Monthly Monkey Mini Review – November: A Slightly Spooky Selection

monthly mini reviews version 2

I can’t believe I’ve only been back a month, cos a lot’s happened! I had an eventful October- I went to Mayerling, life drawing and read *a lot* more. Apart from the ballet, the highlight of the month was my sister’s birthday, when we went to something called Disco yoga- who knew that was a thing, right!?

orangutan and monkey baby disco0003.jpg

Anyway, I don’t imagine this month will be so eventful… cos in November I like to set aside more serious writing time before the holiday season. Now I never properly participate in Nanowrimo (national novel writing month), cos writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t me, BUT I do always feel more inspired at this time of year and like to set myself more challenging goals. That said, this month I’m gonna have less time and where I’m at in my WIP means it’s a bit more emotionally draining to get through. Plus, last year I set myself a target of writing 20 chapters and missed the target by 5. So, my goal is pretty loose (I literally picked a number out of thin air- like “ten, that’ll do right?”) and I’m more concerned about making sure I do some writing every day, since I got out of the habit in the summer.

What does this mean for the blog? Well hopefully nothing too drastic. Like I said, I’m not doing anything too intense. I am still playing catchup at the moment- I’m horribly, horribly behind on comments and bloghopping- but hoping to not fall even further behind (*fingers and toes crossed*). I do want to do a few lighter posts this month, but we’ll see.

Anyway, like I said, I did quite a bit more reading in October, so I have a fair number for mini reviews. And as it was October, a fair number were spooky:

court of frost and starlight

A Court of Frost and Starlight– starting with something atmospheric, but not remotely scary… The thing is I didn’t dislike this- I just wasn’t that excited by it. Mostly cos it felt completely unnecessary. There were a lot of recap elements- which took up loads of space- and seemed silly given it was a novella. And there wasn’t anything of real substance- there were no major changes or character development. If anything, in terms of the sisters Elain and Nesta, there was some character regression. On the plus side there were some lovely lines:

To the stars who listen… And the dreams who answered.”

“To the blessed darkness from which we are born and to which we shall return.”

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

one of us is lying

One of Us is Lying– the truth about One of Us is Lying is it was simply okay. The writing was alright. The characters were a bit too cardboard cut out to be interesting- despite the obvious attempt at subverting stereotypes. Some of the people in the story- like Addie’s mum- felt too much like cartoon characters. In terms of the plot, there were some cool twists and turns, however, I guessed quite a few of them because of the hints. As for the ending, you’ll have to *highlight for spoilers* I hated *Simon* so much and thought he had it coming- so I honestly wished that he hadn’t orchestrated the whole thing. The most irksome thing about the ending was the pointless split, because it felt like needless drama tagged on for no reason. Still, it went by fast and there were some nice details.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

girl of nightmares

Girl of Nightmares– well this felt a little directionless and less colourful than the first… until Anna was reintroduced in an explosive scene. It was a cool story- though it didn’t hold my attention the way the first one did. The pace did pick up eventually and I liked it overall. It just wasn’t as good as its predecessor.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

forest of hands...

The Forest of Hands and Teeth– cool title, meh book. I liked the slightly cultish, religious, post-apocalyptic setting… and that’s it as far as the “likes” go. Cass, the protagonist, made very little sense to me and couldn’t fathom for the life of me why she had two boys chasing her. Yup- that’s right- there’s a love triangle. And not only is there a love triangle- it takes over. Yup again- this is the kind of story where survival against zombies takes the backseat to the mc’s love life. Ultimately, that’s not even the worst bit. Cos this committed the worst book sin of all: it bored me.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

monstrumologist

Monstrumologist– I liked the frame narrative structure and the writing style seemed authentic for the narrator’s age. In fact, it was the strong sense of voice that got me through this. Cos other thann the good instances of foreshadowing and the graphic descriptions of the monsters, there wasn’t much else to write home about. However good it technically was, I simply couldn’t connect with the characters and that got in the way of me enjoying the book.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

