A Little “Triggered” by Trigger Warning…

trigger warningBefore you ask the question, the answer is no. No, you don’t actually need a trigger warning to read this book. To be brutally honest, I’m the kind of person that’s easily unnerved and a well-timed “boo!” on a Ghost Train can send me into full-scale panic. Yet, sadly while reading this, I didn’t find myself leaving the warm comfort of my living room and wasn’t transported to some upsetting place like I was promised.

The thing is I wanted to like this so much more, because I did appreciate Gaiman’s introduction (my only complaint is that he could have gone further). Still for all his talk at the start of these being unsettling, I found a lot of his tales less-than-scary. Don’t get me wrong, they were, in typical Gaiman fashion, wonderfully weird, amusing and mildly unsettlingly. They were somewhere on Gaiman’s usual scale, between handsomely unique to strikingly strange.  “Triggering” though? Not so much. I think the first line of his intro works as a better title for the whole book- these are “Little Triggers”.

Now, this may realllly sound like I didn’t like this book. Dare to take a sneak peek at my rating and you’ll see that’s not the case at all 😉 In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of these, respected the way he told each story differently and was never bored. But having had some time to reflect on this (it’s been about a month since I read it- ooh err, I’m always late with reviews!) this was a case of overpromising and under delivering.

That said, it was a really good collection, so here’s some of my highlights and (not-all-that-bad) lowlights:

The Thing About Cassandra– I really loved how this brought back my teenagedom. It was a super clever story, with a good twist.

Jerusalem– I felt a bit meh about this one, though, if I try to articulate why, I might sound like I have “Jerusalem Syndrome” myself. It’s just that I’ve been a number of times and this didn’t capture the city for me. It was a tad reductive.

Click Clack The Rattle Bag– Arghh!! This was the wrong story to read before bed! It was shudder-inducingly creepy!! And probably the most triggering 😉

The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury– I thought this was quite genius and absolutely admired concept.

Orange– I loved the style of this one the most and it was quite possibly my favourite. I adored the laugh out loud wit here.

My Last Landlady– atmospheric and a little spine tingling- I loved it!

Nothing O Clock– I liked the “what’s the time Mr Wolf” element- but the trouble is I fell out of love with Dr Who years ago (that whole Amy’s pregnant-not-pregnant thing drove me cuckoo) so it just wasn’t for me.

Ultimately while I wouldn’t advise reader discretion at all (but then I never do) one tip I would give before going in is that it helped to be well-versed in Gaiman, since a couple of stories were connected to American Gods and Ocean at the End of the Lane (which, FYI, are great books and you should read regardless 😉 ) Anyway, that’s enough rambling, my rating was:

4/5 bananas

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Okay, yes, I realise that might be a surprise to some people given the review- but have you ever had a bone to pick with a book you liked before? Let me know in the comments!

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Mooning Over Artemis!

*Received this book off Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Artemis-Book-Cover-Andy-WeirYou guys know the Martian was what started me off in the sci fi genre- so I couldn’t have been more excited about this book! And now I get to review it- yay!!

One of the great things about the way Weir writes sci fi is that he makes it accurate, without being boring. Not that I’m a scientist, but all the scientific terminology subtly woven into the story created a very realistic atmosphere. By the end I actually felt like I knew what it’s like to live on the moon- which was awesome- because who doesn’t want to know what it’s like to live on the moon? It didn’t feel like world building at all- it just felt like an authentic experience (so who needs moon tourism now, eh?).

Plus, Weir has definitely got the witty banter voice down. So even if I’m not selling you on the great setting, I can tell you I *loved* the humour. I will admit the main character has a very similar jokey manner to Mark Watney, basically making her a female version of him- but who’s complaining, because Mark Watney is awesome!

The characters were a bit of a mixed bag- some of them were better fleshed out than others, so a couple felt a bit surplus to requirements. I did really enjoy the penpal letters between Jazz and Kelvin though- they added a lot to the backstory and I genuinely got invested in them because of their interactions. More importantly though, I did think the addition of some actual antagonists was really helpful to the plot and added some much needed tension.

