The Candy Book Tag

It’s Halloween season, I’m starting to see the decorations go up everywhere, which means of course that it’s CANDY TIME!!

 

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Thank you so much to the wonderful Rivermoose Reads and the supremely sweet Sophie @Blame Chocolate– check out they’re blogs cos they’re awesome!!

(also I have a ridiculously sweet tooth, so I will be eating a bag of jelly bellies while I do this… I blame the tag 😉 )

Apples – Ah. Healthy food. It is deep, meaningful, and probably won a lot of awards but, um, it really isn’t your thing.

Ah I’m sorry to say this, but I’ve never read a stream of consciousness book that I’ve enjoyed, so I’m sad to say I didn’t like One Hundred Years of Solitude, even if I get why others do.

one hundred years of solitude

Milk Chocolate – This is a book you’d recommend to absolutely EVERYONE.

Gosh there’s so many books I could put here, but I’m going to go with Man’s Search for Meaning– it is honestly the most profound and impactful book I have ever read and I can’t recommend it enough.

man's search for meaning

Black Jellybeans – Why do these exist??

I *hate* black jellybeans with a passion, so I have to come up with a suitably gross book, and it really can only be Wideacre. Why? Because even a black jelly baby is not as yucky as this book!

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Chocolate Kisses – Awww this novel had the best romance.

It’s gotta be an Austen doesn’t it? I mean, those are the rules…

those are the rules

(okay probably a strange choice of meme for this question)

Anyhoo… I’m going with Persuasion!

persuasion

Gummy Spiders – Eek! You made sure to check under your bed every night for a week after reading this scary one.

Hehe well I’m easily scared, so I was freaked out by Through the Woods– all those scary, scary illustrations *shivers*

through the woods

Jumbo Lollipop – This took you forever to get through, but hey! You did it!

Well I’m going to go with a positive one for this and say War and Peace– cos yes, of course it took ages, but man, it was so worth it!!

war and peace

Cotton Candy – Admit it, you loved this when you were younger (you probably still do). Think children’s or MG fiction.

Gotta admit, I still love candy floss!! I have so so many answers for this- but I’m just gonna pick Peter Pan for now!

peter pan and wendy

Well that was a fun tag and now I’m all out of sugary treats, I should probably eat something more substantial… like cake! Before I go, I tag:

Sherbet Lemon Reviews, My Life as a Sports Fangirl, My Midnight Musing, Keira, Marie’s Library, Never Not Reading and Wonderfilled Reads

And today, I’m gonna ask what’s your favourite sweet? Let me know in the comments!

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Hobb-knobbing with the Tawny Man

Well hello again! Told you I wouldn’t be long with this series review. In case you’re not caught up, I recently read Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy for the first time and I became so hooked on Hobb that I just had to jump into this series. As with the previous series, I decided to do them in bulk.

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No spoilers for the previous series and you’ll be forewarned if I plan to get into the nitty gritty of something.

Fool’s Errand

fool's errandWithout a shadow of a doubt, this had one of the finest opening lines I’ve ever read:

“He came one late, wet spring, and brought the wide world back to my doorstep”

That alone drew me in. The steady start, the slow introduction and reintroduction of characters, was thoroughly absorbing. There was no doubt in my mind that the writing, which I so admired in the previous books, was even better here:

“Sometimes skill-hunger ate at me as a canker eats sound flesh”

From the captivating opening paragraph, all the way to the last line, Hobb painted such vivid pictures in my imagination, that I couldn’t help but admire the this book.

I did like the development of the subplot from the first series, focusing on people’s prejudices towards people with the wit and their consequent superstitions. I certainly appreciated this, as while it was detrimental to the plot in Farseer, it never felt like it was explored as much as it could have been.

BUT I did have some problems quite quickly with the plot- especially because there was *a lot* of recapping. I’m honestly never a fan of recaps, though I get why they’re there (considering most of the time there can be long waits between books) but I do feel like they should be kept to a minimum and that they can be unnecessary. This book in particular took a great deal of time to grind out of first gear. In fact, it was v e r y  s l o w in the middle.

