Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – just in time for June!

Hello all! Hope you all had a marvellous May- I’ve enjoyed two lovely long weekends and (finally) some sunshine!! The funny thing about leaving the house more is that somehow I’ve made more time for movies… so there will be a separate post for that at some point, cos I have *opinions*. Also, I’ve been giving out a lot of bananas for books this month- but I don’t care, because they all deserved it! Let’s see why shall we?  

The Summer Job– starting with a sizzler for summer time. I loved this fresh and fun book, all about a girl who takes a summer job… that isn’t hers. Whisked away to the Scottish setting, I thoroughly enjoyed all the talk of food and wine. The love interest was an absolute cinnamon roll and the story had a joyful flavour. I like how it explored friendship with some depth. It was a perfect palate cleanser and ideal for fans of Beth O’Leary.  

Rating: 4/5 bananas

In a Dark, Dark Wood– despite hearing this is not Ware’s best, I enjoyed this more than I expected I would. While there were some repeats of plot points from her other books, particularly its And Then There Were None vibes, it still had nice twists and turns (which I can’t reveal cos they’re *spoilers*). The one thing I did have an issue with was the main character’s motivation to go to this hen weekend in the first place- because I certainly wouldn’t have set foot there! I think it could have been fleshed out more. There were also some loose ends. Clearly, Ware has tightened up her plots since this, yet it was a good fix to tide me over till her next release (more of this please!!)

Rating: 4/5 bananas

Transcendent Kingdom– this reminds me why I read lit fic- because this was *glorious*. The story itself is a snapshot of what it’s like to grow up as a new migrant in America, yet zooms in on one individual family’s story. It’s so beautifully written that I glided through the prose. Though it has a fragmentary and non-chronological structure, I couldn’t stop reading. The unusual form was handled masterfully, dissecting the emotion and presenting it to the reader. I’m starting to adore everything this author writes.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Bone Shard Daughter– sadly this didn’t quite do it for me. Despite the cool world building and the intriguing perspective of the bone shard daughter, I didn’t have much interest in the rest of the story or characters. I feel like this would have been far more immersive if there had been fewer points of view and expanded on the elements that worked.

Rating: 3.5/5 bananas

Made You Up– this was the real deal! Telling the unusual YA contemporary about a girl with schizophrenia, it had a vivid energy. Though I cannot speak to its authenticity, it felt powerfully empathetic. I felt as if I was deep inside her head and hearing her struggles. I also liked the motif of photography for this story- it was a clever addition to the narrative. I do have to say that I found the middle a little hazy- yet the beginning and ending really worked for me. This was not as proficient as Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters, but a great story nonetheless!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

The Light Between Worlds– isn’t the title for this book just brilliant? As a reimagining of the aftermath of children finding their way into a Narnia-like-world, the concept of this story intrigued me straight away. Luckily, I was far from disappointed. While this does have flashbacks from the protagonists’ time in the Woodlands, this focuses more on what it means to return home. It is not an action-packed story, but a deep character study that holds its own magic. Focusing first on a Lucy-like character and then on a Susan stand-in, this was as much about sisterly relationships as it was about the abstract discussions of growth after trauma. I really liked how it reinvented the Lucy dynamic, showing how she’s actually got a great challenge to fit in after Narnia, which she can’t quite live up to. I also liked that this examined the treatment Susan gets in the later Chronicles of Narnia, showing that her path to trying to forget is just as understandable as clinging onto the past. It shows how we all struggle with trauma in different ways. And I was particularly impressed with how the story acknowledges that the greatest trauma comes from our own actions. Profound and well written, I found this a fascinating fantasy.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Road Trip– Beth O’Leary is back with another delightful contemporary! With two holidays for the price of one, five friends stuffed into a mini and plenty of history- this was one helluva ride! Jumping between “now” and “then”, you get a glimpse of the summer romance and then the less-glamorous aftermath. Thanks to this, you get to see some very contrasting settings and circumstances. It builds up the characters and relationships throughout the journey. The story soon goes off in a hilarious direction, making me laugh out loud and cheering me right up (even if a road trip isn’t on the cards for me any time soon). This ended up being far more than a second chance romance, exploring some difficult topics along the way. I was very sad to finish it!

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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 all had a good month!

All the Things I Liked About Eliza and her Monsters

Yes, that’s right, continuing on from my theme the other day, I’m talking about yet another BRILLIANT book I read last month!

eliza and her monsters

  1. I loved the premise! The story is basically a girl juggling her online life and her life in the real world. I related to this so much on a personal level- obviously not the successful webcomic part, but the online life… well, I think a lot of us bloggers will get that side of things instantly.
  2. I also appreciated the way her webcomic was blended subtly into the narrative. I really enjoy stories that blend real life and fiction in general- and this did that so well!
  3. Because the format was so great! I really appreciate unique story structures more and more, so I ended up thoroughly enjoying the cartoon inserts and the online conversations that broke up the text. I mean, the whole concept was pretty meta, but what elevated the book was how Zappia pulled it off. Cos of all that, I’m also ridiculously pleased that I got given the physical version of this!
  4. Plus, I related so much to the part about creating a story from scratch all the way to completion. I loved the line: “It was the story I wanted to tell”, because that’s what got me onto the path of writing in the first place. On top of that, there’s this wonderful letter at the end (no spoilers) which felt like a letter to all creative people. I genuinely think this book will speak to so many creative types and to fans of the arts- basically this was #relatable to all us nerdy folks.
  5. Speaking of relatable… oh gosh I got the social awkwardness. I really get the desire to “switch off”- because that’s how my brain works too.
  6. I also liked the romance and characterisation. Funnily enough, this was made even more evident by one aspect of the book that I didn’t like- the point when Wallace (the love interest) acted like a selfish dick- but I didn’t deduct bananas because it was realistic (unfortunately). So kudos for creating believable characters.
  7. I was also so invested that this hit me right in the *feels*. I squealed, I cried (twice), and I closed the book with the words “wow that was really good”. I LOVED it.
  8. Since there was a secretive element to the plot, it did make the story cooler and was provided plenty of funny moments too. It got more than a few chuckles out of me.
  9. And just in case this book was awesome enough, it also had the occasional literary nods, especially references to Faustus, which being the booknerd I am, really made me very happy.

peter pan robin williams flying.gif

  1. And gosh darn it- I loved how quotable it was:

“You found me in a constellation”

“Truth is the worst monster because it never really goes away.”

“Broken people don’t hide from monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”

That’s why I had to give it all the bananas:

Rating: 5/5 bananas


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