#SaveTheOrangutans

So I know I’m a bit late coming back to blogging, even though I promised my return a few days ago, and there is a good reason for that. Honestly I’ve been awfully busy since I got back, doing adminy things, hauling books, and catching a cold… Yeah the being ill part’s a bit of a bummer and means I’m doing everything much more  s l o w l y  than I would like. Now, while I would very much like to invite you all over to nurse me back to health, that won’t actually be necessary and I figure you could help somebody that actually needs it. In case you haven’t heard, my brethren in Borneo are actually in serious trouble right now. If you’re interested in ways you can SAVE THE ORANGUTANS you can check out this website. I know I’d appreciate you helping my fellow primates out of wheelbarrows and back into the wild…

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(Please note, light humour was used in the making of this post, there are no actual subliminal messages to SEND HELP 😉 )

Let’s Cut to the Chase About Tempests and Slaughter

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

tempests and slaughterOkay, so as I could have predicted for this month, my ARC review is coming a little late- but on the plus side, right now I should be travelling back to London (and to more blogging activity!)

One of the reasons I took so long with this one was because, as you may or may not know, I am a MASSIVE Tamora Pierce fan. Even if I hadn’t been ridiculously excited to receive this as an ARC (which, OMG, I was!!) I would have wanted to do this justice- but I also had more mixed feelings about this one that made me hesitant to put pen to paper.

This didn’t stand out to me as the best Tamora Pierce book- though even “not the best Tamora Pierce book” is still a good shout. What Pierce is famous for, and delivers here, is good, traditional fantasy fare. There’s plenty of adventure to be had and it was above all a lot of FUN- which is exactly what you want from a Middle Grade series opener!

In some ways, it was what I’d come to expect from Pierce- and yet there were also some innovative elements to the world building, which made it stand out from some of her other works. The setting alone added complexity to the story and transformed the tale into a more unique saga. In particular, I loved aspects like the crocodile god and hints at an intricate religious system.

While I did enjoy most of the narrative, I did feel much of it felt more like set up than plot. On the positive side, it made me feel like I’d love later books more- but this particular book felt a little overlong.

One other question mark I had was over the more educational aspect of the book, where Pierce attempted to show male puberty. I felt like this was adequately done, but I will admit the choice of the word “member” was somewhat off-putting and I wondered at the target audience’s response.

Overall though, I liked the characters and bully antagonists. The relationships between characters were well done and the romance, though not swoonworthy, was sweet. I definitely want to pick up the later books in the series and see where it goes!

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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Have you read this or Pierce’s other works? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Required Reading: Books I read in High School- Inspired by Kristin Kraves

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Yeahhh I’ve been horrible at blogging this month! And I can’t blame school or anything like that, because I graduated years ago and only promise that I’ll be back to blogging properly soon! Since we are well into September though, I thought I might talk about the books that were my required reading way back when. While it may not be fresh in my memory, I still have plenty to say about all the books I studied and was totally inspired by the lovely Kristin Krave’s awesome post on the topic! (Also, dudes, her blog is jam packed with fantastic content and to top it all off is gorgeous to look at!)

the tempest

The Tempest– My first official go at a Shakespeare play in school… and I didn’t really like it. I blame the random person I met at my cousin’s drama college that said it was about “oh look at all the magic I can do… but I’m not gonna bother doing it now!” In fairness, that’s not the best summary of the play, though I still think of that every time I think of the play! Fortunately this wasn’t my only introduction to Shakespeare and had more to look forward to…

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Macbeth– this was my favourite for quite some time, because, let’s be honest, it’s probably the most entertaining of Shakespeare’s plays!

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Othello– I had pretty mixed feelings about Othello- while it is dramatic, well written and has one of the best villains of all time, it never did capture my attention the way some of the others did.

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Merchant of Venice– I’m fairly torn about my feelings for this one. Part of me doesn’t know why every school teacher likes to be edgy by choosing it. Even if it’s not as anti-Semitic as Jew of Malta, thanks to the “Hath not a Jew eyes” speech, the villain is still a racist stereotype. That said it does explore the nature of prejudice, given what a-holes everyone else in the play is. Still, while it’s interesting to study, I’ve never been overly keen on Merchant.

