Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – A Long December

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Soooo November was a month and a half… It started out pretty quiet- and then I found out I will be moving flat before the end of the year– which to be fair has been in the works for a while, but I only got confirmation when that’ll be happening mid-November. That’s obviously meant I’ve been a bit all over the place when it comes to blogging- and unfortunately might mean a bit more disruption in the next few weeks- though I do have some posts planned/scheduled. Needless to say, this could end up being a long December- WISH ME LUCK!

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Annnd to top it all off, I also managed to get a bit sick, which wasn’t a fun state to be in while lugging boxes of books…

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O-k-a-y I think we’ve covered all the life updates- I’ll keep you posted on all of that- until then let’s talk about what really matters: BOOKS! Fortunately, I managed to get some reading in this month, though granted it tailed off towards the end. So here we go!

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Grace and Fury– I was pleasantly surprised by this YA! It was one of the books I got from Naty and I’m so glad, because I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise! Opening with a nice bait and switch (which I can’t reveal cos it’s quite spoiler) I was instantly drawn into the intense and fast-paced plot. With a graceful writing style and furious world building, I quickly got the sense that this story was basically Handmaid’s Tale meets Italian culture. Personally, I liked how the narrative played with themes like knowledge is power, whilst very much keeping the entertainment value going. That said, though I didn’t guess everything, there were elements that were a tad predictable. One of the biggest issues being that a very famous book (written at the same time) had the exact same plot twist- which is just unlucky. Since I could see various things coming, there were times when I was screaming at Nomi “don’t you know you’re a YA heroine?” Serina ended up being far more interesting to me, because she had so much more room for growth. Still, the dual perspective really worked for me and I definitely want to read more! I’ve already reserved the next one at my library 😊

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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in order to live

In Order to Live– I don’t have a lot to say about this autobiography from a young North Korean defector other than you should read it! Such an incredible and moving story, this is by far one of the best things I’ve read this year. It reduced me to a blubbering mess. There were two things that struck a chord with me the most: firstly, that there is only a one-year age difference between Park and me, which is a crazy thing to put in context; and secondly, Park talking about how Animal Farm and 1984 opened up her understanding of North Korea, which I think is so important for those who doubt the veracity of these works. This book could well be the puzzle piece linking Orwell’s prophetic vision with the real world. I know that Park taught me so much about the realities of living in a communist state and I believe it has the power to shake the world. I regret that I don’t have more to say, I was just too absorbed in it to write notes. So just read it, okay?

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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bright side

Bright Side– I’ve been meaning to read this Adult Romance for *years*- and I finally did it! Ever since I read Deanna @A Novel Glimpse’s glowing reviews and generally chatting about it, I bought it on kindle and was saving it for a rainy day. It did take me a while to get into the writing style, but I slowly but surely really warmed to the heroine and the cute (and sometimes steamy) romance. In fact, I defy anyone not to fall for the main character- she’s the kind of person guaranteed to make anyone smile! Buuut this is also the kind of story to drive you to tears (which seems like a bit of a theme this month 😉). Cos OOF- this gets emotional. So, thanks Deanna for that 😉 (just kidding, I love when books make me cry 😉 this is going down as one of the best book blogging recs! ❤ ). I absolutely recommend this if you like the genre- just make sure you have a box of tissues handy, cos you’re gonna need it!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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turn of the key

Turn of the Key– I’ve been really into thrillers the last few months and this one was high on my radar- because I loved the Smart House modern twist on Turn of the Screw– what a genius idea! And I have to say, that was the part Ware really pulled out all the stops. The creepy setting and chilling atmosphere was the book’s biggest strength. It was super addictive as well- the kind of thriller you won’t want to put down. As a retelling, it did have subtle hints of the original, including the unreliable narrator and unlikeable characters. I also appreciated some of the *bombshell* secrets along the way; some of those plot twists were insane! That said, it’s quite hard not to draw comparisons with the original and find this comes up short at times. One of the biggest draws of Henry’s narrative is the ambiguity- which I understand isn’t a massive selling point to the modern audience- so when the final reveal twist came… I wasn’t entirely behind it. Partly because I’m not a huge fan of that particular twist in fiction, but mostly because sometimes it’s better not knowing all the answers. Still, a really solid contemporary thriller:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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call down the hawk