Because of this, I thought I’d read this too soon after the last series- HOWEVER it ended up winning me over heart and soul. First of all, things picked up to a gallop once Prince Dutiful was introduced, thanks largely to him not living upto his name. And secondly because of that showstopping, rip your heart out of your chest ending. To say it was emotional would be a total understatement. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say too much, but it was stunningly sad and beautifully written.

While I didn’t love this book as much as the first series, it was still a great read and I appreciated the direction it took. Looking back, that ending marked the transition from the Farseer Trilogy and the death of the(more petulant, childish) old Fitz. In with the new I say! And since I’m a sucker for anything that can yank on the old heartstrings, I ended up falling for this book:

4/5 bananas

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Golden Fool

golden foolNot losing momentum from the last book, Golden Fool began with Fitz recounting his devastating loss. Since this was playing on my mind, it was definitely the best place to start.

However, sadly the pace did not keep up continue at that hard-hitting speed. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the plot in this one, because there was no obvious quest until page 275, which had already been mentioned on the blurb, and this wasn’t fulfilled until the next book anyway. Because of that there was far less urgency here, the story kept stalling and everything ambled along rather reluctantly. Misleading blurbs and slow plots are bad enough, but this was made all the more infuriating considering that what we were promised was DRAGONS.

…!!!!!!….

Yeah…. Never do that to me. I’m bound to get mad. I was able to cool it a little, considering that I knew we’d get that… eventually. Plus, it was pretty amazing to read the dragonlore here. I particularly loved the idea that dragon carvers were inspired by real dragons BRILLIANT. This did add tremendously to the rich world building. (There was also the brief mention of liveships- which whetted my appetite for Hobb’s other series)

I will admit that I liked the subplot about the suspicion of people with the wit- it just wasn’t enough to carry the book for me considering the fact that this subject has been present in *all* the books so far. It also wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been. Frankly, it served too much as filler in this one, especially as all the other Elderling books have had self-contained plots.

Still, one thing I did love in this book was how it showcased the progression of Fitz’s life. As a character he has developed in so many unexpected ways and I really feel like I’ve got to know him by now. More than ever, I appreciate how the story is told from his perspective and how he’s often not the all-out hero, but more of a helper (or catalyst *wink wink nudge nudge*) and helps others sacrifice themselves a little.

What I loved even more was his relationship with Dutiful. He too is an intriguing character and it’s fun to read about the, so to speak, next generation. I also loved the introduction of Nettle and how she was introduced. The only one who didn’t hold my attention was Hap, who I thought might be more interesting than I found him to be.

Ultimately, this was good in parts, but I’d put this firmly in the middle book syndrome category I’m afraid.

3½/5 bananas

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Fool’s Fate

fool's fateOkay, I’ll admit it, there were a few points in this book when I started to think I might be Hobbed out. 1) I found it very very long- which isn’t so different from the others, but man I was really beginning to feel it. 2) I started to mull things over that I mightn’t have worried about in other books (for instance, why is the Skill no longer associated with just the Farseers? Did I miss something about who you were and were not able to influence? Are the rules changing…?) Honestly, in most books this sort of thing doesn’t trouble me too much and now I’m done it’s more a point of interest than anything else, which is why I began to think I might have overdone it with too much of this series at once.

There were other things that I felt like I missed or that I wasn’t entirely clear on (like highlight for spoiler: the Fool’s resurrection), though luckily some of these things were cleared up pretty quickly. For instance, this threw up a lot of questions about Outislanders for me… but fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long for answers. With the introduction of the Pale Woman we got the solution to many mysteries and were given the sense that they had all been playing a much larger game than they ever knew.

Now, a central part to this book is the Fool and I know I’ve not talked much about him before now. To be honest, the most interesting thing about the Fool for me is how difficult he is to pin down, which is why I reckon it’s worth preserving as much mystique as possible and leave that part up to individual readers to mull over. All I’ll say is that I like watching his relationship with Fitz develop (though some aspects I’m still puzzling over…)

There were a lot of other cool aspects to this book, especially the intriguing opening and as-per-usual fantastic writing:

“The Fool’s Tongue juggled the word like pins”

(I feel like I need to show it off from time to time)

Plus we did finally get the dragons we were promised in the previous book- and one of my now all-time favourite quotes about dragons as a bonus:

“Dragons at a distance are amazing and noble creatures of legend. My closer experience of them makes me suspect they’d burp nobly after consuming me”

In terms of character, the most interesting development for me is (weirdly enough) Chade. I have enjoyed him in the past, but I’m beginning to think he’s growing more ambitious and getting some proper villainy traits (who knows- this could be pure speculation at this point…) I do want to carry on reading to see where he’ll end up at least.

