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…

20170621_194609

“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

 

 

 

Dolla dolla bill y’all

Hey space cadets, how’s life on mars? Nothing new in Robyn-land, except for a case of rare but entirely real ridente gena dolore – smiling cheek pain, look it up. I blame the broad-shouldered dragon-slayer and his apparently complete and utter power he has over my smiling muscles.

Anyway. Today I’m reviewing a newish book. It’s Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith. Onwards!

Cover Talk: You know what? Imma go ahead and give this one a thumbs up. It’s bright and colourful, it’s fun, and the animals are a nod to a (teeny tiny) detail in the story.

The Summary Heist: Let luck find you.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Robyn Says: As soon as I heard the premise of this story I was really excited to read it. I think it’s an excellent idea – I mean, who among us has not fantasied one or two or a million times about the havoc we would wreak if we won the jackpot, amirite? Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. Was it bad? No, not at all. It just wasn’t good enough to remember much about it, even a week after reading it. This was one of those books that I read every word of, but feel like I just skimmed. It’s pretty fluffy, too, considering the serious issues it touches on. Although maybe ‘touches on’ isn’t really accurate. ‘Glances at while sprinting past’ is probably more fitting. One character has lost both parents, another has a parent struggling with addiction, and yet, there’s no depth to the way these issues are addressed. It was all very Lifetime movie-ish.

I didn’t really care for the characters either, except for the protagonist’s cousin whose name I can’t even remember (was it Leo? It might have been Leo… or maybe Max…). There was a puppy, too. I mean, I liked the puppy, obviously.

I guess my biggest problem was that the protagonist, Alice, was really judgemental about the way her friend and secret crush, Teddy, spent the money… but nothing he did was really that crazy. C’mon. So he buys some gadgets and the entire building where he lives and takes some trips. Jesus Murphy, if I had won the lottery at 18, you can bet your ass it would be a helluva lot crazier than that. At the very least I’d have put some contracts out on my enemies. I mean, best-case scenario, teenage mafia queen with two pet tigers, a couple of AK-47s, and literal sacks of diamonds. So yeah. Easy on the judgy, Alice.

Verdict: Skip it. Not worth the time when there are so many other awesome books out there just waiting to be seen by your eyeballs.

Best lines: Nah.

Fancasting couch: Nerp.

Book Boyfriend material: The puppy?

Rating: 3 out of 10 giant novelty cheques.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: Don’t think you were gonna get out without a little BNL…

I’m not even sorry. Also, #Canadian.

Okay, star-children, I guess that’s it–

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I believe it was Dorothy Parker who said, “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” So chew on that, librarian. Now I must sleep for another 12 hours, please keep your love-sick sighs to a minimum.

O…k… um, thanks, Titus?

Alright, guys, as a great poet once said, it’s the freakin’ weekend baby imma bout to have me some fun! Go forth and do good partying!

xo, R

 

 

 

Aw yeah boi, it’s JPIC time

Holla holla get a dolla! How goes it, nerds? Lemme tell ya, I have been bogged down with children’s programming (snort). I mean, you guys have no idea how much work goes into planning these storytimes (snicker). Shit, my current library even gives us a month off from delivering programs so we won’t be overwhelmed with the effort of coming up with the next “session’s” programs (hearty guffaw).

Yeah, I’m messing with you. Not about the month off from delivering programs, that shit is actually true, and yes, you’re right, it is bullshit. Bish I’ll plan a babytime in my sleep. Shit I’ll give you one now: song, stretch, rhyme, book, finger play, rhyme, song, book, felt board, song, book, good bye and fuck off you little fuckers. BOOM. Best program ever, fight me.

Segway segue!

So I quit twitter last week while in the middle of a one-sided lovers’ tiff (don’t worry, all’s well with me and the dragon-slayer) and GOOD GOD, that has been the best decision I’ve made since growing out my mohawk. I used to think I couldn’t quit twitter because of the amount of news, both bookish and otherwise, it was providing, as well as a hearty dose of digital FOMO. Guys, let me tell you, I was SO WRONG. I just get my bookish news from other online sources (w e b s i t e s), and for details about our current spiral into a terrifying global dystopia, I simply read – wait for it – a newspaper. Can you believe it? Crazy, right??

