Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Wow, is it July Already?

monthly mini reviews version 2

Wow, we’re firmly in the summer now, aren’t we? Where on earth has this year gone?

Actually, don’t answer that- the less said about it the better 😉

Having said that, June was pretty good and I’ll tentatively add that I hope July’s gonna be just fine too. As we’re coming out of lockdown here, I’m working more and getting to see the outside of these four walls for a change 😉 I’m (hoping) work is going to settle into something of a routine again soon. With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to (try to) use July for a bit of a refresher, so I’m tentatively gonna say that I’ll probably be on the blog less. Not sure if I’ll take an *official hiatus*- kinda want to keep my plans casual at the moment (I think, if anything, the last six months has taught me that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry 😉)

But while we are here, I did want to say another massive thank you to you all for helping me to get to 6000 followers. I’m doing a little celebration where I react to your assumptions about me– so if you’d like to participate feel free to add your comments to the celebratory post or on this one if you like 😊 (I’m having a lot of fun with the ones people have already made!)

orangutan thank you

And I think that’s all the housekeeping for now! As I’ve been doing the last few months, lets talk about what I’ve been watching before we get into the books…

monkey at the movies 2

 

Last Kingdom Season 4– by now, you may have heard me rave about this super entertaining show. And if you haven’t, you may be confused as to why I’m in Viking dress 😉 Based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories, this series tells the story of Uhtred of Babenberg as he tries to reclaim his birthright and you can hear me rave about the first few seasons here and here. Just like the other series, this was tense and delightfully surprising. What I loved about this season is that it simultaneously gave us resolutions we’ve been waiting years to see… only for the story to about turn and go in a completely unexpected direction. With new settings introduced, I was happy to see the ongoing development of characters and relationships. By pure chance, there was a sickness subplot- which frankly had me shouting at the screen why aren’t you social distancing?! Regardless, every episode was an adventure. The only thing left to say is that I really need to catch up with the books already, cos I’d love to see where the similarities and differences are.

Okay, that’s all I watched last month worth note (I know, I’m running out of TV!!) now let’s discuss some books!

silence of the girls

audiobook2Silence of the Girls– when I think about this book, the first thing description that comes to mind is lonnnng. Which doesn’t make sense, all things considered, since it’s a pretty short book. Perhaps this was in part because in the audiobook version, the narrator seems to savour every syllable, HOWEVER even speeding it up didn’t seem to take away the tedium. As much as I wanted to like this book, it just felt remarkably long-winded. So much is drawn out and dwelt on, in an attempt to make the reader more sympathetic to the Girls’ plight. Unfortunately, this doesn’t have the desired effect. In fact, I see this technique used quote a bit in fiction- but I personally never feel like excruciating pacing does anything other than bore me. Incidentally, the whole purpose of this book is to create sympathy for the Girls- as if the classic tale somehow leaves that out- except I never had trouble empathising with their plight in the original. In fact, Homer could draw tears from me with a single line in the scene with Andromache. So no, I wouldn’t say this book was necessary. The other problem is that the way this is told- going from tragedy to tragedy in muted tones- doesn’t allow for any catharsis. And, as much as Briseis was a boring voice for the narrative, I liked the voices of Achilles and Patroclus even less. Frankly, I also found the line “his story” wince-inducing- entirely missing the humanity of the original (and slightly bizarre considering it’s a myth). All that said, this is not a bad book (I know, that contradicts everything I’ve said, but it’s the truth). The writing had some balance and beauty to it. It achieved what it set out to- such that I cannot rightly give it below:

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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the rumour

The Rumour- Ahhh this is a frustrating one to talk about, because I can’t really say all that much without spoiling it, so this review will have to be entirely made up of whispers and hints. There was one aspect I wasn’t keen on throughout- but the last twist redeemed that for me. There was plenty of great characters and suspicion at every turn. The only other thing I can categorically say is that if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, you should give this a whirl!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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house of salt and sorrows

House of Salt and Sorrows– another decent book that I just didn’t click with for some reason. In this case, I have murkier reasoning. For some reason, I imagined this would be a far more atmospheric read than it was, but, while the world had a hint of salt to it, it perhaps could’ve been peppered with more descriptions. It did have some good ideas and twists on the tale, yet the story itself felt a little convoluted. I also guess a lot of the story beats early on and wasn’t as impressed as I’d have liked. It ended up being more of a generic YA fantasy than I expected- which isn’t so much a fault of the book per se- it’s just that I tend to avoid those nowadays. Overall, this was pretty bland and could’ve done with more seasoning for my taste.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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ruin of kings

Ruin of Kings– Eh, this didn’t blow me away. I found the flipping between timelines and povs an interesting touch, building some suspense and layers of world building nicely… However, I ultimately don’t think it added to the story, which made it feel like a bit of a gimmick. To my mind, using a complex structure like that should be more purposeful (although, happy to hear from someone who could tell me, what *was* the point of that?). And for all the intricate plotting, I was still able to guess a great many of the twists early on. Other than that, my main sticking point was that I struggled to connect with the characters. As much as I was entertained by the plot, now more than ever I need to feel a strong, visceral reaction to the people I’m reading about… All of this is to say, I didn’t personally love this book, but there’s no reason other’s wouldn’t.

