The No Disclaimers Book Tag!

Being the kind of person that apologises to a chair if I bump into it, I feel like a post like this presents a bit of challenge. But I am nothing if not determined! I saw this first on Booktube and then on the splendid Strange Storyteller 🙂 So I’ve decided to do it myself… with no disclaimers!

  1. Which trope(s) in books annoys you the most?

The Chosen One (unless it’s flipped on its head), love triangles (especially with cheating), really put off by instalove these days (and any kind of “mating”… eww even using that word makes me feel a bit sick). And I’m sorry to say a lot of these end up in the Throne of Glass series (which explains why I outgrew it):

  1. Which writer(s) do you feel is overrated/overhyped?

Damn, this is hard, because most of the time I can see why other people like things, even if I don’t. Still, I trawled through my goodreads and came up with an answer: Divergent. I don’t get why this was so hyped. Granted, I feel like I added to the interest by reading the whole damned series… but I never thought it was worth the hype. The concept never made a lot of sense to me and I didn’t think there was a good enough reason to make a dystopia around this topic. I couldn’t imagine a society ever taking things to this extreme and wondered at the justification for it (usually there’s some kind of social commentary that underpins a dystopic system). Turns out I was right: it seems like the whole concept was made up on the fly, since (*spoiler alert*) the dystopic city in the story was set within a dystopic world that agreed dividing people up based on 5 traits was a dumb idea. Basically it was a waste of time and wouldn’t recommend it.

  1. What are your least favorite books you’ve read since joining BookTube blogging?

Ah well I blame myself for this one, cos I first saw a book review saying that this wasn’t worth the hype… but I read the Foxhole Court anyway. Either way, I don’t get why this is so popular in blogging and on booktube. Funnily enough, a lot of people that love this series tend to call out other books for being “problematic”… when this is super dodgy?! I don’t get the appeal. 

  1. What is a terrible ending that ruined an otherwise quality book?

Oh gosh I hate the series enders Hand on the Wall (a dull solution to a mystery is a killer), Queen of Ruin (undermined the interesting dystopic concept) and Ashes to Ashes (fails to deliver the promised redemption arc).

  1. Which fictional character(s) do you wish was not killed off?

I have to agree with the Strange Storyteller’s answers- I didn’t like Finnick Odair’s death and I didn’t think most of the later Harry Potter deaths were necessary (as much as I hate to admit it, the deaths of Sirius and Dumbledore work for the story). And there’s always that death in Crooked Kingdom– that totally, totally works- and yet I wish hadn’t happened…

  1. What are some of your bookish pet peeves?

Politics in books (isn’t it bad enough in the real world?), moralising (ugh), pretentiousness (double ugh) and books that are just set up (why waste my time?!).

  1. What are some books you feel should have more recognition?

Great question! Some new(ish) books to whet your palate 😊:

The first is a sizzling collection of poetry, the second is a hotly-paced thriller and the last is a lush contemporary. All of these would make great holiday companions!

  1. What are your thoughts on censorship and banning books?

Hell no! Not acceptable! It’s obviously perfectly fine to choose not to read something or decide you don’t want to support an author, but banning books?! That’s just fascistic.

  1. Who do you tag?

Zezee, Journey into Books, Kat @Life and Other Disasters, Sam @Rivermoose Reads, Meghan, Book Forager, Read Betwixt Words and anyone else that wants to do it!

And that’s all for now- do you agree or disagree with my answers? Should I have put in disclaimers for some of these? 😉 Let me know 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!

All the Adaptations I’ve Loved and Hated

Hello all! inspired by the recent Shadow and Bone adaptation, I decided to make a list of TV and movie adaptations I feel strongly about. As you can imagine, this could’ve been an absolutely ginormous list, so I decided to stick to best and worst adaptations (in my opinion of course 😉). So there’s nothing here I feel lukewarm or so-so about. I also didn’t include adaptations where I hated the books to begin with (Divergent, Twilight) or where the book series hasn’t finished yet (GOT). And, obviously, I have to be familiar with the original series.

Let’s get started with my favourites:

The Lord of the Rings– well, obviously. These movies were a massive part of inspiring my lifelong love of reading. And I’m one of those people that prefers the Lord of the Rings movies to the books (sacrilege, I know, but they’re my favourite films of all time).  

Stardust– this movie is *magical*. Again, it’s one where I actually prefer the adaptation to the book, because it’s just so damn good. I will happily rewatch this over and over!