Call Down the Hawk– this book was like reading a dream. Everything is slightly hard to pin down- while you know there is meaning in there somewhere, if you can only grab it and pull it out, it’s kind of a trippy experience travelling through the narrative. From the mesmerising opening, the simply stunning writing draws you back into the world of the Raven Cycle. Except this sequel series is more focused on the Dreamer, Ronan, who just so happened to be my favourite character! I loved seeing some of the old gang- the Lynch brothers, Adam, Chainsaw and Opal all starred in this again. I did also come to like some of the new characters- especially Jordan Henessey- whose story was unique and fitting and took the plot in a good direction. Ultimately, I did enjoy this, though it was certainly an unusual read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

Royally Pleased With The Raven King

*Warning! There be spoilers afoot!*

raven-kingWell Halloween must be approaching cos I feel like a bit of a horror show. I swear my head feels like it’s been microwaved and I’m a phlegm monster! (now if that image is not scary I don’t know what is) So if I sound a bit lacklustre or addled in this post, don’t blame the book– as the title suggests I was pretty darn happy with how it ended!

Now I was incredible impatient for this one- so naturally I read this back to back with Blue Lily, Lily Blue! Because of that it definitely felt like one long book. In many ways, that was a good thing, as it allowed me to settle the mystery of where this story was going once and for all! And *spoiler alert*– it had a happy ending!!! My months of stressing over what would become of Gansey and the whole crew were finally put to rest! I definitely felt a gasp of relief for it to just be finished.

But on the flipside of that, I did feel like the story dragged a little. Some of the story and, dare I say it, felt a bit like filler. And the writing, which has always been a little longwinded, was a little sluggish. At the same time, however, it felt like Stiefvater had saved up a lot of the plot for the finale. The book simultaneously managed to make me feel impatient for it to end and like a huge amount of the plot was crammed into the last book.

For all my whinging- I was really pleased with how it ended. And how could I not be? It gave me everything I ultimately wanted. MOST IMPORTANTLY it gave me the Ronan and Adam moment I had been waiting for!! (eek!!!) Let’s just all bask in how wonderful that is for a moment!

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Okay, now we are done basking (for the time being) let’s talk about what else I enjoyed about this book. Namely that this was Gansey’s story. I have adored his character from the beginning and have truly felt invested in his quest for the Raven King. I was delighted to witness the culmination of his work (regardless how satisfied he was with that) and the discovery of his own inner kingliness.

It was also great to see their feelings take centre stage for this one- it really felt like the perfect ending for what is effectively a coming of age story. And there was also Stiefvater’s usual ingeniousness in the *big reveal* that Cabeswater was all a dream! Even the villains were taken to a whole other level. While Piper was already scarily crazy, I have to say she was even freakier attached to a demon.

But one there was one last thing in the book that I didn’t like- and that was the cut to the end. Aka one minute we’re trying to figure out if Gansey’s gonna come back, then Blue says “Wake up” and… the next chapter starts with a scene between Adam and his father. Way to leave us hanging! Because let’s be honest no one would like it if-

Rating 4/5 bananas

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So what did you think of the finale to the Raven Cycle? Satisfied? Dissatisfied? Let me know in the comments section!

And big shout out goes to the incredible Jill @rantsandravesaboutbooks – I won amazon vouchers from her a while ago and this book was part of what I bought with it 🙂

Coincidentally, I Read Blue Lily, Lily Blue

blue-lily-lily-blueHiya! So this will be a relatively short post cos I’ve been a bit under the weather the last couple of days. BUT since I’ve been meaning to post this review for a while, I figured I could drag myself out of bed for five minutes… (Okay- let’s be honest- this blogging thing is a dangerous addiction!)