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Jane Eyre– I’ll admit, I was pretty dorky and had already read this by the time it came up on the syllabus, which meant I got to be that annoying kid that said “oh look at the foreshadowing” every so often 😉

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To Kill a Mockingbird– this should be on the syllabus in every school- not only is it one of the richest texts you can choose to study, but the story is also deeply impactful and has stayed with me all this time… okay admittedly I do also remember it really well because I reread it a lot in preparation for my exam- yet one of the best things about this book is that wasn’t a chore in the slightest!

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All My Sons– I have to admit, I don’t remember as much about this one, though I do recall finding it dramatic and being very invested in it.

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The Yellow Wallpaper– this was such a great book to be set- entertaining, complex and ridiculously short (let’s be real- who doesn’t want that for an exam text?). There are so many reasons why I’m always recommending this one on here- but just in case you haven’t read it, it’s out of copyright, so you can check it out for free on Project Gutenburg (it’ll only take you half an hour and is perfect pre-Halloween reading!)

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Pride and Prejudice– it was actually thanks to this being put on the syllabus that I ended up loving it. I’d already picked this up a few years earlier and hadn’t been taken with it. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew I’d have to reread it, there’s a chance I’d have given up on Austen altogether. Instead, I gave her books another shot and now she’s one of my favourite authors.  But if you want to read more about how that came about you can check out this post.

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Tess of the D’Urbervilles– I was pretty ecstatic to be set this, because I already loved Hardy. I know he can be hit or miss for readers- he just so happens to be a massive hit for me! I love the drama, emotional intensity and evocative landscapes. Tess is easily one of his best works, yet I was also happy to use it as a springboard to explore Hardy’s Wessex and other works.

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Rapture– this is the only poetry collection I’m including on here, cos most of them were from all different poets and compiled by the exam board. One poet that examiners all seem to love is Carol Ann Duffy…. because they hate children and want us all to suffer immensely. When I think of this poetry collection my brain still recoils with an UGH NO! I think of all the books on this list, this is the only one I truly DESPISE. Why? Because it’s pretentious, nicks all of the best lines from actually good poems and, contrary to what some critic I had to quote said, it did not “twist cliché into something new”, it was, quite simply, just clichéd.

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The Great Gatsbywhat Gatsby? Okay, if you can’t tell from my lame joke, I’m a fan. While this book isn’t long, there is a lot packed into it: tremendous characterisation, a layered story and exquisite prose.

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Picture of Dorian Gray– I chose this as part of an independent study, because obviously I already loved it- yet I will also say that this is always one of my go-tos of “a book that everyone will love”, because I feel like there’s something in it for everyone.

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Doctor Faustus– I chose this to go with Dorian Gray for the independent study and I found it incredibly inspiring- well in terms of writing, I’m not taking notes on how to live my life from a man that sold his soul to the devil!

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Never Let Me Go– my teacher suggested this and it was supposed to compliment the more anti-hero led works I’d chosen for my independent study, though I can’t say it was a lighter read. If anything, it was the most depressing of the bunch! That said, it was an excellent pick and my favourite Ishiguro to this day.

And that’s about it! What were your favourite books you studied in school? Which books did you hate? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – September

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YO PEEPS! Yup, I’m actually online, which feels like something of a miracle at this point. I do want to update you all about *EVERYTHING* but alas I am still away from home and finding it hard to squeeze in blogging time. While I did have big plans for last month, a lot of stuff ended up getting in the way and I don’t know if I realistically be about in September much either… In happier blogging news though, I will be back in sunny England from October, so mark it in your calendars folks!

Anyhoo, my mini reviews for this month are a little late and I’ve not read that much again, BUT I’m hoping that by next month it’ll be a different story (***fingers and toes crossed***)

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Mysteries of Udolpho– I get why Austen made fun of this. It felt silly, melodramatic and yet still managed to bore me (I blame all the long-winded, convoluted descriptions with daft word choices). I can’t pretend like I would have been reading much without this book sitting on my kindle, gnawing away at any desire I had to pick it up, but it certainly didn’t help! I seriously struggled to finish this one and DNF’d it after a month. And this gets no bananas for that reason.