city of ghosts

City of Ghosts– this was quick, well written and had an interesting premise… HOWEVER I had major issues with the way the setting was done. My main problem being that I’ve actually lived in Edinburgh and this didn’t make me feel like I was exploring the city. It was like the soul of the city I know so well was missing. So I realise this is completely subjective and I’m sorry for that cos I don’t think it’s a bad book by any stretch of the imagination- feel free to skip this section if you liked the book. For me though, this felt like a tourist shopping list: here’s South Bridge, ooh the Royal Mile, oh look it’s Greyfriar’s. Actually Greyfriar’s was one of the most glaring disappointments, since the way the story was retold didn’t move me in the slightest (when it should have done). None of this felt like capturing the spooky atmosphere- it was more like the sights were pinched by someone that had only taken a cursory glance at a map of the city. This was also jam packed with Harry Potter references- which just made me think “yeah, we get it, you like HP”. Side point: why do people always obsess over the HP toilet in the Elephant House when the chairs are shaped like elephants!! I also cringed at the “oh look the castle’s like Hogwarts”… erm the castle came first? Aside from my griping about how the place was represented, I also took issue with the way there was a stereotype of the snooty English schoolgirl… in Scotland. That’s just lazy. Since we’re on the subject of Lara- why do Brits in American books always say “we British”? Actually, now’s a good time for one last public service announcement: the whole “isn’t it funny that American English and British English is different” is banal. I know this is for children, but think explaining the difference between chips/fries, pants/trousers, and how to actually pronounce Edinburgh is cringey.

Phew- that got into quite the unintentional rant. I know it might not seem it cos of how disappointed I was with the setting, but I did actually enjoy large portions of the book. So as surprising as this may be, I gave it:

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

horrorstor

Horrorstor– I loved the premise for this. I appreciated the wry humour and pretentious furniture theme. Everything had a silly name- like Muskk and Arsel (my fave)- and came in uppity colours. Plus, the characters were well formed all things considered- I especially liked Basil cos we’ve all met someone who takes their job too seriously and acts like it’s a cult. It was clever to parallel the layout of the shop with a panopticon. Even better was inclusion of the Gruen Transfer concept- deliberately disorientating you to buy stuff- which is such a creeeeepy idea in its own right (goes to show furniture stores are freaky on their own? I’m not alone in this am I?) The scary aspects were so well done- the “products”, like the Kranjk, got creepier and creepier. Even thinking about it right now gives me the heebie jeebies. The only downside was the cliffhanger ending. Now I get why people disliked it, but it did make a certain sense to me. Ghost stories are good when they’re unresolved. That said, even I could have done with a tad more resolution. Also, apart from the killer concept, it didn’t feel too deep and was mostly all for scares. And in that department, it worked for me (though I do scare easily 😉 )

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

sorrows of young werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther– I first heard about this from Liis’ awesome review. Her recommendation made me want to check it out- and I’m glad I did! Now this is all about a character who is obsessed with a girl, but can’t have her and so kills himself. Sound melodramatic? It is. However as over the top as the narrator could be, it had some wonderful imagery. And I also thought of it as a very ahead of its time representation of someone with something like bipolar. I read the beginning as evidence of a manic episode and then watched him dissolve into a depressive state. And instead of reading it as a failed attempt at the redemptive power of love, I saw it as a take on how you can’t really be saved from mental illness. I reckon it’s pretty ahead of its time in that regard. In fact, I liked how the romance was done in general. Some might say that the love interest isn’t given a voice- especially since all she says is in reported speech- but I think that’s half the point. She’s the ideal his mind fixes on and this idea of obsessive love isn’t praiseworthy- it’s an aspect of the human condition and often something for the mc to overcome (much like the object of Eleanor Oliphant’s affections or Gatsby’s Daisy). At the same time, there’s something honest in his desire for her, being attracted to her cheerfulness- which shows that the object of our desire can often be for a quality we lack. I also liked how Werther was given moments of lucidity and even of selfishness- making him more than simply a caricature. I think one of the only pitfalls was how long the investigative ending was- I felt it could have summed up the events after the letters ended in quicker time. Other than that, I thought it was a worthwhile read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

Wowee- that was a long one! Thanks for all those that stuck with it! So have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

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64 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Review – November: A Slightly Spooky Selection

  1. thebookwormdrinketh says:

    DISCO YOGA??? 😂😂😂 Isn’t that rather counter zen?? 🤔🤔 I need this in my life… 😂😂
    I need to read Horrorstor….. Like, desperately. It’s on my list and calling my name… I’m pretty sure it was written for me… 😉😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Don’t worry about bloghopping or catching up: I think I speak for everyone that we are just very glad that you are back here again! 😊😊 So take your time, and I very much look forward to your new posts 😊
    As for this list Horrorstor sounds the best, and really fun! Glad I don’t have to add every book from this list though, as quite a few of them just sound meh lol 😂😂 (and my to read list is already long enough 😂😂).

