Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – March-ing FORWARD Through 2021!

Hello all! I’m back!

First, I want to say a sincere thank you for all your kind words and well-wishes while I was away. I wasn’t having the best time and it really meant a lot. Second, I do want to apologise for being dramatic- especially in a time like this. I’m very sorry to have worried anyone- that was not my intent with the hiatus post and I hope I reassured anyone in the comments. Third, I know I promised an explanation- however, on reflection, I don’t want to put more bad energy out into the atmosphere (look at me getting all kooky 😉 ). All I need to say is that things are better and I’m gonna get on with my life (thank goodness for yoga/books/friends/more yoga eh). So, yeah, I’m looking forward to blogging more again, but please be patient with me as I try and get back into the swing of things. Since I scrapped all my Feb posts and this is the first thing I’m writing in a while, not sure what my schedule will be like- we’ll see!

Now all that’s all out the way, onto the post!

Fate: The Winx Saga– oh gosh I don’t care what anyone says, this was wicked fun. My sister and I loved this as children- and both of us enjoyed this incarnation too! To be fair, the first ten minutes were kinda messy, but it got so much better. And it was even more fun being familiar with the story. When the BeaTRIX character got introduced I was like I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE! Minor spoiler, however I also loved the tricksy changeling twist- it’s better than the adoption story. Bloom’s backstory is so so dark- yet it manages to stay true to the original. That’s what I like most of all: how this captures the spirit of the cartoon and manages to do something different. My favourite part is that it really shows off the female friendship (whilst making it a bit more mature). So, if you enjoy supernatural teen shows, then definitely check this out if you haven’t already!

Where the Crawdads Sing– don’t be fooled by the short review, I listened to this on audio and was transfixed from beginning to end. Part murder mystery, part coming of age, this book unravels the secrets of a girl living alone in a swamp. Exploring themes of isolation, prejudice and being an outsider, it’s the kind of story that nests in your thoughts. While it stays rooted in the Cove, I felt swept up by the journey. With each turn of the plot, I felt like I was drifting further upstream, deeper into this unknown and unknowable territory. I felt the setting come to life; the characters were vividly real. I don’t know what more to say without spoiling it, so I’ll leave it there: because this is a book you simply must experience for yourself. Everything about this was remarkable.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Memory Police– unfortunately this was not the most memorable story. Far be it for me to police art, but this novel was a little muddling. Essentially, this was an allegory for a totalitarian regime. At first, I found its simplicity had a certain power. I liked the mysterious names and enigmatic curiosities. However, as the narrative progressed, it got exceptionally weird and I started to lose my way. While I liked the story within a story aspect, it wasn’t particularly ground-breaking. And I couldn’t understand the main character’s profession (writer) given the context. Perhaps the meaning was a little bit too elusive for me- however it ultimately felt like it was failing to tease out the ideas that already exist Orwell. I already understood how totalitarian regimes get power from erasing the past without reading the book.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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Bitter– this was not what I expected- yet I don’t resent reading it in the slightest. Whilst I expected this to be a very typical thriller, this was far more discursive about empathy than I thought it would be. This voicey novel forces us to understand the view of a borderline-stalker-y, lonely old woman. And rather than having the explosive twist you’re waiting for, it’s more of an emotional tug on the heartstrings. Which, if you saw the description, you wouldn’t expect at all. It was far more of an interesting peek into someone’s mind and an exploration of how someone might become bitter. The only downside to this voicey novel turned out to be how hard it was being in this character’s head. Otherwise, an intriguingly different novel.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Echo North– what a wonderful book. This fairy tale retelling blends East of the Sun and West of the Moon and Beauty and the Beast… and offers something entirely original. Don’t expect your typical, beautiful YA heroine. It actually fulfilled the promise of doing something different with the original story. There were was plenty of magic and some really charming ideas here- I especially adored the book mirrors. I was incredibly impressed with the ending as well- threading all the little details of the story together. And I thoroughly enjoyed the dreamy tone. I wolfed it down in one sitting. It’s severely underrated and underappreciated.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Fatherland– unfortunately, I found this read a bit pointless. Maybe this is something I’m being a bit of a hypocrite about, however, as an alternate history story detailing “what would have happened if the Nazis won”, this was almost too historical (I know! I’m the one always complaining that alternate history is too ahistorical!) The problem was most of the story was just recounting history… and then restoring the proper historical status quo… so what was the point? I did like the idea of uncovering the hidden crimes of a nation and shattering the illusion of a perfect society- it’s just it didn’t really do more than that. Plus, considering we already know that the Nazis were evil, it’s not exactly revelatory. I just think this could have gone a lot further (especially considering I have always maintained that the Nazis would’ve just kept murdering different races until they were stopped). I don’t want to be too harsh, however, as a lot of my meh feelings for this book could come down to the fact that the writing style just wasn’t for me. I failed to connect with the characters and that severely impacted my reaction. Objectively, there were some visceral descriptions and it was quite pacey.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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Wife Upstairs– there was a lot to like about this modern take on Jane Eyre/the mad woman in the attic trope. From the beginning, I appreciated the Southern gothic tone and layers to the narration. The unreliable narrator twists the plain Jane character into someone more intriguing and cunning. The story subtly developed in a direction I wasn’t expecting. It’s not an in-your-face dramatic thriller, but it certainly had enough to keep me gripped. The nods to the original could be a little on the nose, though personally I enjoyed them all. The one issue I had, without getting into spoilers, was that the ending was a little far-fetched and hard to buy. But I still highly recommend this for fans of the original and thriller addicts.

