Mid-Year Monkey at the Movies

Hello all! As promised in my monthly wrap up, I have some mini movie reviews for you today. There’s a little bit of the good, the bad and the ugly here (in that order) so sit tight, cos we’re in for a bumpy ride!

Carrie Pilby– charming, quirky and a lot of fun, this was thoroughly enjoyable. While it had indie vibes, it embraced classic storytelling. The character arcs were beautifully done- showing that even if Carrie is a genius, she doesn’t know everything after all. It also went further, showing how pain can reverberate across the years. All credit to the writers and actors, cos this was a super fun story. I’d happily rewatch it!

Rating: 4.5/5 bananas

The Woman in the Window– there are lots of angles through which to view this film: voyeuristically curious about the scandalous background of the author; from the perspective of a reader who read (and maybe even enjoyed) the book (like me); or just as someone who likes watching a good thriller. Yet none of those angles will make this film any more enjoyable. Because this film shows up all the shockingly awful decisions in the book. Without the flashy writing, the story just doesn’t seem to work. It’s convoluted, it’s poorly signposted and it’s all over the place. And none of the fancy camera work changes that. Even with modern technology, you can’t beat the likes of Rear Window (which this poorly tries to imitate). What made for an entertaining read (pre-authorial baggage) made for painful viewing.

Rating: 1/5 bananas

The Dig– eh- this wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. While the performances are good and the story decent, I found this forgettable. Mostly, because no one has a character arc. NO ONE. Either the protagonists or the people around them should change… but that’s not the case in this film. The protagonists have static arcs. The vague antagonists- who oppose the main archaeologist over class- continue to do so by the end. The only reason I was engaged in this movie was because Sutton Hoo is interesting- yet I don’t see why this couldn’t have been a documentary.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Mary Queen of Scots– boy-oh-boy this takes liberties with history. It goes too far in my book, presenting Mary’s Catholicism as a marginalised belief… when it was the conservative and powerful position. To make matter worse, her faith is also portrayed as tolerant, having her say things like “we all go to the same heaven” and to a male character “you would make a lovely sister”. Even Queen Elizabeth I is oddly sentimental. It’s all in the name of woke feminism- which does not make for a logically coherent historical drama. But who cares about that when you can score brownie points, amiright?! In fairness, the history is *bonkers*. Looking up what actually happened kept me engaged throughout the movie- and damn, if they’d just gone with that, it would have been an excellent film. The problem is, they tried too hard to make Mary a flawless heroine, when she is better suited to the role of a tragic Shakespearean figure, whose fatal flaws are her undoing. BUT NO- the movie has to insist her dismissing every councillor makes her clever. And that it’s somehow everyone else’s fault when they turn against her. Oh and it’s also great to be compassionate (even if it costs lives). It’s funny, because the film is designed to be anti-English, yet to my mind, all it did was show how useless Mary was as a leader (even while carefully glossing over Mary’s plots to take Elizabeth’s throne, somehow trying to make her seem conciliatory). The juxtaposition of her rule with Elizabeth’s doesn’t help to make a case for her reign. This is exemplified in the scene where Mary and Elizabeth meet (which of course is entirely made up). Mary calls Elizabeth her inferior and says “I’m your queen”- to which Elizabeth takes off her wig and says “your gifts are your downfall”. Frankly this makes no sense- 1) because there’s NO WAY Mary could have said that to Elizabeth and lived another 20 years and 2) because the logical response would’ve been “says the woman who’s just lost a kingdom”. She didn’t lose the kingdom because she was pretty FFS- she did so because she didn’t know how to rule. It’s just so ironic that this is the best case they could come up with for Mary Queen of Scots. If they hadn’t been trying so hard to be woke and refusing to acknowledge a female character’s flaws, this could’ve been a damn good drama. Ultimately however, as much as I enjoyed how it was shot, the acting, the history, it was a colossal waste of time. 

Rating: 2.5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you seen any of these? What did you think of them? Am I being too harsh? Let me know in the comments!

