Addressing “Entitled” Fans

 

thoughts orangutan

Am I the only one that thinks this whole “entitled fans” debate is getting old already? For those of you who haven’t seen this phrase bandied about, well first of all lucky you, and second of all it’s basically becoming a catch-all phrase to describe disgruntled fans. A couple of years ago it was used to describe Star Wars fans for not lapping up the trash that was The Last Jedi; more recently it’s been dug up again to sling at those of us who are unhappy with the ending of Game of Thrones (more specifically for a petition that I don’t feel the need to go into cos it’s much the same as any other petition on the planet).

A lot of the time, this argument seems to be a way to shut down criticism- which is never a good look for a creator. Aside from the fact it often seems like people with MASSIVE platforms going after the little guy, let’s just say throwing your weight around shouting “HOW DARE YOU CRITICISE ME FOOLISH MORTAL” makes something else seem a little bit inflated… 😉

That said, the creator isn’t necessarily wrong for standing up for themselves. After all, if they had a vision for their work and the audience doesn’t like it, that’s not their fault, right? And harassing the author/creator/whatever isn’t okay. No matter how much we might love something, we don’t have ownership of it. And in the words of Mick Jagger:

you can't always get what you want

So, I actually do get that a creator really shouldn’t have to do what their audience wants. That’s why I say REVIEWS ARE FOR READERS– they’re made after the fact and aren’t designed to make the author change their ways. Still, while it may be true that “art is not a democracy”, it doesn’t then follow that “ergo I never have to listen to criticism”. Nor is “I don’t have to listen to you because you’re just a fan” a great argument. Because here’s a little secret: FANS WANT THE PROPERTIES THEY LOVE TO SUCCEED. That’s why they’ve poured their time/money/hearts/souls into these projects. And to forget that is to forget what made success possible.

This is particularly significant when looking at modern, commercial art. When we’re talking about huge franchises like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Harry Potter etc, we’re not talking about its creation in a vacuum. These hugely successful properties owe more than a little to their fans. The fact is, shows/movies/books even are being treated more like products; likewise, creators have been willing to treat fans more like customers. And that’s fine- but then it doesn’t stand for writers/producers to still say “it’s art, we can do whatever we want!” Because you can’t expect to act that way when taking people’s money AND get no complaints if you miss-market said product. As a fan, I might be more forgiving if things don’t pan out exactly as I want; as a customer, I won’t be as happy. For instance, if I go into a restaurant and order pizza and you give me ice cream, I’m not going to be happy (no matter how much I love both). Customers rarely want subverted expectations. Which brings me onto one of the biggest areas of debate…

elephants game of thronesNow, here’s the thing: subverted expectations aren’t always a bad thing. Game of Thrones in particular was known for it- and known for doing it well. There are times when I wish the creator had gone the unexpected route. And some art exists in that beautifully comedic and meaningful sphere where art breaks all the rules. Some of my favourite works exist in this bubble: Guards, Guards, Carry On and even the Alan Partridge books! Fans don’t always want to be serviced, if you know what I mean 😉 But, in the case of the elephant (or lack thereof) in the room/Seven Kingdoms, trying a bold manoeuvre like subverting expectations has to be well executed.

Funnily enough, a lot of criticism like this is actually fairly technical. Mary Sues, subverted expectations, fanservice are all terms that existed for a long time- and yet they’re being brushed aside for causing “offence”. Ironically, this feeds into the idea that there is a right and wrong reason to criticise art nowadays (or to criticise criticism). With call out culture waiting in the wings, (often verified) journalists are able to rile people up and simultaneously forbid regular consumers from questioning creative “genius”. This doesn’t seem like they have the audience’s best interests at heart: it seems like thinly veiled elitism, pulling up the drawbridge and gatekeeping competition.

That could just be my sceptical brain going into overdrive though 😉 To be on the safe side, let’s just engage in honest discussions, not resort to stifling conversations by throwing around ad hominems and stop calling fans “entitled” for voicing opinions.

So, what do you think of the “entitled fans” debate? Do you think fans go to far? How do you think creators should respond? Let me know in the comments!

