Monthly Monkey Mini Review – May

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I’m trying to overcome my Britishisms of constantly apologising for not being online… buuut I am really sorry that I can’t keep up with blogging as much as I’d like to! (can’t help myself apparently 😉 ) Anyhoo, I’ve been in need of some serious relaxation recently and so I have mostly been reading pretty light things. As usual, these aren’t all my reviews for last month, they’re just the ones I had less to say about.

ransom my heart

Ransom My Heart– the first thing I want to make clear about this book is that this is very clearly not designed for younger readers. Even though the intro states that this is the work of Meg Cabot’s fictional Princess Mia (and I love how that’s done) it’s a massive departure from some of her more teen friendly work, so bear that in mind. I did initially like the idea of actually writing the Princess’ book, but unfortunately didn’t like the actual story or the way it was done. When it came to it the structure was all over the place and the story felt finished at 200 pages in. All I was looking for was a fun romp, however, because of this plotting issue, I lost interest two thirds of the way in. I also really didn’t like the writing style, where the occasional archaic word like “ken” or “mayhap” was thrown in, yet was otherwise extremely modern. I wasn’t into the characters or the romance either, so this book only gets credit for being “readable”.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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dawn study

Dawn Study– I’ve made it clear before that I was kinda done with this series, meaning I really shouldn’t have picked this up. Maybe read this review with a pinch of salt- if you’re still enjoying the Study series I’m sure you’ll like this. Anyway, the plot for this one was a bit better than the last two and it transpires I still love Valek (after all this time? Always– sorry, I reread HP recently, you can expecto patronum plenty more awful puns and references 😉 ). The downside of this book was primarily that the story ended at book 3 and this is book 6- so much of the story felt like it was put in for *tension* and resolved for the sake of convenience. I also really didn’t care about tons of the characters- including Leif (who I’ve never liked), Janco (his comic relief schtick got old a while back) and Onora (new and annoying). That said, there were some entertaining parts and it was distracting. I’m kinda glad that I finished the series, but I’m mostly just glad that the series is finished.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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ps i like you

PS I Like You– this took a little while to get into and I feel like parts of it relied a bit too heavily on miscommunication, BUT I did get *exactly* what I wanted from this book. In fact, I had a big, stupid smile on my face the whole time I was reading it. I absolutely loved the romance and characters. In short, this was a super fun YA contemporary. PS I really liked this book (yes I went there)

Rating:4/5 bananas

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castle in the air

Castle in the Air– I normally really like Wynne Jones books and am rarely left discontented with her stories, unfortunately, this didn’t really land for me the way I wanted it to. Sure, it had a lot of the fun, quirky, magical elements her books usually possess and I very much enjoyed the change of scene, but sadly the main sticking point for me was that I didn’t like the protagonist. At all. I just really don’t like flattering sycophants and that was basically his entire character. Sure, I’m up for a silver-tongued character, but when all that amounts to is how sickeningly over complimentary they can be, I get put off really quickly. Also he had a tendency to flatter both the good guys and the bad guys in equal measure- I especially didn’t like how easily some of my favourite characters succumbed to it. It also didn’t help that this was the follow up for Howl’s Moving Castle which I really loved.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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the fill in bf

The Fill-in Boyfriend– I had *a lot* of mixed feelings for this one. Again, the story was mostly fine, I wasn’t keen on the main character. I didn’t totally hate her and became grudgingly tolerant of her, but that isn’t the same as liking her. Basically, she’s a Queen Bee, trying to change a little from being a totally oblivious, self-obsessed narcissist, but in teeny tiny steps. Her idea of trying to relate to people is to go upto strangers and ask “what’s your story?” (protip: this does not work- a lot of people don’t like invasive, stupid questions). The only positive to her character was that I did find myself laughing at her sometimes, which shows I was at least entertained 😉 . Plus she wasn’t the worst character in the book- her brother is a total piece of shit and what bothered me most of all was the lack of resolution for his story arc. Minor spoilers: the brother uses the sister for a video project about addiction to social media and publicly humiliates her. As a subplot this did a decent job of discussing themes of validation (and it was this depth that saved the book from a lower rating), nonetheless, it didn’t make sense to me from an emotional standpoint that there were no real consequences for his casual cruelty.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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the promise potok

