Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – March ON!

monthly mini reviews version 2

Hello all! I’ve had a bit of an interesting, non-stop, busy month. Unfortunately, I had some computer-related-frustration- which messed with blogging (again! I’m sorry!). Fortunately it’s all resolved now and I also did manage to get round to seeing lots of family and friends and doing plenty of monkeying around…

monkey's tea party

(yes, I have just been waiting for the excuse to draw a monkey’s tea party 😉 )

In terms of reading, February started out even more slumpy, until I picked up the *earth-shattering* Wild Swans (review to come), and got my reading-mojo back! So, let’s get on with the reviews!


Recursion– I really liked the premise of people suddenly finding they had false memories and it was especially cool to see it presented as a contagious disease. Initially, I was raring to go and got sucked into the distinctive dual perspectives. Now I will admit, I didn’t feel like this momentum carried through the whole book. For me, the middle flagged as (minor spoiler) it lacked tension when I knew that the characters could go back and erase parts of the story. Fortunately, it did get exciting again towards the finale and ended on a beautiful note. Not as good as Dark Matter, but still an enjoyable read.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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

the stranger

The Stranger– what an intense and brilliant little book. With a compact style, that captures every detail like a snapshot, Camus’ existential novel simultaneously delivers clarity and is impossible to pin down. On the surface, it allows us to see through the eyes of a man accidentally drawn into a murder. Yet, this doesn’t just present us with a guilty man, but instead shows us a man condemned for his honesty. All of this is delivered with a lightness of touch and a hint of black humour. Uniquely fascinating and refreshingly insightful, it is a short book that packs a punch. I also have to give props to the translator, Sandra Smith, because it was very well done.

Rating: 5/5 bananas


book of atrix wolfe

The Book of Atrix Wolfe– well, I’ve finally done it- I’ve finally caved to the McKillip recommendation (courtesy of Bookstooge, among others) AND I’M SO GLAD I DID!! This is so gosh-darn beautiful. Written with such ease, there’s a magic to this style. This is the best kind of old school fantasy: it has the mythical edge and dreamlike quality I crave. Because of the fairy-tale-feel, there were times that the style felt a little distant, but I’d definitely say McKillip is something special regardless and am looking forward to reading more!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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winter rose

Winter Rose– obviously I wasn’t content to leave it at just one McKillip book and I was drawn to this almost immediately. An unusual tale, told in a uniquely compelling voice, I was once again lulled by the beauty of McKillip’s writing. More so even than Atrix Wolfe, there was a fairy tale element to the story- yet here it felt like there was less of a fantastical scope and more of a focus on personal stories. I will admit there were some aspects that left my heart panging, which prevented me from giving it all the bananas. Ultimately however, this emotional journey, through a wintry wood, gave me chills.

Rating: 4/5 bananas


what the wind knows

What the Wind Knows– I was instantly intrigued by the concept of this book: a woman travelling back in time to discover her ancestral heritage… as a fan of history, romance and fantasy, it sounded very promising! But, not always having enjoyed genre-benders and being a bit of a stickler for historical accuracy, I did have some trepidation going in. Fortunately, this surpassed all my expectations. Even with the hint of magic, it’s got the historical realism down. Drawing on real life events and people, Harmon guides the reader back into an authentic and believable past. The writing was graceful and captured the Irish setting; the inclusion of Yeats’ extracts really worked to evoke the themes. I definitely felt for the characters throughout and found that everything came together in the end. All in all, well worth the read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas


american royals

American Royals– OMG I knew I was going to have fun with this from the second I heard the concept- but this book can take a bow- cos it was even more royally entertaining than I was expecting! Set in an alternative version of the USA, where instead of a presidency, George Washington became the first king of America, this tells the story of modern-day royals. Think the Crown meets Gossip Girl. From the prologue, it promised to be a juicy read, and it doesn’t let up throughout! In a rompy, fun fashion, this packs in plenty of drama, schemes and romance. I *loved* how authentic the world felt- capturing something of the modern monarchy and American politics. And if all that sounds good to you, I highly recommend picking it up!

