Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – ahh it’s August 2020!

monthly mini reviews version 2

Hello all! Last month was a little bit better (by 2020 standards 😉)- I’m happier being out of lockdown here in the UK and glad to say I got out a little more.

orangutan in the great outdoors

Plus, there’s always yoga to keep me more positive 😊

orangutan yoga

One thing I did learn is if I say I’m taking a hiatus, I need to actually do it! (but what are plans this year, amiright?!) So I didn’t take a proper break, I just got worse at blogging- whoops!

Anyway, as much as I’ve been enjoying talking TV these last few months, I didn’t watch anything in July except season 3 of the Crown… which admittedly was fun for all the wrong reasons. I mean, I enjoy the “history”, but wow, this season took some serious liberties. Case and point calling the ex-king, who was a rather famous fan of Hitler and the Nazis, a progressive?! I wouldn’t get so excited about him meeting with Emperor Hirohito either (a questionable historical figure who at the very least signed off on allying with, you guessed it, Nazis). So weird to glorify a man who was friends with fascists late into his life. My guess is the whole look-at-royals-marrying-for-love subplot (even if Wallis Simpson was a Nazi sympathiser) was paralleled with Charles/Camilla so that we don’t blame them for their affair. It also got a chuckle out of me when Wilson (made to mirror Jeremy Corbyn) was a leftie (lol). But whatever, the show is royalist propaganda… so what can we expect? (I’m just being a grouchy Brit, it was still very entertaining).

What MADE MY MONTH was Taylor Swift’s surprise album drop: Folklore! I didn’t love Lover, but thank goodness for Folklore. This was just what I (and millions of fans around the world) needed. It offers sensational storytelling, lovely lyrics and some much-needed escapism. I could go on forever and always about how Swift took it to another level here and how I was enchanted by every. single. song- but for now I’ll just say that this is what I’m going to be listening to well into august (also my god I think I have new favourite Swift songs and this might even knock 1989 off its perch of best album!)

alice network

The Alice Network– yes, after reading Huntress last month, I had to hunt down another of Quinn’s books and fortunately I was able to instantly connect with the Alice Network (and no I won’t apologise for terrible puns 😉). It was, as you can imagine, another brilliant historical fiction. Well researched, it brought two eras of history to life, this time focusing on WW1 and the aftermath of WW2. Quinn had excellent control of both the timeline jumps and the multiple povs, creating a compelling story I couldn’t stop reading. The one issue I had was that I personally wasn’t as keen on Charlie as a main character and so didn’t enjoy her perspective as much or fully buy into her romance. However, it was still a very satisfying read. Tense in all the right places and with a brilliant finale, Alice Network delivers a fast paced, gut-wrenching spy novel.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

loveboat taipei

Love Taipei– okay, I initially didn’t get why this was so underhyped, but by the time I got to the end, I understood. This had some seriously dodgy elements… and yet I still kinda liked it? I know, I know- that makes no sense, just hear me out (or don’t- I wouldn’t blame you 😉). This had a love square and so-called friendship that’s MESSY af- but it was also very immersive and I completely believed the characters were real. Especially the main character, who was torn between what she wanted and what her family wanted for her. I thought it had a strong opening, concept and felt connected enough that I went along for the ride (however bad it got). Not sure I’d actively recommend it, but I’ll admit I enjoyed most of it (though perhaps not super into the how the romance panned out).

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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

fountains of silence

Fountains of Silence– I had such mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the crimes that occurred in Franco’s Spain is an important story that needs to be told. Plus, some of the perspectives were powerful- particularly Puri’s. On the other hand, it wasn’t the smoothest read. As much as I pushed through it pretty fast, it could be a struggle, because I wasn’t interested by all the minutiae and stories. A lot could’ve been cut for a punchier plot. The ending, especially, could’ve been tighter. And, while there was some strong writing, this was far from Sepetys best. It didn’t sparkle enough for me and I only got a hint of the Spanish setting. In short, I think it’s good this book exists, I just think it could’ve been better.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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

nevermoor

Nevermoor- The Trials of Morrigan Crow– people have been raving about Nevermoor for years- and I get why! What a clever, entertaining and funny work. The concept and world building were wunderful. The characters were really well drawn- there wasn’t a single case of a poorly sketched figure in sight- they all felt like real people. And wow that ending is basically the best! There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like. I am so excited to continue on with this story and I think this is the most *perfect* book for kids since Harry Potter!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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

