All These Beautiful Strangers was Pretty Exquisitely Done

all these beautiful strangersI’m a massive fan of books where a character enters an exclusive world and finds that under the surface it’s not as glitzy as it seems. All These Beautiful Strangers not only reflects on the dark secrets of at the heart of this society, it also deals with the very personal unsolved mystery of the protagonist’s missing mother.

When I picked up this book, I noted that the very pages were marked with the words “I KNOW”. From that moment on, I was gripped by the question: know what? This is something that preoccupies the main character throughout. What’s great about this novel is that it layers up the enigma, wrapping each clue up with intrigue and leaving it for the reader to uncover. With flashbacks and seemingly insignificant pieces of the puzzle left in plain sight, it’s very possible to gather where it’s going- however going on that journey is half the fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn of the story. The best part about it- by far- was that it never became campy or ridiculous- I’ve read a few other books in this vein and that has become an easy trap to fall into. Not for this book though- while there was plenty of intrigue, it didn’t utterly dispense with reality. My one minor issue in terms of the plot was that it was rather a lonnnng, s l o w reveal. Also, I did guess the end- still it built to such a satisfying conclusion that I didn’t mind in the least.

The characters were mostly decent- though not wholly original. Perhaps rather surprisingly, the most compelling characters for me were the parents. Not only did I feel far more connected to their romance, I also felt like I was seriously invested in their side of the story. Highlight for spoiler: I also don’t know if this makes me a bad person, because the father did sit back and let something terrible happen/didn’t come forward about it after- but I felt he deserved forgiveness by the end because a) he didn’t technically do the deed and b) he suffered enough with the loss of Grace– so yeah, that’s my teeny tiny “complaint” (that’s not even a real complaint).

Overall though, I thought it was an excellent story. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of YA mystery-thrillers- this is right up there as one of the best ones I’ve read.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

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Graphic Novels Wrap Up #2

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One of the *coolest* things about blogging is that it’s introduced me to genres I never would have considered otherwise. The biggest change in my reading since I started is that I now read graphic novels- which now that I think about it makes sense, because I love art and I love stories, so in the words of Joey from Friends…

put your hands together

Anyway, way back when I did a wrap up about my first foray into the graphic novels and now that I’ve accumulated a few more graphic novels in a row, I thought it would be fun for round two!

nimona

Nimona– gosh this was good. It was funny, it cleverly subverted my expectations to add to the humour and had some excellent character development. Somehow, this story about villains also managed to have a sweet ending. I thought the illustrations were a lot of fun as well. My one niggling thought with this though was that it was a little young for me. But I happily gave it:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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sleeper and the spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle– I wasn’t crazy about this Sleeping Beauty retelling. It was basically another *strong woman saves the day* story- and if you’ve been reading a lot of my posts in the last few months, you may be able to tell that I’ve grown bored of this trope. There’s a lot of the typical tropes that go along with that of course like the useless prince- which at this point are becoming worthy of an eye-roll. However, the writing was beautiful and I really liked the evocative world. Evidently, this was not the best Gaiman I’ve read- but let’s face it, even the not-so-great Gaiman is gonna be a decent read. And in true Gaiman fashion, there was a pointed ending with a bold twist.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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Monstress Volumes 1-2– first of all it has to be said: the artwork is stunning. I was *blown away*by how beautiful it is to look at. The imagery also lends itself to some extensive world building. I will say that in volume 1, the story didn’t grab me and I was a little lost at times. However, the expansion of the story in the second volume really grabbed my attention and by the end it left me breathless. So I do think that if you weren’t blown away by the first one, just know it gets better! The one thing I wasn’t keen on throughout was the use of lectures/history lessons to infodump points about the world. I don’t see how talking about trade routes is interesting at the best of times and for me this wasn’t the way to do it. Other than that, it was a compelling graphic novel series I’d like to continue. Also, this was the first graphic novel I tried on my kindle and I was a bit worried about how that would turn out at first- but I needn’t have worried, because the way you can click on panels worked brilliantly for me.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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persepolis