Because it was the slow build up (after a little false start) that gave me some pause with this book. But then, once it did get going, man, it got good- I mean, it’s a heist in space- a space heist! Again, what’s not to like? If nothing else, this was a fun romp on the moon. And speaking of which- isn’t Artemis basically the *best* name ever for this book? The classics nerd in me just really appreciates how super appropriate that title is.

Okay- enough gushing, my rating is:

4/5 bananas

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And this was published today- so you can get it right now

Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Truly A Suitable Lie is Well Worth a Read

suitable lieEons and eons ago I read the most sensational, intriguing review over on Meggy’s awesome blog for this book- and I just knew I had to read this. Because WOW have you seen the way she writes reviews?!? Plus, it didn’t hurt that this book was coming from Orenda and I’ve liked all the books I’ve read of theirs so far (not spon- hehe I wish 😉 ) Point being, I couldn’t have been more excited to read this book… and I was right to be!

Right from the prologue Malone set a melancholic note, the tone tense, quiet and utterly absorbing. It was not an easy book to read, given the subject matter, but there was no way I could put the book down. Gripping to the last, the story rushed by, not pausing for breaks or bumps in the road, capturing every inch of the victim’s trauma and struggles.

Real and raw, this book exposed an issue too often overlooked. I can say I’ve rarely read a book like this that exposes the world of domestic strife so truthfully. And yet, thankfully, the story was not sacrificed on the altar of accuracy. Above all, this book was about feeling trapped, suffocating in a situation where there was no way out- that was the most powerful part.

I could appreciate, then, how much of a relief the ending was- just to turn that last page and know that I could return to the safety of my own bedroom. And the conclusion itself was satisfying- made even better by the fact that it was foreshadowed from the very beginning. Like all the best thrillers, you won’t expect it, but the clues are there. And you can’t really say fairer than that. In fact, I’d say this is well worth a read with:

4½/5 bananas

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

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – November

Well hello everybody! I’m quite excited today for my second Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews! Woohoo!

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Let’s just dive straight in!

frogkisser

Frogkisser!– this was as fun a romp as you would expect from that title. I did enjoy this one, though I was more conscious than usual that this was outside my age range- I can hardly blame the book for being juvenile when I’m reading Middle Grade in my 20s. That said, I do always feel like I have to read everything Garth Nix writes at this point… so really it’s his fault for hooking me on his work 😉

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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because youll never meet me

Because You’ll Never Meet Me– I’m really excited to talk about this one. I was recommended this underrated gem by Sam @Rivermoose (her blog is awesome- check her out!!) and I was instantly drawn to the intriguing premise, where two people who have strange medical conditions, basically making them allergic to each other, become best friends (I know- it’s so unique!). What makes this story special is how the characters give each other the things they’re lacking. And not insubstantial things- one is blind and gets to see through the other’s eyes, the other gets to hear things he never would with his condition. The only reason I had to dock a banana is that I didn’t like Ollie’s voice much-I thought he was a bit rambly (and was somewhat generously described as good storytelling). That said, it was really well written in general and the message of giving and friendship is powerful stuff. Highly recommend.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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our dark duet

Our Dark Duet– Okay, so this was one of my most anticipated books of the year… and I ended up disappointed. My main issue was that it felt like a sloppy conclusion and a rush to the end. There was the old villain, Sloan, who was made to feel like a second fiddle to a new villain, the Chaos Eater, who was shoehorned in (rather unnecessarily) to do a lot of damage and then get defeated. And then there was the fact that I felt like I’d lost my connection with the characters: August fell a little flat and Kate seemed wildly different from what I’d remembered. Because of that, the impact of the ending didn’t hit for me- I could see it was good and dramatic and should have been emotionally powerful… and yet I felt nothing. In fact the strongest emotion this book got out of me was a mild case of befuddlement- there was that use of the “them” pronoun for one character, and even if the gender ideologues want to get mad at me, that confused the shit out of me purely from a linguistic perspective. That said, the rest of the writing was the star of the book for me and was the only reason why I didn’t give this an even lower rating.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Unfolding My Feelings For Crooked Kingdom

crooked kingdom….as much as that is possible to do. Because I swear this series had my emotions in a vice. Honestly I was nervous to even start, but I needn’t have feared because this book was hella entertaining. It was as twisty as Inej on a tightrope, as funny as Jesper’s banter, as smart as Kaz… you get the idea- it was fantastic.