And just to round this off with some *spoilery* chat, I was a bit peeved with Molly (what’s new?). I mean, I can let her and Burrich off the hook (sort of- at least it was confirmed in Golden Fool that he a little too conveniently thought Fitz was dead for reelz) but her reaction to finding out he’d been alive all this time perfectly explains why I’ve never liked her. It went something like: “oh you’re alive, oh well it’s all your fault, oh and I did nothing wrong marrying your adopted father”- ugh! I don’t get why, even after everything’s explained to her, she can’t see that he sacrificed his own happiness for the sake of everyone else (not least cos it would ruin her life if he’d showed up to tell her he was alive when she was already with Burrich).

Okay rant and spoilers over.  With all that out my system, I can say this was a very satisfying ending and feels like an excellent place to pause (for now).

4/5 bananas

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To sum up: I admit to finding these books long winded at times, but the payoffs always worth it!

So have you read this series? Are you planning to? Let me know in the comments!

Setting my Sights on the Farseer Trilogy

Well this is a seriously stunning series! I have to say right off the bat that if you like fantasy even a smidgen then *this is the trilogy for you*! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to Hobb… Actually I can a little- I mean, she’s got a huge body of work and it’s pretty intimidating. But I was able to line up the whole first series to read recently… so that’s what I did. And let’s just say I was transported to fantasy heaven.

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Rather than swamping you with loads of little reviews, I decided to tackle the whole Farseer trilogy at once- so buckle in, this is gonna be quite the trip!

Please note spoilers will be marked, but the further you get down the page, where I discuss the later books, the more likely you are to encounter them.

Assassin’s Apprentice

assassins apprenticeI will say that this started out a little slow for me. I did like the introduction of all the characters, but it took me until the magic got introduced, at about 10%, for me to get fully invested- which would be fine, but in a 500 pages book, that’s a little longer than I would like.

Speaking of the characters, that’s what this book is all about. I *loved* how realistic, how complex and how vivid they all were. This isn’t one of those books where characters come second to the plot- no, they were the ones that breathed life into this trilogy. At the epicentre of these books is Fitz- who, as the Prince’s oft-mistreated bastard, is sympathetic from the start and often on the outside looking in. Thrust into the heart of all the political intrigue, he pulls us by the heartstrings into his world, and becomes the unlikely-yet-likeable force that drives the action and makes it impossible to resist falling in love with Hobb’s work.

Because there was also a great cast of side characters. From villains to heroes, they all felt alive to me. I don’t think I could juggle as many people in my review as starred in this book- which is testament to how terrific Hobb was at balancing them in her work! One of the highlights for me was actually Patience- who added a nice touch of comic relief whilst also being amazingly compassionate. The Fool was certainly a draw for me- though I hardly got anything pinned down on him in this early book. I also quickly admired Verity, but my first impressions were actually quite spoilery, so if you’ve read the whole series, highlight the next bit: I actually wrote in my notes that he was an interesting character but I didn’t see him surviving- LOL got a bit ahead of the game there 😉  I did appreciate Burrich- but he could be a bit of a foil to Fitz, which I thought was an interesting exploration of the parent role. As for the others: Chade was Shady, Shrewd was Shrewd and Regal was anything but.

Overall the writing was very absorbing. I especially appreciated the little snippets at the beginning of each chapter which added to the world building. However, while the descriptions were on the most part beautiful, there were points when the writing became burdensome and slow.

