Night Film Could Have Done With More *Action*

night filmAt first, the lights came down, there was a hush and I was tucked up with my popcorn… well, minus the popcorn. Point is, I was captivated by the opening to this book. I loved the way it was done and the slow build of several mysteries had me intrigued. I was shivery with anticipation and found my old squeamishness had returned as dread built. And then… the story began to lag. I was turning page after page after bored page. It did eventually pick up again, but the damage was done. A book has to justify its length and this really didn’t do that- it just felt needlessly long.

One of the biggest causes of this dull interlude was how unnecessary the tag-along characters felt. Their connections to the case felt far too tenuous and even with hints that there was more to it, I couldn’t bring myself to care for them. Least of all for the mc’s love interest which, to coin Lucinda’s phrase, may as well have been a “sexy lamp” for all the impact she had. All the characters seemed superfluous- written in and out of the story as if they were nothing more than extras or there merely to change the scene. I just couldn’t connect with any of them.

I also didn’t like being told what a genius Cordova was- over and over again. And maybe it’s unavoidable in a book about another artistic medium to have to tell how brilliant someone’s art is- but frankly it didn’t feel that way for Ash, the prodigy in the book. I simply felt her mastery flying from the page like notes gliding from a piano. I actually was far more invested in Ash- with her wonderful stage name “Ashes from the ruins”- than I ever was in anyone else. She had the command of her audience from beyond the grave.

The *fade to black* ending was somewhat enigmatic- which can work- yet in this case only served to leave me less than satisfied. I frequently felt like the book was trying to convince me how oh-so-clever it was, but actually this led to it falling flat and feeling like a waste of my time. All those spooky hints had gone nowhere and the greatness it reached for was untapped. It felt like all I’d caught were red herrings.

And what was more disappointing than anything else was how the multimedia aspects weren’t what they were cracked up to be. Having read other books with this sort of style now, I felt like these additions had to mean something. And yet, it turned out I could have skipped them and I wouldn’t have missed anything from the story. Frankly, that was a bit of a piss-take. While initially this felt like peering behind the curtain, adding to the creep-factor, eventually I realised that there really was no wizard hiding out there and the bloke pulling the levers didn’t even have the power to transport me home. I’d followed the yellow brick lane to nowhere special.

Ultimately I was letdown by this book, but for the strong start, I’m giving it:

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahalf-a-hand-drawn-banana 

Have you read this? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Advertisements

Scythe was cutting edge!

scytheWell, start with an amazing concept, add some awesome characters and an intriguing plot, and you’ll have yourself an interesting read. Scythe certainly ticked a lot of boxes for me. What was truly remarkable about it was how unique the premise felt: in a world where no one can die, the unpleasant job of population control falls to the Scythes.

I feel like this is one of those rare books where the world building lends itself directly to the premise- and boy was that aspect well done. Everything felt so well thought out, from the fact that the years are named after animals (I was happy to see the Year of the Ocelot in one diary entry!), the euphemism “gleaning” for killing was a sharp idea and the fact that a group of scythes was called an elegy (like a murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens etc- get it? Anyway, I thought it was cool). I also really liked the way the Commandments for Scythes were worked out, starting with Thou Shalt Kill.

It was also cool how the book turns its blade on our own society, indicting the fact that no one reads, they just watching cat holograms (or in our case videos). And of course there was a great deal of logic to the idea that immortality would make humanity inhuman. I did like a lot of the philosophy overall. There were a few things that I thought were more questionable, such as the fact that if the Thunderhead is basically a God, and is entirely good, is this an argument for a benevolent dictator? That sort of idea makes my rebellious spirit squirm- but I guess for an answer to that, I’ll have to wait for the next book.

The characterisation was effective and done quickly. I found Citra had more hard edges, but I softened to her as the story went on. Rowan appealed to me more, especially his cleverness, and I found myself empathising with him more as he got deeper and deeper into trouble (no spoilers). The other characters were quite interesting- but the one that struck me the most was Goddard- who made an excellent villain.

