I can dance the black swan

Zzzzzzzdravstvuyte my little cygnets, how goes the going of the many goings-on that are going on? LISTEN UP. I’m trying a new thing. It’s called Less Than Sober Blogging and it is happening rIGHT NOW. Allons-y muthachukkas!

Tonight, I’m yelling about Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

Cover Talk:

This is the hardcover art, and I approve. Everyone knows it is a law that all books about ballet have something to do with pointe shoes on the cover otherwise how will we know it’s about ballet? Visual synecdoche? I can’t remember what synecdoche actually means and I’m just that amount of tipsy to not to care enough to google it.

The Summary Heist:

From the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel “Seating Arrangements,” winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize: a gorgeously written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the passionate, political world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations.

“Astonish Me” is the irresistible story of Joan, a ballerina whose life has been shaped by her relationship with the world-famous dancer Arslan Ruskov, whom she helps defect from the Soviet Union to the United States. While Arslan’s career takes off in New York, Joan’s slowly declines, ending when she becomes pregnant and decides to marry her longtime admirer, a PhD student named Jacob. As the years pass, Joan settles into her new life in California, teaching dance and watching her son, Harry, become a ballet prodigy himself. But when Harry’s success brings him into close contact with Arslan, explosive secrets are revealed that shatter the delicate balance Joan has struck between her past and present.

In graceful, inimitable prose, Shipstead draws us into an extraordinary world, and the lives of her vivid and tempestuous characters. Filled with intrigue, brilliant satire, and emotional nuance, “Astonish Me” is a superlative follow-up to Shipstead’s superb debut.

Robyn Says:

This may be the booze talking but can I just say, ballet is fucking amazing and it is the best sport of all the sports because it is also ART and plus it’s sexy af with the dudes lifting the ladies and their tights and the way their shoulders are so wide (just like my dragon-slayer’s *swoon*). I know I’m biased (because Russian, obviously), but I will literally read read anything that has anything to do with ballet. So when this came up on the Kindle deal of the day, I one-clicked the fuck outta that shit.

I read this book in one day. ONE DAY, people. And it was, as you can probably surmise, a-freaking-mazing. Fabulous story, richly drawn characters, stunning prose. This book is *kisses fingers* perfect.

One teeny tiny critique. I would have more of a balance in point of views. So much of the book was told from Joan’s persepctive, that the shifts to other characters (her husband, Jacob, her colleague, Eileen, and a few others) was sometimes distracting and felt like they were required more for plot advancement than for the narrative integrity of the story. (Lol narrative integrity, drunk Robyn you are a goddamn genius girl i love u). Also can I just say – Arslan, you sexy soviet son of a bitch, I would a retelling of this story from your point of view faster than you can say Baryshnikov’s bouncing balls. You were truly the riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma of this gem of a book… which I think is a bit of a cliche. Where is my book about a Soviet ballerino wunderkid’s suspenseful, sensual, high-stakes gamble on a flimsy Canada-staged defection? WHERE, I ASK YOU? (Yooo maybe I should write that myself eh…)

Other than those few little quibbles, this book was awesome-sauce and I demand that you read it immediately. Yes, right now. Go on. I’ll wait.

I’m actually pissed off that  I hadn’t heard of this book until now. I mean, it was published in 2015. Wtf, bookstagram? Smh do better. And I’m actually pretty ready to flash some steel over that 3.57 rating on Goodreads. Nah, man. This was an easy 5-star for me, and you know I’m stingy with those stars, fam.

Verdict:

Read it. Obviously. And then use it as an excuse to do a deep dive into everything Baryshnikov, upon whom Arslan is so clearly based.

Shit. That’s him at his best. Baryshnikov + Vysotsky = 😍

Best lines:

“Her throat is tight with fear. She is afraid of how this man, this stranger, has already changed the sensation of being alive. She is afraid he will slip away.”

One of the best descriptions of love I’ve ever read. Changed the sensation of being alive. That’s it, that’s it exactly. That’s what my dragon-slayer did to me, my broad-shouldered golden man, my G. He changed how it felt to live. God, love is amazing and terrifying and the only thing worth anything, really. Love love love. Love is all you need.