Misconceptions of Negative Reviews

 

thoughts orangutan

A few weeks ago, I saw something that has become the norm online: a famous author (who shall remain unnamed) saying why people shouldn’t write negative reviews. Now, not only is *criticising criticism pretty hypocritical*, it also comes across as someone with a fair amount of power trying to stifle conversation- and let’s just say I don’t approve. But going beyond this individual’s fame and success, there are a lot of people who hold similar views. Personally, I don’t have a problem with people choosing to only do positive reviews, but I think negative reviews get a bad rap. Sometimes I just think people don’t understand why people do them and assume motives that aren’t there. So, I thought I’d break down where I reckon these misconceptions are coming from:

meanMisconception #1: Critical reviewers are MEAN. Well, that could be true, who knows? 😉 Just kidding- I think this assumption is reading wayyy too much into things. Beyond the fact it’s probably not a good idea to psychoanalyse strangers on the internet, I also think that it’s not taking into consideration that people are different and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some reviewers are blunter than others, some are snarkier, some are funnier- because that’s their personality. Not to go all Big Five Personality on y’all, but (and I can’t believe I have to point this out) being more agreeable (for instance) doesn’t make you inherently a better person. For goodness sakes- you don’t have to like everyone’s way of doing things, yet I think we can all agree that how you review isn’t the next Great Moral Debate!

the devil hocus pocusMisconception #2: We want to upset authors. Also known as the “reviews are meant to help you improve” idea. Ermmm no. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: reviews are for READERS! That means whether the review is positive or negative, it’s not designed for the author. Frankly, I’m too shy to @ authors when I’m being entirely positive- but I definitely would never do that if I had even a smidge of criticism there.

never happyMisconception #3: We’re hard to please… okay this one is totally possible. And I did see a really great video about critical reviews, which suggested there’s a possibility you’re reading the wrong books for you 😉 HOWEVER, while this could be true, most reviewers will have a mixed bag. I know I do. And the thing is, even positive reviews can hold criticism- which leads me onto…

throw booksMisconception #4: We don’t love books. Pahahaha- so because we don’t like your book, we can’t like any books?! I mean, this is just plain silly. Why dedicate hours and hours to a passion if we secretly don’t like it? Really though, this feeds into the idea that we can read *everything* *all the time*- which is daft. Encouraging people to read endlessly is preposterous. So much so that even positive reviews should point out the downsides- and vice versa. For instance, while some people are put off by slow books, I’ll be perfectly happy to give it a try. Even when I’m gushing, I don’t aim for mindless POSITIVITY- for me it’s primarily about getting people to be able to find the right book for them. Sure, this isn’t always possible, but it’s worth a try!

stop reading

Almost didn’t put this meme in cos it personally offends me!

Misconception #5: Negative reviews are to stop you reading! Again, negative reviews are often pretty nuanced. They’re written to explain why someone may/may not want to read something; they’re not explicitly designed to deprive other people of pleasure. A great review helps readers make informed decisions (see above about not having the time to read everything ever written). BTW people who read reviews also aren’t braindead- *SHOCKER* readers are smart and can make up their own minds whether to trust the reviewer thank-you-very-much! As someone who watched and read reviews long before I got into doing it myself, I think it’s safe to say I know how to read a review without losing my sense of self. It’s quite possible to see a negative review and say “I’m going to read it anyway!” Which brings me onto…

im-right-youre-wrongMisconception #6: We think WHAT WE SAY GOES! We’re not gods or always right (that’s why I did a post about how not to review). Reviews are biased, they’re not objective. You don’t have to listen to them all the time and you can come away thinking something completely different.

Misconception #7: We’re playing 4D chess… Cos right now there is this idea that you will get ALL THE VIEWS if you get a little snarky. While I don’t deny this can be the case for some people, I’d say I have the same stats on negative and positive pieces. Plus, this is a good opportunity to come full circle in the piece and say PEOPLE ARE A BIT MORE COMPLEX THAN THAT. You can’t just bottle up people’s reasons for doing things in simple “oh they’re just looking for attention” terms. I for one didn’t start my blog for just one reason (and I can tell you when I started attention wasn’t even a remote possibility on my radar). So I think it’s time to finish off my piece with some age old wisdom:

when you assume

And with that I’d like to know what you think- do you reckon people have misconceptions about negative reviews? Or do you think any of these are spot on? Let me know in the comments!

