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!

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!

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!

No Shade for the Shadow and Bone Adaptation!

Like everyone and their mother, I’ve been bingeing this series. And like most people, I’ve been absolutely loving it.

It’s the best kind of adaptation. Taking the source material and enhancing it with some big changes, it’s truly a delight for fans (and newbies) to the Grishaverse. I have to confess, I was never a huge fan of the original series, yet really fell for the follow up duology Six of Crows. The prospect of seeing them in later series was what made me so excited about this show. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait so long, as this manages to weave the new characters into the older story (giving us scenes I didn’t know we needed!).

Having the Dregs, absolutely improves upon the narrative. Not only do they add oodles of personality and plenty of great new scenes, but it’s also fabulous to have more of their backstory on screen. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the casting is perfect! I can’t imagine these characters any other way.

In terms of the original characters, my favourite is (*drumroll please*) the Darkling. Yes, that’s right, I’m #teamdarkling now. Not because I want him with Alina, I’m just happy for him to take over the world and cover it in darkness 😉Barnes does a brilliant job, bringing intensity and charisma to the role. And showing the Black Heretic’s backstory made it all the more powerful.

I’m still not keen on Alina. For all the commentary on her being more assertive in the show, I just don’t see her having much agency. She’s always reacting to something or being pushed along by the plot. I don’t care about her enough- even now. Yet I can say that I’ve come round to her with Mal… if only because I find them equally boring.

What I appreciate *far more* was the gorgeous effects. The costumes/sets/cinematography all help to bring the Grishaverse to life. The Fold in particular was done so well. I took a breath with the crew as they went inside. It’s terrifyingly tense.

This is definitely one of the most enjoyable adaptations I’ve seen in a long, long time. I did see this being compared with Game of Thrones… which is frankly bizarre. It’s nothing like GOT- and it’s not trying to be. It’s not grimdark and it’s not adult (and it’s not going to have as disappointing an ending). It is, however, a fantastic YA fantasy show. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m probably going to rewatch it 😉

So, are you a fan of the Grishaverse? Have you watched this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

How to Run a Book Blog… Seriously (Not Serious)

I’ve been doing this for *years* now- doubtless my blogging grey hairs are showing- so it got me thinking about what it’s like to run a blog. I thought I’d share my “words of wisdom” with you all, cos clearly I know best 😉 Obviously, (disclaimer) I’m poking fun talking about my experience, so try not to take it personally (though of course you may very much relate 😉). Without further ado, let’s get into how to run a brilliantly bonkers book blog!

First of all, DISCLAIMERS ARE THE BEST!!! And everyone clearly loves them 😉 that’s why you doubtless skimmed my introduction and disclaimer 😉 We have to include them, because otherwise people get angry. But we also make people angry by including them. And anyone that was likely to get angry over what we wrote will ignore said disclaimer anyway… ergo feeling free to get angry. So, we’re off to a good start!

Now, when it comes to formatting your post, you want to make sure everything stands out. Use all the bold and underlining imaginable. And don’t forget TOO MUCH CAPS LOCK!!!! Oh and exclamation marks while you’re at it!!!! (And brackets work as an afterthought) (yes, I’m guilty as charged, whatcha gonna do about it?! 😉)

When it comes to planning your posts, it’s a great idea to stick to a schedule… which is why I never do. That way you keep your readers on their toes! Speaking from experience, people love to be frustrated with you and have no idea what you’re going to do next. It’s also great if you can disappear from time to time (with little to no explanation). Being flaky is the hallmark of being a good blogger 😉 Then when you come back, you can issue a ton of apologies, just to irritate everyone a little more 😉 I like to pull this stunt monthly- because I like to be regularly irregular. You’re welcome (and sorry about all this!!)

I also like to have a plan when it comes to posts… then change it at the last minute when you get a totally different (and hopefully better) idea (case and point this post came after I scrapped something entirely more sensible and probably more interesting 😉). It’s just a way I like to increase my workload. And not knowing which post you should’ve gone with is a healthy way to increase your own insecurities over whether you’re doing this the right way. Win win.

When it comes to reviews… do them… sometimes… Personally I like to several in a row, then none for months. It’s best to maintain your reputation as totally haphazard and inconsistent. (Of course there’s also loads of ways to write reviews, which I’ve already discussed, but the general idea is to shift gears all. the. time.)

Embrace your most obscure/weird/unpopular opinions. You can never be too opinionated! Praise obscure books and bash books that are really popular… that will make people confused and angry. Lots of controversy for controversy’s sake is always welcome! Remember, the more people that don’t like you, the better 😉

Change things up at random… people love randomness 😉 If you want to stop talking about books for a few months and go on about the eating habits of parrots… do that! No one will read those posts anyway- and that’s what you ultimately want! Bonus random points if you start a blog series, do it for a few months… then trail off unexpectedly. Because why should you finish something you started?