Persepolis– this was another brilliant graphic novel and I think the type I lean towards the most. As an autobiography, it worked superbly well. I appreciated the insight into Satrapi’s life and found it very educational with regards to the Iranian Revolution. Split into two parts, the story of childhood and the story of return, I ended up preferring the latter as Marjane had more room to grow and faced greater personal struggles. By the end, I was engrossed in her story and felt like I’d seen first-hand the conflict between liberation and oppression. What was especially bold was that it didn’t shy away from some of the more unpleasant things she did to stay alive and free- like getting a randomer arrested when she nearly got caught wearing lipstick. While this troubled me deeply, I also thought it was brave to present her flaws, as raw and real as they were. The artwork, while not my favourite style, was solid and did convey strong emotions. Ultimately, I was glad I picked this up.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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wicked and divine

Wicked + Divine– this was another one I unfortunately didn’t love. Initially, I was digging concept and that it was set in London. I also liked Lucy and the chapter titles. HOWEVER I did not like the main character at all- and the fact that she was self-aware about her celebrity obsession didn’t disguise this unlikeable trait. I also felt a lot of characters weren’t characters but reduced to traits. I didn’t feel like these characteristics were blended seamlessly into the story and consequently they ended up feeling gimmicky. The artwork was simple and colourful- but unfortunately not to my taste at all (I’m afraid I can’t pinpoint why, it just wasn’t doing it for me). Ultimately, this is a one and done situation. There are definitely reasons to like it, yet I didn’t connect with it and I don’t feel any urge to continue.

2½/5 bananas

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

Not-So-Secret Reasons to Read the Secret Countess

secret countess

Hello all! Brr it’s cold outside, so I decided it was time to cosy on up to one of my favourite historical reads. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reread this book (most recently at the end of last year) and yet I still get the urge to revisit it again and again! That’s why I found it super easy to come up with this list of reasons to pick this beautiful story up:

secret countess first line

The setting is gorgeous. Opening in a pre-Revolution Russia and moving across the sea to the English countryside, the book maintains a mythic quality and a superbly atmospheric vision throughout. Stunningly described from the first sentence to the last, I could happily recommend this for that reason alone.

Anna, the main character, is a true heroine. Self-sacrificing and, despite the title, unable to hide her noble nature, what makes her incredible is not her background, but what she does in the face of hardship. Her role in the story teaches many valuable lessons- to never give up hope, to accept responsibility and, above all, to be kind.

While we’re on the topic, this book boasts many other amazing female characters, all reflected in a historically accurate way. One of my favourites being Minna- the stepmother who lays to rest “all the wicked stepmothers since time began”

At the same time, this book manages to have some proper villains. Recently, a friend pointed out to me that a sitcom I-don’t-want-to-spoil-by-naming gave away the villain by having them kick a dog into the sun (ok big spoiler there)- well this has a dog-kicking villain. In fact, this villain is pretty much reprehensible in every way- we learn from their introduction that they are a literal eugenicist. I’m a massive fan of baddies actually being bad and this definitely achieves that. What’s also great is that the dastardly ways of said character are revealed slowly to everyone else in the story (giving the book real tension and a plot).

This is just one of the ways that Eva Ibbotson is frankly a genius writer. As well as creating an exciting cast of characters, she also presents brilliant levels of contrast, to really tug at those heartstrings. One of the things Ibbotson does especially well is building up a character’s hopes at the beginning of a scene or chapter, only to bring them crashing down. And, as if in a perfect mirror image, the happiest moments start so sadly, only to flip everything you were feeling on its head.

Also, the romance is gorgeous. I personally hold the view that one does not know a real love story until they have tried Eva Ibbotson. And this just so happens to be one of her best romances.