The best effects of quitting twitter have been: 1) I no longer exist at a baseline 9/10 stress level, and 2) free time. SO MUCH FREE TIME. I’ve read 6 books in 6 days. That’s a BOOK A DAY, people. Okay, so one was a middle grade and one was poetry, but still. I’ve haven’t written anything, but fuck you, we won’t talk about that.

Unfortunately, all of the books I read were kind of meh, so today, cowering behind the shield of shiny new (temporary) title of Children’s Librarian (okay, so Information Services Technician in the children’s department, and fuck you, you know it’s the same fucking thing, fucking bureaucrats amirite?), imma talk about some of the kids’ books I’ve been reading as I  get these storytimes all prepped up. (FYI, for you rubes who don’t know the lingo, JPIC is a common code for Junior Picture Books.) Ready?

1. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Not a Box

Hated it. This is one of those artsy books that hipsters buy for their kids because they’re different and “”artsy”” (ugh) but in reality, the kids don’t look at twice, and there goes hipster parent’s $18.99 down the drain.

2. Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

Rude Cakes

Excellent. Cakes and rudeness, two things I can really get behind. Adorable illustrations and a good lesson, and simple enough for even a baby time, I think.

3. Rain! by Linda Ashman and Christian Robinson

Rain!

Really liked this one – old school illustrations that I think would still appeal to kids, and an excellent story. Really simple language, with lots of repetition.

4. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

Did not like this – in fact, put me on the record as being firmly Team Do-Not-Put-Songs-In-Your-Books-Unless-You’re-J.R.R.-Motherfuckin-Tolkien.

5. There Are Cats in This Book  by Viviane Schwarz

There Are Cats in This Book

Okay, so I really liked this one, but when I used it in my pet-themed storytime, I don’t think the kids were really feeling it. Granted, it was the second book, and they may have been a little keyed up from my amazing felt-boarding skills, but I think maybe this is more of a one-on-one book. The book is pretty interactive, which I liked, with the titular cats addressing the reader as well as lots of flap to lift.

6. Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Oh No, George!

Ah, a refrain with which I myself am, alas, very familiar. Oh no, George, indeed. Lol. (Jokes aside, pretty good. Not a huge fan of the illustration style, but the kids dug it.)

7. Don’t Splash the Sasquatch! by Kent Redeker

Don't Splash the Sasquatch!

This was excellent – I’m definitely using it in my first storytime of the summer, which will be, in a stunning demonstration of jaw-dropping creativity, summer-themed. Lots of silly action words and delightful illustrations. 13/10 would use for storytime.

8. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

The Book with No Pictures

Nah. Alternate title: You Bought This Book Because You’re A Hipster and You Don’t Actually Care What Your Kids Want to Read.

9. If You Give a Mouse a Brownie  by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond

If You Give a Mouse a Brownie

Hells yeah. A fun little book that is kinda like chaos theory for kids. If you give that little fucken mouse a brownie, WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD HAPPEN?? Part of a series, apparently. Looking forward to using these.

10. Birdsong by James Sturm

The most intellectually interesting book on this list – consists of no words at all. Basically the opposite of the the B.J. Novak hipster nonsense above. Each spread has a picture on the right hand side, and a blank space on the left page, where you would expect to see words in a traditional storybook. Apparently, this would provide the opportunity for the child to tell the story themselves. However, while I would absolutely love this for a one-on-one storytime, I can’t see any way this would work in a program 😦

Alright! That’s it for today’s brief foray into JPIC. Hope you enjoyed the wild ride. My shift finishes in 17 minutes, and I plan on spending that time scouring food blogs for recipes to win the undying devotion of my broad-shoulder, ill-tempered lover.

Peace bishes!