Us Didn’t Exactly Bring Things Together

 
us david nicholls

Well, this is exactly the kind of book that made me avoid adult fiction for some time. A story about a soon-to-be divorced middle-aged man, with a son about to leave home, going on a life-affirming trip round Europe to try and reunite his fractured home… tha-a-a-a-t ultimately ends up with it all being for nothing. 

Still, it did have a few things going for it:

1.       It’s well written. Aside from perhaps the overabundance of lists, there are nice little turns of phrases like: “contorting his body into a question mark”

2.       There’s a sad side to the story and some parts are deeply moving.

3.       There’s an actual plot! Huzzah! (I know this might seem like a weird one to list, but enough adult/literary fiction is lack in this department, so I may as well praise it when I see it).

you suckBuuuut this is all completely ruined by the fact that ALL the characters in this are AWFUL PEOPLE. Pretentious, selfish, shitty people. I couldn’t stand any of them. I don’t know if this book was designed to make me hate everyone in it, but it certainly managed to do that. Let’s start with the worst offender shall we? The son, Albi, made me come up with a whole host of reasons why his parents should have shoved him in a canal and been done with him:

1.       His main reason for not wanting to go to Europe to see the art there, despite being an aspiring “artist”, is because European art was made by: “a lot of dead white Europeans”. UGH. What a reductive way to look at art. Also, WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO YOU EXPECT TO FIND IN EUROPE? The kind of idiot that would say Europe is full of Europeans is the kind of person who would take photos of his shoe (he does that too).

2.       He’s too surly to put forward any sensible reasons why he doesn’t want to go on holiday with his parents (aka “thanks for the offer mum and dad, but I’ve just graduated school and am about to turn 18, so no thanks” NOT “BUUUUT I WANNNNA GO PARTAYYYY WAHHH!”) Not that I think it’s a good idea to take a reluctant 17 year old on holiday, but you’re not gonna convince any parent with the excuse “I just want to get drunk!”

3.       On top of that, he’s the kind of ungrateful shit that’s had everything given to him on a silver platter, but STILL feels hard done to (because apparently parents/society/the world is oppressing you… by giving you everything?!) That’s right- he’s so WOKE that he understands how inherently *evil* the world is and therefore gets to throw his weight around like an overgrown toddler… because? I dunno if it was deliberate, but he was a bigger spoilt brat (and less nuanced) than Dudley Dursley.

4.       Also, he’s basically the villain. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list within the list of terrible things he does: refuses to spend time with his parents who’re bankrolling his trip, brings creepy 10 YEARS OLDER girlfriend to family breakfasts, gets angry at father for trying to de-escalate said fight, picks fights, runs away from said parents without a word leaving them to worry themselves sick, steals his father’s credit card, claims to be going round Europe on a shoestring budget WHILE USING SAID STOLEN CREDIT CARD, blames parents for all of above behaviour- I could go on but it’s an exhaustingly long list. The only excuse anyone can give for this behaviour is that he’s a teen- although that’ll only get him off the hook if you believe teens are inherently good and not responsible for their actions. Also, spoiler alert, he’s gay (big frickin whoop- do you think it gives you licence to be the world’s biggest prat?)

However, it’s no surprise that he’s a nightmare teen, as his mother Connie also sucks:

1.    do whatever you want   She is a terrible mother, because she let’s Albi do whatever he wants and tells her husband off for daring to discipline the out of control little berk. I have no idea why the whole book revolves around the father looking for his son to apologise, when really the kid needs a kick up the backside! (hopefully propelling him into said canal)

2.       She has an inexplicable affair and spends a lot of the book full of contempt for her husband- despite him putting her on a pedestal.

3.       In fact, everything she does is inexplicable– she marries a guy she doesn’t want to marry for no real reason (he just asked enough, I guess?) She then decides it’s time for a divorce cos she’s bored. I couldn’t think of a single reason to like this woman, despite being frequently told by the narrator how “terrific” she was. I for one would’ve liked an iota of evidence of her GLORIOUS AMAZING SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC personality.

