cos it’s more or less line by line)

 

delete cybermenAre the Markets Really Free– WTF was I actually thinking with this one?!?!? What on earth!! Seriously I *am not* an economist. DELETE.

 

 

funny-facepalm-gifThe White Heteronormativity of Classics– bahahahahaha not touching that one with a bargepole. What made me write it was an exceptionally daft comment (someone criticising Austen for being white and heteronormative *face palm*) yet it could basically be summarised in two words: *context matters*. Dear dear dear, moving on…

Bettleheim and Child Psychology Theories– not a terrible idea for a post, but to be honest, I think people would be better served just reading his work. Not saying it’s all spot on- only it gives an idea of why children’s literature evolved in a certain direction in the 20th Century (he talks a lot about what children can cope with in terms of violence etc)

form50027So one thing I’ve learnt from doing this exercise is I’m somewhat temperamental… although let’s be honest, all the banana throwing was kind of a clue. I guess I should invite more trolls to come on here and write the daftest, most-insulting comments and they can be safe in the knowledge that I’ll probably write a response to it that I’ll never publish. Come at me bro! 😉

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Anyhoo- what do you think of these post ideas? Any of them catch your eye? And do you have any post ideas that’ll never see the light of day on your blog? Let me know in the comments!

Books About Making Your Dreams Come True!

Today is Make Your Dreams Come True Day- no, I had no idea this was a thing until recently either. Ah well, sounds like it’s worth celebrating…

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And since it is, I thought I’d share a fun, quick list of books for the occasion! Here are some of my favourite books about wish fulfilment:

isla and the happily ever after

Isla and the Happily Ever Afterthe clue is in the title 😉 This is my *ultimate* feel good book.

charmed life

Charmed Life– someone gets what they want right at the beginning of this story, but it is not the protagonist, it is his sister and that leads to all sorts of mayhem…

Arkham cover D final

The Picture of Dorian Gray– who said all the wishes had to be nice things? Or end happily? Say what you want about that, but Dorian Gray does get what he wants… for a time at least. Speaking of which…

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Monkey’s Paw– the definitive “be careful what you wish for story”- need I say more?

my-name-is-asher-lev

My Name is Asher Lev– well this is less about dreams coming true and more about *making* dreams come true. The question at the heart of this book is what do you have to give up? What does it take? The discussion of that idea is why I thought it would be good to put it on this list.

 

midsummer night's dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream– now hear me out! I know this is a pretty chaotic play, with lots of magic wreaking havoc, but I really do think this plays into the idea of wish fulfilment, as characters forced to step out of their own world and discover (and fight for) what they actually want. You can also interpret the entire play as being a dream- which kind of plays into this theme.

Well there you go, that went from happy to sinister to surreal- so much for making a nice list 😉 Do you know any books about dreams coming true? Let me know in the comments!

Tower of Dawn Rose Above My Expectations

tower of dawn

Okay, I’m gonna start this review where I would normally end it:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Because to be abundantly clear, before I get into the nitty gritty, that I did actually have a lot of fun with this. Not entirely for the right reasons, but oh, we’ll get to that. All in all though, before I get into what I thought about this in depth, I do think this was definitely one of Maas’ better books.

As a spinoff from the Throne of Glass series, I feared it might be a bit of a waste of time. And worse still, this focused on Chaol, who (spoilers for Queen of Shadows) has had his back broken. Let’s be honest, I’ve never been a fan of this self-righteous twerp (I can’t even be bothered to be diplomatic), so a book centring on his mission for allies and a healer didn’t sound appealing.

Initially I thought I was going to be proved right. And this comes back to not liking Chaol, which meant it was a real struggle to get invested. Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a criticism of the writing– as a character he’s entirely believable- it’s only that the gift of writing realistic characters is a double edged sword and inevitably there will be characters we do not like. Sometimes certain types (the prissy, hypocritical, judgemental kind) rub me the wrong way.  And well, quite simply Chaol does a lot of Chaol like things here– so oh gosh my notes got snarky:

 “He was Lord of Nothing. Lord of Oath-Breakers. Lord of Liars

Me in notes: true- he was a wanker. He literally (spoilers for Queen of Shadows) supported a king possessed by a demonic Valg. Because he’s a schmock.

 “It should have been me. I had always planned for it to be me instead”

Me: ah Chaol’s infamous misplaced guilt. Not the reason he sucks though.