By the end, though, I was well and truly invested in the plot and didn’t care. Cos *man* that was a good ending, with revelation after revelation, events coming thick and fast, and culminating in some *fist pumping* moments. By the end of book 1, there was no doubt that I was going to be hooked on Hobb for life and that I may have just found a new favourite author. So it can be no surprise my rating for book one was:

4½/5 bananas

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Royal Assassin

royal assassinSo this book really built on some of the subplots from the first and I was mostly happy about that. For instance, the role of Fitz’ Beast magic took more of a centre stage, with the introduction of the wolf cub Nighteyes. And prepare for some gush, because I love-love-loved him! It can’t be a surprise that I adore non-human characters in books, given my blog name, and Nighteyes pretty much stole the show for me. I mean who wouldn’t love a ginger cake eating wolf? There were so many great details to him to make him pounce off the page and Hobb got his wolfish voice *just right*, with hilarious lines like asking Fitz to scratch him with “your so clever hands”. Honestly, for him alone, I would have wanted to give this book a squidgy hug!

Still, considering how strongly I felt about all the characters in this series, I was pretty meh about Molly. Don’t get me wrong, the romance here was sweet and it allowed for some gorgeous descriptions, but I wasn’t totally feeling it. To be honest, I didn’t find this relationship as important to me as his relationship with Nighteyes for instance- which was not great, cos, you know, as cool as their bond is, I should care more about the protagonist’s feelings for his love interest.

But, speaking of writing, this was an exquisite piece of work. I mean all you can say to this is *wow*:

“My body jangled like badly-tuned harp strings”

I wrote down so many incredible quotes from this because, like I said, *wow*. Every touch built on the world and the characters. I couldn’t help but admire the Queen’s poem for instance, or Fitz getting compared to a wolf, or the tradition of hanging a Pocked Man marionette before a tragedy tradition in puppet shows. The precision of the world building was an absolute delight.

Plot-wise, this began where book 1 left off and it was nice, dramatic starting point. However, once they got on the road and returned to Buckkeep, I did personally find it slowed down a little. Don’t get me wrong, I do like scheming and machinations- and this had that by the fortress load- but I couldn’t help but feel like things took a breather in the middle of the book. HOWEVER, that was just the calm before the storm because WOWEE this has transformative, bold ending. Honestly, that lifted this book several notches for me and completely blew me away.

4½/5 bananas

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Assassin’s Quest

assassin's questWell, if I thought Royal Assassin began and ended well, it was nothing compared to this book. *Spoilers abound* from here on out– but I honestly cannot keep things to myself at this point. As readers, we were taken on Fitz’s savage journey back to being human and truly got to experience his wolfish side. If the writing was well done before, this was bloody marvellous- take a peak:

“You’d pick at this quarrel like a scab until you got it bleeding and fresh”

The plot was a total rollercoaster- speeding exhilaratingly fast and then breaking to a halt. Because of this, I did find the ride a little jarring at times- for instance, there was a detour in the middle where Fitz attempted to kill Regal, where it sped up, but then immediately slowed again with another journey. There was a lot more meandering about in this book, which was a shame, because this slowed it down for me- but I guess I’ve also come to expect that from books that can double up as a weapon. In the end, though, it was like trekking up a mountain- there were some difficult peaks, some moments of concentration, but in the end the breathless beauty of the view from the summit made it all worth it.

What I liked most was the way this story was told. While told from Fitz’s perspective, he is not, I would argue, the most instrumental character in the book. In fact, we are given a vision of Verity’s heroism through Fitz’s eyes, who sacrifices everything for the good of all. This coupled with Fitz’s own sacrifices gives us a multi-faceted view of sacrifice. Here Hobb embraces, transforms and goes beyond typical fantasy tropes, for we are given a symbolically flawless hero, through the would-be king, whilst also preserving the need for a flawed, human protagonist. With extraordinary deftness, Hobb explores the costs of magic, consequently showing the responsibilities of power, in a complex and striking way.

As you can tell from this, I thought that as a character study this was exceptional. However, I did have a few nitpicky issues. I may get in trouble for this, but I honestly didn’t connect to a lot of the side characters in this one. There were a lot of new people crowded into the book, like the minstrels, and although they were all prancing about for my attention, I just couldn’t bring myself to care for them. Annnd if that didn’t annoy you, I’m sorry to say I also hated Molly a little by the end of this book. At the risk of being a Fitz-fangirl, I think she often misunderstood him, didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt and I don’t think she had any justification for shacking up with his (practically) adoptive father in the end. Like I said, I was never that invested in Fitz’s relationship with her, but man, that’s harsh. The conclusion to that story arc was a bit gross to me and the elements of miscommunication (like Burrich not telling her he’d come back from the dead once already) left me a tad unsatisfied. Honestly, it felt like there was a bit of a cliffhanger in his personal life… it’s no wonder I immediately went on to read the next series!