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Cinder and Ella– finally something to squeal about!!!  If you’ve been around a while, you might already know that I have a thing for Cinderella retellings (ie I LOVE them). And this one was particularly well done. Not only was this funny and sweet, but it also explored different family dynamics in a way that didn’t demonise the step family. I especially liked the way the relationships evolved over the course of the book and characters were given more complex motivations than the typical fairy tale allows. And cos it was so good, I didn’t end up writing very complex notes, so you’ll have to read it to find out more!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

What to Read When You’re Feeling Super Lazy

Hello again!! Yes, I’m actually posting twice in a week- you’re not seeing things! Oh you thought you’d seen the last of me for this month? Well sorry to disappoint 😉 I wanted to do a great “here’s what I’ve been reading this summer guys!” post- but let’s be real, I’ve not actually been doing much reading. Instead, I thought I’d give you an idea of what I’ve been reading/to give myself an idea of what I *should* be reading.

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Labels on food packets– ermmm yeah this is one of the things I’m actually reading at the moment- to be fair, it’s helping me practice another language, so it’s not cos I’ve become a food nut and I’m not totally weird (okay I am a little weird but you knew that already 😉 )

Road signs– same reason as above- it’s practice! (also directions probably count here, but I think I’ve got enough boring things on this list).

Blog posts!– that way you can be productive…  but I’m not even slightly productive right now, so yeah, this is why this is also a “what I should be reading” post.

My own writing– I can’t even say this is editing- it’s more like I’m reading and rereading the same chapter out of frustration that I can’t get past it- what did I say about being unproductive?

Half of articles Google recommends– let’s be honest, I click on a lot of the articles Google sends me, whether I’m interested or not (I am weak), even though I feel like a lot of the topics Google only thinks I’m interested in cos I keep checking out the articles they send me. But because I’m not actually that bothered about them, I’ll usually read the headline and maybe skim the first couple of paragraphs. So yeah, this is super lazy reading.

Headlines of articles on topics I care about– which, again, are most Google recommendations. But the thing is, if I am genuinely interested in the topic (let’s face it, it’s probably book related) then I’m probably going to “save it for later”- and yes, I used quotes because, I’ll be real, I’m never going to read all those things later.

Two or three pages of a boring book– and yes, I deliberately chose to say a boring book, because obviously if it’s dull then I don’t have to get invested and I can quit it after a few pages… which is perfect for lazy reading (also, yes, I should probably just DNF said book).

So yeah, as you can probably tell my attention span is something like this right now…

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That’s all for now- what do you read when you’re feeling super lazy? What do you think I should be reading as well? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – August

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Hello all! Long-time no blog!! As a lot of you know, I’m currently on a blogging break, so haven’t been able to keep up with content much. And while I’m not giving out my current location (cos, erm, I don’t want to end up in a cage for endangered species) I’ll fill in some of the confusion that I probably should have said before I went away. I am not:

  • In a prison/zoo
  • Dead
  • Stuck on Mars

I am, however, volunteering abroad and doing *a lot* of physical work that’s pretty tiring (Eight Days a Week… okay not really, but SIX days a week is still a lot). Anyway, while I’ve been dealing with all the craziness that is my life right now, I’ve been immensely grateful to those of you who’ve stuck around, sent lovely messages and also to all the new folks who helped me hit 4000 FOLLOWERS yesterday. I am speechlessly screaming right now!!! (and the only reason you haven’t seen a crazy bellowing monkey on the news is cos a lot of the people I live with don’t know about the blog and I don’t want to freak them out- though they’re remarkably cool about living with a great ape 😉 ) Thank you guys so much!!