I did spend a lot of time wondering where on earth the plot was going- but that’s not a bad thing, because I really didn’t see a lot of it coming. I did think that some ideas were presented and then taken away too quickly, which meant the pacing could be all over the place. And that was one of the main sticking points I had with this novel. And then of course there was the unavoidable issue with the whole premise: sometimes it feels like the stakes are very low because everyone is basically immortal. It’s a bit of a catch 22- because I really do like the concept- but I can’t deny the issue I had with it. This was offset a little by highlight for spoiler having the threat of their having to glean each other hanging over them- but for some reason I never quite felt like they were fighting to the death.

Overall though, I thought it was a great book:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

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

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

orangutan tag 2

So I’ve just realised it’s June and we’re coming up to the middle of the year now… AND HOW THE HELL HAS THAT HAPPENED?!!? Be prepared for lots of exclamation marks and CAPITALISATION because I am having a *freak out*!!!

I kind of wanted to do this post before I went away (#priorities), but didn’t think I’d been tagged… until I checked and saw that I was tagged last year and didn’t do it *coughs awkwardly*. So belated thanks to the wonderful Calliope the Book Goddess for tagging me!

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2018

I’ll admit, I cheated by doing the whole post first and then seeing what I’d left out- because THIS IS TOO HARD A QUESTION!!! Basically any book I talk about as the “best” in this post has a good chance of taking the title at the end of the year (unless I read even better books– which I’d hardly complain about). And even after this preamble, I want to put two books in this category- one fiction and one non-fiction:

 

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2016

Again- choosing one is too difficult- so I’m going with two:

I read and LOVED Girl in the Tower earlier in the year and recently finished Grey Sister (review coming soon) which I liked EVEN MORE than the first one.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

Oh gosh, there are so many, I’m not exactly on top of new releases. But given it’s floating about the blogosphere a lot at the moment and I liked the author’s other book, I’m particularly eager to read Circe

circe

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I actually have an answer memorised for this: Muse of Nightmares- obviously after reading Strange the Dreamer I cannot frickin wait for the sequel!!

muse of nightmares

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Ah I desperately wanted to like Lonely Hearts Hotelbut it ended up really not being for me. I was recently asked if I read it knowing I wouldn’t like it- the answer to that is obviously not– I don’t go looking for books to dislike. I just think this is really miss-marketed as similar to the Night Circus when it has very different content and reminded me more of Lolita.

lonely hearts hotel

BIGGEST SURPRISE

I’ll admit it- I judged The Hating Game very harshly before I read it, but ended up LOVING it!

the hating game

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR

One author that I’ve read a lot of this year, that’s kinda new to me is Rick Riordan. I’ve whizzed through the rest of the Percy Jackson series and can’t wait for more!

percy jackson lightning thief

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

That’s gotta be Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer! He’s exactly the kind of character I always get a soft spot for.

strange the dreamer

NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER

Lira has to be one of my favourite kickass characters of all time- plus it was her voice that called to me and made me fall in love with To Kill a Kingdom!

to kill a kingdom

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I don’t think I’ve cried over a book as much as Words in Deep Blue EVER before- I basically wept buckets the whole way through the book. If you want to have your heartstrings tugged, man, this is the book for you!

words in deep blue

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

I laughed so hard at My Lady Jane– I think it’s by far one of the funniest books I’ve ever read!

my lady jane

FAVOURITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION

Ermm I haven’t seen any… in fact I haven’t seen any new releases this year. BUT I did fall in love with the Last Kingdom (which is technically a TV show, but whatever, still counts) even if I read the books after watching it.

FAVOURITE POST YOU HAVE DONE THIS YEAR

One of the scariest posts I’ve ever done was on my complicated relationship with Harry Potter– I was so terrified that I posted it and ran away from the computer once I’d done it… but you know what, it turned out to be one of the most satisfying posts I’ve ever written!

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

Well, I had this given to me as a gift, but it still counts:

eliza and her monsters

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

I have a few, but the two books on my bedside table, that I don’t have time to read and am now packing to take away, are my top priority:

bedside table books blogger to blogger

Oh and of course my kindle is sitting on top, with a gazillion other books in it that I need to read 😉

COOLIOS! I TAG:

Cynic on Wings, Kat, Marie, Dani, Danielle, Beth, Kelly, Ally, Books of Magic and Sam

That was so fun looking back on a lot of the great reads I’ve had so far this year! So I want to ask you, what’s your favourite of 2018 so far? Let me know in the comments!