I feel like I could go on forever extolling this book’s virtues, but sometimes bananas speak louder than words:

5/5 bananas

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If you haven’t checked it out, go read it! And if you have, feel free to gush with me in the comments! 😉

Getting to the SPIKY Issues in Language of Thorns

 

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Oh boy, I had some pretty barbed thoughts when it came to this book. Well- in a manner of speaking. Because I don’t actually think my views are all that controversial: I liked the stories overall, I thought they were super well written and a lot of them had great characterisation. I even liked how Bardugo used multiple stories as inspiration- that was a sharp idea! Most of all I LOVED the illustration style, all round the page. The artist, Sara Kipin, deserves ALL THE PRAISE. She can have all the bananas she likes from me!

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However, as with many collections, this had weaker tales and I ended up concluding that a few of the overarching themes didn’t sit well (especially in relation to the originals). In order to explain that though, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to get into the spoilery details, so if you don’t want to read those, maybe skip to my rating at the end, cos I’m about to give the play-by-play for each of these stories.

  1. Ayama and the Thorn Wood

Overall, I liked the first tale. The writing was crisp; the narrative structure was tightly wound and slowly unspooled in an intriguing way. I also really enjoyed the stories within stories element- even if I wasn’t totally sold on each of its messaging- like “there are better things than princes”. I mean, yeah, but it feels like a pointed statement about old-school fairy tales and that misses the mark for me. Because this pervasive view throughout is far too simplistic. That’s why- while I liked the aspects of *monsters are not always who you think they are*- this story didn’t totally ring true. And that’s a shame, because it was very close to perfect.

4½/5 bananas

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  1. The Too Clever Fox

I *adored* the personalities in this. I’m a huge fan of characters who live by their wits and the fact that the fox was ugly was a nice touch. The lyrical tone and the writing was splendid from beginning to end. It was complex, felt open to multiple levels of analysis and the ending was very clever in deed. I also liked how it played into the “Russianness” of the setting. It was exactly as it should be.

5/5 bananas

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  1. Witch of Duva

Well, time for some unpopular opinions. I guessed the (rather obvious) twist for this straight away and if you’re at all familiar with a lot of modern story structures then you could too. This was derivative of Hansel and Gretel– only it was clear from the get-go that the monster was the MAN and the heroes were the OLD CRONE and the STEPMOTHER. Wow, never saw that one coming *heavy sarcasm*. Now, while I’ve already mentioned that I liked the things are not as they seem concept, this was the second story in the collection to employ this idea. What makes it dubious storytelling for me is that it’s no fun if you can always guess where things are going because it’s following the formula: man = bad, woman = good. Again, this isn’t a particularly sophisticated reading of the original and only results in an okay-ish retelling (one that overlooks that Gretel is the one to save the day in the fairy tale- but whatever *man wrote it, man bad* and all that grim business). Despite my complaints, I really liked the writing and gave it:

3½/5 bananas

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  1. Little Knife

Again, the writing for this was excellent and I particularly liked how it captured the orality of fairy tales. Sadly, although I didn’t see it coming this time, this falls prey to the same issues as the last story. Some of the lessons are alright; some weren’t. Look, I don’t have a problem with the direction it took with the suitor or father- fairy tales are full of idiots getting what they deserve- BUT why did the protagonist ends up in a sort of purgatory? Sitting alone on a rock in the middle of nowhere till you die is the kind of punishment narratives usually dole out to villains and heroes that have wasted away. It symbolises wasted potential- not a grand victory and certainly not empowerment. The protagonist doesn’t really gain anything- she gets the freedom to sit… and do nothing. Independence isn’t powerful when you end up completely alone. Sure, the dimwit men may have lost her *sparkling* company, yet she’s the real loser here, since she’s lost everything. Unfortunately this left a bitter taste to what was shaping up to be a pretty good course.