Loudly Proclaiming My Thoughts on the Quiet At The End of the World

When I started reading this book I was lulled into a false sense of security. Initially, I believed it to be a cleverly done concept, following the aftermath of a pandemic that caused human infertility. As gloomy as the setting was, I found myself absorbed by the melancholic tone and intriguing ideas. And if nothing else, I appreciated the schadenfreude that our current apocalypse situation wasn’t quite as dire. I liked how it engaged with archaeology of the present, mining social media to uncover both individual histories and an entire global reaction to a crisis. While it lacked some prevalent aspects of our recent reaction to a pandemic (eg humour), I was impressed that the author had been able to predict how some people would react to an existential crisis. I liked the social media acted as a time capsule for this moment. I thought it was showing us a Black Mirror style possibility of people turning to apps to fill the void inside themselves.  

… except that was not where it was going at all. Because when the twist came (*spoiler warning*) that the world was inhabited by the robot-baby devices created to help with feelings of loss, the last two humans on earth decide to advocate for robots as the next stage of evolution. You see, in the story, human extinction is a shame, but not the end of the world, because robots would be more responsible with the planet- yay?!

To me, this is entirely nihilistic and human-hating. There is a heavy-handed implication that people shouldn’t have been so selfish as they went extinct and should have thought about keeping the robot babies “alive” (whilst ironically showing that the robot babies are prone to the same foibles, so aren’t exactly an upgrade). There is the oh-so-typical modern guilt imposed upon the reader that humanity should repent its existence. Then there is the message that humanity can just be replaced and isn’t worth fighting for- which didn’t sit well with me- because, well, I love humanity.

To my mind, this narrative speaks to a deep sense of self-loathing. Any attempt at nuance is drowned out by this underlying emotion. I know there are people out there who think that robots would make an adequate (or even superior) replacement to humanity- yet I am not one of them. I do not think that an entity that shares the same consciousness, but have a different aesthetic, would be an improvement. I do not think that immortality, giving an endless amount of time to achieve less (and without any of the moral qualms to hold it back), would be an improvement. I do not think that a human’s value goes bone-deep.

I think to go down this “perfectionist” line of argument is somewhat dangerous. I think it is troubling to suggest the world would be better off without humans. And it is most disturbing to see this idea presented to teens without any kickback. When one reads YA like this, it is unsurprising that so many young adults are depressed and anxious. I would have been- if I wasn’t so infuriated.

I respectfully disagree with the author calling this “uplifting”. It seems more death cult-y to me. Though the author clearly has talent, I was less-than-enamoured by the end:

Rating: 2/5 bananas

So, dare I ask, what did you think of this book? Have you read it? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – just in time for June!

Hello all! Hope you all had a marvellous May- I’ve enjoyed two lovely long weekends and (finally) some sunshine!! The funny thing about leaving the house more is that somehow I’ve made more time for movies… so there will be a separate post for that at some point, cos I have *opinions*. Also, I’ve been giving out a lot of bananas for books this month- but I don’t care, because they all deserved it! Let’s see why shall we?  

The Summer Job– starting with a sizzler for summer time. I loved this fresh and fun book, all about a girl who takes a summer job… that isn’t hers. Whisked away to the Scottish setting, I thoroughly enjoyed all the talk of food and wine. The love interest was an absolute cinnamon roll and the story had a joyful flavour. I like how it explored friendship with some depth. It was a perfect palate cleanser and ideal for fans of Beth O’Leary.  

Rating: 4/5 bananas

In a Dark, Dark Wood– despite hearing this is not Ware’s best, I enjoyed this more than I expected I would. While there were some repeats of plot points from her other books, particularly its And Then There Were None vibes, it still had nice twists and turns (which I can’t reveal cos they’re *spoilers*). The one thing I did have an issue with was the main character’s motivation to go to this hen weekend in the first place- because I certainly wouldn’t have set foot there! I think it could have been fleshed out more. There were also some loose ends. Clearly, Ware has tightened up her plots since this, yet it was a good fix to tide me over till her next release (more of this please!!)

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Transcendent Kingdom– this reminds me why I read lit fic- because this was *glorious*. The story itself is a snapshot of what it’s like to grow up as a new migrant in America, yet zooms in on one individual family’s story. It’s so beautifully written that I glided through the prose. Though it has a fragmentary and non-chronological structure, I couldn’t stop reading. The unusual form was handled masterfully, dissecting the emotion and presenting it to the reader. I’m starting to adore everything this author writes.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Bone Shard Daughter– sadly this didn’t quite do it for me. Despite the cool world building and the intriguing perspective of the bone shard daughter, I didn’t have much interest in the rest of the story or characters. I feel like this would have been far more immersive if there had been fewer points of view and expanded on the elements that worked.