Lastly there was the protagonist. Ah Douglas- smart, but exceptionally stupid old Douglas. I feel almost like kicking a puppy when I say this, cos he was idiotically loyal, but the guy’s a bit of bellend too- here’s why:

1.       shocked faceHe inherently lacks logic. I’m gonna assume that the views he holds don’t belong to the author, so I’m not trying to have a go, but WOW he’s got some dim-witted ideas about the future. For instance, he believes we’re going to live in a futuristic hellscape, where there are more robots, yet SOMEHOW the poor are still doing manual labour? Also, apparently, the ever-growing entertainment industry will shrink overnight and disappear. All of which is the fault of capitalism. No need to back up any of those claims- just go with it. That’s what everyone else seems to do in the book. Either that or sit there and silently fume (which only made me hate them more).

2.       Ridiculous fortunetelling aside, he is also completely clueless about people. The quiz night is the perfect example why (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean). He has zero emotional intelligence- which meant any sympathy I had for him quickly dried up.

3.       He also doesn’t know when he’s right or when to stand up for himself. He apologises to his son, his wife- and nobody ever seems to cotton onto the fact he’s being too generous. Despite this supposedly being about coming back together, reconciling differences, there’s never any real communication where they thrash out their differences. Douglas is just WRONG, everyone else is RIGHT.

funny-facepalm-gifAdmittedly this had a few plot twists and turns here and there to make it seem like things might work out- but I’ll save you all the bother of worrying: it doesn’t. Things end in much the same place as they begin. Except Douglas is cool with the fact his life is falling apart now. So that’s good, I guess. If you’re into this sort of thing, you might even like it. For me, I’m pretty done with books that masquerade as artsy by going the bleak route.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana 

So, dare I ask, have you read this book? What did you think of it? Did you enjoy it more than me? Let me know in the comments- don’t be shy!

What makes me pick up a book?

 

orangutan list

Well, the simple answer is that it is book shaped and contains a story 😉 Just kidding! I have all sorts of *actual reasons* (beyond just that bookworm impulse to see books and shout GIMME!!!)

book love belleCover Love! I’m just gonna get this out the way first because a) we all do it and b) I’m as guilty as the next person 😉 And boy this can set off the book lust!

 

book loveA sexy blurb– naturally. As I’ve mentioned before, I can be tempted to read pretty much any genre, and a compelling blurb will definitely do that.

 

Yall of youou guys! It’ll come as no surprise that I take reviews very seriously. I definitely pay attention to what other bloggers are reading/what I might have missed/what’s lived upto the hype. Speaking of which…

 

book pusherRegular peer pressure also works. As much as I like to tell myself it doesn’t, hype can definitely push me towards a book. And that’s not the only type of browbeating that can get me on board. Nagging family, friends, a persistent librarian, a list titled “must read before you die”, a throwaway comment… if someone insists loud enough that I should do more reading, who am I to argue? 😉

 

choose booksAlso, I can’t resist books by my favourite authors. I mean this one’s self-explanatory- if I love a book by an author, I’ll keep coming back for more 😊 I could say the same for genre, but I think I get a bit more specific there…

 

dragon gifMythical creatures capture my attention! But most specifically DRAGONS! Granted, this can be hit or miss, because let’s just say I’ve been burned before 😉 Still I can never resist hoarding shiny new dragon books!! And it’s not just magical creatures that tempt me…

 

magicMAGIC will always lure me in! Beyond all the creatures, I can’t get enough of the worlds, the quests, the spells… I am here for it all!! The whisper of magic will have me intrigued; a bold new fantasy system will make me want to shout from the rooftops! Although, I’m not gonna pretend to have the most discerning palate all the time- a good banana is a good banana no matter where it’s been imported from 😉 While I do appreciate a little different, I’m gonna be happy if you put that banana in a banana split or banana bread 😉 (jeez that might be the worst analogy I’ve ever used 😉) Point is fantasy is my jam, whether it’s something wildly different, or something samey done well.