Fancasting couch:

Joan – Nina Dobrev

Arslan – Mikhail Baryshnikov

Harry – Sergei Polunin

(PSA watch the documentary about the Ukrainian sex-ballet-god above, DANCER, on Netflix right now, just in case that picture sparked a sudden interest in ballet in your loins)

Jacob – Rich Sommer

Chloe – Amanda Seyfried

 

Book Boyfriend material:

I think you all know me well enough to know that I’d be all over Arslan in a hot minute. I like the mysterious ones.

Rating:

10 out of 10 pointe shoes. Because obviously. It’s a book about ballet, I’m contractually obligated to rate on a scale of pointe shoes.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT:

I can’t dance. I like to dance, but I look like a demented squirrel.

In fact…

I look something like this:

THANK YOU AND GOD SPEED.

Uh oh. Book Cat is here and I’m too drunk to fend him off–

titus reading

Your book reviewing skills, astonishingly, seem to be slightly improved thanks to your midweek bacchic indulgence. Perhaps the old adage contains some kernel of truth. In vino veritas, as the ancients wrote. A pity your sybaritic past-times will not improve your novel, which, I note, you have not touched since November’s authorial frenzy. It won’t write itself, Librarian. If only you spent as much time writing as you do mooning over your dragon-slayer.

Savage. But… true. You win this round, you philosophical feline bastard.

Paka, crumblets!

xo, R

 

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Wazzup 2018

Hey hey, kingcakes and queencakes. I hope this glorious, shiny, new year is treating you as well as it is me.

But enough about me, let’s talk about BOOKS (surprise surprise).

Have you all set your reading goals for this year? I’m going big this year: 123 books in 356 days. Crazy? Most definitely. Doable? We will see. As of today, I’ve read 5 (go me):

Image result for almost midnight rowell

My first read of the year was Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell, which I read on New Year’s Day, as befits a book partially about New Year’s Eves (and ok, Star Wars, too), while I was lounging in bed with my wonderful boyfriend beside me, who was playing video games (and making fun of me for reading). It was an indescribably perfect moment. I can’t think of a better way to start this year.

My next read: Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman. Not my cup of tea, surprisingly. I thought it was a cute idea, but pretty superficial. You’d get much more out of a well-run witchy tumblr.

Next, one of my most anticipated reads of the year: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. In my opinion, it’s Black’s best work yet. I usually find her world-building to be amazing, but her prose to be beautiful but shallow. Very pleasantly surprised to say that there is real depth to the characters here. And a few nice cameos (heyyy Roiben).

I chose to read Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil next because apparently it was the highest rated debut on Goodreads this year? Or something? I dunno. Anyway, mystery’s not my usual genre, but I’ve been reading more and more lately. This was pretty good – I definitely did not see the twist coming, which is a nice change. My inner Agatha Christie usually sees these things from a mile away.

And most recently, I read Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking by Bonnie Frumkin Morales and Deena Prichep. Yes, it’s a cook book, THEY COUNT, fight me, dammit. Ahem. This one was amazing, by the way. Actually makes Russian cuisine look, dare I say it, appetizing. I know, shocker. And the photos… hot damn. Soviet chic, my favourite aesthetic. Plan on making so many things I ended up buying this one.

And that’s it so far! I’m currently reading like 30 books (don’t judge me, pity me). I hope to blog at least once a month this year – aim low, right? But if you’re dying for pics of books, usually in close proximity to a cat and some tea, follow me on instagram and never miss a moment in the glamorous and exciting life of me.

xoxo, R

 

 

 

Interlude

ACT ONE

SCENE 1 – INT. ROBYN’S SHITTY LITTLE BACHELOR APARTMENT IN ACTUAL BUTTHOLE OF THE WORLD LONDON, ONTARIO. MAY 2012.

Robyn is alone, as usual. She has finished packing and is about to leave the city where she achieved one of her most cherished life-long goals: obtaining her Masters degree in Library and Information Science, the first step toward becoming a real-life, honest-to-god, defender of knowledge and warrior in the war on ignorance, that most hallowed of professions, a Librarian.

ROBYN

Fuck yeah, I’m gonna be a librarian! I’ll work anywhere, I’ll do anything, as long as I’m slinging books and shushing people, I’ll be happy.

She pauses, considers.