Dear My Lady Jane – A Love Letter to a Book

booklove orangutan

Dear My Lady Jane,

my lady janeI fell in love with you right from the start. You charmed me in your prologue with your wit and humour- interjecting an authorial voice to tell us we were headed for an unconventional love story. I rarely laugh out loud at books, but you had me eating out the palm of your hand, devouring page after page of your alternative history.

I must say, the thought of a retelling of Lady Jane Grey filled me with some trepidation at first. Especially since I am somewhat well-versed in Tudor England (I blame the British school system that teaches it to us over and over). And yet you captured the spirit of the period, whilst turning it on its head and creating something totally different. The asides about what is real and not- for instance the mention of there being no such thing as a honeymoon at this point in time- makes it evident that your writers are aware this is a construct. I really appreciated you for your honesty there.

I also loved your magical element. I was enchanted by the cleverness of the world building and it made me hold you in even higher regard. It was quirky and hilarious to make Henry VIII a lion, but even more ingenious to make his mother Elizabeth a skunk, hinting at the Woodville ties with witchcraft.

I adored all your plot twists and the story itself kept me on the edge of my seat. I was virtually squealing (and whinnying) with delight the entire time. In particular, your midlogue, with the narrators interrupting the story, was hilarious.

All your characters were brilliant and distinct- I could happily tell the difference between all the different perspectives. Above all, you defied all the things I normally question and dislike. Highlight for spoilers: I could tell that Gifford was going to be Shakespeare and though I normally hate the whole “so and so was secretly Shakespeare” theories, this one was too funny for words! So you could say you are not my normal type, but I think it is a testament to how *awesome* you are that I adore you anyway. All I can do is appreciate how wonderful you are.

What’s brilliant about you is that you worked perfectly as a standalone- but there’s going to be sequel companion novels in a similar vein. I can’t wait to see what more you have to offer!

And finally you held a message I think we can all get behind: “We’ll fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read.” Amen to that. You’ve made me one satisfied monkey after all…

form50022

All my bananas…

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

Sincerely, Orangutan Librarian

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Deserves a Medal

Hello all! I know I’ve not been online much this week, it’s been a crazy one, but I have what will hopefully be a very fun review to make up for my absence. I was in need of a bit of relaxation recently, so decided to pick up the Percy Jackson series. Though I read the first one about a year ago and did do a mini review for it, I decided to rework the review here, so that you could get my thoughts for the series as a whole. Plus I had a few more thoughts, now I’d read the whole thing.

percy jackson lightning thief

The Lightning Thief– the first thing that struck me about the Lightning Thief is how much I wish I’d read this series when I was younger. I loved the inventiveness and how it presented the gods in a modern, yet awe-inspiring fashion. This was most apparent in how much I enjoyed Riordan’s representation of Hades’, my favourite god, which made me laugh out loud. He made him sufficiently scary, whilst not doing that contemporary thing of making the God of the Underworld = Satan. Percy is a bit of an everyman, but I’m okay with that. And I do like the spin on the other two main characters, Grover and Annabeth, who are best described as mini versions of their forebears, but with a twist. The one sticking point I had was that there was a false ending- and I felt like the second one was tacked on for the sake of sequels. It was a pity, to me as an adult reader, that the betrayal was incorporated into the earlier BIG SHOWDOWN. Still, it was a lot of fun and it definitely inspired me to read more (admittedly a year later).