3/5 bananas

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  1. The Soldier Prince

Ahh this was better! Straight away, I appreciated how the tone shifted with the “source” of the story (Bardugo bases this around different locations in the Grishaverse and this one takes place in the equivalent of Amsterdam). I worried a little about the downward trajectory of the stories- especially since this starts with a stereotypically evil male villain who feels like they’ve owed a bride- one that happens to be a young child (eww). Nonetheless, I was wrong to judge it on that score (though can you blame me?) and this helped me go back to judging each story on their own merits. In fact, this ended up surprising me in more ways than one. I know I’ve spoilt everything by now- but somehow I don’t want to taint this one- because I adored the final turn! Easily:

5/5 bananas

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  1. When Water Sang Fire

I’d describe this as the Ugly Duckling meets Little Mermaid (three guesses where this is supposed to be set 😉 ). Once more, there was a different style employed- notably a brilliant use of second person that created a striking opening! This was one of the best in the collection for me- and there’s stiff competition! There were a couple of unique touches here as well- particularly the use of magic changing the colour of the pages and resetting the illustrations to be drawn anew. That detail blew me away. And, naturally, I loved the twist in the tale.

5/5 bananas

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Alrighty then- as you can tell I had a mixed experience with this. I really liked a huge amount of this- yet what I didn’t like sometimes got in the way of perfectly good storytelling. It was a shame, because I felt like this collection could have been completely magnificent. Fairy tales are constantly evolving- that’s one of the things I love about them- yet I’ve got to admit I’m a little tired of newer interpretations bitch-slapping older ones. Often to the detriment of the incredible historical heroines who overcome hardship without becoming hermits. There’s a core to the old stories that keep us coming back- warnings and wisdom and endless complexities. And this just wasn’t quite there.

Anyway, my average still ended up being:

4/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? And do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – January: A Very Christmassy Selection and Bookish Bingo Wrap Up!

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Hello all! We are now in 2019!!!

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What did I do to see out the last year? Well gorged myself on chocolate of course 😉

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Not necessarily an accurate representation, I just wanted to draw this 😉

Now last month (and year!!!) I mentioned I was participating in the wonderful Mim Inkling’s bookish bingo– which she hosted to celebrate 6 months on the platform! I had a lot of fun doing it and tried to keep peeps updated- but now it’s time for my wrap up. It’s gonna be a long one- so strap in!

wicked deep

Wicked Deep– this subtly spooky book really delivered the goods. The writing was atmospheric, the unique characters were interesting and the story was pretty twisty. I especially liked that Penny, the protagonist, felt hollowed out- that ended up linking into the plot in a clever way. I very much appreciated the cool setting and the witchy aspect to the story. My one issue with the book was that the romance fell into instalove territory (it didn’t help that the story addressed how fast this was because pointing out issues doesn’t really stop them feeling like flaws). Other than that, I was powerless to resist the Swan Sister’s allure. I suspected where it was going- but I wasn’t disappointed. It felt like I was plunged straight into the story and didn’t take a breath again until the end.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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  • A spooky read
  • A book that I borrowed (from the library)

coco caramel

Coco Caramel– I used to love this author and definitely recommend it for younger authors- so no shade here, I’ve just outgrown it. Some of Cassidy’s books can be slap bang in the middle of the YA category, but this one was closer to the MG group (although at this point who knows what gets classed as YA?) Anyway, Cassidy has a sweet way of writing and this does take you on quite the ride (with plenty of snacks along the way 😉 ). I did enjoy this by the end- much to my surprise- which speaks volumes about my maturity level. Usually there’s more of a balance between light and dark elements though.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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  • Something sweet
  • Something foodie

one day in december

One Day in December– honestly, this reminds me why I struggle with adult books sometimes. The “love triangle”/quadrangle in this book wasn’t so much that irritating trope we all know and hate- it was straight up cheating *sarcastic yayy*. Unfortunately this made me feel really conflicted about this book. I kind of ended up writing a list of pros and cons to try and clarify it to myself

  • It’s addictive
  • Love that it spans years- it gives it some scope
  • No matter how ridiculous it is, that ending is amazing and makes my sappy heart beat

Cons:

  • SO MUCH CHEATING
  • No real reason for her divorcing her husband.