Rating: 3.5/5 bananas

Made You Up– this was the real deal! Telling the unusual YA contemporary about a girl with schizophrenia, it had a vivid energy. Though I cannot speak to its authenticity, it felt powerfully empathetic. I felt as if I was deep inside her head and hearing her struggles. I also liked the motif of photography for this story- it was a clever addition to the narrative. I do have to say that I found the middle a little hazy- yet the beginning and ending really worked for me. This was not as proficient as Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters, but a great story nonetheless!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

The Light Between Worlds– isn’t the title for this book just brilliant? As a reimagining of the aftermath of children finding their way into a Narnia-like-world, the concept of this story intrigued me straight away. Luckily, I was far from disappointed. While this does have flashbacks from the protagonists’ time in the Woodlands, this focuses more on what it means to return home. It is not an action-packed story, but a deep character study that holds its own magic. Focusing first on a Lucy-like character and then on a Susan stand-in, this was as much about sisterly relationships as it was about the abstract discussions of growth after trauma. I really liked how it reinvented the Lucy dynamic, showing how she’s actually got a great challenge to fit in after Narnia, which she can’t quite live up to. I also liked that this examined the treatment Susan gets in the later Chronicles of Narnia, showing that her path to trying to forget is just as understandable as clinging onto the past. It shows how we all struggle with trauma in different ways. And I was particularly impressed with how the story acknowledges that the greatest trauma comes from our own actions. Profound and well written, I found this a fascinating fantasy.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Road Trip– Beth O’Leary is back with another delightful contemporary! With two holidays for the price of one, five friends stuffed into a mini and plenty of history- this was one helluva ride! Jumping between “now” and “then”, you get a glimpse of the summer romance and then the less-glamorous aftermath. Thanks to this, you get to see some very contrasting settings and circumstances. It builds up the characters and relationships throughout the journey. The story soon goes off in a hilarious direction, making me laugh out loud and cheering me right up (even if a road trip isn’t on the cards for me any time soon). This ended up being far more than a second chance romance, exploring some difficult topics along the way. I was very sad to finish it!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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!

Books About Renewal

Super quick post today- I just wanted to give some recommendations 🙂 As we come to the end of spring and move into summer, I thought I’d share a handful of books all about change and starting fresh- enjoy!

Where the Crawdads Sing– a beautiful story about a girl forced to keep picking herself up, brushing herself off and starting over- no matter what life throws at her. This deep character study is one of the best things I’ve read so far this year. It’s an exquisite exploration of overcoming loneliness and hardship. 

Happiest Man on Earth– in a similar vein, this true story is about going through hell and coming out the other side. No matter what the author suffered, he did not let it break him. It is one of the most inspirational and powerful autobiographies I’ve ever read.

Eat Pray Love– another memoir, this an account of rediscovery. It’s a quick read that everyone can find helpful- whether you find solace in eating, praying or loving. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– this is a story of a woman who sets out to find love, yet instead discovers the importance of friendship and rediscovers herself. I loved Eleanor’s journey from beginning to end.

The Flatshare– I needed this book in my life. It is quite simply a lovely read, all about having to find an unconventional living arrangement… only to get way more out of it than anyone bargained for! It shows that life has a way of working out- even when things don’t go to plan 🙂

Beach Read– I love how this story uses writing as a powerful mode to deal with grief and cope with uncomfortable truths. It’s certainly a clever way to explore real character growth.

Words in Deep Blue– I will never miss an opportunity to recommend this heartfelt book. It’s a story of love and loss and finding happiness again. This gorgeous account of grief is a perfect antidote to going through a tough time, because it shows that, no matter what, we can come out the other side.

Anne of Green Gable– most people know the story of Anne, so it hardly needs an introduction. Yet, whether you’re late to the party like I was or just need a nostalgic boost, this uplifting story is perfect if you need a restorative narrative.

The Secret Garden– of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the *ultimate* story of revival. This book shows that things can always begin again.

Secret Countess– and finally, I thought I’d end with a fairy-tale-esque story of renewal. From luxury in pre-Revolutionary Russia to impoverishment, the heroine of this beautiful book must find a way to rise again. And that she does in a truly resplendent and graceful fashion.

