Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – May

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Phew- April’s over! And I’m feeling a lot calmer this month (though I’m still sick of being in lockdown). Things aren’t exactly easier, especially on the workfront, but I’m feeling a little bit more chill about it (most of the time haha!) And *fingers crossed*, I’m hoping to be able to have better news to share next month. In terms of what I’ve been up to… well it’s party like we’re in a pandemic baby! That means occasional painting and long walks in the country- WOOHOO! 😉 As you can imagine, I’m also watching more TV and movies, which is why I thought I’d do some quick mini reviews for those first- *SURPRISE!* Here are some quick recommendations (that you’ll most definitely be aware of and don’t really need me to tell you to watch them):

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tiger king

Tiger King– I had low expectations for this- but enough people recommend it and… here we are! Like everyone else in April, I was swept up in the audacious entertainment and pure escapism of this *bonkers* documentary. I can safely say I’ve never seen anything else like it. And, best of all, it’s really fun to theorise about (so, if you did watch it, I want to know- do you think Carole Baskin murdered her (ex)husband and fed him to the tigers!? Was Joe Exotic Guilty? What do you think??)

spiderman into the spiderverse

Spider Man into the Spiderverse– what a beautifully made movie! I’ve wanted to see this for ages and I’m glad I finally did, cos yeah, I get what the fuss is about. I won’t go as far as to call it my favourite animated film, but it is gorgeous to look at! And storywise, it has some awesome twists and turns. It never leaves you hanging! And not only is it a well-woven tale, it also has some great characters. So yeah, definitely recommend getting stuck into this one 😉

frozen 2

 

Frozen 2– I was actually surprised by quite how much I liked this one. While I enjoyed Frozen, it’s by no means a favourite, and so I thought it was really cool that I liked this more! I’ve heard some criticism about it, but I actually liked Elsa’s character development in this. And I felt it built on and answered some of the unanswered questions left over from the first film. Having seen this, I get how (and why) this has to be more than one film. All the songs were delightful (even the one about how we’re all gonna die… yeah this really took some risks!) Plus, it happened to have one of my favourite tropes- going out into the unknown and coming back changed. And yes, there is quite a lot of exposition here, but this is Frozen, so I let it go 😉

Annnnd that’s about it. In terms of reading, I’ve been in a bit of a slump (which I’m trying to be forgiving of), so there aren’t going to be too many this month. Let’s get to it:

unhoneymooners

Unhoneymooners– this was a fun hate to love story and just the ticket right now! It especially worked for me that all their antagonism was based on a long-standing misunderstanding (which makes *so much sense* in context). Oddly enough, while I enjoyed the romance, the best part for me was the (thoroughly unromantic) DRAMA at the end. What can I say? Apparently, I read romance books to see people get mad at each other… That said, I think this is upbeat and really strikes the right tone if you need something entertaining.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse 5– Argh I didn’t know this was stream of consciousness when I picked it up! I was lulled into it by the amazing opening line and first chapter… but it soon became really disjointed and I just hate this writing style- sorry! It didn’t help that a lot of this was a diatribe (and I’m not a fan of moralising books either!) Plus, while I’m not anti an anti-war message, *drops voice to a whisper* I didn’t think this was nearly as ground-breaking as he thought it was. I kinda get why this is popular and my sister the monkey baby liked it… but it just wasn’t for me.

Rating: 2/5 bananas

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reading lolita in tehran 

Reading Lolita in Tehran– wow, Nafisi has a beautiful way with words. The second I picked this up, I felt the atmosphere of suffocating beauty. I understood her love of words and books. I felt transported to Tehran, like I was in the room with the book club, like I was walking around in her memory. It was an incredibly evocative memoir. The one issue I did have was that the structure could be a little disjointed, so I got a little lost at times. That said, I very much appreciated her the way her interpretation of literature tied into the text. In fact, it was almost better that the title book (Lolita) is one I don’t like. While I’ll always struggle with its content, Nafisi opened my eyes to its subversive and defiant heroine, and I respect that. More so, I respect what a brilliant teacher the author is to bring me this fresh understanding!