Except academic librarianship. Fuck that shit.

ACT TWO

SCENE 1 – INT. ROBYN’S SHITTY LITTLE BEDROOM IN HELHEIM. NO, NOT THE MYTHICAL FROZEN DOMICILE OF THE CHTHONIC NORSE GODDESS HEL, BUT THE PRETENTIOUS EPITHET USED BY OUR PRETENTIOUS TIT OF A PROTAGONIST TO REFER TO HER FAMILY’S HOUSE. AUGUST 2017.

After years of struggling to break into her profession, Robyn has been a librarian for a little over a year. Currently Queen Bitch of a minuscule branch in a rural library system, she has grown greedy and entitled and self-deluding. The hour and a half drive cuts into time that could, after all, be spent writing her novel, the artistic Sword of Damocles that haunts her every waking moment… or perhaps playing Stardew Valley. She is sprawled on her bed, half-heartedly skimming job postings while listening to Spanish rap and trying not to double-text the broad-shouldered, ill-tempered, gold-hearted love of her life.

ROBYN

Hm, maybe I’ll apply to this academic librarian job.

ACT THREE

SCENE 1 – INT. A PRIVATELY-OWNED ACADEMIC INSTITUTION WHOSE NAME SHALL REMAIN UNUTTERED LEST THE ACCURSED SYLLABLES CONJURE UP SOME UNHOLY DEMON FROM THE SIXTH CIRCLE OF HELL, WHICH, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, IS RESERVED FOR DEMONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONCEPT OF PRIVATELY-OWNED ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS. LOOK IT UP IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME.

Robyn sits at a desk in a library comprised of three shelves. She has spent the last three months working as an academic librarian: submitting invoices for textbooks, managing databases (a task that she still has no real idea how to complete; she is amazed that no one has caught on to this fact yet), and responding to passive-aggressive emails with the ghost-making venom of Leiurus quinquestriatus, the Deathstalker scorpion.

ROBYN

Fuck.

 

FIN.

 

Nonverbal Referrals

Sup my sweet sweeties? Today I’m introducing yet another new feature on the old bloggo (YES, ANOTHER ONE, DEAL WITH IT)….. Nonverbal Referrals! Yay!

Here’s how it works: I read a book and sum up my feelings in one – YES, ONE – gif. It will be difficult, but I think I’m ready for it. Are you? And yes, it’s called Nonverbal Referrals, but obviously, there will be some books that I am most definitely not referring.

Okay, first Nonverbal Referral is… Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, book 6 in her Throne of Glass series.

Ready? Here we go…

Yup.

That’s all, folks!

#slacker

xo, R

Nonfiction Benediction: THE SEQUEL

 

Hey hey, cupcakes. It’s been a minute. Blame that chubby little muthafucka Cupid, whose golden arrow hath pierced my once-frigid heart and set it ablaze with Love’s undying flames. Or whatever.

Ahem. MOVING ON.

So as I’ve mentioned (*cough* whined about) before, my brain has got a severe case of the Love-Struck Stupids (band name, write that down) and my Goodreads challenge is taking a hit. And, you know, my intellectual fortitude and general mental well-being.

But fear not, good comrades, for I have stumbled upon a solution – the good old NONFICTION BENEDICTION. That’s right, it’s back, babies.

To the review mobile! This week, it’s The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger.

Cover Talk:

Okay, okay. Come through, nonfiction. I see you. Well done, son.

The Summary Heist:

One of the most significant works on our evolutionary ancestry since Richard Leakey’s paradigm-shattering Origins, The First Signs is the first-ever exploration of the little-known geometric images that accompany most cave art around the world—the first indications of symbolic meaning, intelligence, and language.

Imagine yourself as a caveman or woman. The place: Europe. The time: 25,000 years ago, the last Ice Age. In reality, you live in an open-air tent or a bone hut. But you also belong to a rich culture that creates art. In and around your cave paintings are handprints and dots, x’s and triangles, parallel lines and spirals. Your people know what they mean. You also use them on tools and jewelry. And then you vanish—and with you, their meanings.

