Monthly Monkey Mini Review – January: A Very Christmassy Selection and Bookish Bingo Wrap Up!

monthly mini reviews version 2

Hello all! We are now in 2019!!!

happy new year0008

What did I do to see out the last year? Well gorged myself on chocolate of course 😉

orangutan stuffing face with chocolate0006

Not necessarily an accurate representation, I just wanted to draw this 😉

Now last month (and year!!!) I mentioned I was participating in the wonderful Mim Inkling’s bookish bingo– which she hosted to celebrate 6 months on the platform! I had a lot of fun doing it and tried to keep peeps updated- but now it’s time for my wrap up. It’s gonna be a long one- so strap in!

wicked deep

Wicked Deep– this subtly spooky book really delivered the goods. The writing was atmospheric, the unique characters were interesting and the story was pretty twisty. I especially liked that Penny, the protagonist, felt hollowed out- that ended up linking into the plot in a clever way. I very much appreciated the cool setting and the witchy aspect to the story. My one issue with the book was that the romance fell into instalove territory (it didn’t help that the story addressed how fast this was because pointing out issues doesn’t really stop them feeling like flaws). Other than that, I was powerless to resist the Swan Sister’s allure. I suspected where it was going- but I wasn’t disappointed. It felt like I was plunged straight into the story and didn’t take a breath again until the end.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

  • A spooky read
  • A book that I borrowed (from the library)

coco caramel

Coco Caramel– I used to love this author and definitely recommend it for younger authors- so no shade here, I’ve just outgrown it. Some of Cassidy’s books can be slap bang in the middle of the YA category, but this one was closer to the MG group (although at this point who knows what gets classed as YA?) Anyway, Cassidy has a sweet way of writing and this does take you on quite the ride (with plenty of snacks along the way 😉 ). I did enjoy this by the end- much to my surprise- which speaks volumes about my maturity level. Usually there’s more of a balance between light and dark elements though.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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

  • Something sweet
  • Something foodie

one day in december

One Day in December– honestly, this reminds me why I struggle with adult books sometimes. The “love triangle”/quadrangle in this book wasn’t so much that irritating trope we all know and hate- it was straight up cheating *sarcastic yayy*. Unfortunately this made me feel really conflicted about this book. I kind of ended up writing a list of pros and cons to try and clarify it to myself

  • It’s addictive
  • Love that it spans years- it gives it some scope
  • No matter how ridiculous it is, that ending is amazing and makes my sappy heart beat

Cons:

  • SO MUCH CHEATING
  • No real reason for her divorcing her husband.

So yeah… that was inconclusive. Some aspects were enjoyable, others not so much. I kind of get both sides of the love-hate train for this one- but in the end for me it was a great big “MEH I’ll hop off this bus”.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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

  • Book with a month in the title
  • Book with a white cover

after the fire

After the Fire– this was an incredibly engaging read. I’m fascinated by the subject of cults and this filtered an inside-view through an incredibly engaging heroine. I particularly loved the gradual build of information and character. The interactions the protagonist had with both the therapist and FBI agent were brilliant- especially in the way they showed a build-up of trust. While it was heavy going at times, it was addictive and I was desperate to uncover all its secrets. I flew through this 500 page book. There were also logical explorations of Parson’s behaviour and the reasons for the mc’s PTSD (highlight for spoilers: it was exactly right to show the development of his sociopathic tendencies and the PTSD she had from killing someone was a wise decision). I’m kind of sad I don’t have more to say on this very accomplished book- I was just too absorbed to write notes!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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

  • A book that won an award (YA Book Prize)

warriors into the wild

Warriors: Into the Wild– this was incredibly cute and funny at times. I definitely recommend this as an adventure for kids. Ultimately, this was not totally for me, though I see why people like it. Even if I didn’t connect, I’m not the target audience so I don’t suppose it matters.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

  • With an animal as the main character
  • A children’s book

academic curveball

Academic Curveball– so, you guys have probably seen that I really like Jay’s other books, which is why, even though this isn’t typically a genre I pick up, I felt compelled to read it. And of course, I was instantly rewarded. The opening captured me with its excellent use of voice. I really loved the characters- everyone in this seemed so full of life- not least Nana D! Every relationship was so well handled and made them more likeable. As the story went on, the drama amped up, making me keen to read more. The trickle of information kept that tension going right up until the last page- where, *whoa*, that ending was quite the curveball. While I definitely want to read more, I’m still not entirely sold on the cosy mystery genre- we’ll see how I get on in the future!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

  • Book with an athletic theme
  • A genre you normally don’t read

comedy of errors

Comedy of Errors– this had some fun word play and toyed with mistaken identity- much like many other Shakespearean comedies. And that was my main issue- while fun, this didn’t especially stand out to me. Plus, the mixed up identities in this one made zero sense- not that it matters 😉

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

  • A poem or play

cosy christmas chocolate shop

Christmas at the Chocolate Shop- nothing about this blew me away- the characters, writing and story were all a bit on the okay-bordering-on-cliché side. Still, it fulfilled on a few major promises: chocolate, cosiness and Christmas.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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

  • A book with a Christmas theme

art of hygge

Art of Hygge– I’ve been curious about this Danish practice for years- especially since it’s been taking off in the UK. On the positive side, this was a super quick read and has some inoffensive ideas. On the negative, it’s one long list with information you could get online. Maybe if you get the urge for lavender bags or paper snowflakes stick to google. Also it’s not hard to get things like flowers regardless. Some of the recipes were quite fun, but other advice went something like this: step 1- go to shop, step 2- by flowers, step 3- shove in vase with water. I’m not being flippant- it really is that silly! Rest assured, I do not need to be told to go for a walk. Or to watch a feel good movie. Or to read a book. Though I suppose that’s not bad advice- go read books guys, just not this one 😉