And that’s all for now! Did you enjoy the books on this list? Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments!

The Restorative Power of Reading

In the past bizarre (and frequently terrible) year, reading has kept a lot of us going. Whether it’s through escapism or giving me much needed life advice, books have proven their power to keep us going. I know for myself books have been a great escape.

For me, opening a new book or even starting a fresh chapter has been like pressing the reset button. It doesn’t matter which head I’ve stepped into for the time being- it’s a relief to see the world through a different lens. Because books don’t just lower stress levels- they frequently act as a handy Guide Out of Hell. They may not be able to slay a dragon (try throwing one at its head and see how far it gets you) but they can offer some good tips 😉

Books are educational in a million different ways, teaching us everything from empathy to philosophy to practical skills… and beyond! It’s the one leveller we have left when it comes to education, because it’s still an affordable hobby (make use of your libraries people!!) A simple pen to paper can restore balance to a human mind. It can give our thoughts a moment of harmony.   

Reading is a refreshing pastime. It doesn’t simply take you away- it gives you plenty of souvenirs. Trinkets you carry around for years, maybe without even knowing it, until at last you look in your pocketses and there’s the one ring… Okay maybe not that last bit! Yet reading does remind me every time that when you discover a new story, there’s no knowing where you might end up.

And yes, this is an indulgent post to write about 😉 I’m sure it will not take much to have bookworms agreeing that reading is a wonderful hobby- but every so often we just need to celebrate reading for all that it is.

Do you agree? Has reading helped you in the last year? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Confessions of a Book Addict!

Hello all! After writing with *no disclaimers*, I thought it might be fun to continue in that vein and give you ten bookish confessions… which I may very well regret making 😉 enjoy!

#1 I spend way too much time thinking about the books I ought to be reading (than actually reading). But don’t we all do this? 😉

#2 I find all those #relatable bookish posts on social media far too relatable 😉 I still like to trawl through twitter for them (when I should be doing better things… like reading 😉)

#3 I don’t actually want to talk when my book is open!!! (And I don’t know why this still needs to be pointed out to the rest of the world!)

#4 Yes, I do actually want to spend all my spare money on books, thanks for asking!

#5 I spend way too much time plotting planning to get hold of new books. I think about if I have it in my budget, if it’s available at the library, if it might be better to listen to the audiobook version… basically I overthink everything and turn each book acquisition into a full-blown project!

#6 Sometimes I don’t want to read your favourite book- sorry! I get A LOT of suggestions… and I don’t always find them interesting… so I have to make a quick escape from the conversation…

#7 That said, if I tell you I do want to read something, I’m planning it out already. Just bear in mind some of these convoluted plans can take years to execute 😉 Don’t be surprised when you finally catch me reading your favourite *years* after mentioning it!

#8 And at the same time, if a book crosses my path, I’m always a little intrigued. I’m definitely going to look it up and down, maybe feel it up, get under the dustcover… even if all that frisking ends in rejection anyway. I have no scruples when it comes to my book addiction!

#9 I’m done trying to be objective about books- I’ll settle for honesty. If I can’t see a book’s merit, I’ll say so.

#10 I take inspiration from a lot of things I read… even if they’re bad (maybe even especially if they’re bad, cos it’s often more encouraging than reading the greats 😉)

And that’s all for now! Do you share any of these bookish habits? Or do you have any confessions of your own to make? Let me know in the comments!

The No Disclaimers Book Tag!

Being the kind of person that apologises to a chair if I bump into it, I feel like a post like this presents a bit of challenge. But I am nothing if not determined! I saw this first on Booktube and then on the splendid Strange Storyteller 🙂 So I’ve decided to do it myself… with no disclaimers!