-xo, R

 

 

Shhhhhh: 10 Things No One Ever Told Me About Being a Librarian

Hey hey. it’s me, your friendly-ish neighbourhood spiderman spiderwoman book-slinger librarian! Since I have no book to review this week (blame love and it’s unexpected annihilation of all brain cells not occupied with mooning, swooning, and pontooning (okay, I needed a rhyme, screw you, it’s the rule of 3, don’t blame me) (but we are renting a pontoon this weekend, that’s not even a lie), I thought I’d write something short, mostly because I want to be able to say I blogged every week this month. Huzzah for illusions of productivity!

So. Here is my list of 10 Things No One Ever Told Me About Being a Librarian, in no particular order:

1. The modern public library is all about being an inclusive, welcoming, public space. This means that you, a modern public librarian, will have to smile way more than you were prepared for.

2. A lot of people aren’t that nice. This sometimes includes your co-workers. When this fact becomes too overwhelming, nothing helps more than sticking your nose in book and huffing that sweet, sweet book smell.

3. A lot of people are surprisingly nice – and kids are the nicest. Dude, even if you don’t like kids, nothing makes you feel prouder to be a librarian than when you make a kid smile just by finding the book she wants.

4. You will sometimes go weeks without having to venture into the stacks, and this will never cease to amaze and sadden you. Being a librarian involves almost no shelving at all. Working at the reference desk and running programs are great, but sometimes, all you want is to be able to linger among the spines. Book spines, that is, you weirdo.

5. When you do have to step into the stacks, you will find yourself reciting the alphabet song to yourself under your breath. Especially when you have to re-shelve something. And you’ll have to restart the song for every single item. Without exception.

6. Cardigans. All the cardigans. You don’t buy them, you see. They find you, creeping into your closet and your bureau, calling their brothers and sisters to join them, until one morning, you open your closet before work and narrowly escape being crushed by a cascading avalanche of wool, cashmere, cotton-polyester, and, most surprisingly of all, mohair.

7. Nothing is more satisfying than shushing someone, and knowing that you have fulfilled the prophecy and reached your final evolutionary stage as a librarian.

8. Never. Enough. Crayons. #ChildrensLibrarianProblems

9. A very specific type of patron (and yes, you still call them patrons despite this absurd “client”/”customer” jargon-fuckery) will somehow misread your position, displayed clearly as Librarian on your name-tag, as cell-phone expert. Depending on how many cups of tea you’ve managed to have that day, you will either correct them or just sigh and do your best impression of an Apple ‘Genius’ (snort).

10. Your entire family will expect you to be their research bitch.

And one more *bonus* Thing No One Ever Told Me About Being a Librarian:

11. You will love every single day of your work life, once you finally manage to hustle your way into the impenetrable fortress of the public library union, and in doing so, will become one of those annoying types that post inspirational quotes in instagram and never shut up about bliss and shit. And you’ll secretly think often about that quote, usually attributed (incorrectly, as it turns out #ResearchBitch) to Confucius: “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” (Arthur Szathmary actually said this, fyi). Because it’s true. And hey, if you’re lucky, you might even fall in love at the library. But that’s another story.

Take care, teddy bears!

xoxo, R

WHAT IS LOVE (love)

Bonjour, mes petits chauves-souris! I hope you’re all doing well – not good, because remember:

I myself am in a bit of a temper, because I just got a new job in the library where I already work as a casual employee. BUT ROBYN, you are probably shouting, ISN’T THAT A GOOD THING? I mean… I guess? It’s a job I’m overqualified for, it pays less than what I made at my previous job, it’s part-time, and, wait for it, it’s temporary. Yay. But hey, it’s better than nothing, right? So bust out the muthafucken champagne, I guess.

Today I’m reviewing another finale in a much-loved series. Thankfully, it will be a bit more positive than my last review. It’s Jenny Han’s Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Let’s do this!

Cover Talk: I LOVE the covers of this series so much, and I think this one might actually be my favourite (although the cover of the second book, P.S. I Still Love You, is my actual #stylegoals forever). So pretty, so clean, and perfectly suited to the story.

