Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – A Long December

monthly mini reviews version 2

Soooo November was a month and a half… It started out pretty quiet- and then I found out I will be moving flat before the end of the year– which to be fair has been in the works for a while, but I only got confirmation when that’ll be happening mid-November. That’s obviously meant I’ve been a bit all over the place when it comes to blogging- and unfortunately might mean a bit more disruption in the next few weeks- though I do have some posts planned/scheduled. Needless to say, this could end up being a long December- WISH ME LUCK!

moving monkey

Annnd to top it all off, I also managed to get a bit sick, which wasn’t a fun state to be in while lugging boxes of books…

sick monkey

O-k-a-y I think we’ve covered all the life updates- I’ll keep you posted on all of that- until then let’s talk about what really matters: BOOKS! Fortunately, I managed to get some reading in this month, though granted it tailed off towards the end. So here we go!

grace and fury cover

Grace and Fury– I was pleasantly surprised by this YA! It was one of the books I got from Naty and I’m so glad, because I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise! Opening with a nice bait and switch (which I can’t reveal cos it’s quite spoiler) I was instantly drawn into the intense and fast-paced plot. With a graceful writing style and furious world building, I quickly got the sense that this story was basically Handmaid’s Tale meets Italian culture. Personally, I liked how the narrative played with themes like knowledge is power, whilst very much keeping the entertainment value going. That said, though I didn’t guess everything, there were elements that were a tad predictable. One of the biggest issues being that a very famous book (written at the same time) had the exact same plot twist- which is just unlucky. Since I could see various things coming, there were times when I was screaming at Nomi “don’t you know you’re a YA heroine?” Serina ended up being far more interesting to me, because she had so much more room for growth. Still, the dual perspective really worked for me and I definitely want to read more! I’ve already reserved the next one at my library 😊

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

in order to live

In Order to Live– I don’t have a lot to say about this autobiography from a young North Korean defector other than you should read it! Such an incredible and moving story, this is by far one of the best things I’ve read this year. It reduced me to a blubbering mess. There were two things that struck a chord with me the most: firstly, that there is only a one-year age difference between Park and me, which is a crazy thing to put in context; and secondly, Park talking about how Animal Farm and 1984 opened up her understanding of North Korea, which I think is so important for those who doubt the veracity of these works. This book could well be the puzzle piece linking Orwell’s prophetic vision with the real world. I know that Park taught me so much about the realities of living in a communist state and I believe it has the power to shake the world. I regret that I don’t have more to say, I was just too absorbed in it to write notes. So just read it, okay?

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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

bright side

Bright Side– I’ve been meaning to read this Adult Romance for *years*- and I finally did it! Ever since I read Deanna @A Novel Glimpse’s glowing reviews and generally chatting about it, I bought it on kindle and was saving it for a rainy day. It did take me a while to get into the writing style, but I slowly but surely really warmed to the heroine and the cute (and sometimes steamy) romance. In fact, I defy anyone not to fall for the main character- she’s the kind of person guaranteed to make anyone smile! Buuut this is also the kind of story to drive you to tears (which seems like a bit of a theme this month 😉). Cos OOF- this gets emotional. So, thanks Deanna for that 😉 (just kidding, I love when books make me cry 😉 this is going down as one of the best book blogging recs! ❤ ). I absolutely recommend this if you like the genre- just make sure you have a box of tissues handy, cos you’re gonna need it!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

turn of the key

Turn of the Key– I’ve been really into thrillers the last few months and this one was high on my radar- because I loved the Smart House modern twist on Turn of the Screw– what a genius idea! And I have to say, that was the part Ware really pulled out all the stops. The creepy setting and chilling atmosphere was the book’s biggest strength. It was super addictive as well- the kind of thriller you won’t want to put down. As a retelling, it did have subtle hints of the original, including the unreliable narrator and unlikeable characters. I also appreciated some of the *bombshell* secrets along the way; some of those plot twists were insane! That said, it’s quite hard not to draw comparisons with the original and find this comes up short at times. One of the biggest draws of Henry’s narrative is the ambiguity- which I understand isn’t a massive selling point to the modern audience- so when the final reveal twist came… I wasn’t entirely behind it. Partly because I’m not a huge fan of that particular twist in fiction, but mostly because sometimes it’s better not knowing all the answers. Still, a really solid contemporary thriller:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