  1. Which trope(s) in books annoys you the most?

The Chosen One (unless it’s flipped on its head), love triangles (especially with cheating), really put off by instalove these days (and any kind of “mating”… eww even using that word makes me feel a bit sick). And I’m sorry to say a lot of these end up in the Throne of Glass series (which explains why I outgrew it):

  1. Which writer(s) do you feel is overrated/overhyped?

Damn, this is hard, because most of the time I can see why other people like things, even if I don’t. Still, I trawled through my goodreads and came up with an answer: Divergent. I don’t get why this was so hyped. Granted, I feel like I added to the interest by reading the whole damned series… but I never thought it was worth the hype. The concept never made a lot of sense to me and I didn’t think there was a good enough reason to make a dystopia around this topic. I couldn’t imagine a society ever taking things to this extreme and wondered at the justification for it (usually there’s some kind of social commentary that underpins a dystopic system). Turns out I was right: it seems like the whole concept was made up on the fly, since (*spoiler alert*) the dystopic city in the story was set within a dystopic world that agreed dividing people up based on 5 traits was a dumb idea. Basically it was a waste of time and wouldn’t recommend it.

  1. What are your least favorite books you’ve read since joining BookTube blogging?

Ah well I blame myself for this one, cos I first saw a book review saying that this wasn’t worth the hype… but I read the Foxhole Court anyway. Either way, I don’t get why this is so popular in blogging and on booktube. Funnily enough, a lot of people that love this series tend to call out other books for being “problematic”… when this is super dodgy?! I don’t get the appeal. 

  1. What is a terrible ending that ruined an otherwise quality book?

Oh gosh I hate the series enders Hand on the Wall (a dull solution to a mystery is a killer), Queen of Ruin (undermined the interesting dystopic concept) and Ashes to Ashes (fails to deliver the promised redemption arc).

  1. Which fictional character(s) do you wish was not killed off?

I have to agree with the Strange Storyteller’s answers- I didn’t like Finnick Odair’s death and I didn’t think most of the later Harry Potter deaths were necessary (as much as I hate to admit it, the deaths of Sirius and Dumbledore work for the story). And there’s always that death in Crooked Kingdom– that totally, totally works- and yet I wish hadn’t happened…

  1. What are some of your bookish pet peeves?

Politics in books (isn’t it bad enough in the real world?), moralising (ugh), pretentiousness (double ugh) and books that are just set up (why waste my time?!).

  1. What are some books you feel should have more recognition?

Great question! Some new(ish) books to whet your palate 😊:

The first is a sizzling collection of poetry, the second is a hotly-paced thriller and the last is a lush contemporary. All of these would make great holiday companions!

  1. What are your thoughts on censorship and banning books?

Hell no! Not acceptable! It’s obviously perfectly fine to choose not to read something or decide you don’t want to support an author, but banning books?! That’s just fascistic.

  1. Who do you tag?

Zezee, Journey into Books, Kat @Life and Other Disasters, Sam @Rivermoose Reads, Meghan, Book Forager, Read Betwixt Words and anyone else that wants to do it!

And that’s all for now- do you agree or disagree with my answers? Should I have put in disclaimers for some of these? 😉 Let me know in the comments!

6 Years of Blogging?! Time for a (Re)introduction to the Orangutan Librarian – Inspired by Bookstooge!

That’s right I’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR SIX YEARS!!! THANK YOU to all you AMAZING PEOPLE who have stuck by me and WELCOME to everyone that’s new! To celebrate, I thought I’d do a post so you can all get to know me better. I was inspired by the Most Magnificent and Beneficent Bookstooge’s Introduction post last year- which will tell you everything you need to know about his holiness, the great purveyor of excellent reviews and eclectic posts. I *tip my hat to you sir*!

Now let’s jump into this…

Some quickies to start: I’m a girl and a primate and I work (full time!!) in a library. It was a long road getting there… but that’s another story. Oh and evidently I love dressing up for self-portraits 😉

I love to read (evidently) and tend to read 100-200 books a year.  My favourite books are mostly fantasy and classics- though thanks to blogging I’ll read pretty much anything these days (including things that I never thought I’d enjoy, like non fic, historical fic and contemporary). The one genre it seems I’ll never like is Horror. But it’s hard to pin these things down, since I’m a MASSIVE mood reader.

And in case you were wondering more about my bookish obsession, I have a degree in English Lit and Classics (I swear 95% of my personality is book related). Fun fact: coming to the end of my degree in 2015 was what finally pushed me to start blogging. I just knew there was going to be a literature-shaped hole in my life and needed to fill it pronto!

Like every other humanities graduate and book blogger, I’m also into fiction writing. So far, I’ve written 6 full manuscripts and shelved 3 of those. What remains is a trilogy about ambition… and we’ll have to see what becomes of that 😂 Right now, I’ve finally started working on something new (a YA retelling).