The Summary Heist: Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Robyn Says: This was an excellent book, and the perfect conclusion to the series. As my stolen summary states, this book was a surprise addition, turning a duo into a trio of excellent contemporary YA romances. The previous book didn’t feel like the ending Lara Jean deserved – I’m very happy to say that this book, however, does the job wonderfully.

Everything I love about this series is present, even magnified. Lara Jean is earnest and flawed, feminine and tough, sweet and (mostly unknowingly) heartless. Peter is… well, Peter is Peter, my smol son who can do no wrong. There are pretty dresses and cookies and kisses, there are misunderstandings, reunions, and farewells. There’s even a wedding! And Kitty is still sassy af.

I think the best thing about the Lara Jean books is that they’re light without being vapid. Yes, there are conflicts and obstacles, but there’s none of the life-or-death we-gotta-save-the-world-or-we-all-die YA angst (which I love, too, don’t get me wrong). I read these books with a smile on my face, and when life intrudes and demands my intention, I get to work with a warm feeling in my usually ice-cold stone heart.

I do think this book deals with some slightly heavier issues than the previous two. No spoilers because I love you, but it’s not all smooth sailing as Lara Jean finishes her senior year. There was one small part that I do want to discuss – it’s barely more than a sentence, and many readers might not pick up on it, but it will definitely be the thing I remember most about Always and Forever, Lara Jean (besides the cookies – this time, it’s the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie™).

As Lara Jean is considering moving to Williamsburg to attend college in the coming year, she gets excited about the possibility of working at Colonial Williamsburg – and then immediately wonders if persons of colour can work as historical re-enactors. As a person of, ahem, ‘ambiguous ethnic origins,’ this hit me like a carnival High Striker game sledge-hammer. This is the kind of small question that POC must constantly ask ourselves as we navigate a society that is largely hostile and at best indifferent to anyone who looks Other. </degrassi-after-school-special-teachable-moment>

Verdict: Read it – but first, if you haven’t already, read the others in the series. They’re as good as this one, and if you haven’t read them, you really can’t read this one. Get thee to a library!

Best lines: Okay, so you know how I usually skip this part? Well, today I have THREE for you, you lucky bastards. Here we go:

– “Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?” (no, Lara Jean, falling in love makes everything seem EXTRA scary, believe me #IShouldn’tHaveTextedThat)

– “I have a feeling that when I’m Stormy’s age, these everyday moments will be what I remember: Peter’s head bent, biting into a chocolate chip cookie; the sun coming through the cafeteria window, bouncing off his brown hair; him looking at me.” (*sob* and the way he calls me babe, and how he makes sure I have enough water to drink, and the way his shoulders look, and–)

– “Actually, judging by Pinterest alone, I’m pretty sure a lot of people would look forward to hanging out in such a beautiful library.” (WORD.)

Fancasting couch: Don’t you think the girl on the cover is divine? Her names is Helen Chin (she was on Jenny Han’s instagram). However, since I have absolutely no knowledge of the young uns currently burning up the interwebs, I turned, as always, to tumblr to help me out, and found some edits instead. Enjoy:

Book Boyfriend material: Oh Peter, you sweet little so-and-so. *blushes*

Rating: 9 out of 10 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies™

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: I used to be afraid that actually falling in love wouldn’t be as good as reading about falling in love, but hey, whaddya know, it is. *swoons*

Okay, well, I guess that’s it–

So this is all it takes, Librarian? The adolescent affections of one broad-shouldered man-baby and you no longer lavish me with the incessant and all-consuming love I deserve? Alas, as Verdi famously said, la donna è mobile. Cruel, cold-hearted book-witch! 

AWWWWW T! I STILL LOVE YOU!!!

Brb, gonna go cuddle my kitty.

Addio, i miei piccoli pipistrelli! Happy reading!

xo, R

A Court of Meh and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hello hello, my sickeningly sweet funfetti cupcakes! Today, I bring you a spoiler-free gif review of a much-anticipated conclusion to a beloved series, which will be released this Tuesday.