Now I don’t suppose it was such a coincidence that I enjoyed this, all things considered. I mean, it’s no secret that I’m into this slightly creepy paranormal series. And as the third book in the series, the plot has been building quite nicely. Yet, unfortunately, given how much I loved the last one (feel free to read my gushy review here), I have to admit that I wasn’t quite as blown away as with the last one.

There were some flaws that (like many books in the middle of the series) it did at times feel a little bit like filler. And, while Piper made a good villain, Greenmantle was just not especially scary.

That said, I really liked how this one develops Blue’s powers. And I adored watching Adam and Ronan team up. And like the rest of the series it had a good ominous feel and the plot twists and turns were really clever!

So while it wasn’t as good as the last one, I reckon it deserves a solid:

4/5 bananas

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So I have to end with a question to everyone that’s read this: was “coincidence” really a thing in this series? Because it totally flew over my head, but my sister insists they were always saying it. So can you settle this dispute? Let me know in the comments who is right!!

Dream Thieves Stole My Heart…

dream thieves.jpgAnd by that I mean Ronan did. Because I am nothing if not predictable- and I will always, always fall for this kind of character. (Trying not to spoil anything, but failing, so minor spoiler warning– I have a thing for the tragic, gay characters- don’t know what it is, but they make my heart melt).

But aside from how much I adored Ronan, there were plenty of other things to admire here. The concept was seriously cool. I mean, it’s about people that steal things from dreams for crying out loud! I mentioned this to a friend of mine who doesn’t read YA and even they had to admit it sounded awesome. And that’s because it is. I rarely praise anything for being original- but I have to give Stiefvater kudos here- anyone that can come up with something new about dreamlore (yes, that’s a random thing I’m a fan of) has my vote. This concept created an edgy vibe that worked so well alongside discovering Ronan’s character.

But there were many other major pluses to this book- and I felt it was a definite improvement on the first one! I definitely preferred the antagonists- particularly the ominously named Grey Man- in this one. Unlike the first book, I got into this one straight away and flew through it. I also felt like I connected more with other characters and want to get to know them more. The twists and turns of the plot were ultimately so satisfying that I was left sated- and yet with a healthy appetite for more!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Right-y ho! Hope you all enjoyed that! Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!

Raven Boys, Hyperactive Bunnies and Psychics That Are A Little Too Predictable

Okay, so I’ve been busy, I’ve not been well and this is the longest I’ve been without blogging in ages! So, how are you all? What have you all been upto?? Tell me everything!! (Okay, now I’m starting to sound like a hyperactive bunny)

raven boysAlrighhht… Now I’ve got that out of my system, on with the review!

First off, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a bit of a slow burner, which is not necessarily something I usually like, but in this case it worked. Mostly, this is because it’s unusually well-written for a YA (or any book for that matter). It’s got a lovely, delicate, eerie flavour to the writing that makes it really compelling. The characters in particular really shone and had a brilliant edge to them. I especially liked the well-rounded nature of the villains- and how other characters have been set up to take on the mantle of villainy later on the series.

The one downside to this book is that the psychics are a little too good at what they do, which makes the plot a little too predictable at times. And since the characters are well drawn, I really don’t see any room for twists and turns in that area either. Then there’s the foreshadowing for the books later in the series- which makes me wonder whether it’s going to continue this way for the rest of the series and if that will eventually bore me. Of course, this is super finickity of me, given that I’m basically criticising Stiefvater for being too good at what she does.

Undoubtedly this is a well-written, entertaining book and that’s a clear sign that this series is going to be great- and I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that I’ll definitely be back for more! The only issue is, it just didn’t have the oomph factor for anything more than…

Rating: 4 bananas

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Okay, so that’s that. Anyone else read this book? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!