I do occasionally veer away from talking about books- sometimes I talk about what I’ve been upto lately and include some movie recommendations in my monthly wrap ups. Although, as I’ve recently confessed to having terrible taste in TV, I do wonder if you’re going to take those seriously 😉

As you might be able to tell from all the monkeys, I like painting. You can check that out on Instagram (where I haphazardly post).

In the last couple of years, I’ve also started practicing yoga and am insanely into it. My sister and I went to disco yoga- and it’s opened me up to this amazing form of exercise and stopped me being so frazzled!

Speaking of my sister, the Monkey Baby sometimes delights us all with her presence. Although, mostly you’ll have to find her on other platforms, doing her thing.

Oh and most importantly I love discussions- so the comment section is always open! Unless you’re writing something like “I want to chop you up and make monkey stew out of you”… actually I’ve freed some comments from spam that are almost as aggressive. So, be safe in the knowledge, you’ll always get free reign to speak your mind. It may be my blog, but I’m not queen bee, just queen monkey 😉

And that’s all for today! Hope you enjoyed that! Please (re)introduce yourself in the comments! 🙂

Do I have terrible taste in TV and does it matter?

Well, the short answer is yes I probably do, but no it doesn’t matter.

You see, I’ve long come to the conclusion that I have weird taste when it comes to TV. If it looks bad, then I think “finally some good shit”. I just know there’s a higher chance I’ll enjoy it if it’s laughably awful. I like everything everyone seems to think is bad (eg Winx, Emily in Paris). Not because I think they’re masterpieces (I know they aren’t) but because I like my TV to be at the pinnacle of escapism… and bad shows often deliver that.

Good shows can offer some kind of commentary on the real world and most of the time I’m not here for that- sorry! For instance,I never made it through the likes of Breaking Bad, because I just didn’t want to watch 4 seasons of someone selling drugs and dying of cancer. I don’t like when TV is dark and depressing with no relief (or lacks dragons).

It doesn’t help that I have the attention span of a goldfish when it comes to the small screen. If it fails to grab my attention within the first 10 minutes, I’m gone. And I regularly quit TV shows after a season or two. This is partly because of limited time, but mostly because I used to waste time obsessively watching shows I hate (now, because I’m a creature of extremes, I’ve veered in the opposite direction).  

I’d like to say that this means I only watch TOP QUALITY shows that are worth my time… yet a lot of the time I seem to stick to the same awful stuff. I am happiest watching the shows that get no critical acclaim and that every reviewer on the internet resoundingly call “trash”. Now, there could be interesting reasons why the shows I like get overwhelmingly negative attention (they’re often ones aimed at a young, female audience) however, I won’t delude myself into thinking a lot of these are better than they are. Most of the time, the shows I’m addicted to simply aren’t very good.

And ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because why should anyone suffer through something they’re not enjoying, even if it’s technically better quality? Of course, there are benefits to immersing yourself in something that stretches your mind, yet for me TV is about frivolous fun. For the time being, all I want to watch is light fluff where I can switch my mind off. For me, escapism is important and helps me relax. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Whether it’s TV or books or whatever else you use for entertainment, we can engage with whatever we like. It’s not going to hurt anyone if you only like fun, escapist stories. And it’s not going to ruin someone else’s day if you crave something a bit silly. Taste isn’t just subjective- it’s pretty damn harmless.

Does anyone else think like this? Do you sometimes question your own taste? Let me know in the comments!

All the Adaptations I’ve Loved and Hated

Hello all! inspired by the recent Shadow and Bone adaptation, I decided to make a list of TV and movie adaptations I feel strongly about. As you can imagine, this could’ve been an absolutely ginormous list, so I decided to stick to best and worst adaptations (in my opinion of course 😉). So there’s nothing here I feel lukewarm or so-so about. I also didn’t include adaptations where I hated the books to begin with (Divergent, Twilight) or where the book series hasn’t finished yet (GOT). And, obviously, I have to be familiar with the original series.

Let’s get started with my favourites:

The Lord of the Rings– well, obviously. These movies were a massive part of inspiring my lifelong love of reading. And I’m one of those people that prefers the Lord of the Rings movies to the books (sacrilege, I know, but they’re my favourite films of all time).  