Yep, you guessed it – it’s A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

Kermit flail, right? My pre-order came early and I tore this bastard in about 2 days – and this was with work and boyfriend-mandated anime marathons, too. And now I come to you, my good bookish internet friends, to give you my Hot Take. Let’s boo-boo!

Cover Talk: I hate these covers so much. They’re so juvenile. Especially for books that make pretty liberal use of some choice four-letter words.

The Summary HeistLooming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Robyn Says:

Verdict: Meh. If you’ve read the other two and liked them, you know you’re gonna read it. But I bet you won’t like it.

Best lines: Bish please, you know I didn’t take the time to write down any quotes.

Book Boyfriend material: Cassian x Robyn 4 eva

Rating: Five out of ten [REDACTED] (spoiler-free, remember?)

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: You know what’s fun? Picking an “A Court of” title for your own life. Mine would be A Court of Books and Rage.

Book Cat is currently sleeping on my knees, but I’m sure if he were awake, he’d have nothing but shade to throw at my low-brow reading choices. I’ll let him sleep.

Until next time, friend-os. Happy reading!

xo, R

 

 

 

 

Now the witch is back…

…and there’s hell to pay.

Yes, I’m back. What, you didn’t think I had abandoned my poor blog, did you? No, of course! Just the usual benign neglect.

Right to business today, I’m afraid. No time for pleasantries, heart-to-hearts, or spiritual awakenings. This is a short review of a short – but powerful – story by Stefan Zweig, “Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman.” Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Cover Talk: Very pretty. Pushkin Press, who has been publishing Zweig’s works in the past few years, is cleverly adhering to a consistent style, one which I really like. It’s the perfect blend of vintage and modern.

The Summary HeistThe less I felt in myself, the more strongly I was drawn to those places where the whirligig of life spins most rapidly.

So begins an extraordinary day in the life of Mrs C – recently bereaved and searching for excitement and meaning. Drawn to the bright lights of a casino, and the passion of a desperate stranger, she discovers a purpose once again but at what cost?

In this vivid and moving tale of a compassionate woman, and her defining experience, Zweig explores the power of intense love, overwhelming loneliness and regret that can last for a lifetime.

Robyn Says: Before I got any further with this review, I have to mention Wes Anderson’s film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. I love that movie so much – I rewatch it all the time – and while it is an original screenplay, Anderson acknowledges Stefan Zweig in the credits as an “inspiration” for the movie.

As soon as I left the theatre – literally in the parking lot of the theatre, actually – I googled Zweig and bought 3 of his books. He’s experienced a little bit of a surge in popularity since the film, and I’m so glad. He deserves to be included in the lists of great short-story writers, alongside Chekhov, Maupassant, and Mansfield.

This is a tiny book – barely even a novella, if we’re being honest, but, like everything else of Zweig’s that I’ve read, it packs a hell of a punch. It’s a story within a story, told by the titular Mrs C. to an unnamed narrator. I won’t discuss the plot, as to say anything more would spoil the story, so I’ll just say that it’s not a surprising journey, but it is one that’s incredibly moving, and one that, for me at least, has lingered in my mind ever since I finished reading.

If you’ve never read Zweig before, you’re in for a treat. While it’s not my favourite of his works, it does have all of the things I love about his writing: deft characterizations, insightful observations, and stunningly gorgeous writing. It’s lush, rich, decadent language – none of your terse post-modern prose here, thank you very much. And by the end, you’re thinking about your own life and your own choices, and wondering how you’d act in each of the characters’ places.

Verdict: Read it. It’s a gut-wrenching, tear-inducing, thought-provoking delight.

Best lines: “[…] at certain times in her life a woman is delivered up to mysterious powers beyond her own will and judgement.” Amen, brother.

Fancasting couch:

THE NARRATOR ~ Jude Law. Because Grand Budapest Hotel.

MRS C ~ Anjelica Huston. She is my queen.

THE NAMELESS YOUNG MAN ~ Armie Hammer. He looks like the kind of guy to fuck you over in Monte Carlo, doesn’t he?

Book Boyfriend material: I’d hit the narrator. He seems like a good guy. Everyone else can go jump off a bridge.

