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!

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is Unforgettable

invisible life of addie larueThere’s something exquisitely mysterious about this book. It’s the kind of novel that slips into your periphery as you read, so that you feel it following you around, haunting your every step. It’s the kind of novel you think you’ve witnessed before- and yet I can guarantee you’ve never seen it play out quite like this. Because, while V E Schwab has always been a very clever writer, this is the cleverest of her works.

The story, on the surface, appears to be simple: girl makes a dangerous wish and is cursed with unforeseen circumstances. However, there’s nothing straightforward about this from the start. You see, the deal itself is a curious affair. Yes, in the typical fairy tale tradition the catch costs her everything. Yes, the consequences fit the request. Yes, the devilish antagonist behind all this pulls the strings to torment her throughout. Still, there’s a part of this particular curse that ties the darkness to her, making the binds a little more complex. Unlike any other story of this nature, the deal touches both parties.

And a lot of this comes down to the fact that Addie Larue is an entirely enigmatic character. She’s a complicated protagonist, brought to life with memorable details, from the constellation of freckles on her face to the dreams she holds close to her harrowing suffering. And still, I haven’t come close to covering who she is.

Twining her life with art, we see that she is the ultimate muse. Wherever she walks she brings inspiration. Though she is frozen in time, unable to change, she does develop over the course of the narrative. It’s a subtle change, keeping the core of the character intact, but shifting her attitudes so she’s a better, bolder version of herself. I loved this expansion of confidence. And I admired how it showed her creative streak in more ways than one. And I liked how it twined with her constantly budding relationships.

Speaking of relationships, there are many that were powerfully explored. Not just romantic relationships. Friendships were given space to bloom. Romance is often featured in the book- and yet for me it was the friendships that will stand the test of time.

Even better, there is a plot worth selling your soul for. I glided through the book, unable to put it down, though I thought the path it was taking was clear. Of course, in typical Schwab fashion, she pulled a blinder at the end. Unusual, unexpected and an absolute stroke of brilliance, the ending is *perfection*. The more I think about it, the better it becomes. And I would love to talk about this in more depth- but I won’t for fear of *spoilers*. It’s the kind of story you have to watch out for yourself. One thing’s for certain: I won’t be forgetting this book in a hurry.

Rating: 5/5 bananas


So, have you read The Invisible Life of Addie Larue? Can you see yourself picking it up? Let me know in the comments!

Vindicated by Vengeful: A Victorious Sequel!

vengefulI know that some people aren’t crazy about Vengeful, the sequel to the vastly celebrated Vicious, but this is *exactly* the kind of Schwab fare I sign up for.

Yes, it was missing the simplicity of Vicious, yes, it took things further than its predecessor, HOWEVER it was that complexity which meant I ended up liking it even more. And I frickin loved Vicious. Not only did it have the stellar concept from the first book, but it raised the stakes, pushed the boundaries of sympathy and challenged the already established ideas. Schwab didn’t rest on her laurels with this book; she didn’t just reproduce the first book. She did something different and that’s why I think this has been somewhat of a divisive sequel.

For me, it ticked all the boxes. There were so many strokes of genius that I was blown away time and again. The plot was intense from start to finish; the twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat. I loved the layered element of flashbacks and timejumps- which served to make it ever more intricate. It was thought provoking and thrilling in equal measure. The intensity was such that I couldn’t stop reading. As it heated up towards the finale, I was on tenterhooks.

Naturally, this was in large part thanks to the fabulous voice employed throughout. The writing was as composed as an orchestra, each instrument, from word choice to pacing, was perfectly on beat. Its overall effect was exquisite. Needless to say, my kindle ended up as colourful as an impressionist painting 😉

What added to this masterpiece was the characters. The return of Victor Vale was, as expected, something to behold. It’s no secret I LOVE this character- a visionary villain who is almost a hero. It was fun to see the others return as well- even if I wasn’t crazy about all of them. And of course, it wouldn’t have been the same without the enigmatic Eli and his horrifyingly manipulative ways. I did like the main antagonist, Marcella, since she created a nice sense of drama too and added to the themes, however she wasn’t my favourite.

Evidently, I adored this book. The Villains series, for me, is the very best of Schwab. I can’t wait to see where it ends up!

Rating: 5/5 bananas


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

V E Schwab is Masterful at Conjuring Light

a conjuring of lightI must have mentioned a million times on this blog how much I love Schwab’s work- and I am so happy to say that the master has done it again! Boy, did I have fun reading this book!

After the last book I have to say, I was excited about where this journey would take me next, and boy did this deliver. This full on adventure took us beyond the ever-changing colour of Schwab’s London, sailing to the high seas and beyond to the darker recesses of the character’s minds.

The characterisation was flawless as per the usual standard. Of course it was wonderful to see favourites from the last books- Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard- again, but what was so brilliant about this book was how much more fleshed out some of the other characters became. And even better was how villains and allies had moments of changing their allegiances as easily as Kell changes her coat.

Most of all, I have to give credit for the absolutely beautiful writing. Just like the tightly spun magic around the heroes in the book, her writing held A Conjuring of Light together and made for an absolutely incredible reading experience.

Undoubtedly, this was a near perfect conclusion to the series!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas


Have you read this? Did you like it? And if you’re a Schwab fan- what’s your favourite of her books?