Stardust– this movie is *magical*. Again, it’s one where I actually prefer the adaptation to the book, because it’s just so damn good. I will happily rewatch this over and over!

Shadow and Bone– this may be a bold choice, since I saw this really recently (and isn’t a complete series yet). That said, going off of what I’ve seen so far, I think it both captures the best aspects of the Grishaverse and improves upon the source material. I can’t wait to watch more of it!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– switching things up, this contemporary perfectly adapts the source material, bringing all the humour, quirky characters and sisterhood to the screen. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve rewatched it *so many times*!

Love Simon– this is another contemporary I love to rewatch. Personally, while I enjoyed the book, the film felt a little slicker and I got more out of it.

Atonement– I’ve made no secret of the fact I don’t love McEwan’s writing style… but I adore this film. It’s an exquisitely shot, beautifully acted historical romance, with a brilliant soundtrack. And even if that wasn’t enough to make me love it- I also love the slightly different ending. It worked so well for me.

Pride and Prejudice– there’s a lot of debate about the best Austen adaptation, but quite simply, this is it for me. I can happily rewatch/reread anything Austen related- yet this is the one I binge annually. It is just classic bliss.

Bleak House– another perfect adaptation from Andrew Davies, this TV series has such strong  Dickensian energy and brilliantly brings the story and characters to life.

And now let’s move onto adaptations I DESPISE- WARNING UNPOPULAR OPINIONS AHEAD!!!!!!

The Hobbit– well I have to start with the most egregious example of an “adaptation”. Because this butchers the source material and brings nothing good to the table. I won’t go on about this too much- as I’ve already discussed it at length– but this adaptation still makes me mad. It doesn’t help that the Hobbit is one of my all-time favourite books- yet I’m still amazed that they managed to mess it up quite this much. Choosing Peter Jackson to adapt this book- when he doesn’t even like the original story- makes no sense (even if he did a great job with LOTR).

Harry Potter– okay, *deep breath* everybody, I know this is an unpopular opinion. I’ve just never enjoyed these movies. I know that a lot of people are very attached to them, but I have remained the kinda disappointed, hipster child that couldn’t get on board with these adaptations. It certainly didn’t help that they left out huge things and changed a lot (though I do like the videos by Dominic Noble exploring all the ways they messed up on that front)- I just never vibed with them. I tried to rewatch them at the beginning of lockdown 1… and gave up after trying the first couple of movies because they weren’t for me. Maybe one day I’ll challenge myself and try again- yet I don’t see myself changing my mind- sorry!

The Golden Compass– there were actually things about the movie that I liked (most specifically, some aspects of Lyra’s portrayal). However, we all know this is nothing like the book, starting with the dumb title change. If you want to see an actually good adaptation (though not perfect) definitely try His Dark Materials… but in both cases I still recommend sticking to the books first and foremost.

The Mortal instruments– I mean, do I even need to get into why? This is just one in a long string of Hollywood badly adapting a YA series (and I’m only picking on it cos it’s the one where I’ve read the whole series and watched the adaptation). They messed up half the story and the way they did Valentine was laughable… and then they blamed fans for not liking it enough for a second movie adaptation.

Shadowhunters– okay, this one might also make people angry… but I don’t like the show either! For very different reasons. I hate the acting and the weird changes and the special effects look really unnatural to me. I gave up on this show very quickly and just watched the Malec scenes (cos they’re what it’s all about anyway). Still, I do think it’s astounding that there are two adaptations of the same story and I hate them both (maybe it doesn’t help that I’ve since gone off the source material too).

Always and Forever Lara Jean– annnd this also did everything I hate in Hollywood adaptations. With this one, I think it’s more of a shame, as I actually enjoyed the way the book series ended. It stripped the story of all its meaning and most of its subtlety. I wasn’t a fan of the second movie, but then I didn’t enjoy the second book. Worst of all, I felt like where the book finally brought the couple back together, this removed any remaining chemistry they had. Not worth watching.

My Sister’s Keeper– bit of a random throwback, yet I can never quite forget how utterly betrayed I felt by this adaptation. Changing the ending ruined everything this story had to say.

And that’s all I’ve got for now! Do you agree or disagree with any of my picks? And what are your favourite book adaptations? Which ones do you hate the most? Let me know in the comments!