Shadow and Bone– this may be a bold choice, since I saw this really recently (and isn’t a complete series yet). That said, going off of what I’ve seen so far, I think it both captures the best aspects of the Grishaverse and improves upon the source material. I can’t wait to watch more of it!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– switching things up, this contemporary perfectly adapts the source material, bringing all the humour, quirky characters and sisterhood to the screen. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve rewatched it *so many times*!

Love Simon– this is another contemporary I love to rewatch. Personally, while I enjoyed the book, the film felt a little slicker and I got more out of it.

Atonement– I’ve made no secret of the fact I don’t love McEwan’s writing style… but I adore this film. It’s an exquisitely shot, beautifully acted historical romance, with a brilliant soundtrack. And even if that wasn’t enough to make me love it- I also love the slightly different ending. It worked so well for me.

Pride and Prejudice– there’s a lot of debate about the best Austen adaptation, but quite simply, this is it for me. I can happily rewatch/reread anything Austen related- yet this is the one I binge annually. It is just classic bliss.

Bleak House– another perfect adaptation from Andrew Davies, this TV series has such strong  Dickensian energy and brilliantly brings the story and characters to life.

And now let’s move onto adaptations I DESPISE- WARNING UNPOPULAR OPINIONS AHEAD!!!!!!

The Hobbit– well I have to start with the most egregious example of an “adaptation”. Because this butchers the source material and brings nothing good to the table. I won’t go on about this too much- as I’ve already discussed it at length– but this adaptation still makes me mad. It doesn’t help that the Hobbit is one of my all-time favourite books- yet I’m still amazed that they managed to mess it up quite this much. Choosing Peter Jackson to adapt this book- when he doesn’t even like the original story- makes no sense (even if he did a great job with LOTR).

Harry Potter– okay, *deep breath* everybody, I know this is an unpopular opinion. I’ve just never enjoyed these movies. I know that a lot of people are very attached to them, but I have remained the kinda disappointed, hipster child that couldn’t get on board with these adaptations. It certainly didn’t help that they left out huge things and changed a lot (though I do like the videos by Dominic Noble exploring all the ways they messed up on that front)- I just never vibed with them. I tried to rewatch them at the beginning of lockdown 1… and gave up after trying the first couple of movies because they weren’t for me. Maybe one day I’ll challenge myself and try again- yet I don’t see myself changing my mind- sorry!

The Golden Compass– there were actually things about the movie that I liked (most specifically, some aspects of Lyra’s portrayal). However, we all know this is nothing like the book, starting with the dumb title change. If you want to see an actually good adaptation (though not perfect) definitely try His Dark Materials… but in both cases I still recommend sticking to the books first and foremost.

The Mortal instruments– I mean, do I even need to get into why? This is just one in a long string of Hollywood badly adapting a YA series (and I’m only picking on it cos it’s the one where I’ve read the whole series and watched the adaptation). They messed up half the story and the way they did Valentine was laughable… and then they blamed fans for not liking it enough for a second movie adaptation.

Shadowhunters– okay, this one might also make people angry… but I don’t like the show either! For very different reasons. I hate the acting and the weird changes and the special effects look really unnatural to me. I gave up on this show very quickly and just watched the Malec scenes (cos they’re what it’s all about anyway). Still, I do think it’s astounding that there are two adaptations of the same story and I hate them both (maybe it doesn’t help that I’ve since gone off the source material too).

Always and Forever Lara Jean– annnd this also did everything I hate in Hollywood adaptations. With this one, I think it’s more of a shame, as I actually enjoyed the way the book series ended. It stripped the story of all its meaning and most of its subtlety. I wasn’t a fan of the second movie, but then I didn’t enjoy the second book. Worst of all, I felt like where the book finally brought the couple back together, this removed any remaining chemistry they had. Not worth watching.

My Sister’s Keeper– bit of a random throwback, yet I can never quite forget how utterly betrayed I felt by this adaptation. Changing the ending ruined everything this story had to say.

And that’s all I’ve got for now! Do you agree or disagree with any of my picks? And what are your favourite book adaptations? Which ones do you hate the most? 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!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – May it be May 2021?!

(not actually trying to make a LOTR reference… though who am I kidding that’s totally a reference 😉)

Hello all! Very very very exciting news! All my work-stuff paid off and I got a new job in libraries! I’m going full time!! And I’m really, really happy about it!!! Not sure where my blogging will be at while I get into the swing of things- WE SHALL SEE (she says ominously 😉 ) Please bear with me!