 

lily and jamesRomance– errr yeah I’m gonna admit to being one of those readers who prefers a hefty dose of love in my literature. Though I won’t say I need it in everything I read, a little romance is always a plus for me 😀 Speaking of romance, I can never say no to a few…

 

Beloved tropes– aka romantic tropes I die for. I absolutely adore hate to love and fake boyfriends in particular- and they’ll definitely have me reaching for a book!

And finally…

shameIt’s been on my tbr so gosh darn long that I’m beginning to feel guilty… although this isn’t always the most compelling reason 😉 (see all the books on my tbr I’ve failed to read glaring at me).

 

So do you relate to any of these? What makes you pick up a book? Let me know in the comments!

I confess: I am an audiobook convert!

 

audiobook2

Hallelujah! I have finally found a “new” bookish way! And I’m here today to share these all-mighty teachings with you! (although no doubt many of you have heard these reasons before 😉) Here are the reasons I have finally caved and started listening to audiobooks:

mood reader 1More reading time! Ever wanted just a bit more time to squeeze in books? This totally works! Audiobooks, it turns out, are perfect for multitasking. Admittedly, you may want to do something that requires minimum brain function, like hoovering or washing up, because if it’s a good audiobook you may feel the need to stop (people who cook and don’t burn their dinner while listening to a great audiobook need to tell me how they do that 😉 ) Plus, if you’re really pushed for time, you can speed them up- result!

 

are you not entertainedSo entertaining! While audiobooks have always had some great narrators, I swear I’ve found more modern audiobooks have a lot of added bonuses to keep us readers on our toes- they have music and multiple narrators to create a more immersive experience. Some genres and stories work brilliantly in this format, such as my recent reads Daisy Jones and Sadie.

 

read-fastSqueeze in more learning. The way I’ve been using audiobooks for the longest time is to listen to non-fic. It’s never been my favourite genre, but discovering I could listen to non fic while I work was a gamechanger for me.

 

 

baboon glassesGreat for your eyes! If you don’t have the best eyesight (like me)/just need to give your eyes a rest, I’d definitely recommend giving audiobooks a go. One of my favourite times to read is before bed- however sometimes I’m too tired to focus, so regretfully put aside the book… not anymore! People had been telling me about this benefit for ages, but I hadn’t really listened and now I wish I’d done it sooner! 

 

reading anywhereListen on the go. So admittedly, I have walked and read before- but now I can do it safely! Without the risk of being run over! PRAISE BE BOOKISH GODS!

 

piles of booksDoesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Beyond audible (and various other sites), there are libraries and beyond that are apps like Overdrive. Discovering that you can get library ebooks and audiobooks on Overdrive/Libby was a complete revelation to me. I didn’t know about this resource for ages (cos I’m a dinosaur apparently) so for the handful of you that are as clueless about technology as me, if you have access to a library, check to see if you can get access too. 

And that’s all for now! I hope I’ve convinced a few of you to step into the dark side *ahem* I mean the light… This is pretty new to me, so do any of you have tips on where to get audiobooks? Or reasons you love them too? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – June

monthly mini reviews version 2

Hello all! I think I’m becoming a bit of an old record lately, recounting how busy I’ve been every month, explaining why I’m playing catch up and *yada yada yada*… Rather than dancing to that tune again, I’ll skip all that and just say if you’re interested in my adventures offline you can check out this post 😉 For everyone else, we can just get straight to the books, cos there’s a lot of them!

devil's thief

The Devil’s Thief– I am haunted by my disappointment for this book. It’s the kind of book I quite enjoyed reading, but look back on with irritation. Because it could’ve been so good! Following its powerful predecessor, this had a bold opening, with stunning prose, thus assuring me I was in for a treat. And yet somehow it didn’t manage to fulfil the promise. While there was some entertaining action throughout, the structure was ultimately more disjointed than The Last Magician and I didn’t feel as connected to it. There was far too much squabbling and I didn’t care for the characters as I should. I also felt that the romantic problems were repetitive and pointless- maybe because I’d just watched a video on the rule of three- or maybe because there’s only so many times you can read that Esta is *a strong woman* and Harte is *too old fashioned* (what with him being from a different time period and all). Problem is, this was not helped by the fact that Esta literally wasn’t listening to the fact Harte was possessed!! I’m honestly unsure about whether I should continue with this series now- despite the fact the twist at the end was decent and I’d kinda like to see how it all works out. It would be really great if someone could pop back from the future and let me know if it’s worth it 😉