4½/5 bananas

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Ultimately- I couldn’t resist *immediately* launching into Hobb’s second series on Fitz. So I hope you liked those reviews… cos I’m gonna bring out the next one soonish…

That’s all for now! Have you read this series? Are you planning on picking it up? Let me know in the comments!

The Black Cat Blue Sea Award – Bumper Edition! (cos I’m a crazy person who forgets to do tags)

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Hello all! Hope you’re all having a relaxing Sunday! And as you can tell from the title, I was nominated to do this a few times and it’s taken me ages to get to, so yada yada yada, gonna cut this preamble short- onto the rules!

The Rules Are: 

  1. Anybody nominated can nominate eight other bloggers.
  2. The nominee answers three questions posed by the nominator.
  3. The questions you ask while nominating can be any three questions.
  4. If any of the questions asked are offensive or the nominee simply does not want to answer, the nominee does not have to answer them to earn the award.

Thank you so much to the brilliant Pooga @Lifesfinewhine, the spectacular Sammie @ Bookshelves and Biro’s, the awesome Kester @LilBookLovers, the wonderful Steph @Stephanie’s Novel Fiction, the fantastic Michaela @JourneyIntoBooks, and the lovely Liis @ Cover to Cover– they’re all incredible bloggers, so check all these peeps out!!

Pooga’s Questions:

  1. What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

What a lovely question! Many people have done many nice things for me, but I’m gonna go with how sweet my sister is to me on my birthday every year cos it’s fresh on my mind.

  1. What are you most afraid of?

Ooh deep- and speaking of depths, not a fan of heights 😉

  1. Do you think the world is getting better or worse?

Hahahahahahahaha… oh dear, trying to answer this without getting too heavy is gonna be hard. In all honesty, I follow the politics too closely and it brings out my inner pessimist, but I’d generally say “better” when I’m in a good mood and thinking about all the amazing technological and social advances of our age. Okay, hope that wasn’t too bad… next question?

Sammie’s Questions:

  1. What do you consider your best blog post from 2016 and why?

Ooh err, I’ve left this a while haven’t I? Ermm maybe one of my wrap up posts (I honestly can’t remember, 2016 was sooo long ago!)

2. Do you have any blogging goals or big plans for your blog in 2017?

*Coughs* Well if I did, I hope I’ve fulfilled them at this stage, it’s getting a bit late in the year for new year’s resolutions.

3. What have been your best and worst reads of this year and why?

best and worst of 2017

Well I’m gonna go with of 2017 cos otherwise this is gonna get ridiculous- so far, off the top of my head, I’d put Fahrenheit 451 right up there and Wideacre’s gonna be one of the contenders for worst book for sure- as for the rest of my list… we’ll have to wait and see…

Kesta’s Questions:

  1. What is your favorite album or soundtrack you like to listen to and why?

one the beatles

And it’s my favourite for loads of reasons: 1) it was the first CD I ever owned 2) I was brought up on a diet of old 60s music and the Beatles are my faves and 3) cos this album has all their number one hits (though incidentally it’s missing a lot of what I consider their best songs)

  1. Which book have you been wanting to get signed for such a long time?

Ooh hard question! I would go with Six of Crows, partly cos a lot of my favourite authors are dead, partly cos I don’t have a lot of physical copies by any of my fave living authors (first instincts being Carry On and Neverwhere), but mostly cos I love this book.

six of crows

  1. Would you rather read only physical books but get a paper cut every 15 minutes or e-books but your device shuts down for 1 minute every 5 minutes?

Ermm no thank you to the papercuts? I figure that would be quite inconvenient and I might eventually die of blood loss or something.

Steph’s Questions:

  1. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Ermmmm certain kinds of books?! Taylor Swift music… Chocolate… (this is starting to sound like confession)

  1. What is your greatest joy in life?

BOOOKS!!!!