Decide you are going to make BIG CHANGES…. Then never do it! For instance, say hello to my little cartoon friend, who was absolutely definitely not going to star on this blog sometime in the near/far future…

Spend more time fiddling with formatting and unimportant admin than actually writing posts. Think of it as the ultimate procrastination- because you feel like you’re doing something, but aren’t really.

Also, come up with a million blog ideas that you do all the work and endless research for… Yet never commit to actually finishing. Juggle too many things at once- it just makes sense!

Chaotically switch up your social media presence. As soon as no one’s looking, I love to just  d  i  s  a  p  p  e  a  r…

And that’s how I like to embrace the *chaos* in every area of my blogging. My god, after going through that I’m seriously grateful to you all for being patient with me…

What do you think of my blogging habits/advice? 😉 Do you have any “tips” to add? Let me know in the comments!

Was Game of Thrones Always Going to Disappoint Me?

It’s the tenth anniversary of Game of Thrones… and I wouldn’t have noticed if not for this video on its ruined legacy. And it got me thinking a couple of things- 1) how did time fly so fast and 2) was GOT ruined or was it always designed to go up in wildfire? Obviously, I won’t be using this post to address the former, just the latter 😉

Before GRRM superfans tar and feather me- I’m not trying to take away the series’ merit. Don’t get me wrong: I love the world building, the characters and fascinating themes. However, speaking to my own personal taste, reflecting on some of the concepts does make me wonder if I was always going to wind up unhappy with the ending.

Game of Thrones was always a divisive series. Barely an episode could go by without some kind of critique or scandal. And this is not an accident or merely the showrunner’s doing. Going off of Martin’s own interviews, much of the series is designed to be a counterbalance to traditional fantasy. The traditional fantasy that I, and many other mainstream audiences, love. Lord of the Rings, for instance, is famously hopeful, inspiring and the prime example of good triumphing over evil. Though it has tragic elements, it certainly does not hinge on them. When we set out from the Shire we are assured of a safe(ish) resolution.     

Whereas GRRM promised us bittersweet. And if it is to be a counterbalance to the likes of LOTR then by golly that must be some BITTERsweet ending. Most of the plot points have tragedy written all over them; there is barely a glimmer of optimism in all the books. The best we could hope for is our favourites not dying and maybe, just maybe getting their revenge! In the words of Ramsay Bolton…

That’s not to say all tragedies are disappointing. In the usual ebb and flow of a tragedy, there is often a highpoint that alleviates the characters’ (and the readers’) suffering. Think Tess and Angels’ blissful summer in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Of course, we know this lovely moment cannot last, yet we can delude ourselves into thinking it will, and this gives us our catharsis. Game of Thrones never really does that. Romantic moments are often told from another perspective or tarnished by the realities of the situation (eg Daenerys may fall in love with Khal Drogo, but she’s also raped by him first).

There’s a reason every moment of “happiness” is framed this way. And that’s because it’s working from a principle of being *realistic in the postmodernist sense*. It’s fundamentally endorsing the idea that meaning is found where you place its value. In the world of Game of Thrones, there are no heroes and villains, there is no good vs evil, there is no right and wrong. There is no objective truth- merely the matter of where you place your sympathy. GRRM takes the morally relativistic view that all his characters will inevitably fall to the dark side… And frankly none of their struggles matter because of that. No happy ending is/was ever possible in this series- for anyone. Which is not so much tragic as it is depressing.

As much as I can appreciate this for its uniqueness, it’s not exactly satisfying. That’s not the point of this story. Rather, it’s designed to push boundaries, subvert our expectations and make us question the genre. While we like to blame D&D for the subversive elements, subversion is pretty much woven into the fabric of the narrative. And that has its upsides… and its downsides. Because sometimes there can be narrative consequences when you try to challenge an existing idea.

Inevitably you may question the story that’s making you question everything. I for one don’t think every concept in GOT makes sense. The critique of Aragorn becoming king, for example, is flawed. Because, I happen to think that if he’s capable enough to get an army of dead people on his side, then he’s perfectly capable of hiring some plumbers to set up a sewage system (and I have no idea why GRRM thinks otherwise). It is entirely possible for a leader to be strategic on the battlefield and with the treasury (and there are historic examples of this). This may seem like nit-picking, yet this is such a foundational element to the story, that it leaves me questioning will I ever be satisfied with the outcome of this series? These issues nag away at me and could indicate that this series was never for me in the first place.

