Caraval Was A Bit Like A Victorian Freakshow

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You know- where you can’t look away, even though it’s a bloody mess and there’s body bits all over the joint… Okay, I might be being a bit theatrical, but I can tell you that you’re in for a bit of a show today, because *drumroll please* I’m here with my good friend Trang from Bookidote!!

TADAA ! You didn’t expect that huh? Trang and Orang-Utan Librarian together is like a death bomb for excitement. I don’t think I’ve ever clicked so fast with any blogger before (YAS!!!!) LOL Our conversations were very… animated, but mostly full of laughter and cramps. So now be prepared for this bitter truth about Caraval.

First off rid your brain of Night Circus comparisons- THIS IS NOT NIGHT CIRCUS!!!

Nothing is like the Night Circus. I think we should just ban Night Circus comparisons in book marketing now. One of the most beautiful things about TNC is the exquisite and classy writing. But in Caraval? It was so ordinary and childish.

The writing was so peculiar, what with the obsession with wax metaphors (I didn’t notice it until you make the remark LOL ) and other cringey comparisons. For about half the book- literally till page 200!- I was bored. It didn’t help that the plot was virtually signposted throughout the book- from the exposition letter at the start to the bullet point instructions.

Bullet point instructions ? Really Legend ? Why don’t you give us a Power Point presentation as well? For the first half of the book we were stuck with a main character who’s indecisive af. Half wanting to desperately find her sister half wanting to kiss her wanna be fiancé.

Plenty of other things were signposted too- like who to like and who to hate. The love interest was signalled through his eyelashes. The villain… well he wasn’t literally twirling his moustache but he may as well have done.

*another obvious clue from the author*

But then the plot started getting somersaulting all over the place with plot twist after plot twist. I will happily say I didn’t see *any* of them coming. And when the twists started coming in, I was impressed. It just kept getting twistier and twistier… if only it hadn’t gone for that one last twist! You know- the one that broke the spine of the story with a sickening crunch? Maybe the acrobatics should have ended earlier. Because gah- that ending was what I call an “it was all a dream ending”.

What was that pace though? 200 pages in, nothing really happens, and then BAM BAM BAM 3-4-5 PLOT TWISTS ONE AFTER ANOTHER. The last twist ruins everything for me too. The Magic powers were disappointing, we don’t have any details on how it works, the descriptions were minimalist.

Oh yes, agree, it was disappointing all round- the only thing that wasn’t disappointing was how A-W-E-S-O-M-E this collab has been!! The only question left is how do you rate a book like this? After wayyy too much deliberation…

My Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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(I’m being stingy with my bananas)

Trang’s Rating: 3/5 stars

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So hope you enjoyed this *magical* collab! Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Oh Kill Me It’s The Killables

killablesC’mon, doesn’t that name sound like the worst boy band ever? I should have known what this book was gonna be like from just that title. But I gave it a chance… Why? I hear you ask…

Well once upon a time, before dystopias became a popular thing (aka before the Hunger Games) there was this great series called The Declaration. It was original, clever and had a strong voice. The series, unfortunately, went the way so many of its kind go- to the world resetting to its original state and basically undoing all the work of the story. But the fundamentals were still halfway decent, even if it did make that error of recapping too much in the sequels. So, in answer to the question I posed, I picked this book up to see what an author I had already been impressed with could recreate the magic she had made so long ago. Would she though?

Short answer is no. Not even slightly. This book sucked. The premise was something we’ve all seen before- evil society tries to eradicate evil… therefore becoming evil. The twist on this was totally lousy. Spoiler alert: they haven’t really eradicated evil, who’d have thunk it. And the conclusion was just plain dumb. There’s no such thing as evil… Ye wot?!

Add to that some lame ass characters and *surprise surprise* a love triangle and I am left wondering what on earth possessed the author. I mean, seriously? Why the hell would anyone think, after writing a successful series that wasn’t jam packed with tropes, that what they needed to do next was write the most cliché copycat tropeish nonsense imaginable? I just don’t get this one.

Conclusion: if you get the desire to read a decent dystopia pick up The Declaration, this isn’t worth your time. I gave it one measly banana.