  1. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?

kit kat

Chill out. Take a break- have a kit kat- yeah I know you don’t like kit kats, it’s just an expression… I meant stop taking yourself too seriously, but don’t forget to take some things seriously… (I should really stop talking to my thirteen year old self…)

Michaela’s Questions:

  • If you could travel to any fictional world, which would you choose?

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Narnia! (I may have finally finished the books recently and am a bit obsessed now)

  • If you could only read one book or series for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Gosh *hard* question!! I don’t want to have to choose just one series- gah!! I suppose His Dark Materials cos it’s an old favourite and there’s a new one coming out soon!

  • If you could bring one book character back to life, who would it be?

Sirius Black!!!

Liis’ (seriously genius) questions:

  1. Who would win the Fairytale Cage Match: The Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Andersen? Why?

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Hans Christian Anderson cos he would kill with *feels*!!! The Grimm Brothers would just be curled up in the foetal position sobbing something along these lines: “I-I-I know, w-w-w-e chopped toes off the s-s-stepsisters- b-b-b-u-t why did you have to k-k-kill the Little Matchgirl” (oh yeah, spoiler alert)

  1. A goblin comes to you this evening granting you a wish with which you can wake up tomorrow in any fictional world and live there for the rest of forever and ever- what fictional world is it and why?

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Okay I already chose Narnia, so, you twisted my arm HOGWARTS (I’m going through all the clichés today, but they’re cliché for a reason)

  1. You can choose 3 fictional characters and grant them real life. Who would you choose to play god on and bring into this world and why?

The Librarian from Discworld (duh), Mark Watney (cos he’ll perk up my mood) and King Arthur cos “I need a hero!”

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(also I just wanted to stick that pic in there)

My questions:

  1. Which bookish baddie would you least like to meet in an alleyway at night?
  2. If you had to be in the Hunger Games *and* fight a famous supervillain, who would you pick and why?
  3. Winter is coming… what book will you be reading to keep you warm at night?

I tag: Naty, James, Never Not Reading, Not So Modern Girl, Marianna Reads, Port Jericho and Rivermoose Reads

And now I’m dying to know- what would *your* answers to my questions be? Let me know in the comments!

 

These Dark Faerie Tales are Endless Fun!

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You may have noticed I don’t read many short story collections, but I enjoyed Endless Worlds Volume 1, so I checked this out… and guess what? It was even better!! Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this review, I want to give a shoutout to one of the writers for this- Matthew Wright– for bringing this to my attention- highly recommend checking out his super informative blog! Now onto each of these stories…

The Last Citadel of the Innocent – Matthew Wright

Everyone knows how hard it is to write a convincing world in any fantasy novel, let alone a short story- yet this was so well done that I truly felt transported. The level of detail was perfectly balanced and neatly woven into the story, without being overdone. It was entirely gripping and had a great amount of action to balance this out too. The only reason I couldn’t give this first one 5 bananas was that it wasn’t an entirely contained story- to put it simply: I want more!!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Lorelai – Ken Mann

I thoroughly enjoyed the distinctive fairy tale vibe in this one. The writing style for the story was spot on. Plus, it was dramatic and twisty from beginning to end.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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The Liar’s Tale – James Peters

With a great humorous tone, the Liar’s Tale was just the ticket for me. I was already really enjoying this hilarious tale and then the twist at the end cemented my love. I l really appreciated the Russian doll layers to this too, with multiple stories being told at once. Very clever and well executed story!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Gil and the Mystic Quill – Peter Koevari

I’ve always loved these types of “magical pen” stories and this had a great setup. I truly appreciated the complexity here. Strangely enough though, while this had some of the most beautiful writing of all the stories, it also had some clumsier wording.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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RavenDark – N. R. Marxsen

This was inspired by 12 brothers and as I know the original, I can confirm this was a great retelling 😉 Structurally, this was very similar, yet it was way way darker. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I had the thought while reading it that this was so grim, I almost wonder why it wasn’t written this way in the first place, because this perfectly mirrors the vibe I get from a lot of original fairy tales.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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The Blacksmith and the Beast – Anita Templer

