Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – June

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Hello all! I think I’m becoming a bit of an old record lately, recounting how busy I’ve been every month, explaining why I’m playing catch up and *yada yada yada*… Rather than dancing to that tune again, I’ll skip all that and just say if you’re interested in my adventures offline you can check out this post 😉 For everyone else, we can just get straight to the books, cos there’s a lot of them!

devil's thief

The Devil’s Thief– I am haunted by my disappointment for this book. It’s the kind of book I quite enjoyed reading, but look back on with irritation. Because it could’ve been so good! Following its powerful predecessor, this had a bold opening, with stunning prose, thus assuring me I was in for a treat. And yet somehow it didn’t manage to fulfil the promise. While there was some entertaining action throughout, the structure was ultimately more disjointed than The Last Magician and I didn’t feel as connected to it. There was far too much squabbling and I didn’t care for the characters as I should. I also felt that the romantic problems were repetitive and pointless- maybe because I’d just watched a video on the rule of three- or maybe because there’s only so many times you can read that Esta is *a strong woman* and Harte is *too old fashioned* (what with him being from a different time period and all). Problem is, this was not helped by the fact that Esta literally wasn’t listening to the fact Harte was possessed!! I’m honestly unsure about whether I should continue with this series now- despite the fact the twist at the end was decent and I’d kinda like to see how it all works out. It would be really great if someone could pop back from the future and let me know if it’s worth it 😉

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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emergency contact

Emergency Contact- do you know that feeling where you pick up a book and instantly know it’s not for you? Well I had that with this book. The second I’d started reading I knew. But I’d waited in a queue to read it on overdrive and now I had the (albeit not physical) copy, I was determined to finish it dammit! Annnd it was totally not worth it. I *hated* the writing style straight away- it felt like it was trying too darn hard to be down with the kids. And there was SO MUCH virtue signalling. Such as: “Never mind the karma of a total non-Jew stealing a book about the Jewish holocaust from a Jewish person.” Everything. Is. Wrong. With. That. Sentence. I can’t even will myself to dissect it. Or the time when she expresses her thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha: “a book Penny adored until she discovered some rando white guy had written it”. Wow, stunning and brave 😉 I found Penny insufferably unlikeable and ergo did not have much interest in the plot/romance/much of anything to do with this. This is not to trash the book- I just think you can figure out within the first sentence/page/chapter whether this is for you or not. That’s definitely something I should have done. Moral of the story: I need to DNF more! Needless to say, I have not learnt that lesson quite yet 😉

Rating: 1½/5 bananas

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a separate peace

A Separate Peace– “it’s an American classic”, I was sneeringly told by the person that recommended it. Now, that may very well have prejudiced me against the book, but I will still say I am not quite sure why it is considered an American classic. I never connected with the dry writing style; I thought the story lacked a certain punchiness. And this all culminated in a dull and unearned ending. Finny was, admittedly, an interesting character- it was just a shame he wasn’t explored as fully as he could have been. There were also some interesting ideas here- it was again a pity that they amounted to very little in the eyes of this reader, since they were conveyed in a textbook-style telling instead of showing. Most notably, telling me a moral at the end, without demonstrating it throughout the story feels cheap and pointless. Personally, I found this book a bit of a waste of time, though there was potential in it.

Rating: 2/5 bananas



Otherworld– another in a string of bad books. However, the positive side of this one is I DNF’d it! That’s right! I finally learnt my lesson! Why was this the straw that broke this monkey’s back? Well, there’s a long list of reasons- not least that it felt like reading a string of clichés and recycled ideas. This was Ready Player One, only without the great voice and stand-out characters. The protagonist had ZERO personality (no, having a “kishka” does not count- it just makes you a racial stereotype- so thanks for that I guess?) We’re told over and over that the Otherworld is a *fabulous* place, but I never felt it shown in the flat descriptions. Perhaps if I hadn’t had a string of meh reads this month I would have been more inclined to finish it- but life is too short and I had little hope of it improving. Based on what I’d read so far, I gave it:

Rating: 1/5 bananas


beautiful disaster

Beautiful Disaster– well the clue is in the title I guess 😉 Just so damn ugly and petty- though perhaps not as terrible as I was led to expect (although I do think a lot of the love interest’s behaviours wouldn’t fly today). Oh and heads up, the people in this all suck. Strangely, that wasn’t my biggest issue though. What actually spoiled this book for me is the weird structure- there are so many time jumps and issues with pacing. At points the characters would be in the middle of some crucial interlude in their lives, only to skip a few weeks. For me, this was incredibly jarring.