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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call it what you want

Call it What You Want– This was a surprising delight. I picked it up and I found myself so wrapped up in the story that I finished it in one sitting- the first time that’s happened in ages! The characters and conflicts were so well done that they felt real. And even though this was a contemporary, there were no easy answers or comfortable resolutions. In fact, this was a layered narrative, feeding in mythic elements from tales like Robin Hood, while also embracing real world issues. Of course, the downside of such a thematically rich and complex contemporary is that there wasn’t as much finality to it as I might have liked. Still, I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would and I’d say that’s a success… but you can call it what you want 😉

Rating: 4½/5 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’re all staying safe and well!

Monthly Monkey Mini Review – December

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Hello all! I know we’re a week in, but can anyone believe it’s already December? Like much of the rest of the year, November flew by for me, especially since I was so busy with my (vague) Nano plans. As a lot of you guys know, in the end I had a pretty successful writing month 😀

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I’ll admit, that took up a huge proportion of my month, although I also did go to La Bayadere and Simon Boccanegra at the Opera House- both of which were epic (although obviously I did not have as good seats as the way I’ve painted it 😉 ):

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(is it obvious at this point that I’m half interested in sharing what I do and mostly just into making these monkeys?)

Anyhoo, back to books, I didn’t read a tremendous amount last month, so only have a few mini reviews today:

autoboyography

Autoboyography– initially, I thought the one line concept wasn’t all that interesting- but as it went on I did get more into the premise. Mostly cos the execution was so good. The writing was inventive with the style and voice and definitely had me rooting for the characters. I ended up liking Tanner, for all his *do first, think later* attitude and being pretty keen on the rest of the cast… However, speaking of infatuation, I wasn’t too obsessed with the romance. It just felt too much like instalove for me and there was only one squeal-worthy moment. I also wasn’t crazy about how his best friend Auddy’s story arc- I kept thinking she was treated unfairly by the plot. She was set up as an interesting character- but all I kept thinking was what about her dreams? Her love? Her book? I can’t imagine a real life person as spunky as her would appreciate being faded into the background so much. Overall, it was not perfect, but I did enjoy it.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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captivate

Captivate– this took me quite a bit of the month to get through. When I picked it up I thought it was aimed at people who are somewhat socially awkward, but by the end I thought maybe it was more tuned to major introverts. Either way, I didn’t find a lot of it resonated with me. The conversation starters were a bit of fun, however, certain hacks like using people as your “riser” felt too weird to me. And this linked to an issue I continually have with self-help. A lot of self-help philosophy is based on a “what can I get out of this” mentality, whereas valuable moral philosophy centres on “what can other people get out of this” or “what can I give of myself”. Aka, it’s about what we can do for each other and selfless good deeds (can anyone tell I’ve been rewatching the Good Place lately?). While the mechanics behind both actions can often be the same, the intent behind it is very different, and I find it quite off-putting. Ironically, I also think you get more out of the selfless mentality than the selfish one. So, while this wasn’t terrible, there was nothing particularly groundbreaking about it and it fell foul to the usual demons of the genre.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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girl of ink and stars

The Girl of Ink and Stars– I will say this had beautiful writing and an alright story. The main issue for me was that the characters didn’t have enough depth. And because of that I felt it was aimed at people a bit younger than it was pitched at (although who even knows what age demographic YA is aimed at anymore). It was quick paced and didn’t do anything technically wrong- I just didn’t end up remotely enthusiastic about it.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

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list of cages

A List of Cages– okay I totally understand the hype around this book. It was beautiful, intense and moving. I loved the contrast in light and dark tones of each narrator. I don’t actually tend to read contemporaries on the topic of child abuse, but even if you’re like me, I’d make an exception in this case. It was wonderfully executed, emotional and had excellent characterisation. There were certain aspects of the crazy-dramatic ending I wasn’t completely sold on- but it (minor spoiler) did make sense to take the abuser out of the picture for the conclusion (though I’d have preferred jail time). Regardless, I definitely recommend it!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Before I go, the marvellous Mim Inkling is hosting a bookish bingo this month in celebration of 6 months on the platform- it looked like a lot of fun, so I decided to participate. If you fancy joining in, all the details are here. I figured I’d do a wrap up at the end and maybe update a little as I go. I will say as a massive mood reader, it’s a real struggle to keep to a tbr, but so far for this contest/month I’ve read… Wicked Deep, One Day in December, After the Fire, Coco Caramel  and Shadow of the Fox. Although I might swap some of these out- I’m still hoping to squeeze this into my December reads:

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And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!