Of course, this whole post is somewhat premature. No matter what I think I know, I have to add the caveat that I don’t know the actual ending (none of us do). There are some incredible theories mapping out sensational conclusions and GRRM’s finale could end up putting even those to shame. So, this post could be meaningless when the final book comes out. Personally, I very much look forward to being proved wrong 😉

So, what do you think? Are you optimistic about GRRM’s ending? Do you have doubts like me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The Importance of Knowing Your Own Taste: Ways to Avoid the HYPE and HATE Train

There are lots and lots of reasons to be clear about what you want in life and reading. For starters, there’s considerably less pain and more to gain. It’s a great way to find more joy, meaning and happiness. And it’s a strong way to avoid following the crowd off a cliff and into a great big steaming pile of cow dung (which you could’ve smelt from the top of that cliff if you’d only listened to your nose).

Cos yeah, we’ve all been there (figuratively speaking). We’ve all picked up that book we damn well knew we didn’t want to read; we’ve all taken someone else’s word to avoid something we later enjoyed. Then we’ve kicked ourselves for time wasted. We’ve all thought why did I listen/not listen to the hype just then. And of course, no one is fully immune to the nebulous methods of marketing gurus, but being clear on what you do actually want is a good way not to get swayed in either direction. It’s a good way to know whether to hop on that bandwagon… and it’s also a good way to steer clear of the cancellation fanatics too. Knowing your own taste is about being comfortable in your own skin (so that hopefully you don’t go all Buffalo Bill on your enemies).

The great thing about knowing your own taste is you don’t have to avoid different points of view… not that it would work anyway. Amazingly, you can’t socially distance yourself from every single differing opinion (much as some people would like to try) which is why it’s probably healthier to just take it in small doses 😉 And luckily, there’s this tried and tested method of just listening to people with different views/perspectives/tastes. I often read and watch reviews from people who don’t have the same opinions to me- and you know what? Doesn’t hurt a bit! Sometimes I learn something, sometimes I find something new to read… and sometimes nothing happens at all and I go on my merry way.

Because part of being a sentient human/primate is knowing not to take every word other people say as gospel. It’s only if we know ourselves that we can understand another point of view. That’s why if you know your own taste, you won’t have any trouble identifying where opinions overlap and where they diverge. It really is that simple.  

Plus, there’s the added bonus that it might just make you a better reviewer. I know we all like to pretend that our word is final, but taste is subjective! And that means knowing where other people might not agree with us. I, for one, have always been pretty clear that I like prose on the more flowery side (or as I like to put it, I’m firmly on the Fitzgerald side of the Hemmingway-Fitzgerald Divide). I also care less about world building than some other fantasy fans. Etcetera etcetera. Point is: it’s good to know when not to trust reviewers.

So, don’t just listen to me! Go with your gut. Pick up that book no one but you seems interested in. Read whatever *you* want to read (and then put it down again if it turns out it wasn’t for you 😉).  

Oh and just by chance, as I was finishing writing this post, this helpful video popped up in my subs:

Just some food for thought! What do you think? Do you think knowing your own taste helps you avoid the hype/hate train? Let me know in the comments!

All the Positives with Negative Reviews

Ahh the topic that will never die. Recently on book twitter (because it’s always on twitter) there was a flaming row debate about how people that write negative end of year posts (ie worst of the year/most disappointing etc) were evil and should burn in hell wrong to do so. So here we are again. Even though I’ve discussed this before (more than once), I feel like there’s still more to say on the topic. Because I would go further than saying “negative reviews aren’t that bad”- I think there’s a lot of positive things to say about them too. 

keep it realNegative reviews make positive reviews more meaningful. The whole point of reviews is to get an honest reaction from a reader- otherwise it’s not a review at all. As Briana from Pages Unbound pointed out in her brilliant post on this topic, sticking to purely positive reviews is just marketing. And, unfortunately for authors, readers justifiably won’t just blindly trust marketing. Books need organic interest to do well; readers need real reactions.

sheepAs a subset of this, a little negativity can lower hype. For me, this is especially useful, as overhyped books intimidate me. I don’t want to be the first person to dislike it and I don’t want to go into a book with expectations that are too high. I don’t fancy being a guinea pig (I’m a monkey) so I actually need someone to try it first and say something a bit more balanced before I can read it (come to think of it I’m more like a sheep 😉)

throw booksAlso, negative reviews rarely put people off. I for one can only think of a single time that a negative review put me off a book (over a very specific taboo subject). Frankly, the only guaranteed way to make sure I don’t read your book is having a hissy fit about negative reviews (and a good way to get me to support the reviewer in question).

merlin books sharingOn the flipside, negative reviews can make me add it to my TBR- even if it’s something I’ve never heard of before. Readers are smart enough to know that reviews are subjective and discern whether they want to read it on their own. For instance, one of my biggest pet peeves is the insertion of unnecessary politics into entertainment- some readers agree with me, others don’t. Amazingly, because people have minds of their own and can think for themselves (*gasp*) I get plenty of people commenting on negative reviews telling me they plan to read the offending book anyway 😉 (even more amazingly, I don’t stop them! 😉) It’s almost as if people have freewill 😉 And I hate to break it to any author that doesn’t know: not everyone is going to love your book! Reviews aren’t just for readers, they’re for finding the *right* readers.