Rating: 2/5 bananas



Panic– Lauren Oliver to the rescue! I am always assured that when I pick up one of Oliver’s books I’m going to be rewarded with a wonderfully written, interesting concept, entertaining read- and this was no exception! This was a thrill a minute and I really liked how the idea was handled. I also found the characters engaging enough and the twist solid. While this may not be her best book, I still enjoyed it and would recommend if you like her work.

Rating: 4/5 bananas


dark matter

Dark Matter– this was by far one of the best books I read all month. From the intriguing opening, this had a fast-paced intensity that made it hard for me to keep my breath. There are some creepy turns to this and it works out as a fascinating thought experiment. What I liked most about it was how Jason consistently chose to be the best version of himself (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it 😉 ) This was an absolutely wild ride, an exhilarating journey, with a bonkers ending- in the best kind of way!

Rating: 4/5 bananas



Always Never Yours– this had both a unique and typical plot- which completely works in its favour. Often in YA contemporaries, whatever the characters are studying in school has some sort of bearing on the plot. But it’s usually rather a disappointment. How many times will we see a character studying Romeo and Juliet, for instance, only to be swept off their feet by someone they can’t have? This is always especially funny in a high school when they’re being all *melodramatic* high school about their performances and trying to fit in all 5 acts (when even professionals know to cut for time lol). Now, while I won’t say this was wholly original in that regard, it did miraculously flip the script a little by exploring the role of Rosalind. Even if the character of Megan sometimes made very little sense to me, I did appreciate this fresh take, especially as it allowed for the mc grow in courage, learning to take the lead, instead of always waiting in the wings. It was just a shame that (because of weirdly inexplicable girl rules?) she had to forgive a friend who betrayed her by the end of the story. For me personally, the protagonist was too nice in this regard, sacrificing her character development to be treated like a doormat. Frankly, I’m struggling not to rant about how all cheats are skeez-bags, so I’ll just skip to the fact that at least I enjoyed the mc’s romance and leave it at that.

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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death comes to pemberley

audiobook2Death Comes to Pemberley– if I had to describe this in a couple of words, I’d sum it up as enjoyable fanfic. I won’t be pretending this is in any way highbrow, when in fact, it is so very, very silly. Personally, the sole reason I picked this up was that I’ve been in the mood for a lot of Austen lately and can’t seem to get enough of what actually exists in canon (anyone fancy building a time machine and fetching Austen from the past so she can write at least one more book?). So, naturally, what was I to do but check out a murder mystery set in Austenland? 😉 Nonetheless, one of its biggest failings is not that it insists on putting the characters of Pride and Prejudice in the most ludicrous of circumstances, but that it recaps the original so frequently and unnecessarily that the point is a little laboured. I confess, I have very little knowledge of fanfic, so perhaps someone can answer in the comments if characters excessively recalling the events of their past is a common theme in the genre? Regardless, I did have a bizarrely enjoyable time with this, mostly thanks to the atmospheric hold of the author and the rather pleasant reading from the audiobook narrator.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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So have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

Broken Things was Earth Shatteringly Brilliant

*Received this book off Netgalley in exchange for an honest review- but the “OMG mindblown” comments you’re about to see is all me*

broken thingsWell this was quite the read. From the BOMBSHELL of a first line, where the dark premise of three kids accused of murdering their friend is delivered, I knew I was going to be in for quite the ride.

Going in, I was suspicious of everybody, trying to decipher the murder mystery element and didn’t know who to trust. Which was why it was cool to have it filtered through the eyes of two of the accused, who were trying to solve the mystery of their friend’s death and simultaneously clear their own names. I didn’t know if the narrators themselves would be reliable and they certainly didn’t totally trust each other after all they’d been through.