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Sincerely,

The Orangutan Librarian- reading shit books since 2015 so you don’t have to…

*Okay I’ve been reading rubbish books a lot longer than that- this was just my way to shoehorn in that it’s my bloggiversary- my blog is 2 today!!

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It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been 2 years (partly cos this is actually just the anniversary of my domain name 😉 ) but I just wanted to say a *MASSIVE THANK YOU* to everyone that’s been following along- whether for a day or for the whole shebang!!

Alright, now back to the book- let’s face it, you’re not gonna read this one… So I’ll ask a different question- what’s your least favourite dystopia? Let me know in the comments!

Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood? Well no…

norwegian woodSo I’ve just realised I have *23* books to review!! Quite scary! Naturally, I decided to start with a book I had rather lacklustre opinions about, because I’m grouchy that way 😉

First off, the prose is pretty colourless, while serviceable. Now I wanted to start with this because I want to be as fair as possible to the author and say this *could* be one of those “lost in translation” cases. Therefore take (most) of what I’m saying with a pinch of salt.

Now, if I can let the writing off the hook, the one thing I can’t let go is that I didn’t relate to or like any of the characters. I found them utterly unrelatable and suicide being a central issue (not a spoiler- it’s on the blurb), I wasn’t emotionally impacted in the slightest. I didn’t blink once at any of the drama that went down, because I just didn’t care.

Part of this issue stemmed from how little I connected with the main character. Part of this was due to him having what I like to call “uncool cool-guy syndrome”. There’s this weird and awfully random phenomenon in fiction of the uncool main character being invited into the cool circle, so that they can get an insight into some “alien” lifestyle, whilst all the while being aloof to it. Ultimately I find characters like this a little hard to relate to, because I just don’t find this setup all that realistic. It also brings up a ton of questions for me- like why is the dork invited in the first place, cos “cool kids” aren’t generally known for their generosity of spirit or inviting randomers to come play? And now that he’s been initiated into this circle, have they not gained insider status and are they just posturing as an outsider? Now since this was most of his character make-up, along with mild depression and an almost magical way with women (in the bedroom and elsewhere) I did not think he was especially well drawn.

And let’s talk about sex (baby…). Everyone in this book was having unsexy sex all the time (or at least that’s what it felt like). There’s always a very specific kind of sex in literary books. You know the sort: mechanical smut, that always seems to say “if you don’t like this you’re a prude” but at the same time “this literature is too high brow to be erotic”. To be utterly crude, it has the same sex appeal as reading about someone using the lavatory. I’ve never understood why this style of sexual writing always finds its way into these books- maybe I’m just not intellectual enough to understand the “deeper meaning” behind all the frickin details of normal bodily functions.

I’ve heard a lot of people have a problem with the ending, but as you can probably tell, I had a problem with the beginning and middle. I just couldn’t see the point to any of it.

On the plus side this book got this song stuck in my head:

But even a Beatles song couldn’t save this book for me. I hope if you read this you have more luck than me:

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? And am I the only one super behind on reviews?! Let me know in the comments!

5 for 5 – May Mini Reviews

Hello all! It’s the first Friday of the month- and for me that’s become synonymous with “time for my monthly mini reviews”. Basically this is my way of catching up on my increasing backlog of unreviewed books.

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It’s heating up now that it’s May and I’m finally paying some lip service to books I read wayyy back at the beginning of the year. So with that said, I should really just get on with it!

ender's game

Ender’s Game– okay, let’s start with the book I read the longest time ago (January *cough cough*). I didn’t review at the time, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I just didn’t have all that much to say about it. Bearing in mind how little I know about the sci fi genre, was that it felt pretty unique to me and was very enjoyable, with plenty of drama, solid world building and intriguing characters. I recommend it for everyone just getting into the genre (like me) and everyone that’s been a fan for years (though let’s face it, you’ve probably read it by now). I will be honest and say that surprisingly for such a good book, it didn’t leave me with a burning desire to read more in the series. Let me know in the comments if you think the rest of the series will change my life or something and I’ll bump it up my tbr- otherwise this is going to be a “maybe one day” sort of thing.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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The Romanovs– annnd this book reminded me of the times when I thought non-fiction wasn’t for me. I did not enjoy this in the slightest. I was promised intrigue and drama and extreme characters… what I got was an endless stream of wars, hardly fleshed out historical figures and very, very dry commentary. If you like the kind of books that send you to sleep, then this is for you!