Other than that, we’re also starting to see the light (okay maybe only the outside of pubs 😉 ) in England. Hopefully, hopefully things will start looking up soon! *CHEERS!*

With the application/interview, I’ve fallen into a bit of a reading slump, so haven’t got a lot to talk about this month. But there’s still some gems to share. First though, I watched a fab film:

Karate Kid– have you ever rewatched something 20 or so years later and it’s like experiencing it for the first time? Well, this is what it was like to rewatch Karate Kid. It felt faintly familiar and comforting- and yet I was delighted by how fresh it felt. Feel good and with strong characters, it’s one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a long time (twenty years or so I’d say 😉). I loved the spirit of the story and the goodie vs baddie themes. It’s got some real depth to it as well- teaching the viewer not to simply become what we hate- but be something better. It’s very powerful stuff and incredibly inspiring 😊

The Happiest Man on Earth– you perhaps won’t expect to find a holocaust memoir to be one of the most uplifting books I’ve ever read- but that’s exactly what this is. It’s obviously hard to read at times and has some harrowing stories, however ultimately this was a beautifully life-affirming read. A real quick read, I was shocked by some of the revelations and at times wondered if this was the unluckiest man on earth. And yet- and yet somehow he managed to survive. More than that, Jaku built a life for himself and his family. He never allowed himself to become less than human- no matter what circumstances tried to strip that from him. He is a shining example of humanity.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Tiny Beautiful Things- compiled of letters to and from an agony aunt dubbed Sugar, this had the miraculous ability to be in part a touching life-advice and part memoir. Though I didn’t agree with every piece of advice, the warmth and sweetness behind Sugar’s every word was undeniable. I will admit that I did find I had to take some of the letters with a pinch of salt- some of the suggestions were a bit too saccharine and out of touch with (my) reality. That said, I think I got a lot out of reading this- not just for the author’s take, but the immensely powerful stories of everyone that wrote to her. And, after reading this, I very much look forward to reading the author’s fiction.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Then She Was Gone– I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I just really like Lisa Jewell’s books. Yes, they’re not traditionally thrilling thrillers; yes, the “twists” are more than a little obvious. AND YET, even if I can sense the exact steps the narrative will take towards its conclusion, I just really appreciate the journey. Focusing more on the lives of victims than villains, this book was very much focused on the explosion of horror into a normal life. Though absorbing, it was not for the typical reasons I find a thriller absorbing. Rather I was compelled to witness an unravelling of the cruel realities that make up so many crimes. Jewell imagines lives touched by tragedy with startling empathy. And of course, Jewell always has that magic way of making her characters real and genuinely good.

Rating: 4.5/5 bananas

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Court of Silver Flames– I have issues; I really don’t know why I read this book. I knew very well that I was unlikely to enjoy it- I was dissatisfied with the ending in ACOWAR and thought ACOFAS was a waste of time. So, I should’ve known this wouldn’t be for me. Still, the ending of the series had left me wanting more… And I didn’t get that here. Unless you count lots more of Maas’ infamous sex scenes. Lots and lots of sex scenes. Ones that I didn’t find particularly sexy (somehow talk of “impaling” doesn’t exactly do it for me). Unfortunately there isn’t much to say beyond that. The story was a kind of formless blob. The plot was all over the place. Apart from the “romance” (*ahem*), it’s just a jumbled mess. Many times I questioned, where the hell is this going? (Minor spoiler: in a freakishly Breaking Dawn direction apparently). I did think the ending was saved by a moment of grace and proof that the whole story had been in service of character development (even if it didn’t seem that way while I reading). This somewhat saved the reading experience for me. That and the fact that, as a character, Nesta occasionally grabbed my attention… except when she was moaning “boohoo it sucks to be an all-powerful immortal”. Honestly, I have to hold my hands up and admit it was my fault for reading this in the first place. I really need to have some s(h)elf control and stop picking up books from this author- for my own good!!

Rating: 2.5/5 bananas

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That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month!

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!

Spring Cleaning Book Tag!

Time for me to clean up my blogging act… by doing a tag I wasn’t tagged for 😉 But I found this over on the amazing Zezee’s blog a while back and it looks like a fun substitute for doing any actual spring cleaning my bookshelves 😉 (And if, like me, you’d rather be stacking the shelves this year rather than clearing them out, then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND checking out Zezee’s fantastic blog- it’s packed with fab tags, reviews and hauls that’ll have you rushing out to the bookstores! 😊)

This tag was created by booktuber Jen @ Book Syrup.