Funnily enough, I wasn’t initially all that crazy about this one- for some reason or other, I wasn’t connecting with the writing. However the twists and turns were literally so amazing that it ended up being one of the best. Once it got into the action, I got very into the adventurous feel and then the ending was so good that it blew me away. All I can say is *wow!*

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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The Witch’s Song – Francis Burns

Yes- another one that I loved! But seriously, this one was great- the setup was so unique and tinged with a creepy atmosphere. I especially liked the writing in this one and the poetry really worked for me here. It was also so gripping that I couldn’t tear my eyes away (hence the fact that my notes ran out here…)

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Fairy Tale Hunter’s – Renee Marski

This last one was certainly the most unique, but because of that it was also much stranger and harder to follow. So I didn’t end up connecting with it as much- all credit for the intriguing premise though.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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Overall, this collection was intriguing, dramatic and unique- I recommend it for all fans of fantasy!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So do you think you’ll check this out? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – October

Well I’m in equal measures excited and nervous for this post. If you’ve been following my blog a while, you’ll know I try to do mini reviews every month. But the scheme I came up with was weirdly unwieldy, upping the number of reviews as we went through the year, and last month I decided it just wasn’t working for me. I mean, the whole point of mini reviews was to make my life easier, and here I was trying to talk about a *crazy *number of books. So as pleased as I am that I got to September with my bonkers system, I’m ready for a change. Introducing:

 

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This is a fun, casual way for me to do a small number of mini reviews every month- no other explanation needed!  Let’s get to today’s batch 😉

the names they gave us

The Names They Gave Us– The structure was a little jolty for this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style. The voice for the main character was distinctively sarky and added a nice tinge of humour to the story. Plus, kudos to this book for having the funniest break up scene I’ve ever read. I really liked a lot of the characters in this one, particularly, funnily enough, Lucas- who came across as perfectly earnest and served as a great (but not mean-spirited) foil for the protagonist. As a contemporary, I think this hit just the right note.

4/5 bananas

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when we were orphans

When We Were Orphans– I’ve always liked Ishiguro’s crisp writing style and this was no exception. I also liked the wry humour he employed here and he definitely managed to elicit a or two chuckle from me. I also appreciated the characters in this one- somehow Ishiguro always manages to balance unpleasant characters with careful sympathy, which is incredibly tricky. And speaking of subtlety, I loved the hint of inaccuracies when it came to the protagonist’s memory. There was always a hint of unreliability (as with many of Ishiguro’s narrators) that added substantially to the intrigue that was unfolding. At its heart, this was a mystery detective story, where Ishiguro again showed his versatility as an author and ability to turn his hand at a totally different style of narrative to his other works. Though this is more about the journey than the destination, I’m sure every reader will be as satisfied as I was with the dark truths uncovered at its conclusion.

4/5 bananas

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magicians assistant

Magician’s Assistant– there were a number of snapshots of real life in this, but alas, I couldn’t relate to it for two reasons. One: because I am not middle aged and all the various issues just didn’t fit where I’m at in life. And two: I had tremendous problems with the structure, as it persistently flicked back and forth in time, which wasn’t done very clearly and made it hard for me to follow. All I have left to say about this is that I’m pretty baffled at the adult who recommended this to me when I was a child- it’s not my thing now, so I can’t imagine enjoying it at ten!

2/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Perfectly Imperfect Books

Books are like people. They’re temperamental, diverse and it’s the little things that make them special. Sometimes we love them inexplicably, warts and all. So today I decided to dedicate a list to the books that I love ALL THE MORE *because* of their imperfections. Here are my top ten perfectly imperfect books:

idiot1. The Idiot– so years ago when I reviewed this book I talked a little about how this book is technically a failed book about failure. I mean, it doesn’t have a satisfactory conclusion, it swerves off topic on multiple occasions and the plot is a little all over the place. BUT if you asked me which books have had the most impact on me, this would be on that list. Sure, this book may have some pretty random tangents- but man, the philosophy espoused here is endlessly deep. So yes, this book may not be as polished as some of Dostoevsky’s other work, but it’s perfect in its own way.