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Alrighty then- moving away from the vague life stuff, let’s talk about what’s really important here: what the hell have I been reading. Well, *ahem*, I’m still in a slump, so again I only have a few books to talk about right now and they are…

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Love and Gelato– I really enjoyed this one. The characters were great- particularly the hilarious main character, whose voice I immediately fell in love with. It was a sweet romance, even if the plot was a bit obvious. Most of all though, I loved how this felt like walking through Florence, one of my favourite cities, and exploring all the beautiful art (and ice cream) it has to offer.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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callum

Callum– this was a waste of time if you’ve ever read the original book (and I highly recommend you do read Noughts and Crosses instead). Literally nothing happens that the reader doesn’t already know and there’s nothing new from his perspective added into the plot. Seriously, just read the main series. Even though it was pretty pointless, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read. It also didn’t hurt that it was short and I got it on overdrive(aka I didn’t have to buy it), so I gave it:

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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Tiny Pretty Things– this wasn’t a terrible book, by any means, I just didn’t enjoy it all that much. A lot of that came down to the fact that I didn’t end up latching onto any of the character’s stories. Perhaps that was because there was simply too much crazy drama- I mean, that’s kind of what you sign up for with a book like this, still this whirl-twirl-leaps to a whole new level of insane.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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Truth or Dare– oh boy, I could get in trouble for saying what I have to say here, but I’m gonna go ahead and say them anyway cos I truly think this is constructive criticism. There were several choices that I found off-putting before I even began to read the actual book. The first was the author’s choice of pen name; the second and third were the two apologies issued before the book- one of which instructs the reader to maybe try different books instead. After reading this, I wish I’d followed that advice. So many times while I was reading this I wondered why the hell didn’t I just put this down when I had the chance?  Not only are the apologies a major clue that this is going to be jam packed with virtue signalling, yet they also give a fair warning that *everything* is going to be over-explained. From vlogs to issues with brain injuries- this book is more concerned with info-dumping and getting a message across than telling a story. It was written in such a juvenile way that made it impossible for me to care about the characters. I actually can’t remember much about the leads now that I think about it. The only character that stuck in my head at all was Seren, because she was effing nuts (she gets aggressively upset that someone wants to date her, then pissy when he moves on). Truthfully, I should never have dared go near this one 😉

Rating: 1/5 bananas

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So yeah, not a great reading month, but I have high hopes for the next one! Anyway, enough about me- how have you all been? Did you have a good reading month? And, as always, have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – July

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Well hello! This is me coming at you live for the first time in weeks and I gotta admit it feels a little strange- I’m pretty out of practice I guess. But I thought you ought to know, from the monkey’s mouth, I’M ALIVE (not much of a drama queen, am I?) Anyhoo, you might have noticed that I had a lot of content up after my whole “I’m off” post, partly cos I had a lot of reviews to catch up on, although mostly cos I stress blogged before I left. Now though, I’m pretty busy (I promise to give details when I’m done) and *shock horror* haven’t been reading much 😦 I still have plenty of ideas for content, yet I’ve decided to take a proper break while I try to figure out a schedule for when I can post… so bear with me! Okey dokey, preamble aside, I have only two books to review for July:

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City of Brass– I really wanted to like this a lot more, but this got far too confusing and felt overlong. There was just so much information flying about over warring tribes and I struggled to keep up with the overload of world building- which was an especial pity, because a lot of that was beautifully written. I still ended up with way too many (irrelevant to the plot) questions like “why do they hate each other again and what the hell is going on?” And when I couldn’t connect this with the overall story, I wondered why it was included at all. Too much of the plot felt meandering anyway and that didn’t help. Nahri, the main character, initially delighted me with her antics and trickster charade… but all too soon it transpired it was little more than an act, for I couldn’t connect this character with her later impossibly innocent nature. As for the other lead, Ali didn’t grab my attention and was lost for way too much of his narrative. Again, we’re told he’s this pious and it didn’t quite match up with how he appeared in the story. It’s not a bad book per se, it just didn’t live upto any of the promise.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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Always and Forever– I found Lara Jean’s final book really relatable- especially the part (*spoiler alert*) where she didn’t get into the college of her dreams. That kind of disappointment will ring true with a lot of readers no doubt. Overall, I preferred it to the second book, as the focus on growing up made it feel more necessary, yet it still didn’t quite capture my heart the way the first did.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So yeah, part of the purpose of doing this blog was to tell you all I’m not gonna be about… again! In the meantime, have you read either of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!