Join renowned archaeologist Genevieve von Petzinger on an Indiana Jones-worthy adventure from the open-air rock art sites of northern Portugal to the dark depths of a remote cave in Spain that can only be reached by sliding face-first through the mud. Von Petzinger looks past the beautiful horses, powerful bison, graceful ibex, and faceless humans in the ancient paintings. Instead, she’s obsessed with the abstract geometric images that accompany them, the terse symbols that appear more often than any other kinds of figures—signs that have never really been studied or explained until now.

Part travel journal, part popular science, part personal narrative, von Petzinger’s groundbreaking book starts to crack the code on the first form of graphic communication. It’s in her blood, as this talented scientist’s grandmother served as a code-breaker at Bletchley. Discernible patterns emerge that point to abstract thought and expression, and for the first time, we can begin to understand the changes that might have been happening inside the minds of our Ice Age ancestors—offering a glimpse of when they became us.

Robyn Says:

So I’ve been making a conscious effort to begin cultivating a meaningful, well-rounded, spiritually healthy life I can be proud of –

Fuck me that sounds like pretentious new-age hipster bull-shit doesn’t it?

Ok so I been tryna cross off the third item on Shaun’s classic to do list. I mean, I’m a grown-up now innit? Bout time. So the room’s been cleaned out of its adolescent fuckery, the books have been (somewhat) weeded, I got rid of most of my band t-shirts, Twitter and Tumblr, the two greatest time-suckers ever known to man, have been banished from my phone… and I have embarked upon a nauseatingly clichéd course of self-improvement of my own design, cribbed heavily from those terrible, eye-roll-worthy lifestyle gurus you can’t avoid on instagram and youtube. I know, I’m pathetic.

So my new morning routine is about as gag-worthy as you’d imagine (“be still for 3 minutes, and embrace the quiet of your newly awakened mind” FUCK RIGHT OFF, ROBYN, YOU ABSOLUTE TURNIP) but one thing I am kinda proud of is my resolution to learn more – actively learn, I mean, rather than the passive sort of serendipitous knowledge thievery I’ve been doing since bolting out of Western with my MLIS and running hell for leather back to the 6ix, home of my people and more importantly, somewhere that is not London-asshole-of-the-world-Ontario.

To make a long story even fucking longer, I’ve been watching TED talks every morning while I scarf down breakfast. I know everyone’s gaga for the TED talks, but I’m finding that they’re definitely a mixed bag for me. I can’t stand the self-help ones. The ones I do like are, surprise surprise, the ones in which a nerd gets to nerd out for 12 epically nerdy minutes. Watch it yourself right here (see what kind of service you get on this blog? smh i’m amazing)

WHOA. WHOA. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOA. Amiright? Just… whoa.

Mind understandably blown, I did what any sane person would do, and went to the library. Okay, it was 6:15 in the morning and I had to work, so I actually went to the library’s website – and here, my good people, we have an example of one of the classic arguments in favour of ebooks, because I was able, with only a few clicks of the mouse, to check out the digital edition of von Petzinger’s book and start reading it less than 3 minutes after watching her TED talk. Fucking amazing. Yeah technology. Yeah science. Yeah nerds. Yeah books. YEAH LIBRARIES BITCH!

Oh… you wanna know about the actual book? Ok, jesus, calm down, keener.

It was fucking awesome. It’s amazing to actually read about something that is probably a huge a discovery as it’s in the process of being discovered. Von Petzinger basically stumbled into her field of research thanks to a fateful mixture of serendipity and curiosity, and even though she’s still conducting her research and her conclusions are constantly evolving, it’s clear that she’s onto something big. The book basically discusses her attempt to catalogue the geometric signs of Ice Age Europe’s cave art, which have been pretty much uniformly ignored by previous scholars who preferred to focus their attention on the depictions of animals that dominate most sites.

(And sidenote, if you wanna live your best life you should IMMEDIATELY watch the documentary by the one and only, the king of glorious weirdness, the great Werner Herzog himself, Cave of Forgotten Dreams… oh look I found it for you YOU’RE WELCOME)

Back to the squiggles. Some reviewers seemed to be dissatisfied with the book because von Petzinger doesn’t actually draw many conclusions from the data she’s collected. For me, that wasn’t a problem – if anything, I was relieved. She’s still deep in the process of collecting information. Anything beyond very general hypotheses would be far too hasty. Good science is slow science. While von Petzinger does theorize that it seems likely the geometric signs found all across Ice Age Europe and Asia have a common origin and perhaps even common meanings, she doesn’t touch on what those meanings might be – because it’s impossible to even guess at this early stage.