THE STRUGGLE OF GETTING STARTED: A BOOK/BOOK SERIES THAT YOU HAVE STRUGGLED TO BEGIN BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE.

Oh easily the Malazan series- I’m just terrified of book series that are so GINORMOUS!

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET: A BOOK AND/OR BOOK SERIES YOU WANT TO UNHAUL.

Truly Devious– I feel guilty about this cos I don’t usually like to get rid of pretty hardbacks… but I was so disappointed by where this series ended up. As a murder mystery, it didn’t deliver the killer twist I was looking for and so I’m axing it from my shelves.  

OPENING WINDOWS AND LETTING FRESH AIR IN: A BOOK THAT WAS REFRESHING.

Tea Dragon Society– just so cute and the perfect palate cleanser. I enjoyed every second 😊

WASHING OUT SHEET STAINS: A BOOK YOU WISH YOU COULD REWRITE A CERTAIN SCENE IN.

Could I just remove the whole weird sex goddess part from Wise Man’s Fear? And, is it just me, or did all that bragging make you doubt his prowess? Seems like he’s overcompensating for something…

THROWING OUT UNNECESSARY KNICK-KNACKS: A BOOK IN A SERIES THAT YOU DIDN’T FEEL WAS NECESSARY.

Blood and Honey– this wasn’t just middle book syndrome- this was Why The Hell Did This Instalment Exist Syndrome. There was no plan for this to be a trilogy and it should have stuck to that plan. This entire book was filler and it felt like a complete waste of time.

POLISHING THE DOORKNOBS: A BOOK THAT HAD A CLEAN FINISH.

I love a polished ending! One of my *favourites* lately was the one in Where the Crawdads Sing… but I can’t talk about it cos of spoilers! (but seriously do yourself a favour and read it!!)

REACHING TO DUST THE FAN: A BOOK THAT TRIED TOO HARD TO RELAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE.

Ahh I hate moralising books! Gotta go with one of the worst culprits: Inspector Calls. I did a deep-dive investigation to get to the root of its evils a while back- and it was painful. But if you want to be preached to, then this is the play for you!

THE TIRING YET SATISFYING FINISH OF SPRING CLEANING: A BOOK SERIES THAT WAS TIRING YET SATISFYING TO GET THROUGH.

Hmm I don’t tend to read tiring series- yet I can say that there’s a helluva lot of Misery to get through if you try the Blackwing series (I hope someone in the comments has read the book, otherwise that was a waste of a great pun 😉). This series is a surprisingly hard-hitting, emotional read.

LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT SPRING: TAG 4 PEOPLE YOU WANT TO DO THIS TAG.

Kat @Life and Other Disasters, Rivermoose Reads, Journey into Books, Bookstooge and anyone else that wants to do it!

Have you been spring cleaning your books? Any you would like to clear out? 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!

Iron Raven Was a Somewhat Steely Start to a Series

***Received from Netgalley in exchange for review- but the opinions are all my own***

iron ravenWell I’m going to be very blunt straightaway: this reads more like a series continuation than a series opener. Sure, there are plenty of introductory elements and there is a focus on setup, yet it’s really grounded in all the books in the Iron Fey that have come before. While I actually read the Lost Prince first, then was able to go back and experience the books that came before, I personally don’t think you will get much enjoyment out of this new book without already knowing the characters. Not only is this book banking on nostalgia, it doesn’t do much in the way of helping readers get to know existing characters. Most of the players in this story already have rich backstories and their reintroductions really serve as reminders rather than a catch you up. And as a fan of the series, that didn’t put too much of a dent in my enjoyment, because I already love them so much.

So really, all of this is to say if you like YA fantasy and you haven’t tried the Iron Fey series, I strongly recommend it!

iron-fey-series

On the plus side, all the things that Kagawa does well are here. I loved the tone, the descriptions, the immersive setting. I fell back into her world easily. While there are hints of developing darkness, that’s mostly overshadowed by the light voice. As a fan of Puck and Kagawa has made the character her own, it was an absolute pleasure to get the story from his perspective. I also appreciated Nyx as a new character and think her past could be potentially interesting. The one big issue I had was that the romance felt rushed and unearned.

Other than that, it was a good read. Not my favourite in the series, but a diverting enough addition.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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So, have you read this or any of the other books in the Iron Fey Series? Do you plan to read it? Let me know in the comments!