So yeah… that was inconclusive. Some aspects were enjoyable, others not so much. I kind of get both sides of the love-hate train for this one- but in the end for me it was a great big “MEH I’ll hop off this bus”.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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  • Book with a month in the title
  • Book with a white cover

after the fire

After the Fire– this was an incredibly engaging read. I’m fascinated by the subject of cults and this filtered an inside-view through an incredibly engaging heroine. I particularly loved the gradual build of information and character. The interactions the protagonist had with both the therapist and FBI agent were brilliant- especially in the way they showed a build-up of trust. While it was heavy going at times, it was addictive and I was desperate to uncover all its secrets. I flew through this 500 page book. There were also logical explorations of Parson’s behaviour and the reasons for the mc’s PTSD (highlight for spoilers: it was exactly right to show the development of his sociopathic tendencies and the PTSD she had from killing someone was a wise decision). I’m kind of sad I don’t have more to say on this very accomplished book- I was just too absorbed to write notes!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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  • A book that won an award (YA Book Prize)

warriors into the wild

Warriors: Into the Wild– this was incredibly cute and funny at times. I definitely recommend this as an adventure for kids. Ultimately, this was not totally for me, though I see why people like it. Even if I didn’t connect, I’m not the target audience so I don’t suppose it matters.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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  • With an animal as the main character
  • A children’s book

academic curveball

Academic Curveball– so, you guys have probably seen that I really like Jay’s other books, which is why, even though this isn’t typically a genre I pick up, I felt compelled to read it. And of course, I was instantly rewarded. The opening captured me with its excellent use of voice. I really loved the characters- everyone in this seemed so full of life- not least Nana D! Every relationship was so well handled and made them more likeable. As the story went on, the drama amped up, making me keen to read more. The trickle of information kept that tension going right up until the last page- where, *whoa*, that ending was quite the curveball. While I definitely want to read more, I’m still not entirely sold on the cosy mystery genre- we’ll see how I get on in the future!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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  • Book with an athletic theme
  • A genre you normally don’t read

comedy of errors

Comedy of Errors– this had some fun word play and toyed with mistaken identity- much like many other Shakespearean comedies. And that was my main issue- while fun, this didn’t especially stand out to me. Plus, the mixed up identities in this one made zero sense- not that it matters 😉

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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  • A poem or play

cosy christmas chocolate shop

Christmas at the Chocolate Shop- nothing about this blew me away- the characters, writing and story were all a bit on the okay-bordering-on-cliché side. Still, it fulfilled on a few major promises: chocolate, cosiness and Christmas.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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  • A book with a Christmas theme

art of hygge

Art of Hygge– I’ve been curious about this Danish practice for years- especially since it’s been taking off in the UK. On the positive side, this was a super quick read and has some inoffensive ideas. On the negative, it’s one long list with information you could get online. Maybe if you get the urge for lavender bags or paper snowflakes stick to google. Also it’s not hard to get things like flowers regardless. Some of the recipes were quite fun, but other advice went something like this: step 1- go to shop, step 2- by flowers, step 3- shove in vase with water. I’m not being flippant- it really is that silly! Rest assured, I do not need to be told to go for a walk. Or to watch a feel good movie. Or to read a book. Though I suppose that’s not bad advice- go read books guys, just not this one 😉

Rating: 1½/5 bananas

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  • From the arts and crafts section

the twits

The Twits– so initially I wasn’t willing to read a book by an author I don’t like- cos, ugh, why must I suffer!? Then my sister had this brainwave of reading an author who I don’t like as a person, but enjoy their books. The logical choice was Dahl (if you want to know why, you can read this post). Anyhoo, I enjoyed the Twits. My first thought was “wow beards, guess I have to add that to the long list of things Dahl doesn’t like”. Also, Dahl has a very high disgust sensitivity. What I liked most about this was the amazing descriptions- especially the concept of being made ugly by your inner thoughts. Nonetheless, while I did appreciate its initial eccentricities, I did end up finding a bit bizarre by the end.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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  • A book by an author you don’t like