therapy luciferLet’s be real though- negativity isn’t always about people that haven’t read the book. No, it’s also therapeutic for readers to bond over books they didn’t like. I don’t know about you, but I’m more often drawn to negative reviews for books I didn’t love. I fully admit this is playing into my confirmation bias- but I find it helps me clarify my own thoughts and realising *I’m not the only one* helps me feel sane!

hoarding booksNow, as hard as it may be, I do also try to read negative reviews for the books I love, because I’m all about (attempts at) objectivity for favourites. For me, this is a healthy way of developing a well-rounded response to a book. Sure, I’m unlikely to agree with all the criticisms (because when it comes to arguments around books, feelings come first). Nonetheless, I find it helpful to get different perspectives 1) because it makes me a better reviewer, so I can warn readers off things they may not like (which could be as simple as a statement of fact, like “it’s slow” or “it has flowery writing) and 2) because it gives me the opportunity to strengthen my argument in favour of a book 😉 Because ultimately, that’s what this is all about… even negative reviews act as a ploy to get people to read MORE BOOKS 😉

So, what do you think? Do negative reviews have a place in reviewing? Do you see the positive side to negativity? Or do you see this debate differently? Let me know in the comments!

My Reading Stats for 2020 – A Bookish Overview

Not including DNFs!

Just like the rest of the year, everything about my stats is skew-whiff. I’m obviously happy that my average rating was so high and I had a very small number of low rated books. What I’m pretty baffled by, however, is how I read fewer books in genres I love- especially fantasy, which was down from my usual 1/3 to just a 1/4! I do think this was a blip (especially considering most of my favourites from 2020 were fantasy books). I also think that this could be a good thing– since varying the genres so much meant that I never got genre fatigue (and I guess I just stuck to high quality fantasy instead of just ploughing through a bunch I wasn’t really enjoying). Predictably I read fewer challenging books, including classics, however on the flipside, I read SO MANY non fiction this year (some of which was True Crime which I don’t normally go for). For some reason, when life was stranger than fiction, I ended up with a craving for real life (and I guess this makes more sense of my reduced number of fantasy reads: basically everything seems to be fantasy right now, so it makes no difference what genre I read!)

In terms of other stats, I’m sadly listening to fewer audiobooks (I really need to get on looking for a bigger list to dive into, because what I have listened to, I’ve really enjoyed!). However, most exciting of all, this year I decided to start checking out my library stats. Inspired by Pages Unbound post with their stats back in 2019, I decided to keep track of how many books I’d read were borrowed from a library. Last year it made up 43% and, remarkably, this year it was even more at 57%! On that note, because I know a lot of people aren’t aware of this, but libraries are still a-go in the middle of this pandemic! I know that across London, where I’m at, you can order books to collect and make use of ebooks (through Libby/Overdrive and Borrowbox). And the same goes for a lot of the UK and the US- definitely worth checking online to see what your library can offer you!

Okay PSA over- now let’s check out the rest of my stats:

There was a lot packed into this! I never would’ve guessed it was so short!! 

This was really the longest?! It didn’t feel it! It went by so fast! I suppose that’s the mark of a good book!

Sorry Booker Prize stans, not a fan of this.

Going to mention my favourite new author this year, because both her books- Ten Thousand doors of January and Once and Future Witches– cast a spell on me!

This is the year I finally learnt the meaning of “LIFE’S TOO SHORT!” I DNF’d a grand total of *11 books*!! That’s a new record for me- by quite a distance!

7- very happy with this! Especially since they were all a delight to reread!

The Hobbit- bit of a problem when I do rereads- cos I’m sure this has come up before.

Well I’m not happy about this being least popular, cos I enjoyed it! By the fabulous Fran Laniado- a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast- it’s well worth checking out!

Yeah this was underwhelming for me- but I don’t think it deserves the lowest rating!

Even if I’ve read fewer audiobooks, I did listened to some incredible ones. Holly Chase was *so much fun* to listen to and gave me wonderful Christmassy feelings 😀 I also really liked the Aurora Burning audiobook- it’s made me definitely want to continue the series that way! I also listened to the whole Diviners series on audiobook and that was a creepilicious delight!

And a new category…

Inheritance- I never would’ve discovered this if not for the library! I saw it being requested a few times and thought the story behind it was intriguing… so glad I picked it up! And highly recommend if you want to read a genealogical detective story!

And that’s a wrap! So how was your reading year? Have your ratings been good? Did you discover any brilliant books? Let me know in the comments!