I really enjoyed the exploration of early humans and language, both verbal and nonverbal. It made me want to dig out my old linguistics textbooks from undergrad. Actually, this whole book made me curious. I want to keep learning – not just about Ice Age cave art, but about early humans in general, language development theories, the first written languages, the development of alphabetical writing systems… and so much more. And isn’t that the mark of not just a good nonfiction book, but a great one?

Dude. I love nerds.

The geometric signs that von Petzinger has catalogued so far.

The distribution of those geometric signs.

Geometric signs inscribed on deer teeth, which were probably strung onto a necklace, perhaps as a mnemonic device. Found with other grave goods in a burial of a young woman in France, nicknamed the Lady of Saint-Germain-la-Rivière.

Verdict:

Read it. Amazing. Mind-blowing. Will cure you of the worst case of the Love-Struck Stupids since the Trojan War, when basically everyone was Love-Struck and Stupid.

Best lines:

<insert science-y quote here> God, screw y’all, what I am, your mama? Go read the damn book for yourself.

Fancasting couch:

Behold, your theoretical Ice Age cave artist.

Listen I googled “sexy caveman” and this was the first result? Who am I, a mere mortal, to question the awesome and all-knowing Google?

Book Boyfriend material:

Leather speedo up there. He’s no broad-shouldered, ill-tempered, dragon-slayer, but he’s really rocking that fur stole.

Rating:

9 out of 10 mysterious Ice Age squiggles that probably mean “the aliens put us here you twenty-first century knobs” or maybe “boobs,” we’ll never know.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT:

*Werner Herzog voice* Those abstract and chaotic signs inscribed on the walls of a man’s heart are unknowable, for in the cavernous darkness of the soul, no light ever shines upon them.

Srsly tho it’s writing, right? The most basic kind of pictographic communication, yeah, but still… it’s writing. Awesome-sauce.

*

Oh, heyyyyy Titus. What’s new, furry baby?

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I, too, find myself facing literary stagnation. Get away from me, Librarian, and let me wallow in peace.

Ah, Classic T.

Until next time, pop-tarts and -tarlets!

-xo, R

I’m a little bit on fire

NOTE: I wrote this last week and didn’t post it. I swear to god. Don’t @ me.

Oh no! I completely dropped the July blogging ball didn’t I??? I blame Mexico  – and the broad-shouldered and curmudgeonly cutie responsible for turning my life into a telenovela. #EmotionsAreHigh

Ok I’m squeezing one last review in… wait, is this my ONLY July review? GASP.

Goddammit.

Okay, here with go. This week, I’m bitching about Robin Wasserman’s Girls on Fire. You know the drill.

Cover Talk: US cover – meh. Stylish, but kind of bland too? Also, completely unrelated to the theme or vibe of the book, in my opinion. UK cover – so fucking weird that it’s working for me. I’m not going to question it.

The Summary Heist: Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

Robyn Says: I hated this book. I read it last week and all I can remember is hating every minute of reading it and hating myself for continuing to read it. It was predictable, pretentious, and self-aware. I can’t even bring myself to give it a proper review.

Verdict: Don’t read it. Just fucking don’t. Unless you want to. Do what you fucking want, I’m not the king of you.

Best lines: n/a

Fancasting couch: Je refuse.

 

Book Boyfriend material: Kurt Cobain, who does not deserve this.

Rating: 1 out of 10 [redacted due to unrestrained and unholy vulgarity]

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: This just goes to show you, kids, that the hype is so often unwarranted. #TrustNoone

Take it away, Titus.

You’re terrible at reviewing books. You know that, right?

 

Sorry, T, I can’t hear you *la la la la la*

Robyn out.

-xo, R

 

 

 

 

Back to reality

So I’m back. Mexico was afuckingmazing. I mean

Blues

A post shared by Robyn (@stormyrobyn) on

Beach time

A post shared by Robyn (@stormyrobyn) on

Heaven

A post shared by Robyn (@stormyrobyn) on

Plus I had this hottie all to myself:

georgie

Oh, and this happened:

Still in vacation mode, I’m afraid, to that’s all for today! Later gators 😉

-xo, R

 

 

 

Beach reading with a sexy philistine

No review this week, due partly to what I’m afraid is the beginning of a dreadful book slump, myriad career-related stresses, and my  “””boyrfriend.””” I love him, but, well, every step a fucking adventure. Ah, modern love.