oranges for christmas

Oranges for Christmas– this book landed somewhere in the middle for me. It had some clean writing and I liked the imported German element- but there wasn’t enough differentiation in the dual perspectives’ voices. While I was glad this dealt with the topic of communism in Germany, I did feel it was too focused on the educational elements. And that’s coming from someone who wishes this topic was studied more. For a moment there, it did get emotional… and then that was swiftly disrupted by the idiocy of the mc. More than the actual book, I was moved by the description of the fall of the Berlin wall in the afterword. This didn’t blow me away- however I do still recommend it for people who like historical fiction and interested in learning more about time period.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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  • Historical fiction

And here are the ones I don’t have reviews for:

shadow of the fox

Shadow of the Fox– feel free to check out my review here.

  • ARC
  • TBR
  • Part of a series
  • Other culture
  • A book you chose for the cover
  • Female author

circe

Circe– you can check out my review here.

  • A myth retelling

language of thorns

Language of Thorns- I liked this overall and gave it 4 bananas- HOWEVER I have some rather complex thoughts on it, so I’m gonna have to say *review to come* and leave it at that for now!

  • A short story collection

Okay- so my final bingo chart looks like this:

bookish bingo

Woot woot! I got all of them- plus Shadow of the Fox managed to get me a bonus ten points for fitting into more than 5 categories and I finished with 250 points.

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Letters From Father Christmas – A Quick Note to Santa

letters from father christmas

Dear Santa,

I know you’re exceptionally busy tonight, so I’ll get straight to it: thank you very much for sending this book to me at the end of the year! I have to say it was perfect timing! I couldn’t have wished for a better Christmas read.

These are the kind of stories children and adults alike will cherish. They’re wonderfully imaginative, establish colourful characters in a short space and even develop into a fully-fledged narrative by the end of the collection. Somehow, despite the children growing up, there was even time to wrap everything up with a big, festive bow! I reckon you planned that, you big old softie 😉

What I really appreciated was how this was such a beautiful reflection of the Tolkien family. They were close and intimate- really a delightful reflection of the family and a credit to them. Though these had little clues to the outside world and hints at history, this never ventured beyond the personal.

Throughout, I found many of the stories surprisingly moving and thought might just about burst with the cuteness levels. To top it all off, the illustrations and images of the actual letters added a level of sweetness. I really can’t describe how charming they were- but I’m sure you know how talented the Great Polar Bear is already- please send my compliments to him.

As a massive Tolkien fan, I always like the genius writing, but more than that, I was happy to see the inclusion of languages like Arktish and Elvish.

So, thank you again for writing to the Tolkien children all those years ago. Anyway I’ll let you get on- have fun squeezing down all those chimneys.

All my love and merry Christmas,

Orangutan Librarian

PS Please find enclosed, 5/5 bananas:

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And some milk and cookies:

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So have you read this? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments! And of course, have a lovely Christmas!

Sending all my Love to Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (with lots of banana-affection back from the Monkey Baby)

guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

letterhead 3rd nov monkey baby

Dear Monkey Baby,

You have to read this book! As your sister I absolutely insist on dictating what you read… Just kidding! Mostly.  You still have to read this though!

This is a story wrapped up in the love of books- and you know how much I enjoy those! And since you also love quotes and references, I thought this might be right up your street.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say it’s super emotional- so *be warned*. And I know you’re not always down for books set during WWII- yet I have to tell you to make an exception here. Cos, well, this book is exceptional.

The characterisation is exquisitely achieved through the individual voice of each letter sent. From the positive ones to the more negatively toned, you’ll have a rich view of each person in the story. And yes, it’s entirely made up of letters- which I needn’t have worried about and nor should you! There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll be able to picture the lively and lovable heroine, enjoy the lyrical tones of Amelia, fall in love with Dawsey’s steady hand, like Remy’s grave intensity and laugh at some of the more twerpy characters too. I swear everyone in this felt real!