I fell straight back into the world and the story and the characters. And then, right when it had me in the palm of its hand, it crushed all the spirits it had previously raised so high. Don’t worry, no spoilers, but somehow Bardugo managed to simultaneously incinerate my heart, and then stoke what remained over a deliciously warm campfire, until I melted in a puddle of marshmellowy gooey goodness (can you tell I’m getting ready for bonfire night?) To say this ending was bittersweet would be an understatement. But whatever my feelings were about it: it was glorious.

There are so many levels to enjoy this series on: adventure, romance, friendship, darkness, characterisation. I feel like it has something for everyone. But speaking of characters, I have to state the obvious: I was head over heels for them. Plus, it even had a couple of great cameos from the other Grisha series- though I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you who it was for anyone planning on reading it 😉

And oh my goodness the writing! I rarely stop reading to write down quotes- but this was too damn good. “Knife edge posture”- *shivers*! Perfectly fabricated, it injected so much life into the characters and the story. I also loved the use of slang like “the deal’s the deal” to make the world feel so much more real.

Okay, clearly I could sing this book’s praises forever, so I’m gonna leave it there, with the very obvious final rating of:

5/5 bananas

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

House of Fear was a Frightful Bore

house-of-fearFull disclosure: I could not finish this collection. I got about halfway through before doing the smart thing and giving up. Honestly, the main reason I gave up on this is that I wasn’t scared. At all. Not even a little bit. I have a hyperactive imagination, can be easily jumpy and so I am pretty easy to scare. And yet in this supposedly scary story collection, the bravest thing I had to do was DNF it.

Yet since I wasted enough time with it, I thought I might share them with you anyway. Welcome, then, to my very first DNF review… where everything is unsatisfactory and incomplete.

To say this was a mixed bag would be too generous a description, because too often the same issues plagued these stories. One of the main issues that occurred time and again with this book was that there was much too much detail. Now, a little mundanity I can understand, creating a nice contrast in a scary story, but “I need fairy liquid” while going grocery shopping (and the whole darn grocery list) is too much. Honestly, too much information is always an issue, but this was especially noticeable in short stories. Far too many of these were convoluted instead of atmospheric, weird instead of intriguing, and mostly *yawn* instead of *ahhh*!

There were also too many stories- too many for me going into detail for all of them (especially since none of them could keep my attention for long) though I will address a few. “Objects in Dreams May Be Closer Than You Think” felt like it was trying too hard to be clever and didn’t deliver the promised chills. “Pied a Terre” was the only one I found genuinely creepy and had a strong, convincing voice. “An Injustice” was the last story I read and was alleged (from other reviews) to be good, so I powered through it, but there was a political vein to it (cos why not, everything needs to be political nowadays) that was just too meh to be interesting.

Since I didn’t finish this it wouldn’t be fair to give it any bananas, so I guess I shall declare this “the end”. The one great thing about this was that it inspired me to write a short story for the first time in *years* …. One I might share on here, if I feel like it 😉 (yes odd that sometimes blah stories are more inspiring than the ones that make you think “I could never do that”)

So how easily can you DNF books? And what was the last book you gave up on? Let me know in the comments!

Expressing Some Shady Opinions on Lord of Shadows

Whoops- I read another Shadowhunter book. Yes, I know I said ages ago this was getting samey for me… but I went right ahead and read this anyway (yeah I know I’m a completionist, but I swear I was gonna give this a miss… probably 😉 ). Yet since I owe the fact that I did read this to my younger sister, I thought it might be fun to have her come along for this review too- SURPRISE! Introducing the Monkey Baby… monkey baby finalBonjourno – Je suis le monkeybaby

Well evidently she’s not bilingual- but let’s do this thing.