call down the hawk

Call Down the Hawk– this book was like reading a dream. Everything is slightly hard to pin down- while you know there is meaning in there somewhere, if you can only grab it and pull it out, it’s kind of a trippy experience travelling through the narrative. From the mesmerising opening, the simply stunning writing draws you back into the world of the Raven Cycle. Except this sequel series is more focused on the Dreamer, Ronan, who just so happened to be my favourite character! I loved seeing some of the old gang- the Lynch brothers, Adam, Chainsaw and Opal all starred in this again. I did also come to like some of the new characters- especially Jordan Henessey- whose story was unique and fitting and took the plot in a good direction. Ultimately, I did enjoy this, though it was certainly an unusual read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

So, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

60 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – A Long December

  1. Thank you for the review of In Order to Live. I put it at the top of my TBR list. I read Pachinko which gives the human side of the Korean conflict, otherwise known as the Korean disaster. Now I’d like to read how this rigid society impacts real people.
    I just finished Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Two if by Sea. I’ve liked the other books I’ve read by this author and was completely absorbed by this one. A bit of a stretch on the reality front, but fiction reveals subtle truths beyond the headlines, and this book is beautifully written.
    Moving is a beach. Hope you love your new home.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I basically thought the same about Call Down the Hawk! The plot only got an “okay” from me, but the writing was just fantastic! The characterizations were NAILED, even the new folks, like Jordan and Carmen. Although my overall feeling was “meh,” it was more of a smiling, satisfied “meh!” Just not for me, but I can TOTALLY appreciate it as a worthy addition to the Stiefvater bibliography, AND understand all the screaming around it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Forget the blog and concentrate on the life stuff. Between Christmas and New Years, moving and getting over being sick, sounds like you have enough on your plate!

    Is it a big move or just a “down the street” kind of move?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m sort of taking the blog as it comes- sometimes it’s good to take a moment and read through this… sometimes it’s just a bit impossible.

      Well, fortunately we’re not moving too far, unfortunately it’s still a big move (got a lot of stuff in storage that needs to be sorted)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely agree that Call Down the Hawk is a trippy read. It’s certainly an experience. But I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! I think it might be one of my favorite books this year. And I might have to look into Grace and Fury. The cover is gorgeous. It looks like you got to read some amazing books last month! I hope December goes well for you and good luck on your move!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good luck with the move and the cold! I hope that all gets under control soon.

    I haven’t read any of these, but In Order To Live sounds really inspirational. I read A River in Darkness this year, and it has a similar basic theme of escaping North Korea, and that was one of the most powerful books I read this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad I could help move you to tears! LOL. I can completely relate to your review. When I first started it, I was like, “I don’t get what all the fuss is about!”. But once you’re in, you’re in and you can’t help but fall in love with the story. If you decide to read Gus, that one is good too. Thanks for taking a chance on a book I recommended! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read any of these but put them right on my TBR, especially In Order to Live makes me curious as I’ve never read anything by a North Korean writer I think and it sounds like a fascinating and enlightening book! So sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather and sending you healing wishes and lots of energy for your move!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oof, moving can be the worst. Good luck! No one likes hauling boxes of books. But, conversely, there’s nothing that makes a house feel like a home quicker than putting your books in it! And filling the book shelves in a new place is always fun :). So enjoy that part of it! Also, Yeonmi Park’s memoir is now absolutely on my must-read list! Thank you for putting it on my radar.

    Liked by 1 person

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