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

percy jackson sea of monsters

The Sea of Monsters– the opening for this one was stellar and I thought it was very smart to connect the bullying aspect to Lord of the Flies– it made these books seem doubly educational. This actually feels like a much smarter read in general- especially if you look at the allegory on racism, as Never Not Reading did in her amazing post. Tyson is a fantastic new addition to the story and I loved the depths that it explores on the subject of family as well. Plus, like the first one, there are some really clever connections to mythology, like the use of Tantalus and the chain stores as hydras. Above all, the plot was the plot was a real whirlpool of adventures. Plenty of this was entertaining and made me laugh. And where I had a few issues with the ending of Lightning thief, Sea of Monsters made me go ARGHHH!! So it was a reading success. I’m still lamenting that I didn’t read this when I was younger, because it doesn’t land as well as it could have- and that’s pretty much the only reason I couldn’t give this series 5/5 bananas.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

percy jackson titan's curse

The Titan’s Curse– this was so non-stop and I got really caught up in the twists and turns, so I completely forgot to take notes. Given the length of the review, you might assume I didn’t like it, but I really did enjoy it and thought it was a MIGHTY addition to the series. I particularly appreciated the budding romance in this one and how it developed organically. And as always I loved the details about the gods- I thought it was very clever how the goddess of love made you giddy in her presence and Ares made you mad.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

percy jackson battle of labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth– firstly I dug how the labyrinth was conceptualised here- again Riordan took the imaginative route and allows the reader to get lost in his genius world building. I did like the addition of flashbacks as well- even if Icarus and Daedalus is right at the pinnacle of my favourite myths and it’s basically impossible to live upto the classic mythology. Hera and Hephaestus were exactly how I imagined them for this series- so that was a perfect work of art. I’m loving the weirdly authentic take on Greek mythology. I also like how this series uses turns of phrase like “All Hades broke loose”- it’s a nice touch and things like that always make me giggle. I think it was great how this book began to deal with deeper themes, like dying. This also had some of my favourite character development, with Grover growing up and gaining some responsibility. Even more than that, I really liked Nicos’ growing role in the story.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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

percy jackson last olympian

The Last Olympian– unfortunately, this felt like it leapt ahead in the narrative. Noticing how jarring the start felt, I looked and saw there was a novella in between, go figure. I don’t mind that big series have tons of spinoffs, but I would rather that the basic story got told first and I didn’t feel a little out of the loop when I go to the next book. Otherwise it was completely absorbing as a story. Again, I thought Nico was an amazing character. I appreciated the versions of the Furies, Hades, Persephone and Demeter the most again. Like I said, Hades is definitely my favourite god, so anything that casts the spotlight on him and doesn’t go for the Christian imagery is great in my book. While I did enjoy this book overall, I was a bit torn about a few things. Firstly, I know it’s a kids’ book- but the prophecy just isn’t nightmare-worthy- I’m never keen or sold on books that tell you something is *SUPER SCARY* and it just isn’t. Mostly though, I was really torn about the ending. It completely worked, but the message of “you are not the hero” is a bit of a sad note to end the series on- I actually wished that Percy’s role in the final battle could have been more significant. It is nice to have a new Oracle and the promise of more… but it also seemed rather inconclusive, especially given Percy did not have as strong a role as I’d have liked. I feel like this could have been solved if he’d had a few more flaws/those flaws had been taken advantage of. This is based on Greek mythology after all- and it’s fine if his hamartia is that he’s too trusting, but (spoilers for the ending) it ended up feeling like there weren’t enough costs, because it depended on him trusting Annabeth with the knife… and the only trouble with this is that he’s always trusted her, so there was ZERO character growth here. I just think there could have been a more killer ending.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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

Anyway, despite that last disappointment that I kind of ranted about, this series completely appealed to my inner Classics geek and I definitely want to read more Riordan.

Have you read this series? Do you plan to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Reverential for Strange the Dreamer

strange the dreamerThis book was everything I hoped it would be. From the exquisite and striking opening to the excruciating ending, I was absolutely absorbed in this. As I have come to expect from Taylor, the writing was so quotable and the world building beautifully distinct.

“We are all children in the dark, here in Weep.”

I don’t know what there is to say about Lazlo Strange, the main character, other than I *loved* him. Everything from his name to his looks to his personality was perfectly drawn. I was rooting for him from the second he was introduced. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but his ridiculous drive to help even his enemies made him one of the most adorably selfless characters I’ve ever come across and I think I will always, always rate him as a favourite now.

“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.” 

And ugh I was definitely against his nemesis Thyon. While Taylor expertly showed us where he was coming from and made his motivations understandable, all I wanted to do was hit him over the head with a giant book. He was the worst kind of villain, because he didn’t just steal tangible objects… he stole dreams. His cruelty reminded me of the pain of plagiarism and I saw this as a clever allegory for intellectual property theft.