Rating: 1½/5 bananas

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

  • From the arts and crafts section

the twits

The Twits– so initially I wasn’t willing to read a book by an author I don’t like- cos, ugh, why must I suffer!? Then my sister had this brainwave of reading an author who I don’t like as a person, but enjoy their books. The logical choice was Dahl (if you want to know why, you can read this post). Anyhoo, I enjoyed the Twits. My first thought was “wow beards, guess I have to add that to the long list of things Dahl doesn’t like”. Also, Dahl has a very high disgust sensitivity. What I liked most about this was the amazing descriptions- especially the concept of being made ugly by your inner thoughts. Nonetheless, while I did appreciate its initial eccentricities, I did end up finding a bit bizarre by the end.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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

  • A book by an author you don’t like

oranges for christmas

Oranges for Christmas– this book landed somewhere in the middle for me. It had some clean writing and I liked the imported German element- but there wasn’t enough differentiation in the dual perspectives’ voices. While I was glad this dealt with the topic of communism in Germany, I did feel it was too focused on the educational elements. And that’s coming from someone who wishes this topic was studied more. For a moment there, it did get emotional… and then that was swiftly disrupted by the idiocy of the mc. More than the actual book, I was moved by the description of the fall of the Berlin wall in the afterword. This didn’t blow me away- however I do still recommend it for people who like historical fiction and interested in learning more about time period.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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

  • Historical fiction

And here are the ones I don’t have reviews for:

shadow of the fox

Shadow of the Fox– feel free to check out my review here.

  • ARC
  • TBR
  • Part of a series
  • Other culture
  • A book you chose for the cover
  • Female author

circe

Circe– you can check out my review here.

  • A myth retelling

language of thorns

Language of Thorns- I liked this overall and gave it 4 bananas- HOWEVER I have some rather complex thoughts on it, so I’m gonna have to say *review to come* and leave it at that for now!

  • A short story collection

Okay- so my final bingo chart looks like this:

bookish bingo

Woot woot! I got all of them- plus Shadow of the Fox managed to get me a bonus ten points for fitting into more than 5 categories and I finished with 250 points.

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

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57 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Review – January: A Very Christmassy Selection and Bookish Bingo Wrap Up!

  1. Jia Xuan says:

    Once again, I have to say I’ve not read any of these books. And once again, I’m a little too outdated *laughs and cries simultaneously* Still, there’s so many books out in the world that I’m trying not to get discouraged. But that’s beside the point! I enjoyed this post, and you certainly did well for the bookish bingo! And if I may say, I do love your monkey illustrations (self portraits?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Madam Mim says:

    Whaaat!! That’s amazing! 250 points?! And you ticked off every category! The hygge book sounds completely ridiculous… I’ve read a few like that… it’s like an excuse to print something, I think

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bookbeachbunny says:

    Honestly the first thing I thought when I saw The Cozy Christmas Chocolate Shop is I want to read that… and also go to one. My mind is totally on there’s must be a Christmas Chocolate Shop somewhere year round right? Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat Impossible says:

    I am SO curious about your thoughts on A Language of Thorns. I didn’t love all the stories in it, but some of them … oh man, I adored them. Also, yay for the Wicked Deep. I have it on my kindle if I remember correctly. although I am nowhere near starting it anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt says:

    What a fun BINGO game, though it resembles my required reading when I was a kid – a biography, a mystery, a fantasy, historical fiction, etc. At my age, I don’t have time to devote to a genre that doesn’t intrigue me when there are so many books I really want to read, no matter the genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Vera says:

    Well done for completing your bingo card! I read Circe & Language of Thorns and am currently reading The Shadow of the Fox. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Bardugo’s collection of stories! 😍

    Happy New Year! 🥳❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nicole says:

    Wow, that’s really impressive! I remember reading and enjoying a lot of Dahl as a kid before I knew anything about the author as a person, so I have fond memories of his books (The Twits included).

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah says:

    Happy New Year!!! Wishing you lots of joy and creativity!!!😄💕
    And arrghhh! I haven’t read any of these and feel so guilty now! 😂 But at least that means more to look forward to! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Wow it’s great you managed to cross off all the squares on this bookish bingo. I feel like if I was ever going to do a readathon then I’d need to start with something much smaller because that was a lot of books you needed to find to cross off all the squares. 🙂 I’m really glad to see you enjoyed The Wicked Deep, I have that on my TBR list but it’s not one I feel like I have to urgently get around to, still I’ve heard really good things so I know I’ll likely enjoy it when I do get around to it.
    Great post, and again congrats on completing this bookish bingo! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jennifertarheelreader says:

    Huge congrats on your bingo! I read One Day in December and liked it more than you, but I understand about the cheating and other issues. This one hit me at the right time because at the wrong time I may have felt differently. It’s definitely not my typical genre either.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Cozy Pages says:

    I totally need to learn how to do proper mini reviews. My minis are still too long and I’ve got several to wrap up from 2018! Lol

    Maltesers! Yes! My favourites!

    Glad you enjoyed Academic Curveball… third one will be out in a short bit 😉

    Happy New Year! I hope 2019 is a good one for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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