Rating: Nine out of ten feckless Eastern European noblemen. Yes I said feckless. It’s that kind of day.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: Real talk, twenty-four hours the life of this woman would include at least 3 hours of crying, 5 hours of reading, and one hour of crying in the bath.

Oh, here’s Book Cat.

What sort of bibliophile are you, Librarian, to so callously abandon your blog the moment Cupid’s arrow strikes? Why not tell these good people how many books you have read since the Dragon-slayer cast his heavy-lidded eyes on you and deigned to offer you a smile? Better still, why not share how many words you’ve written since Venus welcomed you into the ranks of her acolytes? If only they knew, Librarian, how quickly you would trade books for a moment with the Tiller of the Earth–

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE CAT BESIDE THE BOOKS.

Ahem.

That’s all for today, folks. Happy reading, and see you… soon?

–R

 

 

 

Love, love will tear us apart… again.

I haven’t read any books in the past seven days. SEVEN DAYS. Usually I’m good for at least one, but normally two. And what is the reason for this atrocious literary failure?

Ugh. It is awful. Wonderfully, gloriously, gut-wrenchingly AWFUL.

Anyway. That’s all I had to say. Imma go stare at my ceiling and try to turn off my brain.

– xo R

I bring you myrrh… myrrh-DER! *gasp*

What up, what up, my rainbow sparkle pony gangstas? I hope life is super fly and that you have infinite chill, unlike me, who has, as the kids are so fond of saying, zero f*cking chill. I won’t go into detail, but I will say that the career prospects have taken an expected but nonetheless devastating turn. *Cough* unions *cough,* you know. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO BE A LIBRARIAN? SOMEBODY PLEASE LET ME SHUSH PEOPLE ON A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL, THAT IS ALL I WANT IN LIFE. God.

Anyway.

Today we’re talking about myrrhder.

I will never stop finding that funny, rip vine.

So I read Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies this week, mostly because if it’s good enough for HBO, it’s good enough for me goddammit. I mean, HBO made Deadwood, right? Therefore they are forever without sin in my eyes. BUT I honestly wasn’t expecting to like it. If reading critically for this blog has taught me anything, it’s that I’m an insufferable genre snob and should be deeply deeply ashamed. Well, jokes on me, because I really liked this book. Tsk tsk, Robyn, you fool, when will you abandon your foolish genre prejudices and learn that stories are complex, multi-faceted things that defy easy categorization? WHEN?

Okay, let’s do this thing.

Cover Talk: Atrocious.

The Summary HeistBig Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Robyn Says: Excellent. Worthy of the hype – and I can see why it’s been made into a TV series. It’s got that cinematic momentum, that perfect pacing that made me want to keep reading every time I reached the end of the chapter. I’ve written a lot of fanfiction (shut up) and I know how difficult it is to keep your story taut without feeling rushed. So hats off, to Moriarty.

I thought the characters were exceptional. Each of the three protagonists were fully realized, well-rounded characters, and I’m surprised at how well the points of view were balanced. It truly felt like an ensemble piece. I really wish I could find a way to fit the three of them into the maiden/mother/crone trope, because who doesn’t love that one, but I’d say instead that each of the three women – Madeline, Celeste, and Jane – felt like a combination of all three “life stages.” I especially appreciated the depth given to Madeline’s character, who felt like the most ‘normal’ of the three. It would have been easy to reduce her to a stereotypical, overbearing suburban mom, whose problems are insignificant when compared to the struggles Jane and Celeste are facing, but Madeline is never made ridiculous. Her problems might not be the kind that warrant special episodes of Degrassi Jr. High, but they’re still problems, the kind that most of us deal with every day.

So. I should probably mention now that the novel contains incidences of domestic abuse. The cover copy quoted in my Summary Heist doesn’t really make that clear, so I guess *spoiler,* but I think it’s important to mention. None of the scenes are graphic, but it was still jarring to read. Some stuff was… unsettling, at least for me, to read.

But let’s move on.

