Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – OOH IT’S OCTOBER 2022!

Hello all! Hope you had a splendid September! Mine certainly was! As I mentioned in my previous post, I needed to take a couple of weeks off from blogging for a very good reason…

Annnd that wasn’t all! I also went back to Scotland for a few days (which inspired some more paintings I’ve been sharing over on insta) Needless to say I’m a bit zonked! 

And there’s more to come on the travel front soon! But for now- onto the books!

Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting– by golly, I’m smitten. This regency inspired comedy of manners was incomparable. Following a wicked young schemer who wishes to snag a rich man, this is not your conventional love story. Full of mischief and wit, but it also had great characters and a swoonworthy romance. I loved how it maintained a sense of history whilst also having a modern twist. A really fun and well written drama for those who are fans of Bridgerton… And also those who are decidedly not fans! 

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Our Crooked Hearts– be still my beating heart! This witchy wonder was straight up one of the best books I read last month. From creepy beginnings, we are introduced to a haunting mystery, intertwining past and present. Beyond the beautifully crafted writing is an intense character study, shown through dysfunctional familial relationships and the dark side of sisterhood. More than anything I loved how this exemplified the ways we are crammed into spaces and forced to be half of ourselves to please others… Even though that often leads to disappointment for both parties. A coming-of-age story like no other, I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a ghostly tale to keep them up this Halloween season!

Rating: 5/5 bananas 

Fire and Blood– oh dear. This was a struggle. I nearly DNF’d it many times (I should’ve just DNF’d it). For some reason, GRRM decided to write this as a dull maester would have written it and it is, in fact, rather dull. Even though it’s about warring dragon factions… annnd writing that out makes me even more disappointed that this didn’t work as a book. Yet with the distance the narration provided, it was impossible to connect with the story. And, to be honest, I can’t see any way that I’d ever have connected to any of these characters. They were all vile. Which made me realise that the Targaryen dynasty wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. That, coupled with the gratuitous violence and the insane level of brutality toward women, made me look at Game of Thrones in a whole new light… and that’s not a good thing. I had a fair number of reasons to be attached to the original story- but with everything Martin puts out, I’m less and less interested.

Rating: 2/5 banana

Run Time– this was actually kinda fun… until the clock ran down to a disappointing end. With a voicey storytelling style, this tells of an actress whose career has hit the rocks. So of course, she goes to a remote filming location with a bunch of odd people she doesn’t know, for a weird script that seems to bear too much resemblance to the disturbing goings on. Surprisingly, the heroine in this isn’t a total idiot (one of my least favourite thriller tropes) plus it also had a sufficiently creepy isolated setting (one of my favourite thriller tropes). It also had a great story-within-a-story concept. So it should’ve been plain sailing. Unfortunately, the plot ended up being a little too convoluted and what started as an intriguing premise faltered. While there were a few good (but guessable) twists, the finale wasn’t nearly as exciting as it could have been.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Gallant– and V E Schwab strikes again! With this spiky, spectral, dark fairy tale. In this voicey narrative, the silent lead takes us to the shadow world of Gallant and face the dark secrets that have plagued her family for generations. In typical Schwab fashion, it’s a sharply written and intriguing adventure.  

Rating: 5/5 bananas

Book of Night– it’s dawned on me that I’m unlikely to enjoy YA author’s first foray into adult fiction. Not once have I absolutely adored their adult novels the way I’ve loved their teen lit. And that’s fine- but also disappointing. All this is to say, Holly Black’s attempt didn’t work for me. As much as there a cool magic system and a solid plot, I simply wasn’t wowed by it. Largely this came down to the writing- which felt flat and relied on far too much telling for characterisation. This left the heroine and her love interest seeming only skin deep, which in turn left me struggling to connect with their romance. Which was a problem considering this was fundamentally a romance. Ultimately, this had the makings of a great book, but missed the mark. 

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Belladonna– erm well this one turned a little toxic. I was all set to fall in love with this intoxicating YA fantasy mystery… And yet sadly this went from deliciously intriguing to a dull affair that turned my stomach a little. Let me explain. To start with there were a whole host of interesting premises: an entire house of poisoned guests; a lifelong series of fatal accidents for all the heroine’s nearest and dearest; a connection with a paternal and protective death. But the story didn’t exactly follow any of those plots. Instead we were supposed to be fascinated by some hastily introduced relatives who didn’t seem to care one jot for the protagonist. And even if I had been more interested in the shoddily spun mystery or the main character’s attempts at etiquette, then I still would never have been here for the romance. Spoiler alert: it’s a literal love affair with death?! And, particularly as he’d followed her around since she was a baby, this love affair left me a tad uneasy. Call me crazy, but I just don’t go for the immortal old dude dating someone he’s known from birth. So sadly, as much as there were parts I liked, this is not the story for me. 

Rating: 2½/5 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!

All My Hopes and Dreams for Spring

 

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Okay that title is a little misleading. I genuinely hope and believe that GRRM will do a finer job of telling his own story than I or anyone else ever could. At the same time, we have been forewarned to expect much the same thing as the show. So, while I still think there will be better set up in the books, I don’t think it’s worth holding out too much hope for things being all that different. I’m trying to work very much within the existing framework and exploring slight differences- rather than writing an alternative ending (sorry if you got your hopes up 😉 ). And if you’ve been thrown into this post and are wondering where I’m coming from with this, feel free to check out my posts on the series:

Hot Stuff: Returning to Winterfell

A Knight of Seven Kingdoms on the Edge of a Dark & Scary Night

The Long Night Cometh

The Last of the Starks *DUN DUN DUNNN*

Did the Bells Sound the Death Knell for Game of Thrones?

