Well not that fun for me, because I managed to get COVID again in January! Sooo not exactly the start to the year I had in mind! Still, there’s always movies and books to keep me going 😉
Rosaline– every so often a flawless rom com comes along- and this was one of those times! I fell head over heels for this Romeo and Juliet retelling. Sending up the most ridiculous elements of the play, it engages with the most famous critiques of the play (ie they don’t know each other, Romeo’s fickle, they’re both too young). And somehow, while we all know it has to end in tears, it manages to stay true to the opening tone, using a comedic style that really works. And, unlike the original, it has a romance that actually works 😉
Coco– oh gosh this was pitch perfect! I know, this is hardly a ground-breaking announcement but YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM!! It’s a deeply meaningful movie about coming together as a family, the fickleness of fame and (of course) music! I loved how this didn’t just give a saccharine message about music saving your soul, showing instead how we can sometimes worship the wrong things and remember the wrong people (while the most important people are forgotten). A truly lovely animation.
When Women Were Dragons– I’m not gonna blow smoke up anyone’s arse- this book was a great big NOTHING. Spending (too many) pages slapping us round the face with a (bad) allegory, where the author imagines women take back their power and spontaneously transform into dragons. (A concept that admittedly sounds rather badass even if you haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid). Sadly, I spent the entire time wondering BUT WHERE IS THE PLOT??! I just wanted to know where it was going and found myself bored. Especially as the dragons don’t do much dragonish things (beyond the initial human bonfires). There’s no sitting on piles of treasure and kidnapping damsels (presumably male ones in the case of this book). They just kinda disappear and then *reappear*, whilst going about normal day-to-day things. It actually gets very campy, with dragons walking round 1950s America with handbags and heels. Which is still not as interesting as I’m making it sound. Just know that the author thinks all women are dragons and hates men and is an intersectional feminist- because the author sure as hell wants you to know that (as she tells her way to a very, very corny World Peace ending). Not trying to get all hot under the collar here- but this book really was not worth my time.
Rating: 2/5 bananas
Dead Romantics– I want to say right away that I was dead impressed with a lot of things in this book. And as long as I don’t think about it too much, a lot of the problems could remain unseen. So if you want to read a cute romance and not have me kill the fun, look away now… Because it is a flawed book. Unfortunately, there were far too many subplots smooshed together. So much so, the tone got lost and it didn’t quite work. I’m supposed to believe, for instance, this is happening in the immediate aftermath of a sudden death. And yet, it didn’t read like the heroine was struggling to come to terms with what would be fresh grief. It’s an oddly timed story where the main character is bouncing along with a ghost and trying to do some writing. Which was odd. That said, I wasn’t exactly haunted by these flaws. I felt like this is the kind of character who doesn’t know how to embrace gloomy, grim reality… and that made an odd sense. Sort of. Like I said: just don’t think about it.
Rating: 3½/5 bananas
Every Heart a Doorway– I really like the concept of exploring what happens when children come back from a portal fantasy world- which is why I have been dying to pick up the Wayward Children series for some time. I had heard it was flawed, but was curious about the unique worlds and writing style. And it didn’t disappoint in that respect- this certainly had unique world building. However, I didn’t feel like this delivered much in other areas. As much as it tries to distance itself from the Chronicles of Narnia (openly critiquing the use of Christian allegory), this read very much as a woke allegory. It didn’t feel like natural storytelling, but rather a forced message about fitting in and acceptance. With a murder mystery thrown in, because there was death in their worlds… I guess? I never entirely understood what that was doing there. A lot of things were never really explained (like why some people got to go back) while other things were over-explained (like how the worlds worked). Still, it was a reasonably short book and I got something out of it- I’m still not entirely sure what.
Rating: 3/5 bananas
Legends and Lattes– ahh this quiet book was a breath of fresh air. The concept follows fantasy characters happens after the adventure has finished… setting up their very own coffee shop! It’s as cosy and sweet as that sounds. With a side of yummy sounding treats and a sweet romance, this was a relaxing read that does what it says on the tin.
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Cursed– this suffers a little from the curse of the finale. While it had some really good twists and a lot of things I liked, it didn’t quite live up to the charm of Gilded. And while I did appreciate the way this continued the motif of storytelling, some parts felt a little contrived and forced. Ultimately though, it took me by surprise enough for me to get a fair amount of enjoyment out of it. It’s just a pity I can’t rave about this as much as I’d like- but I guess all that glitters is not gold 😉
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Daisy Darker– Alice Feeney often comes across as quite a contentious author- you either love her or hate her it seems. I for one absolutely adore her kooky, off-the-wall thrillers. I find in her mesmeric prose a deep sense of place and character. I have often been surprised by her peculiar twists- but I can’t deny they work (for me). With that being said, I wouldn’t blame anyone who thought the twist was a bit left of field. Without spoilers, I can say it’s one that I easily would’ve groaned at. I mean, it’s a little left of field and something that’s not entirely original. And yet, in the hands of this author it completely worked for me. I found myself flicking back through the pages for the clues I knew would be there, thinking “of course, how could I have missed that?” For me, it was a masterclass in suspense and warped storytelling. And I loved every second of it.
Rating: 5/5 bananas
Ten Thousand Stitches– here’s another Regency Faerie Tale that was a PURE DELIGHT! And this time, it plays into the concept of Cinderella, with the best faerie godfather that a maid could find. And while this Cinderella is giving and kind, she’s also angry and irritated (I mean, wouldn’t you be?) I loved the chuckle-inducing wit and wonderfully drawn characters. All of it is stitched together in a vibrant fantasy, with a brilliantly embroidered setting. With beautiful threads about humanity and the purpose of anger, once again Atwater proves she can add depth to her fantastical tales. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t checked it out yet!
Rating: 5/5 bananas
That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month! ❤