The story itself was great – darkly funny and cleverly plotted. I loved the way the stories intersected, too, and the big finale scene was genuinely surprising. The supporting characters were delightful, too, and I thought that Moriarty did a stunning job of creating a well-written, enjoyable story that deftly explored themes of motherhood, female friendships, and self-love.

The small details were really great. There’s this one little drama involving the kindergarten class’s communal stuffed toy, Harry the Hippo. The toy is shared amongst the children, who each get a chance to take it home over the weekend. When Harry goes missing, the tensions that had been simmering below the surface come to a boil. It was so absurd and so damn real.

Verdict: Read it. And try to read it before watching the series. This is my rule for any adaptation, but I think it’s particularly true for this one. I’m going to enjoy seeing how my vision of the story compares to HBO’s.

Best lines: I highlighted so many lines, but then when I went back and looked at them, they were all about abuse :/ Since we don’t have enough time to sort through my deep-seated issues and repressed PTSD, have one that’s a little lighter.

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”

Same, girl. Same.

Fancasting couch: The show seems to have done a pretty good job casting the leads, so I’m gonna just leave this link right here.

Book Boyfriend material: None. It’s okay, I’ve got plenty to keep me happy.

Rating: 8 our of 10 stuffed hippo toys. Rip Harry the Hippo, we hardly knew ye.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: Kids can be evil little monsters, can’t they?

Creepy.

Oh, here’s Book Cat.

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Get away from me, human, can’t you see I’m reading?

Touchy. Must be a good book.

Later, my dudes.

xo R

 

Right in the feels

Hey hey, boys and girls. I hope life is going swimmingly for you all. I am currently waiting to hear back about a job I don’t want but can’t afford to turn down if it’s offered to me, so I’m getting panics attacks about getting the job AND not getting the job. Adulthood is a magical journey, kiddies.

In am attempt to stave off the encroaching madness, I’ve been reading a lot of romances (this is a very sober, deliberate Life Decision and is in no way related to the recent feast commemorating a certain beheaded Roman saint. How dare you suggest such a thing.) It has, so far, been kinda working. I think. (I mean, I don’t feel crazier…?)

Anyway. Although I usually don’t review romances here on the blog – mostly because I am still a bit ashamed to admit that I read them, but also because I rarely read ones that I like enough to write about for a couple hundred words) – I am going to make an exception because I recently read a book so good that I ended up reading the rest of the authors books in a week. That’s six books in five CRAZY days, guys. Thank god I have no life, or it would have taken, like, six days.

The book that initiated this intense bout of glomming is Kulti by Mariana Zapata.

Cover Talk: Not bad. I like that there aren’t any people on the cover – it’s different from the naked male torso trend (which is in no way a bad thing, you can never have enough naked male torsos, but sometimes a girl just wants a change). The empty, imposing stadium suits the story, and centers Sal as the protagonist before the book is even opened. Yay feminism. I also like that this might be mistaken for a general fiction book, because you know I fckn hate the arbitrary nature of genre classifcations despite being aware of their fundamentality to coherent systems of organization. And you might be able to get a dude to read it before he realizes what he’s gotten himself into.

The Summary HeistWhen the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn’t take a week for twenty-seven-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon—why she’d ever had his posters on her wall, or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man that hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive, shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know.

Or the murderous urges he brought out in her.

“Sal, please don’t make me visit you in jail. Orange isn’t your color.”

This was going to be the longest season of her life.

Robyn Says: Oh man this book. This boooooooooooooooooooook. So so good. SO GOOD. The summary of this book doesn’t really do it justice. Think of that crush you had when you were 13. It may or may not have been a pointy-eared elf whose name rhymes with perfect ass. (Sorry.) And then imagine that that crush turning up in your actual life and being your professional mentor. It would be amazing and terrible at the same time. I mean, I don’t think I could handle Legolas giving me tips on library programming.

And then imagine that Legolas wasn’t just your mentor, he was also kind of a dick. A gorgeous, talented, horrible dick.  A gorgeous, talented, horrible dick whom you fall in love with, against your better judgement. And then, the gorgeous, talented, horrible dick (spoiler) falls in love with you. Eeeeeee! Yay for my favourite trope, Enemies to Lovers!!!