Rating: 4/5 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 all had a good month!

81 thoughts on “Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – March-ing FORWARD Through 2021!

  1. Glad you’re back and that things seem to have worked out okay. Take the time you need to get back into things. No need to rush 🙂

    Regarding Winx Saga, it was watchable for me but, umm… I didn’t like it much. The protag was very unlikeable to me. I wish I’d seen the animation, though, to see how the two forms relate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you- that means a lot 🙂

      hehe that’s fair- since I wrote that paragraph I’ve seen so many reviews bashing it and… I get it… I don’t entirely understand why I liked it so much. Even I find my taste in tv questionable sometimes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you read Echo North! I thought it was a beautiful book, and I’m thinking I might be due for a reread.

    I also don’t think you were being dramatic at all in your earlier post. I’m glad you’re doing better. It’s good to see you’re back! You’re one of my favorite blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Said it so many times before, but I’m still always happy to see Echo North on here! It went under so many people’s radar.
    I also watched Winx and while I massively disagree on it keeping the spirit of the animated version, I had fun too haha but I also didn’t mind that it veered far from the original.
    Glad to see you back and hope things will continue to go well ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Admittedly, I’m one of those that loved the Winx animated series but cannot be bothered watching the Netflix series. I think I’m just tired of everything getting the live-action treatment haha.
    Now, I’ve heard so many amazing things about Where The Crawdads Sing and Echo North and one of these days I will get to those books.
    Glad to see you back. 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah that’s fair! It’s not exactly technically brilliant tv, I just had fun with it. I totally, totally get that! I’m not keen on all the remakes, so I wasn’t sure I’d watch it, but my sister got me to watch an episode and I was sucked in.
      Oh those are wonderful!!
      Thank you!! 😀 😀

      Like

  5. I remember loving the Winx cartoon when I was younger, though I feel like I’ve forgotten so much of it, but you’ve made me intrigued to watch the live action. A fun TV show is just what is needed 🙂 How did I not know that was what Where the Crawdads Sing was about? I kept seeing it over and over again but I feel like no one talked about what it was actually about so I’m glad to get this little summary – I’m definitely intrigued enough to pick it up now. I’m glad you’re okay (February wasn’t great for me either but I’m not sure why? It was just a month) and that you’re back!

    Like

  6. Glad to hear you’re feeling better and so happy to see you back!! 😍 Consider yourself being hugged like from an enormous bear! 😉🐻
    So many great reviews! I haven’t read any of them yet, and was hesitant about Robert Harris’ Fatherland for exactly the reasons you’ve mentioned. 😂 So will probably skip it. 😉 But definitely am going to track down Echo North, it sounds awesome!!
    Wishing you a lovely March! Take care, dear! ❤

    Like

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