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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bluest eye

 

The Bluest Eye– so this book is a realllly really long time coming for me- fun fact I met the author back when I was still at school and have been wanting to read this ever since. Finally, finally I picked it up and I get why this is a big deal now. It’s cleverly written, has intriguing characterisation and a powerful commentary on race. Furthermore, the mixture of the slow reveal coupled with knowing the end result at the start builds up the layers of revulsion and horror as the book progresses. I can also seriously recommend the audio book for this one, because Morrison’s voice is gloriously rhythmic and beautiful to listen to.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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killing fields

Killing Fields– I didn’t know much about the Cambodian genocide, so it was worth reading for that purpose alone. Some of the characters (or I should say people since this is non-fiction) stood out to me, such as Pran, however I didn’t connect much with anyone else and found the journalistic writing style a little dry.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Densovitch– so I have mentioned this, briefly, on my blog before, but I totally failed to review it. It’s a quick, but absorbing read, gives an full insight into daily life in a communist gulag. Despite its length, I would say this is one of the most impactful books I’ve read so far this year. Plus, together with The Killing Fields, this should fill most people’s daily quota of reminders why communism is bad 😉

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So that was a very different array of books. Have you read any of these? Did you like them? And which non-fiction books have you read lately that didn’t make you excited? Let me know in the comments?

Also, I’ve finally done that thing where the book covers link up to goodread synopses- so click away 😉

Court of Mist and Fury Appealed to my Dark Side

*Some spoilers for book 1*

court of wings and ruinWell hello again! I cannot believe it’s already May!! And because it’s May, we all know that means the release of Sarah J Maas’ next novel, Court of Wings and Ruin.

 

court of mists and furyNow if you saw my review of Court of Thorns and Roses, you’ll know, I really wasn’t sold on the first one. BUT boy, did this book change my mind. Though it was not without its faults, it was an *astronomically* better book.

One of the first differences I noticed in this book was that the remaking of Feyre, the main character, had given her a spine- and thank goodness for that! Sure, she was still a little whiny, but this time she had a reason to be *and*, what’s more, she grew out of it by the end of the book!!

And oh-my-days did I prefer the love interest in this one! I know I am far from the first person to say this, but Rhys is just *the best*. In fact he’s definitely my favourite of Maas’ love interests to date (admittedly I am a total sucker for secretly-a-sweetheart characters). Also, I really liked his Circle- not only were they so much better as secondary characters, but the relationships between them reinforced my impression of Rhys and endeared me to him all the more. And EVEN BETTER, this book leaves me free to hate Tamlin as a part of me has always wanted to.

I also preferred the setting in this one. Perhaps it was just on a subconscious level, but I found spring court a little sickly, but *loved* the court of dreams and nightmares. It was far more immersive, interesting and lent much more to the plot.

Now, it’s no secret I was bored in a lot of the last book, but this was a complete change of pace. There was never a dull moment and I was always left wanting more. Highly addictive, so fast I constantly had to catch my breath- I barely even noticed the flaws in the plotting. Of course, it was not perfect, and had I been more in love with the story going in, I probably would not have noticed the issues. But it was blindingly obvious to me that some of the plot devices- like there’s this magical thing that can destroy the universe, but don’t worry there’s this other magical thing that can stop it– were just lazy. Plus, it didn’t help that Feyre went from being a minor thorn in the side for setting the story in motion, to *SUPER SPECIAL-SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE*. There are always some plot points I can do without, because nothing takes the tension of a story out more than “oh don’t worry, the protagonist can do all the things now”.

As for other issues, I’ve said this about Maas before, but she’s not the best at erotic scenes. Admittedly this was better than whatever that weird scene that shall not be named in Empire of Storms was… but I still could have done without a lot of it. But I have to be fair that, while there’s a lot of people annoyed at pornographic elements, there are warnings for mature content on the blurb. If that kind of thing bothers you, then don’t read this series. And even if you do like it- well, don’t expect too much.