And that is the basis for Kulti.

I kind of hate myself a bit because I’ve heard about how great this book was for ages, but put off reading it because sports romances aren’t my thing at all. Why do I keep doing this to myself?? When will I learn that the romance community IS ALWAYS RIGHT???

Okay, enough fangirling. I straight up loved this book, and part of me wants to forget about doing this stupid review and just throw the book at you, but alas, that is not the traditional book blogger way. Time to use the words. Luckily, I know words, I have the best words. (God help us all.)

I loved Zapata’s style of writing. It’s effortless and genuine, and so funny. Seriously, I was grinning like an idiot most of the time I was reading this (when I wasn’t mooning over the love story). The novel uses first-person POV, and it was so easy and enjoyable to slip into Sal’s mind. I felt like she and I had been friends for years. I didn’t mind not getting Kulti’s version of the romance. Male points-of-view are meh for me anyway. It’s not like I know what the hell any guy in real life is thinking – why should it be any different in fiction?

The story itself is excellent. Other reviews mention that this is a slow-burn romance, but it’s more like  s  l  o  o  o  w-burn. The pay-off is worth it, though, and I think that more romances, especially contemporary ones, would benefit from this unusual (for the genre, anyway) pacing choice. It makes the relationship between Sal and Kulti seem more believable, and it also allows for way more character development than I usually expect. That’s not to say nothing swoon-worthy happens until the end – I loved seeing how the romance evolved from outright hostility to reluctant friendship, and then to something more (god, I’m all moony right now just thinking about it).

And, like the best romances, so much more going on. Sal is a well-known figure in the world of women’s soccer, and a large part of the novel focuses on the highs and lows of her career while also touching on her relationship with her family and her struggles with self-doubt and passivity. The issue of the challenges female athletes face in terms of credibility and financial stability compared to their male colleagues is covered, too; +1 for feminism in romance. Kulti, who occupies the strange liminal celebrity of a retired celebrity athlete, wrestles with crafting a meaningful life after the end of his soccer career.

Both characters, but Sal especially, are well-rounded and complex. As I mentioned earlier, I felt like Sal and I were old friends. She’s funny, capable, kind, and driven, but she’s enough of a mess to be relatable, too. Kulti is my favourite kind of romance dude – tall, hot, and mean. And German, so he’s basically perfect. And the supporting characters were great, too – Sal’s dad was adorable.

There wasn’t actually anything that I didn’t like about this book. Mature, capable heroine, gruff, bearded, Teutonic hero, enemies to lovers, feminism, so-sweet-it-gave-me-cavities romance, and some hot-as-f*ck sex scenes. Kulti is basically perfect.

Verdict: READ IT. READ IT SO HARD.

Best Lines: God, there are so many. I love the way Zapata writes – you’re either tearing up from laughter or from the Feels. Here’s one I’m going to stick into my old bullet journal. “I had this one life, and if I didn’t make the best of it, then what was the point?”

Fancasting Couch: *NEW THING* Let’s do this:

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SAL ∼ Paulina Gaitan – she’s a bit young to play Sal, but physically, she’s exactly how I imagine her.

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KULTI ∼ Til Schweiger circa Inglourious  Basterds. Schwing. A bit old to be the German Chocolate Cake, but so so hot. Just add a beard, and BOOM, Kulti.

Rating: 10 out of 10 German Chocolate Cakes. Yes, I know they’re not really German. Get out.

Book Boyfriend Status: *ANOTHER NEW THING* (I’m really bored) Kulti, you are old and hot and German. You are my perfect man in every way. Welcome to the Book Boyfriend club. Take a seat between Heathcliff and Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: I think I might need to get out more.

Oh, here’s Book Cat.

c4kckfaweaaaoka

You do need to get out more. Now get away from me. I’m stretching my quads. Got a hot date tonight. Unlike someone *cough*

Way hard, Titus. Way harsh.

Auf Wiedersehen, meine liebe Lebkuchen!

-xo, R