Also I know I’ve had *a lot* of positive reviews lately but I can promise that some of my ones that are coming are less glowing…

A Gathering of Shadows…

A Gathering of Shadows FinalSo let’s talk about London while it still exists. Because obviously it looks like it is about to be engulfed by darkness… Oh I probably should have clarified that I mean Red London in the world of V E Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. Obviously I’m not talking about my dear old hometown! This has nothing to do with the referendum! I just write book reviews 😉 (Too soon to make jokes I wonder?)

Personally, I love V E Schwab. She can practically do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Her books are a uniquely colourful and dark blend- I didn’t hesitate to give the two books I’ve read of hers (Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic) 5*. So clearly, I am already heavily invested in this series.

This time, however, I felt the build-up was much slower than I would have liked. Don’t get me wrong- I really, really enjoyed this book. But I didn’t feel like a recap of the last book and an overlong reintroduction into the world she’d already beautifully illustrated was entirely necessary.

Other than that it was business as usual for Schwab. I appreciated the depth she added to the villains, the world and the characters. I especially liked the introduction of a new-old love interest for one of the lead heroes (don’t worry, no spoilers). And when the plot finally did pick up, it went at full speed ahead, slamming straight into an iceberg- which I admit sounds like a bad thing, but was actually thoroughly entertaining, if somewhat totally nerve-wracking and left my heart ringing in my chest as the shock hit. Then when it ended- abruptly and without warning- I’ll admit I was a bit shaken up. I felt like I’d been left out in the cold, just hoping the lifeboats (Schwab) will show up and take us all (Kell) to safety. In short, it went swimmingly. And no- I am still not talking about Brexit!

Overall I am optimistic for a satisfactorily grand finale for this series!

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

half bananahalf bananahalf bananahalf banana  half banana

Okey dokey- right now I’ve got to love you and leave you (that’s not a subliminal message I swear!) So if you still like and want to visit the UK, feel free to check out my last post and you can visit Britain in spirit (if not in reality 😉 ) And do let me know what you think in the comments!

Top 10 Books of 2015

Welcome- and happy almost New Year! This year has been a crazy one for reading- I’ve read an insane 95 books (*say what?!?*) Amongst this windfall there have been too many terrible stinkers, a lot of YA romance for some reason (I’m thinking finishing my degree and wanting to unwind was a huge factor in that), a fair amount of fantasy, fewer classics than usual and some really incredible books! This list is dedicated to those incredible books that just lit me up from the inside out, made me laugh and had me weeping buckets.

I tried to put this in order, but let’s face it, when you’re choosing between two books you love it’s nigh on impossible to choose which one you love more. I mean- how do you measure that- by number of squeals or something? So in no particular order, I present to you, my top ten books of 2015:

1. peter pan

peter pan and wendy

Yup- I finally (re)read this- and yup, it was amazing.

1. liars

we were liars

It was the first book I read in 2015 and boy was it a great way to start the year. I haven’t mentioned it much on this blog yet, mostly because I feel like anything I say about it will be spoilery, but it was well worth reading. All I’ll say other than that is the prose was beautiful!

3. final empire.png


I was going to say The Shadow of What Was Lost but according to my goodreads, I finished that on New Year’s Eve in 2014, so to fill that fantasy void, I’m gonna say The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. Which is a brilliant book anyway and probably would’ve made it onto the list regardless.

4. throne of glass


And by that I mean the whole series. I know, I know, I’m kind of cheating, but to be honest I could put any of them on the list, so I don’t want to take up room, and I did read all of them in 2015. I always cheat in book lists anyway, so why should this be any different?

5. young elite

the young elites

I read this fairly recently, but it definitely makes it onto the list! It was a close call between this and the The Red Queen but this one *just* edged it out, because I loved it just a little bit more. Not that it was an easy decision to make- and I’m kind of thinking of changing my mind… See what I mean about choosing between two favourites! It’s just so hard! Ughh- they should both be on the list really. (Also, I’m counting this with The Rose Society cos, hello, I just said I’m a cheater)

6. darker shade

a darker shade of magic

What can I say other than that this was spectacular?

7. Vicious


Yes, I know V E Schwab was already on the list- but I can’t help it if she’s an incredible author. She just *deserves* two spaces on the list. I *love* the main character in this book and the plot is sensational and so clever! I go through phases with books, and right now this one has edged out A Darker Shade of Magic as my favourite book by V.E.Schwab- *so far*- cos let’s face it, I’m going to be reading loads more of her books in the future!

8. Memoirs of Geisha

memoirs of a geisha

This book came at exactly the right moment for me- I can’t really explain why. I’ve not read a more beautiful book in a really long time. It made a lasting impression and I’m certain I’m going to remember it for a really long time.

9. carry on

carry on

I loved this book so much and I’m glad I still had space on the list for it- heck, let’s face it, I made space for it! Check out my ten reasons to read it here

10. man's

man's search for meaning

This book was non-fiction, but it had to make it onto the list. Because it is undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve ever read. It articulated so many feelings I have about the world, to the point where I’ve gotten lazy when I answer questions about my philosophy on life, because I basically just say now: “go read Man’s  Search For Meaning- he puts it so much better than I ever could”. It’s deep, it’s meaningful and it feels like it soccer-punched my soul at some points. So go read it.

There you have it- those were my favourite reads of 2015. Did any of these make it onto your top ten? Let me know in the comment section below.