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover2. Emma– okay this one’s cheating a little- cos I think this one’s practically perfect in every way. In fact, I recall a professor of mine describing it as such. And it’s true, because the moral of self-improvement, the biting humour, the character development and the structure of the novel are all perfectly balanced (I could literally go on forever- but if you want more details my review’s here). However, interestingly enough, what makes this so successful as a novel is how imperfect Emma is as a character- and for me that’s what makes it so great.

Hobbit_cover3. The Hobbit– as you all know I *adore* this book. It was my gateway to fantasy and *arghh* it’s just so complex and amazing! BUT it does rightly get some criticism for being episodic. My response to that is this only adds to the story, since every episode moves the plot along, whilst containing its own unique message. The other criticism it gets is “it’s just a children’s book”- to which I say “eff off” or in more adult terms “if you haven’t learnt by now that there’s more to children’s books than meet the eye then you still have a lot of growing up to do” (see I can be mature 😉 ) Incidentally I should have known the movie franchise was doomed when Jackson said that.

ovid erotic poems4. Ovid’s Erotic Poems– OH GAWD I LOVE THESE- okay now I’ve got that out my system… These can be read in multiple ways- read it too literally and you might end up hating Ovid as a person- but if you get the subtext it’s one of the most hilarious books ever written. However, like most books that can be read in multiple directions, it’s easily either going to be one of the best things you ever read or the worst. Plus you may end up concentrating so hard on it that you develop a tension headache 😉

carry on5. Carry On– as a parody of Harry Potter, it obviously has to bear a lot of similarities with the original in order to work, but as is so often the case with satire, the humour is often missed by critics and I’ve seen this labelled “unoriginal” umpteen times. To that I would say, people need to do a better exploration of what satire is– but then getting undue criticism is also kinda a part of the genre too- so it’s a catch 22. Regardless, to me this is top notch stuff, plus it’s got Baz and Simon- nuff said 😉

poison chris wooding6. Poison– no one’s heard of this book, so I can say what I like about it- though *oh my goodness*, everyone’s missing out. This is one of the most impactful, clever books I’ve ever read and it will always be a favourite. But it’s weird- super weird- so I’m always reluctant to recommend it cos there’s a fifty percent chance people’ll love it, and a fifty percent chance they’ll say “what did I just read?”

aeneid7. The Aeneid– alright I’m stumped… I can’t actually think of any imperfections… Seriously… this is a tough cookie. The reason it’s on the list is that it was technically unfinished- but plebs like me will never be able to pick out its flaws, so I doubt it matters unless you’re a serious scholar. I guess I could say that my edition wasn’t perfect though (protip: never translation read of ancient poetry into English that’s been made to rhyme- unfortunately for me my lecturer insisted on it :/ ).

wuthering heights book8. Wuthering Heights– this one *had to* go on the list, because from a purely technical sense, this has some structural flaws, with an odd and maybe even out of place frame around the narrative and some pretty detestable characters BUT it also has some of the finest emotional moments in literature. No book has ever, or will ever, make you feel as wildly passionate as this. And it’s why, although I gave both books 5*, this one edges it out over Jane Eyre for me (which incidentally is a pretty flawless book). And speaking of emotions…

jude9. Jude the Obscure– ah Hardy- if you want to experience true pain, this is where you go. No one does tragedy like Hardy. So what’s its fatal flaw? Well, some people would say the way it deals with mental health… or doesn’t deal with it. You see, as I’ve mentioned before, there are two kinds of mental health in books- the would-be educational kind and the ones that present it as is. Personally my preference is for the latter, because if I want to be educated about mental health, which I frequently do, I go to psychology papers, not literature (not to mention that the “educational” kinds frequently fail). As for this being one of the darkest books in existence so be it. The world is frequently dark, twisted and bleak. Better that than preaching to me “suicide is bad” or “depression isn’t anyone’s fault”- yeah no shit Sherlock.

we were liars10. We Were Liars– first of all *no spoilers* but this book was perfection for me BECAUSE of the style, where ironically a lot of people don’t like this BECAUSE of said style. So I guess that’s the moral of the story here- what makes something perfect for one person may not work for someone else…

 

So what do you think about perfectly imperfect books? Do you have any books that you love in spite of their flaws? Let me know in the comments!