Anyway. We’re going on vacation next week. I know, right? To Mexico, god help me. Sun, and heat and humidity. The things we do for the broad-shouldered, ill-tempered men who have captured our hearts, eh?

The kicker, and the point of this post, is that this gorgeous philistine has had the audacity to insist I bring no books, or, if I must, bring only a tablet or e-reader. To which I can only respond with:

Oh, sweet summer child! You’re (maybe) dating a librarian – and you think she’s not gonna smuggle at least one paper book with her? Yeah, no.

I mean, we all remember the great e-reader debate of 2011, in which I enumerated the many pros and cons of e-readers(if not, click here to relive the glorious insanity). Although I think I came out pretty strongly in favour of my shiny new kobo back then, these days I tend to do about 75% of my reading with physical, paper and ink books. Gasp, right? Fucking hipsters with their analogue paper and ink. Srsly tho. We’re going to a beach. Beach + electronics = crying. And what if the power goes out or I lose my charger (it’s one of my particular talents, losing chargers)? What if I want to read a book I’ve bought but haven;t downloaded and there’s no wifi? What if I end up getting stuck on top of a pile of Mayan ruins, surrounded by man-eating vines, and my battery dies? What if I need to throw something at someone? An e-reader just doesn’t have the necessary weight to do the necessary damage, man.

Wait, now. Jokes aside, kiddies, that has a whiff of truthiness to it. Weight. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the difference. Paper and ink books feel… weightier. More real, somehow. They’re an experience – or rather, they are the manifestation of the experience the story tells. You go on a journey with a paper and ink book in way you just can’t with an e-book, simply because you hold it in your hands, touch it, hold it, sleep with it, move through it. It’s almost like… like you become a book, too. If the paper and ink book is the container of the story it tells, as we read, we too contain the book.  Holy Fahrenheit 451! WE ARE THE BOOKS!

Or maybe I’m my English major/master bullshitter is showing.

Anyway, the point is, I’m bringing some goddamn books – plus my e-reader. Suck it, G, you hot bastard. It took a while to decide, but here’s what I’ve settled on (although I’m not leaving til Sunday, who knows how many books I’ll buy in the next five days, lol): The Flight by Gaito Gazdanov, The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan, and Final Girls by Riley Sager.

vacay reds

An obscure Russian novel from one of my favourite publishers, a Southern Gothic historical potboiler, and a brand-spanking new horror by a debut author. I am a book-selecting genius, guys, bow to me.

Ok, well anyway-

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I beg your pardon? You’re going on a vacation with this broad-shouldered reprobate? Unchaperoned?? To MEXICO??? Absolutely not. I forbid it. Cats before bros, you love-sick fool! Who will get the books from the top shelves for me??

Uh oh. Gotta go calm down my cat, guys. Wish me luck. He’s got a nasty temper.

The next time you hear from me I’ll be hiding from my nemesis, the sun, and avoiding sand/surf/people. Let the fun times begin!

-xo, R

 

 

 

I (don’t) choo-choo-choose you: A Fun-Size Review

Salutations, good citizens of the internet! Boy, I am really crushing this whole blogging thing, eh? It definitely has nothing at all to do with the amount of free time I have as an under-employed, under-paid, and under-utilized “”information technician”” at the shitty little library where I’m currently working (Srsly tho, my heart is in Malvern #TPLforever)

Heads up, another FUN SIZE REVIEW coming your way – today, it’s The Chosen, by the one and only J.R. Ward. I have Thoughts. Remember – 100 words or less. Let’s do this.

ROBYN’S FUN-SIZE REVIEW OF THE CHOSEN BY J.R. WARD: No. Just… no. What happened here? How did it come to this? I remember the days when I literally sacrificed sleep – during grad school, mind you – to binge-read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I mean, let’s be honest, the last three books weren’t great, and I could barely finish reading The Shadows, but come on! This is Xcor and Layla! This is the book we’ve been waiting for FOR AGES!!! And it was fucking. terrible. Poor pacing, shitty characterizations, an absurd story, no conflict, an disappointing and predictable conclusion, and, worst of all, lukewarm sex scenes. For shame, J.R.