his and hers

His and Hers– this is a hard one to talk about, but an easy one to recommend. I loved how this thriller handled dual povs- it was so well done and absolutely added to the story. Flicking between Her perspective (an alcoholic, out of work TV presenter) and His (her detective ex-husband) we come face to face with a serial killer, as both are implicated in a spate of killings. As with all the best thrillers, this had plenty of “oh shit” and “wtf” moments. This pacey page turner delivers all the twists and turns. While I suspected some of them, there were many parts I wasn’t expecting. Most importantly, I had no idea whose story to trust. I did have some lingering questions, yet ultimately this really packed a punch.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

who did you tell

Who Did You Tell?– this was another solid thriller, featuring sordid secrets and a stalker. Again, I didn’t know how much of the narration to believe, with the focus on a recovering alcoholic. I really liked how this addressed the topic of alcoholism- cos it didn’t just use it as a crutch for the story or a convenience for the narrative. No, here it was about the trauma that is involved in substance abuse. This gave it some emotionality that I often don’t feel in thrillers. I also liked the slow reveal and clean structure. Plus, the final reveal was fabulous.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

clap when you land

Clap When You Land– written in verse, this was another flawless contemporary from Acevedo. I was prepared for heartbreak, but not for how heart-warming it would be. Focusing on the aftermath of a plane crash that reveals explosive truths, this was surprisingly action packed and I whizzed through it. It went beyond simply dealing with the topic of grief to take the story to even greater heights. The characters were not just shaken, but re-shaped by events. It was a beautiful journey and deserves all the applause. I’m really into every single one of this author’s releases!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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

the library book

The Library Book– as you can imagine, a book that talks about how wonderful libraries are is preaching to the choir. So, unsurprisingly, I rather enjoyed this book of brief essays and stories about the glory that is the library. Being an anthology, there were of course parts I liked more than others (my favourite being the deeply personal one from Stephen Fry). It was amazing to read about all the ways it can change lives and the amazing benefits it offers. I liked that it put flesh on the bones of library life. Also, I rather like the reminder that LIBRARIES ARE A PLACE YOU CAN GET FREE BOOKS!! So, no, it wasn’t a life-changing read, but it was a little affirming. And yes, I know that there’s another more famous book (watch this space).

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

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!

59 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – ahh it’s August 2020!

  1. Clap When You Land is SUCH a stunning book – I read it recently too! i remember reading the Alice Network some time back and really liking it.
    Kinda bummed about Fountains of Silence not being as good as everyone makes it out to be – but I’m still excited to give it a try!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah well it’s fun. There’s a lot of things I like about it 🙂 (even if all I did was moan about season 3 lol!)
      She really is! Ah that’s fair- I did like Reputation (and should really give more of Lover a chance). But yes!!! This one is amazing!! xxx

      Like

  2. Happy to see you had a good reading month!! (: I keep meaning to watch the crown but put it off…maybe August will finally be my time!! Also been wanting to read Loveboat, but I think I’ll check it out of the library instead of purchase it :/ great post!! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was an episode in a previous season of The Crown (I think it was the 2nd but I could be wrong) that dealt with the former king’s Nazi sympathies pretty candidly. I think that the reason he came off as progressive in the third season was because he was being manipulative: he was angling to be Charles’ confidant and he was presenting a front that would appeal to a young man who had issues with his parents (particularly a young man who had issues with his royal parents!) That was the impression I got anyway.

    I didn’t understand quite why Elizabeth came off as so sympathetic to him in the third season though, since he condemned him straightforwardly in the episode when she found out how tight he was with the Nazis. I think the show wanted to make it feel like he was a presence from he childhood for whom she retained some fondness, in spite of what she knew about him. But that doesn’t make sense, because she was pretty young when he abdicated and became persona non grata in her family. Plus his abdication put her in a position of public responsibility that she never asked for. So that didn’t quite make sense for me.

    I felt similar to you about Fountains of Silence. But you seemed to like the book more than I did in spite of its problems. I appreciated that there was a high profile novel like this about Franco’s Spain, but I think this was too bloated to be effective. Keeping the focus on the two main characters (and maybe one other) would have made the book a lot tighter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I hear you about thinking he was being manipulative. I thought that too (especially cos they did deal with his nazi sympathies in season 1) and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, when it would be clear to the audience, if not to Charles, that this was the case. But that never came. And I just thought that ultimately it was framed in a way that was far too sympathetic (and linked to trying to make us sympathise with Charles) it didn’t sit well with me. Especially cos they had the Queen do a U-turn on her feelings towards him as well (which could have been depicted as kindness, if they’d had some hint of her having not lost sight of the kind of man he was… But they didn’t do that either)

      That said, for all my complaining, I did enjoy season 3 a lot more than season 2 tbh- there were some very compelling bits

      I do completely get that about fountains of silence- it was too bloated. I think cos I managed to whizz through it in a couple of days, I didn’t feel that as much. Also a couple of the plot points kept me going. But yes, I agree, it should’ve been tighter

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also would have preferred confirmation to the audience at least that that was what was happening. I think the queen’s U turn was what bothered me more than anything. She was pretty clear in her condemnation in that early episode, but she seemed to have just forgotten about it here. And you’d think she might have let Charles know about his past, if she wanted to diminish his influence on her son. To not mention it just seems short sighted in that respect, which isn’t consistent with the character that’s been portrayed so far.