The dual perspective worked particularly well, since both had very distinctive voices. Brynn came across as sassy; Mia was the quiet one with hidden depths. I particularly liked the running theme of Mia’s lists, which not only showed her personality but were incorporated into her character growth. For where Brynn had to learn to be less prickly, Mia had to find her voice. What was particularly interesting was that learning to speak up showed why she was afraid of words in the first place– words are barbs and she had always known they held that cruel power. It’s like she was capable of monstrous things and was holding back.

I also appreciated the characterisation through each other’s eyes. It was a great tribute to their friendship that they were able to define each other so well. The colourful descriptions were also lent to the side characters, who were well developed in their own right. Wade, the dorky investigator cousin; Abby, the larger than life beauty blogger (who I’ll admit I wasn’t drawn to) and Owen, who is best described as *the love interest* (which doesn’t quite do justice to his uniqueness, but you’ll see why I refer to him as that if you read the book). I especially appreciated the entangled relationships and how believable they were.

This also included the victim herself- who, despite being dead, was so dynamic that she sent aftershocks of her memory through the book. However, she’s not portrayed as a straight-up victim- there’s more than one side to this story. Summer is a complex character- who will make you rage one minute and weep for her the next. Woven into the murder mystery, her life story is devastating. As scary as she can get in her own right, and as much as she is capable of breaking other people, the reader can never forget how broken she is in her own right.

The story is not just a suspense-filled thriller (and it most certainly is that!); it is a dark tale of heartbreak and deals with incredibly sensitive topics (don’t forget, this is a story of child murder). From the image of the piles of junk piling up in Mia’s house, to Brynn stewing in a rehab centre, the reader is instantly given a glimpse into the darkness of their world- and that feeling doesn’t let up throughout the book.

While there is some humour to offset the grim tone, this darkness is also reflected in the magical world of Lovelorn. The world of Lovelorn is both created out of snippets from a book the trio were obsessed with and from the fanfic they wrote on it to continue the story. Now, I will admit, I have a great love for stories that incorporate other stories, so I’m a little biased- BUT I will say that the way this was connected was bolder than most. The narratives of both are intrinsically linked with the plot– from the suspicion that they used the book as a manual for their own demonic ritual to the hints of child snatching in the original story. I loved the complexity of Lovelorn and the amazing symbolism used with the Shadow. I liked that it wasn’t too complicated, but you got the sense it could have been a real book. What was especially awesome was Wade’s interpretation of the book as nothing special, except for its ending.

And I don’t want to spoil anything, yet the ending here was equally phenomenal. There was so much build up and real tension throughout that set my heart racing from the start. Clues and red herrings were scattered throughout the plot and I didn’t know where it was going. Now I get that some people might have reservations about the ending, I see how this kind of conclusion might be divisive, however all I can say is AHHH I LOVE THAT SHE WENT THERE WITH THAT ENDING! For me, it was perfection. And that’s why I had to give it:

Rating: 5/5 bananas


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

Ringer Did Not Quite Replicate Replica…

ringer review

But it was still pretty original! I’m back today with a review for the second book in the Replica duology- a story about clones… (ooh err… scary stuff!) And as with the review for Replica, I’m joined by my sister the Monkey Baby! (and if you don’t know already, she’s even more bananas than I am)

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Monkey Baby: Arrivederci my sweeties.

See what I mean? Bit of a “you say goodbye, I say hello” moment if you ask me, moving onto the review… It took me a bit longer to get into this one, because it started in the middle of the action and then tracked back. It made the chronology a tad confusing and meant it took quite a bit of time to settle into it. But once it got going it was amazing again. It was so so action packed- even more than the first one.

Monkey Baby: I’m on a tightrope with this point. This monkey found it crazy disorientating.

There were a ridiculous number of twists and turns. I did feel like a fair number of the reveals and twists weren’t as good as the first book, simply because they’d already come up before, or were hinted at heavily, yet were treated like they were a big surprise. Also, although the number of twists did make it feel more action packed than Replica, the downside was that it also felt rather disjointed because of all the stuff that was going on.

Monkey Baby: It was bananas on a rollercoaster taking off in a rocket!!!

Nicely summarised! This was made especially jarring because there were two narratives going on independently. Whereas in the first book there was more of an overlap, here it felt like it easily could have been two books, as they didn’t join up nicely until the end.