Rating: 4/5 bananas


heartstopper 1

heartstopper 2

Heartstopper volumes 1 & 2– well be still my beating heart, this was exceptionally cute. This charming story does exactly what it says on the tin: gives you heart palpitations. The romance was sweet and they were quick reads- so much so that I did think that in both cases there could have been more to the plot- but ultimately, I very much enjoyed them. I also especially liked the links to Radio Silence. And, above all, the artwork was gorgeous!

Rating: 4/5 bananas


wilder girls

Wilder Girls– It’s safe to say I went near wild for this book 😉 The writing was sharp and to the point, stripped down to the essentials in an exquisite way. Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, rather than a direct retelling, the story presents twisted concepts that turn the girl’s school setting on its head. I loved how the subtle characterisation worked and the relationships build over the pages. Plotwise, it was gripping and thought-provoking, yet something held me back from absolutely loving the ending. I guess I liked revelling in the chaos more than some of the answers 😉 Even so, really recommend this for everyone that’s been missing YA dystopia. And I would like to take a moment to appreciate that gorgeous cover- cos *WOW*!

Rating: 4/5 bananas


So, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

Make Some Noise for Radio Silence!

radio silence

Hearing about this all over the internet, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me. It sounded a little like a typical contemporary YA, aimed at a not-quite-me audience, and trying to be something it wasn’t. Despite my reservations, I decided to pick it up annnnd BAM!

bam friends

This hit me like a ton of bricks! I could not have anticipated how much this book about fangirling over a podcast would hook me. Fascinating and nuanced and layered- it’s a proper coming of age story, with all that entails. And yet does none of this in the usual way!

Tuning in, the tone was instantly relatable and captured the tone of modern Britain. The writing simultaneously managed to be well written and also get the lingo down. The speech in particular was incredibly natural- like listening in on actual teens- like looking at a snapshot of people’s actual lives.

All the characters in this felt super real. There wasn’t a single weak link- there were so many lovable friendships and family relationships crammed into one book (Frances’ mum in particular is a Rockstar of a character!). And I loved the contrasting vibes I got from everyone- it was such an eclectic mix of people. Obviously, I was also a massive fan of the *online friendship meets real life* storyline- it just made me absurdly happy. And really liked how Aled wanting to keep his identity secret wove into other themes.

At the same time, this wasn’t just light and frothy all the way. This dealt with a TON of important issues. In fact, I was particularly impressed by how this handles the topic of abuse. What I especially liked was that it made a strong case for not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. The ass-umption is that Aled is privileged for going to a good uni and running a successful blog- but people don’t know what really goes on in his life. The exploration of this was handled sensitively, whilst not beating around the bush. I cannot express how much respect for this book for doing this justice.

I’m also glad that this doesn’t present uni as all sunshine and roses. Not that I want people to be put off, but too many books do that. Too often we are bombarded with the “best time of your life” line and that it’s the “be all and end all”- which can be hard to live up to. It is refreshing to tell some different stories for a change: plenty of people don’t go, many are rejected, lots of people hate it, some are pressured into doing subjects they don’t want to do, a fair few drop out/change courses (or go through a mixture of the above). Somehow, this book managed to explore a lot of those options.

And that’s just one of the reasons I think this is a seminal book for this generation. Everything from the highs and lows of fandom to being an anxious young nerd to coming to terms with who you are was given space on the page to develop. It really spoke to me on a deep and personal level- yet what’s most amazing about Radio Silence is seeing on Goodreads how many people found different parts relatable. As much as I felt Oseman was personally talking to me, tens of thousands of other people felt the same way. And that’s just brilliant.

While I’m not sure it will be for everyone, I can safely say this is an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a teen in the UK in the 21st century. I didn’t know it before I read it, but I legit *needed* this book. I’m all abuzz with excitement for Radio Silence- so let’s raise the roof and give it:

Rating: 5/5 bananas


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