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

emergency contact

Emergency Contact- do you know that feeling where you pick up a book and instantly know it’s not for you? Well I had that with this book. The second I’d started reading I knew. But I’d waited in a queue to read it on overdrive and now I had the (albeit not physical) copy, I was determined to finish it dammit! Annnd it was totally not worth it. I *hated* the writing style straight away- it felt like it was trying too darn hard to be down with the kids. And there was SO MUCH virtue signalling. Such as: “Never mind the karma of a total non-Jew stealing a book about the Jewish holocaust from a Jewish person.” Everything. Is. Wrong. With. That. Sentence. I can’t even will myself to dissect it. Or the time when she expresses her thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha: “a book Penny adored until she discovered some rando white guy had written it”. Wow, stunning and brave 😉 I found Penny insufferably unlikeable and ergo did not have much interest in the plot/romance/much of anything to do with this. This is not to trash the book- I just think you can figure out within the first sentence/page/chapter whether this is for you or not. That’s definitely something I should have done. Moral of the story: I need to DNF more! Needless to say, I have not learnt that lesson quite yet 😉

Rating: 1½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

a separate peace

A Separate Peace– “it’s an American classic”, I was sneeringly told by the person that recommended it. Now, that may very well have prejudiced me against the book, but I will still say I am not quite sure why it is considered an American classic. I never connected with the dry writing style; I thought the story lacked a certain punchiness. And this all culminated in a dull and unearned ending. Finny was, admittedly, an interesting character- it was just a shame he wasn’t explored as fully as he could have been. There were also some interesting ideas here- it was again a pity that they amounted to very little in the eyes of this reader, since they were conveyed in a textbook-style telling instead of showing. Most notably, telling me a moral at the end, without demonstrating it throughout the story feels cheap and pointless. Personally, I found this book a bit of a waste of time, though there was potential in it.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

otherworld

Otherworld– another in a string of bad books. However, the positive side of this one is I DNF’d it! That’s right! I finally learnt my lesson! Why was this the straw that broke this monkey’s back? Well, there’s a long list of reasons- not least that it felt like reading a string of clichés and recycled ideas. This was Ready Player One, only without the great voice and stand-out characters. The protagonist had ZERO personality (no, having a “kishka” does not count- it just makes you a racial stereotype- so thanks for that I guess?) We’re told over and over that the Otherworld is a *fabulous* place, but I never felt it shown in the flat descriptions. Perhaps if I hadn’t had a string of meh reads this month I would have been more inclined to finish it- but life is too short and I had little hope of it improving. Based on what I’d read so far, I gave it:

Rating: 1/5 bananas

hand-drawn-banana

beautiful disaster

Beautiful Disaster– well the clue is in the title I guess 😉 Just so damn ugly and petty- though perhaps not as terrible as I was led to expect (although I do think a lot of the love interest’s behaviours wouldn’t fly today). Oh and heads up, the people in this all suck. Strangely, that wasn’t my biggest issue though. What actually spoiled this book for me is the weird structure- there are so many time jumps and issues with pacing. At points the characters would be in the middle of some crucial interlude in their lives, only to skip a few weeks. For me, this was incredibly jarring.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

panic

Panic– Lauren Oliver to the rescue! I am always assured that when I pick up one of Oliver’s books I’m going to be rewarded with a wonderfully written, interesting concept, entertaining read- and this was no exception! This was a thrill a minute and I really liked how the idea was handled. I also found the characters engaging enough and the twist solid. While this may not be her best book, I still enjoyed it and would recommend if you like her work.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

dark matter

Dark Matter– this was by far one of the best books I read all month. From the intriguing opening, this had a fast-paced intensity that made it hard for me to keep my breath. There are some creepy turns to this and it works out as a fascinating thought experiment. What I liked most about it was how Jason consistently chose to be the best version of himself (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it 😉 ) This was an absolutely wild ride, an exhilarating journey, with a bonkers ending- in the best kind of way!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