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Right off the bat, I’m going to say that if you’re not already into the whole Shadowhunter world this book is not going to convert you. I’d say if you are into Clare’s work, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it… and a good chance you won’t. I’m going to come clean straight away and say I did not see this as Clare’s strongest book. Not by a long shot, not even a little bit.

Monkey Baby: I agree I don’t think it’s her strongest work, I think the first one was much better. But I think due to the romance of this book being the best one, it kind of makes up for it a little…

Ahh what we’re all here for: the romance. Now this is a minor spoiler, but I will say that I liked how Clare dealt with the Mark/Emma/Julian love triangle, getting it out the way pretty quickly. That was a massive relief for me… but the second we were over that love triangle hurdle, another, totally unnecessary love triangle got shoehorned in. I couldn’t stand the Kieran/Mark/Christina love triangle- it was just so jgfsldgesnbarmj (translation: utterly pointless and frustrating)

Monkey Baby: MMMMMMM I’m not so sure I agree. I think it was a tad confusing but not irritating. Although this is probably the only love triangle that has no correct answer EVER!!! I have no ship for it…

Let’s talk about some of the things I did like then. When it came to the characters, I found that a lot of them were seriously growing on me. I definitely am finding Ty and Kit well-developed, intriguing and a great duo. I do think the younger characters are beginning to steal the limelight quite effectively from their older siblings- which is a good thing.

Monkey Baby: J’adore Ty and Kit. Ils sont THE BEST!!!

(I have no idea why she’s speaking franglais) Okay, moving on, I honestly don’t know how she keeps writing action packed stories and that’s one of my favourite parts about these books. No matter what, they can keep you on your toes. Plus while the writing isn’t flashy, it did have its moments of beauty and was genuinely funny and sweet at times.

Monkey Baby: No comment. I agree.

That said, when it came to the plot, I felt like it was initially bogged down by recapping. This could be just a personal thing (as I’ll always opt out of the “in the last book so-and-so did this and the other-so-and-so did that”). Still I also felt like this book offered nothing different. When it came to the ending (don’t worry no spoilers) I did feel like it was dramatic BUT it’s not like we haven’t had *more* dramatic things happen in the past and consequences that are equally dire. As ghastly and gut-wrenching as the ending was, we all know at this point that Clare is willing to take us to some pretty dark places. But when it comes to taking us to said dark places, I did think there were some places where this fell down. And while this book made me feel things, *a lot* of those things were irritation. And the main source of that irritation was the villains.

Monkey Baby: I felt like this book didn’t have any real villains. Where is Voldemort???

Wrong book babyface, but *brace yourself for a rant of epic proportions* cos these were lousy villains for me. They came across as loutish losers and were easily dismissed as “bigots” and “fascists”- and as effective as name-calling is in defeating your enemies, I did not think the book effectively dealt with their arguments. Predominantly, this was because it didn’t give them any arguments- there were no reasons for their behaviour except that they’re nasty bigots who don’t like fair folk and call everyone names. There were times when the story actually devolved into a juvenile cussing match. Don’t get me wrong I want people to defeat these arguments- that’s why, if you’re gonna bring this shit up, you actually have to put up a fight. Don’t bring a feather duster to a boxing match. And for goodness sake, don’t invoke serious issues for the sake of some naff point scoring (unless you want an angry ape writing a ranty review). What frustrated me more than anything is that here is a series that always dealt in complexity and created villains we can actually fear (remember Valentine anyone?) and now we have a cohort who are just mean because they’re big meanies (wah!) Plus, we were even given a blueprint for a fantastic baddie with the Unseelie King, but were left to focus on Zara-blooming-Dearheart who was about as ominous as a gnat.

Monkey Baby: SERIOUSLY WHERE IS VOLDEMORT????????????????????????????????????????????????

Oh alright, since you asked…

The Real Look of Lord Voldemort from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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So have you read this? What did you think about it? And do say hello to the Monkey Baby!