The Promise– this was a very moving and multi-faceted read- I can’t put my finger on just one plotline or idea it contains. There’s a lot to it. As the sequel to the Chosen, it deals with a lot of questions of identity, especially in the shadow of the Holocaust, whilst also exploring themes of learning. This very much looks at a shift in the rigidity of thought, which I appreciated. More than that, as I often experience with Potok books, there’s something very real and truthful in his depiction of his world. I will admit, I didn’t have the same feeling of enlightenment in comparison to its predecessor, however I still loved the characters. Michael’s story in particular had a great deal of heart and showed the tremendous kindness of Reuven’s character. I also loved how the main antagonist was humanised by the end of the story.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Hunted– first of all, I *loved* the fact this was set in Russia- it gave a wonderful dimension to the world building and magic. Additionally, it was an enjoyably quick read, which is always appreciated. However, the one major issue I had with this was that there were absolutely no surprises– even though it made some changes to the fairy tales it was based on, it was very easy to pick up the thread of the familiar narrative. Because of that, it felt incredibly obvious, predictable and somewhat lacking. This was all compounded by a rather abrupt ending that left me feeling not quite sated. While I suggest not going into this expecting an earth shatteringly good tale, I do recommend this for anyone that fancies a well-executed beauty and the beast retelling.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

In the Beginning…

in the beginningI had my doubts about this book, but it turned out to be pretty good.

What struck me first about this book was how it showed the psyche of the Jewish people. David, the main character, is often viewed as a literal reincarnation. His beginning is marred by the ending of others. Through this symbolism, Potok shows how David has inherited the trauma of thousands of years of persecution. It in part marks the long memory of a culture and in other ways serves as a reminder of the psychological scarring that can haunt people for an eternity.

Above all, what I loved most was how empathetic David is as a character. Not only is he smart, but his constant entreaties of “I don’t understand” and questioning the world around him is very telling. In part this reminds us that we shouldn’t have to understand, because man’s inhumanity to man does not always make sense. But more than that the character allows recognises from a very young age that there is more to humanity than his own culture.

Seeing this through a child’s viewpoint is especially eye-opening. Much like other Potok characters, David is keen to step outside his culture and seek truth. But what I found particularly admirable in him- and what made me feel an especial kinship with him as I have not always found in Potok’s characters- was that it was his compassion that ultimately drove him to explore the world beyond his own.

In the end, I would rate this:

4/5 bananas


Have you read any Potok books? And what character did you find to be particularly relatable lately? Let me know in the comments!

It Took Me Months To Figure Out My Name Is Asher Lev

my-name-is-asher-levOkay, so this is a book I read somewhere at the start of last year- so I can’t even say it’s something left over from December, so… whoops?

In all honesty, I’ve had trouble getting my head round it. Unlike the Chosen, the other Potok book I read last year, I did not fall instantly in love with it. Quite simply, this was because while the writing was beautiful the main character was a bit of a git.

A long while ago I wrote an opinion piece about not giving life for art, but that’s exactly what I feel Asher Lev does. His parents give him everything- trying to help him become the artist he dreams of being- but he throws it back in their face for no reason. I guess the premise makes sense- an ultraorthodox family trying to get in the way of a young artist’s dreams- but in actuality the artist is a selfish jerk. He just doesn’t care about other people- he is too obsessed with his own pursuits. Does that make him a genius? Not to my mind.

Because he was constantly helped (if not encouraged) to pursue his dreams, it makes the clash of cultures between the Jewish and Christian world a false dichotomy. It’s why I inevitably did not understand his deal with painting crucifixes. I could make arguments that he felt the weight of the artistic tradition and that is why he was compelled to make disrespectful paintings of his parents- but it is apparent earlier that he does not understand the artistic tradition when he paints nudes and cannot explain that either. He’s almost possessed by the desire to paint- but not in a way that makes sense. It felt less a marriage of two cultures and more a disrespectful flaunting of his parents privacy. In short, the message of the book- wherever that was- felt lost on me.

Needless to say this book got under my skin- and not in a good way. I never thought this book would feel so alien, but there you go. Still the writing was so well done and well written that I cannot give it less than:

Rating: 3/5 bananas


One perplexed Orangutan…


So have you read this book? Care to enlighten me about it? Or do you have a book that left you equally perplexed? Let me know in the comments!

Chosen For Endless Accolades

the chosenWell hello there! So you probably didn’t notice, but I “went dark” for 48 hours there- aka I decided to take a break from the internet to recharge my batteries. But now I’m back with the review I promised in my last post (and have been promising myself for ages).

Now, I’m going to say straight out that I loved this book. For me, reading this book was like switching on a light bulb in my brain- for a second everything was illuminated. Not just because it was brilliantly philosophical and gave me food for thought, but because it was a beautiful story with so much heart.

At the centre of this book was a modern day allegory of two boys playing a baseball game. It became an indictment against baseless hatred. The idea of pointless hatred between man and man as a destructive force is a crucial theme in Jewish philosophy- one story pits this as the cause of the destruction of the temple- but is so clearly a universal message for us all. This book, more than anything, is about bridging the gaps of perceived differences and realising we aren’t all that different after all. Personally, after all the posts I have published this week, that is the message I want to get out most of all.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Thanks for reading!