Rating: 3/5 bananas 

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the huntress

The Huntress– well, I looked for it all month, but I finally found an absolute winner thanks to the brilliant Beware of the Reader, who suggested it to me and reviewed it so beautifully on her blog! This exquisite historical fiction, tells the story of Nazi Hunters going after the one and only Huntress. Like a Russian Doll, the narrative is nested in different timelines. Characters are slowly revealed and developed, as they circle each other in figure eights, giving the reader a sense of each personality in turn. And wow, what stories- they soar and loop and leave you breathless… until at last we come to the dramatic conclusion. Moving and mysterious, this made for a truly memorable read.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you’re all staying safe and well!

45 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – Wow, is it July Already?

  1. The Rumour is a good read! Her second book, Who Did You Tell? is even better. Funny I’m now re-watching The Last Kingdom and got to season 4 again! I don’t know if there’ll be another season, but if there is, the actors really need to age, as they’ve looked the same over the span of like 20 years!

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  2. Great reviews! No, I haven’t read any, but now I’ll keep my eyes open for The Rumor.

    That’s too bad about the Girls! I frankly loved the story of Briseis in the Iliad, and even tried to write a spinoff story about it once. It’s interesting how in the original, it’s taken for granted that it’s normal for Achilles and Patroclos to sleeping in the same tent, each accompanied by their kidnapped captive woman whose husband they’ve killed … yet it is humanized too, when Briseis weeps over Patroclos’ grave saying how kind he was to her, trying to cheer her up after her world was destroyed. I’ll stop because I could probably write 1000 words about this, but anyway, what a shame that The Silence could take that subplot and make it boring.

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    1. Thank you! It was entertaining!

      Yeah I was disappointed, cos I think the idea had potential- but unfortunately it just felt dull. haha that’s okay! I think it’s amazing that it could’ve been made so boring, but I think it was just taken over by the agenda of *look at the women suffering too* (which I always saw as a given in the original story)

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  3. First of all, happiest and MOST excited congratulations on your multitudinous (is that really a word or did I just spell it wrong … edit … I spelled it wrong) followers!!! That is AWEsome!!!!!!! Secondly, thank you for your reviews. I’m one of those idiots who loves to read, but can get into stuff too deeply … meaning if it’s got icky stuff, it can sort of affect me. Therefore, I’m nervous about dipping toes into what looks good on the book jacket … buuuuut … might have evil lurking. So a trusted review is appreciated!!!

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  4. Oh MY GOSH!!!! I am so happy you loved the Huntress too!!!! What a way to begin my day (well ok it’s 1 PM here but still) ;-)))) And thank you for the shoutout!

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  5. Congratulations on 6000! You definitely deserve every single one of them. Your personality goes beyond that orangutan’s persona! 😉 Also hope that your break, if you do, will be a good refresher to help you fight off any other insanity that 2020 has to offer in the second half! 😀

    I was curious about The Ruin of Kings but I think I’ll leave it alone for the time being hahaha Thanks for sharing these mini-reviews! 🙂

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  6. I also have a bit of a problem with generic YA fantasies. I love YA, but sometimes I feel as if I’m just reading the same thing over and over. I think this is part of the reason people get into hyped books, honestly, the hope that those books will actually stand out in some way.

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    1. I completely agree! Ah yes I do think that- but then a lot of the time they’re the most generic of the bunch? (Especially if the hype came inorganically from marketers) but sometimes that is a good way to find something a bit different

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      1. Yes! Sometimes the hype is spot-on, like with Six of Crows, and other times I don’t get it at all. But I think you’re right sometimes the hype from the publisher is the problem. So many books have been “the best book ever!” before they were even published, and then I found them disappointing. But when people are still excited about the book a couple years later, I have more luck with it.

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  7. I enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows! I did think it would be a little creepier than it actually was, but I was also kind of scared, so… I guess it’s good my expectations weren’t met?

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  8. I hope you have a lovely July and that you’re able to regain your routine (or as much as possible anyway). I’m so sad to see that you didn’t enjoy The Silence of the Girls or House of Slat and Sorrows much. I’ve heard a bit about them and was excited to read them (sometime in the future that is, right now my TBR is too out of control as is). I loved the mini-reviews, and now I really want to watch The Last Kingdom 😉 also, I had no idea they were based on books, so that’s interesting!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah I was disappointed with both of those- but I think in both cases I think they were just outside of being the kind of books that I like, so I would put those down to my personal taste in those cases. Thank you! Oh one hundred percent recommend last kingdom- such an entertaining show!

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  9. Somehow I wound up loving The Ruin of Kings but I totally get why it doesn’t always work for readers. It’s such a bonkers book–it’s got everything *and* the kitchen sink thrown in. And it’s sooooo confusing. At a certain point I just gave up trying to figure out what was happening and went with it and had a great time lol. I have hear the sequel is less confusing, so there’s that LOL. I hope to get to that one before the end of the year. 😀

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    1. oh cool- I was curious to see what other people thought about it. I can understand people liking it- cos there are some intriguing elements (I guess for me the sum of those parts just didn’t add up to something I liked). haha yeah there were confusing elements to it. oh that’s good lol! I’d definitely be interested to hear your thoughts on it!!

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  10. Justice for Beocca!! That was my main takeaway from the Last Kingdom, but I loved the execution of this season. I was worried that Alfred’s presence would be sorely missed, but I loved how they incorporated the burden of his legacy into the story. Admittedly, I did chuckle when I watched the sickness episode, just because of the irony of it all.

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    1. Ahh I agree!! I was nervous about Alfred not being there as well, cos he’s such a presence, but it was just as good as the other seasons for me. And that was really well done. hahaha yes me too! (I was also yelling at them to social distance 😉 they didn’t take my advice 1) because they were on tv and 2) because it was the wrong time period to be worrying about that 😉 )

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