And it wasn’t just the people- it was also their stories and the setting that completely came to life. I could feel the island’s beauty from the description. I sensed the emotional intensity and felt the emotional turmoil…

But that’s all I’m going to say for now! You’ll have to read the book to find out more- and you better get right to it cos it’s due back at the library soon 😉 Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Talk soon 😀

Lots of Love,

Your big sis and regular book dealer,

Orangutan Librarian

letterhead 10th nov to orangutan

Dear Big Orangasister,

Thank you so much for this beautiful recommendation. “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers’’ And I think this found us perfectly! I guess the 1000 bananas for reading this wouldn’t have been necessary but I’m a monkey and I want them just the same.

This book far exceeded my monkey ideals for romance. I could squish these characterisers so much for how loveable they are!! Dawsey and Amelia are as scrumptious as that banana split you made me last Birthday! They go together as finely as monkey and business 🙂 And Guernsey sounds so pretty- can we grow bat wings and fly there?

It was a very interesting and sad story of the war that I was unaware of. Defo you were right about making an exception for this book.

I did of course love the quotes too! You know me well, artful dealer!! I have one question for you though on this quote, ‘’Treat a dog right and he’ll treat you right… cats are different but I’ll never hold it against them” What happens if you treat a monkey right…? Do we jump on them and give them a giggle?

All the Monkeybaby love to you

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO 😛

letterhead 17th nov to monkey baby

Dear Monkey (Baby) Features,

So glad you loved it!! Didn’t I tell you that you would? (and as you know I’m always right- well, at least when it comes to your reading tastes 😉 ) And now we can talk more freely- so double yay!

It really was such a beautiful, moving story!! And yeah, it did have hard parts, as expected. I personally liked that it didn’t shy away from the war- which I thought it might at times. But for all the lightness in tone, there were enough clues early on that it was going to get dark. In the end, it did manage to provide a powerful image of the war. Though at the same time, I appreciated how it contrasted that with the exuberance at the end of the occupation.

I agree that romance really delivered the goods! While it’s clearly a story about love and loss, it concluded on such a sweet note. I think I literally screamed- it’s a surprise I didn’t wake the entire neighbourhood- or that you didn’t hear me! Oh man, that really hit me in the feels.

And the book delivered on so many other fronts as well. What’s great about Guernsey is how richly layered it is. I love the way it’s clearly a composite of several works. Not only does it have the joint authors, but it also is grounded in the story of the original writer Mary Ann. It’s fascinating how this was achieved, because it kind of gets rid of the authority of the author, creating a feeling of living art. It really shows how writing can be collaborative- in the best kind of way. Especially since the finished product is so perfect!

But what did you think? Were you as blown away as me? And do you think we should rate it? Cos in answer to your question, when you treat a monkey right, they give you as many bananas as they can spare 😉

Lots of love,

Orangutan

PS I’m looking forward to watching the movie version!

PPS I think getting a boat might be a more effective way of going to Guernsey- growing wings seems like too much of an effort.

letterhead 24th nov to orangutan

Dear Orange,

I was telling someone the other day how because of your recommendations I exceptionally rarely ever read a bad book!!

Yeah I agree as much as I want to rest in a banana hammock all day and ignore the horridiousness of war I was glad to be more informed on the occupation.

You know my feels on the romance! Squeelischious goodness!!!

The writing is icing on a layer of life’s cake!! They hit the nail on the book’s head!

How can you even question it’s rating!!! HOW!!!?!?!?

Obviously it doesn’t merit a banana! It merits a trophy banana split made of 5 billion bananas! 🙂

Lots of kisses to the sisses,

THE Monkeybaby

p.s. AHHHHHHHH THE MOVIE!!! THE MOVIE!!! MUST WATCH!!! NOW!!! 

Aww lots of love to my sis and BIG THANK YOU to her for helping me with this! And looks like we’re united on the rating too:

5/5 bananas

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

orangutan librarian and monkey baby0002

Hope you enjoyed that little collab! Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!