“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around”

Miraculously, I was as invested in Sarai’s story. As the Muse of Nightmares (another great title), her powers were so imaginative and really added another dimension to the storytelling.

“If you’re afraid of your own dreams, you’re welcome here in mine.”

The romance in this really worked for me, especially as it was a slow burn. I squealed so loudly when they finally got together.

“I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you’ll let me be in your story.” 

Of course, the mysteries and stories of Weep really worked for me as well. While I did see one of the plot twists coming a mile off, I did not know what would happen and would have never pictured that finale. It was an agonising torment to see where it went- and I really can’t wait for book 2!

5/5 bananas

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

This is why Laini Taylor is one of my favourite authors! I’ve never deducted a single banana from her books… so forgive me for the very biased review 😉

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

My Bookish Dreams

Hello all! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday! As it says in the title I’m gonna share some of my bookish dreams today- I’ll admit this list started rather sensibly annnd then went totally bananas- so, sorry if this isn’t the most realistic list! But here are some things I’ve always wanted because of books:

orangutan list

castle in ruinsI Capture the Castle– I want to live in a castle tbh- even if it is crumbling and cold and financially ruinous. And I blame this book.

 

 

secret garden doorSecret Garden– I’d love to have my own secret garden, even if I am not remotely into gardening. Whatever, I love gardens, even if I am one of those can’t-touch-a-plant-without-killing-it kind of people. And obviously this would be completely remote and hidden away so I can read in peace 😉

chocolateChocolat– having a chocolate shop in some remote French town would be awesome (minus the suspicious townsfolk preferably). Sure, I have no skill when it comes to baking/making confectionaries and I would most certainly eat all of my profits, but it’d be a delectable experience anyway.

 

hidden libraryShadow of the Wind– I want to go to the Cemetery of Forgotten books in Barcelona (okay this is not a real place, but we can pretend 😉 ) and pick out a forgotten masterpiece. Hopefully no murderous nutjob will pursue me for my choice…

 

thudThud!- I have actually played the game Thud- but I’d really like to own my own set one day (I think this is the most plausible thing on the list by a long shot). I’m as lousy at this as I am at chess- but who cares? It’d be such a fun thing to have!

 

gatsbyThe Great Gatsby– I’d love to go to a Gatsby style party. I wouldn’t want to throw said party, cos, hehe, that’s not me, but I think it would be a once in a lifetime experience to go to a shebang worthy of the roaring 20s!

 

orangutan and ocelot

For those wondering what my daemon would be: it’s an ocelot

The Northern Lights– moving on to the slightly less realistic, I want a daemon. My very own basically-represents-my-soul animal companion would do very nicely for a sort-of pet.

 

 

 

 

time turnerHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban– I could do with a time turner- in fact this is a very high priority for me right now- so I’d ask if you know any wizards that can hook me up, but unfortunately Harry & co smashed them all in book 5.

 

narnia cupboardChronicles of Narnia– I’d like to go into my cupboard one day and find Narnia. Oh dear, this list started off so sensibly, but if I’m being honest, I used to regularly check cupboards as a child to see if a doorway to any other realm would turn up. I must not have been looking in the right cupboards and I still live in hope 😜 Since we’re talking childhood dreams…

peter pan robin williams flyingPeter Pan– one day I will learn to fly like Peter Pan! I did also try this as a kid by jumping off the bed- it did not work as I was armed only with happy thoughts and no fairy dust *sigh*. Otherwise, it totally would have worked 😜

 

supervillain orangutanRenegades– I think it’d be fun to be a vigilante (before they get control of a city and start meting out “just” laws). I’d get to wear a funky costume and save people. Nuff said!

 

 

 

mr knightleyEmma– and last but not least, the silliest thing on this list that would make Jane Austen blush, one Mr Knightley. I know most people would pick Darcy, but you can have him, in terms of bookish boyfriends, my heart will always belong to this respectable gentleman 😉

 

Okay- so be honest- what did you think of my list? On a scale of one to bananas…? And more importantly, what would your bookish dreams be? Let me know in the comments!