Same, Voight. Same.

Later, bishes.

-xo, R

 

 

 

You win this round, bookstagram

Greetings, earthlings! It is I, your favourite punk-ass book-jocky, back again to throw some books at you. No time for pleasantries. DUCK!

Today I’m reviewing that is currently more instagram famous than <INSERT POPULAR YOUNG FAMOUS PERSON HERE>. If you’ve been hanging around the bookish part of instagram (obviously nick-named bookstagram because bookworms love nothing more than a good portmanteau) in the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen the striking cover of one particular book: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Lucky for you, I read it, and I have some Thoughts. Let’s boo-boo.

Cover Talk: Fuck yeah. That green is definitely working for me. Do I sense a successor to millennial pink? (Shades of Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress, too, right?) Also, sexy without being sexualized. Thumbs up.

The Summary Heist: From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

Robyn Says: Well that was unexpected. I’ve read a few other Reid’s other books and was feeling pretty ambivalent about this one, to be honest, so I went into this thinking it would be in the same chick-lit vein – well-written, to be sure, but still pretty light.

This was definitely not as fluffy as her other books felt, though it was still very readable. I got through it in about two days. I have some issues, which I’ll get into in a second, but overall, I quite liked it.

I think a large part of the draw was the setting of this novel. I’m a sucker for anything about classic Hollywood. However, it was sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly when the story was taking place. I think Evelyn gets her start at the tail-end of the second world war or in the early post-war years. Hollywood in the 50s… oh, the drama! For me, the story was most compelling when it focused on the backdoor dealings of the showbiz industry. I love me some cut-throatedness.

The characters were, by and large, pretty well-rounded. I think the structure of the story allowed for some flexibility in that sense, too. Monique, whose point of view we get in the frame narrative, is relatively unobtrusive. Her narrative is by far the least interesting of the novel. However, having the rest of the story told in the first person by Evelyn means we only get her perspective, so it’s understandable that some characters, like Harry and Ruby, aren’t given the attention I think they deserved. Evelyn is the star, without a doubt, and if you don’t like her, you won’t like this novel. Luckily, I think that’s pretty unlikely.

Evelyn is an awesome character. She’s badass, feminist, ruthless, weak, selfish, fallible, and despite all of this, ultimately sympathetic. It’s all about shades of grey, isn’t it? I really enjoyed reading about her rise to stardom.

This novel is also an excellent example of how representation is possible even in historical fiction. Monique is mixed-race, Evelyn is a Lantina ‘passing’ for white, and there is a broad spectrum of human sexuality represented by the large cast of characters.

My main problems with the novel are the main mystery, which really fell flat for me, and the pacing. I didn’t care at all about Monique and her connection to Evelyn, when it was revealed in the final act, felt like it was just kind of shoved in to create a clichéd ‘a-ha’ moment. The pacing was off in the last third, too, as though the story wasn’t interested in Evelyn after she was no longer in the limelight.

That being said, I really enjoyed this book. It would make an excellent vacation read, and it might even prompt some readers to start exploring the big studio films of the 40s and 50s.

Verdict: Read it. Pretty damn good.

Best lines: (God, I suck at writing down quotes. Oh well. Yet another reason to love goodreads, eh?) “I’m under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you.” (p. ?)

Fancasting couch:

Evelyn – Lauren Bacall

Monique – Rashida Jones

Book Boyfriend material: The puppy?

Rating: 7 and a half out of 10 little gold nakey men statues.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: If I were famous, I’d double-cross everyone just to get to the top. I want me some accolades, bish.

Uh-oh, here’s Titus… let’s hear what he has to say…

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“The only reason they come to see me is that I know that life is great, and they know I know it.:” Clark Gable, the King of Hollywood, said that, Librarian. I rather think that’s why you love me so much, too.

 

Aiight, baybays, I’m off. Gotta plan a vacay with my dragon-slayer. Off to somewhere sunny, god help me… but at least I get to buy some books for the beach!

-xo, R