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      aww thank you so much!! You’re the best!! 😊😊
      Yeah it was the best for me personally. It made me feel the most- which is what it’s all about (even if it what it made me feel was freaked out 😉 )
      hehehe yeah there were quite a few meh ones to be fair!! hehehe! Too true!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mudandstars says:

    Ahh Horrorstor sounds so good, I really want to read it! And I felt EXACTLY the same way about City of Ghosts. I haven’t lived in Edinburgh, I’ve only been there, but I completely agree that it didn’t capture the soul of the place. It was just like ‘here’s this place, here’s that place’ and if I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine them just by reading this book. I’ve seen so many rave reviews of the book, and like you, whilst i did enjoy aspects of it, there was definitely something missing for me. It ended up being a 3 star read for me too, when I was really hoping it would be a 5!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      It was!! I’m so glad I’m not the only one that feels that way- regardless of whether you’ve lived there. I thought I was going crazy, cos I heard so many people saying they loved the setting and I just thought “really?” Cos all it seemed to do was tell you a list of places. And yeah, like you, I’ve seen some rave reviews and felt like there was something missing for me too, even though I was also hoping for 5 (or at least 4). Especially cos most Schwab books I read a 4*+

      Liked by 1 person

      • mudandstars says:

        Same, I kept hearing people saying how atmospheric the setting was, and I felt like I was reading a different book! I was hoping for a 5 just because the concept was so cool. I’ve not had the best luck with Schwab books in the past myself, but I actually just read Vicious and Vengeful this month and really enjoyed them! I think she’s a bit of a hit or miss author for me, but I’m glad I finally found some books by her that were 5 stars for me (well Vicious was at least!)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Bookstooge says:

    ♪Everyone was♪
    ♪♪DISCO♪♪YOGA’ING♪♪

    Eh, pretty close to kung-fu fighting, right?

    I hope you don’t bother with the next Monstrumologist book. Book 2 absolutely disgusted me and pretty much guaranteed I’ll never be reading another Yancy book ever…

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehehee yes it was!

      (also they played that song and it was pretty hilarious!)

      Ah no I’m not gonna bother- I thought it was well done, but I’m not easily sold on gross things as it is and it’s not like (while I thought it was well written) I was into the descriptions of the monsters. So thanks for the heads up! I’m definitely not gonna read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lucindablogs says:

    I was a bit disappointed in One of us is Lying, I thought the characters were too cardboard cut out as well (plus I also guessed the ending). I haven’t heard of Horrorstor but I love the postmodern Ikea premise, I’ll have to look it up.

    Love the idea of disco yoga! Hope the monkey baby had a good birthday ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carolina Carvalho says:

    I’m so glad you liked Horrorstor, it’s such a cool concept, and I’m glad the execution lives up to it. I hope I’ll find it scary too, but I’d be happy with finding it fun and engaging.

    Pity about Ghost Town, I usually hate books with too many pop culture references so all the HP mentions would probably kill me with secondhand embarrassment. I’ve heard the setting and atmosphere praised before, but of course a person who isn’t familiar with Edinburgh doesn’t have much to compare it to. It’s always somewhat disconcerting reading books set in places when you know well when it isn’t done right, it’s like looking at them through fogged mirrors, it’s just a vague impression, and it can completely ruin an otherwise good story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I really did!! I hope you like it too. It was definitely that!

      yeah it was disappointing. And that often doesn’t bother me- but it felt too much here tbh. And I think it’s fair that people- regardless of whether they’ve lived there- like it- it just didn’t do it for me (though I would be interested to hear from more people who’ve lived there). Yeah for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ally Writes Things says:

    I totally agree about One of Us Is Lying! It was a solid *fine* – not great, but not bad either. I thought the characters were too stereotypical, and the things that made them “unstereotypical” were stereotypically unstereotypical things. But again, it wasn’t bad

    Liked by 1 person

  8. bookbeachbunny says:

    I would love a Horrorstor movie. Come on Netflix 🙂
    I totally understand what you’re saying about the setting in City of Ghosts. I dream of getting to Scotland one day so I ate it up. But I’ve certainly felt that way when I’ve read places I’ve lived described in books before you can usually tell the difference between those who have lived there and those who haven’t or just visited!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Suziey Bravo says:

    The Goethe book sounds really interesting! I liked One of Us is Lying. I think because it reminded me so much of The Breakfast Club lol. Too bad about the meh reading month though. Hopefully this one is better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Marie says:

    Best of luck for your writing, I hope you’ll get back to the habit of writing a little bit every day, you can do this! ❤
    Lovely reviews, too! I'm sorry you didnt quite find the atmosphere of Edinburgh in City of Ghosts, that's too bad :/ I visited the city this summer and absolutely loved it and thought it would make such a gorgeous atmosphere in books. Oh well, I still might give it a try someday, I am curious about it. I'm glad you overall liked it though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much! ❤
      Thank you! Ah I remember you saying- I love the city too. It does work really well in books… I just think other books have done it better unfortunately. Absolutely give it a go though! Just cos it didn't work for me doesn't mean it's bad! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I haven’t read any of the books here, but I’ve heard good things about Horrorstor and it’s on my TBR list! I don’t know why, but I thought of the Magnus Archives when I read your mini review of it :p

    Liked by 1 person

  12. arubunwritten says:

    Horrorstor sounds like a lot of fun, I’m definitely adding it to my TBR (plus I have a friend who absolutely *adores* IKEA so if it’s good I would then pass it onto her).

    RE City of Ghosts I had heard that Schwab lives/has lived there so it’s a shame that the writing reflects a tourists rendition of Edinburgh! I hate American stereotypes of British people, they really miss the mark. Although I have to say, I think that UK audiences are more aware of Americanisms than the other way around so maybe for a MG reader it would be a bit more helpful? But I understand the irritation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      It was! Brilliant! hahahaha! Good idea 😉

      Ah that is a shame. And yeah that really bugs me too :/ Yeah that is true and you are right- I feel like I should have been more generous in that department (it just bugged me so much!!)

      Like

  13. Beware Of The Reader says:

    Disco yoga????? Now I am imagining glittering yoga pants and …LOL Good luck with your writing by the way I could never do this! Now let’s get back to your reviews…One of Us is Lying is an OK read???? I gave it 5 stars!!! LOL I so love reading other’s reviews about books I’ve read as each time I realize how reading a book is such a personal experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehehe well there was glitter- lots and lots of glitter! 😉 And thank you so much! hehe well I’m glad you got more out of it than I did. Thing is when I give a lot of middle of the road reviews, I kinda see both sides, so i get why you liked it. hehehe! I get what you mean though 🙂

      Like

  14. Samantha Duffy says:

    Uhg looks like a lot of sub-par reads this month! I LOVED the highlight for spoilers thing you did in One of Us is Lying though! I may need to adopt that to my own reviews as a better way of hiding them :]
    I always look forward to your reviews, I am glad you had such a successful (quantity wise) reading month for October!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great reviews for all these books, I completely agree with you on A Court of Frost and Starlight, it felt really unnecessary because nothing really happened. I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth a long time ago but I didn’t enjoy it much either. Oh it’s a shame City of Ghosts wasn’t one you enjoyed more, I actually liked the setting but I’ve never lived in Edinburgh so I maybe didn’t pick up on things the way you did having actually lived in the city.
    Still, again great reviews. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dragonsandzombies says:

    I really need to read ‘Horrorstor’! It’s been on my list for a while and I only read good things!

    Werther.. almost everyone had to read it at school back in Germany. our class didn’t though. I know a lot of people who enjoyed it a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. LizScanlon says:

    Yes! So glad you read Werther and even more glad that you liked the book. I just read some quotes from the book and now I want to go back and read it again 😀 Damn, it was some emotional stuff, that! 😀 I love your thoughts on the book- definitely gave me something more to consider, e.g. being ahead of time, bipolar, etc… Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 🙂 Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Zezee says:

    Oh man! That sucks that Monstrumologist didn’t work out that well for you. I love that book and consider it a favorite. Totally agree about Horrorstor. I loved the concept but wanted more resolution from the end. I’m working part-time at a bookstore now and everytime I work closing shift, I think of this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah well fair enough- I didn’t think it was bad (I actually liked the voice and thought it was well written)- I just didn’t connect with it as much as I would have liked. And fair enough! hahah that’s a terrifying thought!!

      Like

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