The Iron Throne Did Not Sit Well with Me

Now that I’ve got my apologies out the way, *spoiler warning*, I’m gonna get into what I actually think…

Honestly, while I would like nothing more than for the White Walkers to be the final villain, with Dany having sacked King’s Landing and going North for a redemption arc- I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go down. A Song of Ice and Fire was never a typical fantasy story. If anything, the showrunners made it too epic by position the Night King as the Big Boss Villain (and then backtracking on that pronto).

army of the dead
“We’re not going anywhere…”

My thoughts are more along the lines that Jon will fight the majority of the White Walkers in Winds of Winter and defeat most of their forces. BUT this won’t be a “Night King dies and army of the dead collapses”- rather he will find out the *real reason* they exist and thus will need a long term strategy to keep them from returning. With this promise of a future threat, Jon is motivated to go South and get more help for the Night’s Watch in case this threat arises again (that or he’ll have a “to hell with you all moment” and just abandon his post 😉). Either way, Jon’s character arc will definitely get darker, especially after having been brought back to life, but he will retain the respect of his men by defeating some of the dead (again #notall – if this is a metaphor for Global Warming, it stands to reason it is both a manmade threat AND an ongoing battle for mankind). Dany, by contrast, will spend most of the book entangled in conflicts with the Dothraki and then crossing the sea to Westeros.

greyscale
Because remember Greyscale? That’s a thing.

Dream of Spring, in my mind, will cover Dany’s descent into “madness” and loss of her remaining forces. This is where SELMY will give her some appalling advice, which results in losing most of her armies. She will be backed into a corner AND have the added displeasure of having to fight someone she views as a fraud… the book’s Aegon Targaryen. Aegon will gain the support from Dorne that rightfully belongs to her. Driven by her anger and perhaps the spread of Greyscale in the city, she will burn King’s Landing to the ground as a last-ditch effort to win her war. People will then label her the Mad Queen and malign her as a monster in stories- somewhat unfairly (the benefit of having multiple povs means it doesn’t have to be black or white and significantly we’ll see it from Dany’s perspective).

Now I’d love to see Jon/Dany storylines elegantly tied up, but I have left this open-ended deliberately. It is possible that they meet and even that Dany becomes pregnant with his child (parts of her story were given to Cersei after all). I would love nothing more than the fulfilment of the Azor Ahai prophecy, where Jon kills his lover before turning to fight the rest of the White Walkers. HOWEVER, it is also possible that Jon hears of the Mad Queen and his heritage and it’s at this point where he turns to King’s Landing to defeat her. Either way, I would very much still expect him to kill Dany when she goes too far AND to turn away from the throne when it is offered to him (the main difference being he still has a mystical purpose in the North and it is HIS CHOICE!) Also, he’ll have Rhaegal, cos I’m not so flippant about killing dragons…

rhaegal dragon.gif
Hey- if the showrunners can do things for fun, so can I! At least it’s not an ice bear 😉

 

Turning to a *more wish fulfilment* part of the post, Bran will be Lord of Winterfell at most. NOT king. Seriously, I hate this twist and I don’t think even GRRM can convince me it will work. Now, this isn’t me side-lining Sansa- I still love her and would like/expect her to end up in Highgarden (bearing in mind where she is in the books is very different to the show). I also think she’ll be instrumental in bringing down Littlefinger AND that she’ll witness the Eyrie falling (because “impregnable” in fantasy is code for “definitely getting impregnated”). Notice the only person I haven’t mentioned is Tyrion- that’s because in the books he has been side-lined and I’m not sure what that’ll mean for his character. I think ultimately he’s probably going to regain Casterly Rock, but I don’t see him as anything more than an advisor to Dany. I don’t see him becoming Hand of the King. In fact, I still think there will be more of a council-type situation when it comes to the way power is balanced out when the books end.

One thing I am certain of is that the same people that died in the show will die in the books. I do think there will be differences in execution- most notably with regards to Jaime and Cersei (Cersei’s end will be closer to what was prophesised). Actually, this seems like a good time to see how accurate I was with previous predictions:

who lives who dies....png
Who lives, who dies…

Not bad. The only main character that died who I didn’t mention was the Hound (not including Varys and Melisandre who we were told would die). I was definitely overcautious putting Jon on the list- especially when I thought he’d survive up until the eve of Season 8 (though given how his story ended I wish he had got it). Thankfully I was very wrong about Arya- I thought she was heading down a darker path. I suppose we should be grateful for the Hound’s wisdom.

Oh boy, thinking of what I got wrong already, this is definitely the kind of post that won’t age well 😉 As I said before, I could easily be wrong on all of this, but it was a little cathartic to get this out of my system. Perhaps my fumbling about can be seen as evidence for what a difficult job the showrunners had bringing it all together. And I’m sympathetic to that, really. I only wish we hadn’t been put through that fiasco of a finale. Also, because my job does not depend on it, I can safely say this is a democracy and I’m very open to suggestions you have here.

How do you think the books will end? Do you think it will be totally different or much the same as the show? Or are you like me- do you think it will probably be the same, but would like to entertain ideas of it being different? Let me know in the comments!