AlwaysNever_BOM_4p.indd

Always Never Yours– this had both a unique and typical plot- which completely works in its favour. Often in YA contemporaries, whatever the characters are studying in school has some sort of bearing on the plot. But it’s usually rather a disappointment. How many times will we see a character studying Romeo and Juliet, for instance, only to be swept off their feet by someone they can’t have? This is always especially funny in a high school when they’re being all *melodramatic* high school about their performances and trying to fit in all 5 acts (when even professionals know to cut for time lol). Now, while I won’t say this was wholly original in that regard, it did miraculously flip the script a little by exploring the role of Rosalind. Even if the character of Megan sometimes made very little sense to me, I did appreciate this fresh take, especially as it allowed for the mc grow in courage, learning to take the lead, instead of always waiting in the wings. It was just a shame that (because of weirdly inexplicable girl rules?) she had to forgive a friend who betrayed her by the end of the story. For me personally, the protagonist was too nice in this regard, sacrificing her character development to be treated like a doormat. Frankly, I’m struggling not to rant about how all cheats are skeez-bags, so I’ll just skip to the fact that at least I enjoyed the mc’s romance and leave it at that.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

death comes to pemberley

audiobook2Death Comes to Pemberley– if I had to describe this in a couple of words, I’d sum it up as enjoyable fanfic. I won’t be pretending this is in any way highbrow, when in fact, it is so very, very silly. Personally, the sole reason I picked this up was that I’ve been in the mood for a lot of Austen lately and can’t seem to get enough of what actually exists in canon (anyone fancy building a time machine and fetching Austen from the past so she can write at least one more book?). So, naturally, what was I to do but check out a murder mystery set in Austenland? 😉 Nonetheless, one of its biggest failings is not that it insists on putting the characters of Pride and Prejudice in the most ludicrous of circumstances, but that it recaps the original so frequently and unnecessarily that the point is a little laboured. I confess, I have very little knowledge of fanfic, so perhaps someone can answer in the comments if characters excessively recalling the events of their past is a common theme in the genre? Regardless, I did have a bizarrely enjoyable time with this, mostly thanks to the atmospheric hold of the author and the rather pleasant reading from the audiobook narrator.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

This is going to hurt was far from painless…

 

I liked this more than I expected- and I didn’t expect much. I’ll confess, with my recently resurfacing squeamishness, the memoirs of a former Junior Doctor weren’t high on my list. But this incisive, insider vision of the NHS ended up being too hard to resist. While it wouldn’t have been something I’d necessarily seek out, I’m glad this cuttingly comedic story fell into my lap.

Because dark humour is up my street- and this has that by the (admittedly sometimes icky) bucketload. So, rather than telling my fellow borderline-germophobes not to read this, I’d probably suggest skipping the footnotes, because that’s where most of the “arghh my eyes” moments are 😉

Admittedly, I sometimes found the Kay’s experiences unrelatable at times, yet that did not detract from the importance of his narrative. Like I said, this does give valuable insight into the ghoulish state of the UK’s National Health Service, for which I am grateful. This touched on a lot of significant issues, from the obvious issues of overworking and understaffing to how people even end up on this track in the first place (I always find it of particular interest that unis prize candidates who can play the clarinet passably well rather than considering if the 18 in question has the resilience and empathy needed for the job). Needless to say, all of this did not exactly allay my fears of going to the doctor.

Because at the same time as sympathising with a lot of the people who work for the health service, I was also struck by the number of cretins in this world (the example that most springs to mind was the fool interrupting a genuine emergency for a drill and then demanding an apology when this doesn’t go down well). Just for that incident alone, I’d say this isn’t the kind of book that makes you all fuzzy-eyed about humanity.

And on that note, as promised, don’t expect a happy ending. This concludes on the most depressing of stories; this is not a comfortable book to read by any stretch of the imagination. Never before has a book title been so literal. I do not think I can invoke the spectre of it and do it justice. So, I will just leave you with the instruction to read the book and see for yourself:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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And that’s my prognosis! Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!