“It was a… rough period for me. Everything I knew was trampled. Everything. And she… I think I placed the blame for a great deal of it upon her. Began to see her as a monster

Me: yeah you were a prejudicial git.

To be fair, there were random parts where he wasn’t even doing anything that I’d blurt that out “yeah but you’re still a shit”. I couldn’t even understand why other characters described him as: “This man, this noble and selfless and remarkable man”. Because he also said things to someone who’d had their family murdered like:

“I knew another woman who lost as much as you. And do you know what she did with it- that loss?… She hunted down the people responsible and obliterated them. What the hell have you bothered to do these years?”

It’s not just that it’s insensitive and cruel- it’s that he has *zero consistency*- especially cos he previously criticised the woman who hunted down her enemies… so what’s his problem?  This is why I don’t like the judgy bastard- he’s always been the worst hypocrite. He’s very good at wounding people, acting morally superior, yet he can’t seem to make up his mind over what is right and wrong. So no, unlike a lot of people, this book didn’t suddenly make me a Chaol convert.

HOWEVER (and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get to the positive side) I really liked the other characters. Sartaq in particular was completely gorgeous. I will say, initially whenever I read Nesryn’s name, I thought “who?” Her relationship with Chaol was totally meh and shoehorned in– still highlight for spoiler: I ended up loving her romance with Sartuq, even if it was weird for her to jump ship and to brush the other unnecessary relationship under the rug in order for it to happen.

Since this was set in a new location, I personally felt like there was a lot of infodumping in the opening, which made it tough to get into, but once it got going, there was plenty to keep me entertained. By the end the number of times I’d said “wow” was ridiculous. It was simply so SPECTACULAR my notes devolved into “oohs” and “ahhs”. Plotwise, this also had HUGE implications for the series. There were some predictable moments- for instance, highlight for spoiler: she has a tendency to repeat stories, so it was no surprise when Chaol’s back got broken again,but I really did not see that finale coming. Because, like I said, wow.

Tower of Dawn also overcame a lot of the problems I had with Empire of Storms. Maas toned down the somewhat cringey sexual content. It was still corny, but there was less of it THANK GOODESS. Moreover, the moralising I’d complained of was mostly gone. When it did turn up, the messaging was simple and less cheesy, so I didn’t have a problem with it this time round (in fact, it was pretty quotable). And as always, I appreciated a lot of the writing:

“Her magic had been a pulsing star that flared against the wall that the darkness had crafted between the top of his spine and the rest of it.”

“You must enter where you fear to tread”

All in all, I got a lot out of it than I’d hoped. So have you read this? Do you plan to? And- dare I ask- what do you think about Chaol? Let me know in the comments!

Me In Book Characters Tag!

me in book characters tag

Hello all! I’m sorry I’ve been away for a couple of days and for being absent a lot last week, I’ve just been really knackered getting back into the swing of things after the New Year and a bit run down. I set aside a couple of evenings to bloghop and everything, but I fell asleep early instead…

you fell asleep

Anyhoo, excuse the preamble. I’m trying to catch up with everything slowly but surely- bear with me! In the meantime, I’m gonna chillax with a super fun tag 😀

Thank you so much to super talented Arwa @One’s Peculiar and the ridiculously fun Rebecca @Life as a Sports Fangirl for this one!

The Rules:

  1. Thank the creators of the tag (Us! Ash & Lo @ windowsill books)
  2. Thank whoever tagged you!
  3. List 5 book characters who you are most like and explain why.
  4. Tag your friends!

peter pan and wendy

Peter Pan, Peter Pan– I ain’t never growing up guys.

unseen academicals

The Librarian, Discworld– okay I may say more than “ook” and “eek” but I do actually have a lot in common with my literary counterpart- let’s face it, I go bananas over books for one thing.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix

Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter– not only is she a Ravenclaw (#housepride) she’s also about as wacky and eccentric as it gets- which I really relate to. To quote Kaiser Wilhelm II “You English are mad, mad, mad as March hares”- which brings me onto….