But when all’s said and done I am now- finally– looking forward to the finale. Despite all the gut-wrenching chaos and calamity of the ending, I actually enjoyed how it setup for the next book. I seriously cannot wait to see what happens next.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Alright, enough fangirling for today! Have you read this book? Did you like it? And what book are you looking forward to getting released this month?

Thinking about EVIL!

evil baumeisterHello all!! Not to play with the title too much or anything, but I’ve been really bad in the last few days about blogging. So I have a week’s worth of posts around the theme of being bad to make up for it…

Starting with this review of  a review of Baumeister’s work. Now I probably have to put in a ton of disclaimers because to be frank I’m not a psychologist or an expert on this subject. Fortunately this book is written in such a clear and logical fashion that even a totally bananas monkey, like me, can get a lot out of this book. All the ideas are disseminated in a straight forward manner, without lofty prose to obscure the meaning, and with very solid reasoning behind the arguments put forth. As is probably apparent from the title, this book was heavy going at times- the subject matter is no picnic after all- however I was often grateful for the clinical style which allowed for fair analysis and conclusions to be drawn.

Apart from that, there were plenty of other small things to like about this book. One of the fantastic things about Evil is that in the introduction Baumeister lays out his intention to forgo political correctness, which therefore promises the reader there will be no skirting round the issues. With regard to politics, I did find coincidental signposting (even foreshadowing) of some more current ideologies rather telling (for instance, “countering the hatred of women with the hatred of men is a bad strategy” (82) ).

I did have a fair few niggling issues with the book, which left me not entirely satisfied. There were often moments where I was filling in the gaps of his argument- yet when I looked back overall Baumeister had addressed every one of those points. Perhaps it is just the way my brain works, but I felt like I’d write something in the margins and then see it discussed thirty pages later. I just felt like it could have been a little tighter.

Personally, I also felt like his arguments from a military perspective could also be lacking- for instance there was not one single reason for bombing Dresden, but rather the usual complex multiplicity of motives that arise as war escalates.

My final complaint was that I could not help but think of House, every so often, when he discussed issues from the perspective of the perpetrators…

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So while it provided good grounds for further exploration, I was left with many open-ended questions on subjects he touched on. But, considering the fact I was left with a thirst to discover more, I would say that this was in no way a bad thing.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So are you interested in the psychology of evil? Will you be checking out this book? Let me know in the comments!

The Infinite Perks of Being a Wallflower – A Long Overdue Read

perks of being a wallflowerWell hello there! And I know, I know, many of you are probably reading the title and are thinking you’ve stepped into a timewarp, because I have, apparently, been living under a rock until now and have only just read this book. Sure, we all have classics sitting on our tbrs, glaring accusatory up at us, waiting to be read, but I do really think I should have read this before now. I mean, c’mon, if you’ve read this book, you’ll know what I mean.

Anyway, onwards with the review. If the fact that it has taken me 24 years and 7 months to read this (though in fairness to me it’s only been published for 17 of those years…) hasn’t already shocked you to your core, then the fact that I didn’t expect much from this book shouldn’t leave you too traumatized. Perhaps it is due to being disappointed too many times by hyped books, perhaps it was that I had committed another cardinal sin and watched the movie first. Either way- I don’t know why it surprised me that I liked it, but it did.

But really- what is not to like about this book? It is beautifully written, hard hitting and very, very real. This book had me laughing and crying along the way. The wisdom in this book resonated right to the core of my being- and like all good books, it’s the kind of story that not only stays with you, but keeps offering more every time you think about it. The characterisation was perfect- realistic, striking and infinitely wonderful. Still it was not just the core characters that were fleshed out- minor figures in the story were equally striking (I feel obliged to point out, in the words of Holden Caulfield, Mary Elizabeth is a phony).

So what else is there to say other than go read it? For goodness sake, don’t make my mistake- pick it up without delay!!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So have you read this book? What did you think of it? And what books have you delayed reading? Let me know in the comments!