Monkey Baby: One book? What monkey told you that? It was two you silly banana, obviously 😉

That said, allowing the narratives to be more individual did have the benefit of allowing the characters to grow into their own story arcs. Because of that, I loved the characters even more. Lyra was fantastic as ever and Gemma grew on me so much.

Monkey Baby: Lyra’s my baby and Gemma is the pretty kitty.

*Chokes on tea*- what she said. There were still layers to the story, as you’d expect from a story with dual perspectives 😉 I appreciated the modern day Frankenstein feel, although it was less pronounced in Ringer. There’s some really beautiful writing on top of that. Basically it’s a very clever series.

Monkey Baby: Layers and layers. Mmm I’m going to eat that cake forever. It was very delicious. Well maybe not forever. Forever is too long for a baby…

Forever is an awfully long time… And speaking of forever, this book was kind of ambiguous with its conclusion. As with the last book, I kind of think this is the end, but is it?


Okay, so Monkey Baby’s pretty passionate about this staying as a duology, so that settles it.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me and the Monkey Baby know in the comments!

Replica: Double Trouble!

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Well hello! Today you’re in for more than a little DOUBLE TROUBLE because today you’re about to get a bananarific double dose of monkey!

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That’s right! My sister, the Monkey Baby, is back!

Meow 🙂

(Yes she’s completely barking mad 😉 )

And we’re about to do a review for a book about CLONING (seeing doubles yet?!) And, yes, I know some of you might be musing isn’t this topic a bit been-there-done-that… Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, then YOU WOULD BE WRONG! Because it has never been done this way before…

Monkey Baby: Dum dum dummmmmmmmm… unleash the cat

Very catty opening from the Monkey Baby! Anyway, Replica is more than a little special, as it’s a book you can read THREE WAYS– you can read either Gemma’s story then Lyra’s or vice versa or flip the book between chapters (I picked the latter). And I know that might sound gimmicky to some readers, but, trust me, IT’S NOT. The execution is so bloody marvellous that it was far from just being a cheap trick and was actually brilliantly clever. The dual perspectives meshed together perfectly, interlocking and yet keeping their individuality.

Monkey Baby: It is exceptionally fun to read it this way. Makes me feel like I’m hanging from the tree…. 

As you do. Anyhoo, Gemma and Lyra gripped me as characters right from the start. The tone of each girl was completely distinct that I felt the stark contrast in their lives. They mirror each other like poorly carved doppelgangers. Still, their stories were so distinct that I never felt like there was a main character or viewpoint- which was certainly intentional, because every time I flipped the book I wished I was back with the other character (in a good way)

Monkey Baby: Zis is true ya but Lyra is my favourite banana

Flicking back and forth between the two stories, I was struck by little similarities- like their tendency to bestow nicknames- and canyon-like differences between them. It stopped me being surefooted of anything and set me up to plunge into shocking twists and turns. Not only did the plot go from zero to sixty in a millisecond, it also created an air mystery and doubt to the story- you can’t be certain who’s who…

Monkey Baby: I dropped all my bananas in shock… poor bananas

What really took this to the next level for me was the literary references and the play with WHO is Frankenstein. I also appreciated the little ways stories like The Little Prince were woven into the plot- it just gave it a little something extra.

Monkey Baby: I don’t want to be Frankenstein!! ARE we all Frankensteins?!?!?!?!?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I’M THE MONKEYBABY

I did have one minor spoilery niggling complaint- and that was I didn’t buy the nurse Don’t Even Think About It’s character- simply because she was far too contradictory a creation. She was religious, so didn’t believe the doctor’s should be playing god, yet worked in the facility that created clones and also seemed not to care they were killing clones (even though most religious people I know believe life is sacred). Yes, yes, I know, odd thing to pick up on- it just opened up a lot of unanswered questions as far as I was concerned and could have been dealt with better elsewhere.

Monkey Baby: Do monkey’s even have a religion? Do clones? Either way that fruitcake was not believable.. hear hear sista!

Annnd one last problem was that it was not the most polished of endings- so it took me a moment to realise it was left open for a sequel.

Monkey Baby: VAT are you talking about? It felt finished to Moi

Ooh err… Looks like I just got told. Still an excellent read:

4½/5 bananas

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5 bananas from me meow :p

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me and the Monkey Baby know in the comments!