        I think that was my biggest criticism of the third season actually. But I did enjoy it, in spite of its problems. I think they handled the cast change pretty well for the most part, and I look forward to more.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah that makes sense- I thought they handled it well in previous seasons. I also think that she would’ve had more to say to Charles about it, even if he didn’t believe her (which would’ve made the most sense and added drama). It really did. But yeah, despite all my criticisms, I liked it and definitely want more 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! You’ve had a great reading month! I am reading With the Fire on High and I really liked The Poet X so I can’t wait to read Clap When You Land! folklore is fantastic! I was never a huge fan of Taylor Swift but I am enjoying this album sooo much, it is sooo good! I could never get into The Crown 🙈. Great post, as per usual!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ikr on Nevermoor! It’s such a fun read and the only one I’ve read so far that actually matches the “like Harry Potter” tag attached to most middle grade fantasy novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yay for more reviews! I did love Fountains of Silence but I do agree that the ending could’ve had more punch and trimmed down a little bit. I still need to read Kate Quinn! I started The Huntress but NEED to finish it and then read The Alice Network 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! Me and my son are getting out more now he has stopped shielding and it just feels so good!

    I bought the audio (and paperback!) of Nevermoor and am starting tomorrow, so glad you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. FOLKLORE IS SO AMAZING. I honestly love it so much and it was exactly what I needed. My faves are the last great american dynasty, betty and illicit affairs.
    I’ve read Loveboat, Taipei and I completely agree with you. I did enjoy reading it but there were also moments that I just really didn’t like. Especially the love square (and the fact that my ship did not win haha).
    I’m really excited to read Clap When You Land though! I’ve read With The Fire On High by Acevado and I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes it is!! I love all the songs!! I’m listening to illicit affairs right now and it gets better each time I hear it!! 😀
      Oh yes definitely (haha my ship didn’t win either and let’s be real, if it had, my rating would’ve been higher 😉 )
      Oh it was great!! I love Acevedo’s books!!

      Like

  9. folklore is everything and it just might be my favorite Taylor album as well. Honestly though, it’s all I’ve been listening since it dropped and I regret nothing. Her songwriting is so good! I’m so happy that July was a good month for you! I feel like in 2020 we need all the good we can get.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Based on your review I downloaded Nevermoor onto my daughter’s Kindle (she’s 9). Less than a day later and she’s clamouring for the second one. So THANK YOU because I wouldn’t have known about this if you hadn’t written this review and therefore neither would she.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fountains of SIlence is the only Sepetys book I’ve read so far and I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t the best choice. I was so confused by all the info dumps where the characters would just randomly start reflecting to themselves on politics or lecturing each other on stuff like the history of bullfighting. It just wasn’t smoothly integrated and it felt forced.

    Clap When You Land, on the other hand, was phenomenal! Acevedo’s work always manages to impress me! I still have to read The Poet X, though.

    Oh, and Folklore is so amazing. I don’t know why everyone is suddenly so surprised Taylor Swift is good. She’s always been an incredible storyteller. And I feel like in this one she’s really connecting more deeply with her roots and her art. She’s growing as an artist, yes, but I feel like she’s been doing that the whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh yeah I hear you- it was especially strange, cos it wasn’t like her other books. I feel it’s a shame she went in that direction, cos she really is a talented writer (who’s not normally prone to infodumps).

      it really was! haha that’s so true!! She’s always been brilliant!

      Like

  12. Hello there, a new fan here. Just found your blog and I’m looking forward chatting books with you.😊

    I just finished With The Fire So High today and LOVED it!!! It was my first book by her and I can’t wait to read Clap When You Land and The Poet X.

    ~ Corina | The Brown Eyed Bookworm

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m so behind again, but I’M SO GLAD YOU LOVED NEVERMOOR!!!! I am far too excited about Hollowpox coming out this month (October for everyone else I think). I’m seriously just super hyped!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s