Alice's_Adventures_in_Wonderland

Alice, Alice in Wonderland– this list is getting “curiouser and curiouser”- I’ve always really identified with Alice, cos she’s so imaginative and, let’s be honest, a bit of an insufferable know it all. Hey- no one said I should only advertise my good traits, speaking of which the next character on this list is…

Hobbit_cover

Smaug, The Hobbit– Smaug is my spirit animal. Let’s just say I can be a little hot-headed 😉

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And that’s that! I tag: Nel, Beth, A Book Calls, Melanie, Lucinda, Kat, Dragons & Zombies, Dani, Zezee, Emily, Katie @Never Not Reading, Anna, Cynic on WingsSamantha@Modern Witch’s Bookshelf and anyone else that wants to do it.

So which characters do you most identify with? Let me know in the comments!

Some Great Movies I Watched in 2017

What am I doing here? I’m a book blogger- this is totally not allowed!

Well, today I’m breaking the book blogger mould. Cos I actually have strong opinions on a lot of things and I figure it’s always nice to hear about brilliant films.

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I should probably add a quick *disclaimer* that most of these did not come out in 2018. I also didn’t watch that many movies last year and didn’t finish a lot of the ones I did try (while I’m loath to DNF a book, I have no problem quitting a movie if it’s failed to keep my attention after half and hour). So this list is super short- BUT that said I would give these ALL THE BANANAS- because they really are spectacular films. In no particular order:

Logan– this the only film on this list that actually came out in 2017. A lot of people have said this, but it’s genuinely the best superhero film in *years* (I’d say the cliché “since Dark Knight”, but I actually liked Dark Knight Rises, silly chronology and all). There’s not many movies I wake up the next day, weeks, months and am still thinking about- yet this really got to me. A lot of that is cos this is actually about something more than just saving the world from *insert increasingly ludicrous threat*- it’s about the human condition, fatherhood, ageing. It’s gritty and real and raw. And the performances from everyone are fantastic.

The Third Man– I watched this before going to Vienna and managed to sufficiently creep myself out on the trip because of it. It really put me on edge… and that’s a good thing 😉 Visually it’s just stunning and the characters are so darn awesome, with very subtle storytelling (no voice overs or friends coming in telling you someone’s whole backstory). It’s a classic for a reason.

The Graduate– this was… not what I was expecting. Honestly, I was sure I’d hate this movie, but at my mum’s insistence, I gave it a go and it was amazing. I was laughing gleefully by the end! It also doesn’t hurt that I love Simon and Garfunkel, so the soundtrack put me in a GREAT mood. Here’s to you Mrs Robinson. (Also I’ve included the trailer for consistency- but it gives a lot away, so probably don’t watch it)

Mississippi Burning– MAN. This. Film. It had me feeling every single human emotion (which is impressive cos I’m an ape). It’s about some really heavy stuff and I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. Just, watch it if you’ve not seen it. It’ll blow you away.

Up– I spent the first half an hour of this film and much of the rest of it sobbing, so that’s a win in my book. Again, a lot of people say this is possibly the best Pixar movie ever- and yeah, that’s likely true. It’s definitely the most UPlifting film I saw all year. (ba dum tss)

So have you seen any of these? What did you think of them? And what was the best movie(s) you watched in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – January

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Well hello! Welcome to my first mini reviews of the year! Now, of course, this only being a few days into the New Year, I don’t have any books from 2018 to review yet. But, being super disorganised, I left a fair number of reviews unfinished from last year. Also I was in a massive slump towards the end of the 2017 (and still kinda am) so there aren’t many on this- let’s get to it!

november 9

November 9– This was funny, quirky and entertaining!! If you don’t like cheesy stories, then look away- but for everyone else that appreciates an extra dollop of cheese THIS IS DEFINITELY FOR YOU.  The romance was really good, I genuinely didn’t expect it to go in the direction that it did and it ended on a high- which is exactly what you want in this kind of book. It also had some great subplot elements and the use of subplots to do with writing and reading made it surprisingly meta. Plus the little poems in between each part were really good. So this will come as no surprise for romance fans: Colleen Hoover strikes again!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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wonder

Wonder– Wonder really was wonderful. It made me feel *all the feels*. By the end I was so moved I was all tingly. It was very well written, the characters were beautifully crafted and I appreciated all the lots of different perspectives. The only reason why I don’t have a proper review is because I was too engrossed in the novel to take notes! But I will say it had powerful messages about being kind to each other.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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bridge to terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia– Another one I didn’t write any notes for. I still want to mention it though because it was a very moving book and it’s worth checking out if you haven’t already. I did already know what was gonna happen because I’d seen the film years ago, but it was still impactful and got me to tear up anyway.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!