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.

img_20170221_215241_828

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:

mv5bmtg2ntk2ntc4mv5bml5banbnxkftztcwotawmjuynw-_v1_ux214_cr00214317_al_

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

3835fab1d436cad5fedde9fbc8fc379a

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

I will go down with this ship

Let’s talk about ships.

No, not THAT kind of ship. The fanfic kind.

It’s probably not a secret that I write and read fanfiction. A lot of it. No shame 2017. It’s in my DNA. I was shipping OTPs before I even knew there were names for what I was doing. But I realize not everyone is a giant nerd, so I will pause, and provide some definitions.

Ship – short for relationship. Can also be used as a verb, shipping, which, according to wikipedia, refers to “the desire by fans for two or more people, either real-life people or fictional characters (in film or literature) to be in a relationship, romantic or otherwise.” Ships can be canon or non-canon. The pairing can be referred to by using a portmanteau, an x, or a backslash (i.e., Brangelina, Brad x Angelina, Brad/Angelina).

Canon/non-canon – anything canon is true to the original work. Shipping Hermione and Ron, for example, would be canon, while shipping Hermione with Harry would be A1 non-canon.

OTP – “one true pairing.” Your dearest ship. The one that sustains you through the darkest times. Hermione x Ron, Darryl x Carol, Legolas x Aragorn, me x Jason Momoa. Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

NoTP – the worst possible pairing you can imagine. Hermione x Snape, for example. No no no, burn it all with fire.

Okay, good, now we’re all clear on terms. So.

Let’s talk about ships.

God, I have SO MANY. But a recent and much beloved ship is from Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. Have you read it? If not, get on that. Five books in, with one more book to come, it’s an excellent series overall, with a rich cast of diverse characters, set in a world that’s both innovative and familiar. It’s chock full of magic, adventure, violence, bad-ass lady assassins, female friendships, complicated relationships, feminism, serious discussions of the lifelong repercussions of trauma on both the victim and her loved ones, and, if all that isn’t enough for you, hear this, friends: this series is teeming with romantic possibilities. Teeming, I say.

But back to my ship. No, it’s not Manorian. Definitely not Rowaelin (kind of a soft No-TP there, don’t @ me). Not even Lysandra x Aedion.

Elide. x. Lorcan. Elorcan, if you will. (Oh, I will.)

This ship has everything I love. Enemies to lovers (and, spoiler, right back again). Forced proximity. Fake relationship. Marriage (fake, but still) of convenience. Hurt/comfort. The tough grumpy alpha asshole turning into a giant teddy bear around a tiny lady (maybe not an established trope, but whatever, it is mine own individual jam). Bad-ass genius Slytherin-queen reluctantly falling for said asshole teddy bear. Uuuuuuuugh I love it so hard.

And now, tumblr:

Holy god. And then there’s

Ermagherd. And lookee here

gottDAMN.

(that last one tho)

If you have read the most recent book in the Throne of Glass series, Empire of Storms, you will know exactly what I mean when I say

I   will   go   down   with   this   ship.

Hard.

Whelp. Now that I’ve embarrassed myself, what are some of y’all’s favourite ships?

Well, Librarian, I would have to say that my OTP is myself and the cat who lives in the mirror.

Awww, T. You so cute.

I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this.

Hey, baybays. How’s life in this Orwellian hellscape treating you? I myself am coping quite well, I think. Only five breakdowns this week. Things are improving!

And whenever current affairs are bringing me down (so basically, all the time), I just have to think about the Saturday before last’s historic Women’s March, and I feel better. I really wanted to attend the Toronto march in Queen’s Park, but was confined to my bed with ‘women’s problems’ – oh, the irony! So I had to settle for witnessing the marches all around the world on twitter, which was almost as good. It still makes me a bit teary to look at all of the photos of women banding together to fight for human rights. THIS is why intersectional feminism is absolutely vital – we’re not just stronger together. When all the ladies get in formation, we’re goddamn invincible.

So now that we’re feeling feminist af, let’s dive into this week’s review. What’s more appropriate than turning some of that girl power onto a book with a very questionable romance and some… less than feminist lessons. The book: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon.

I’d heard about this book somewhere on the interwebs, but it was when it racked up a Goodreads award nomination for best fantasy. That’s pretty high praise, right? And obviously, this book has a stellar rating on the site, which is my usual metric when deciding whether to buy a book. In fact, the reviews were so positive that I actually bought the e-book at FULL PRICE (okay, fun fact, I refuse to pay for e-books unless they’re on sale; I spend, um, a lot of time hunting down e-book sales everyday). Seven whole dollars and ninety-nine cents – plus tax! – went to this e-book.

So yeah, I had some high expectations. Keep reading to find out if they were met…

Cover Talk: Meh. Kinda looks like she’s about to get her head cut off by gone-but-not-forgotten-bae Ned Stark.

The Deal Summary Heist: “Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.”

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

Robyn Says: Let’s just get it right out in the open.

I have no idea how I feel about this book.

Like, I literally cannot tell you if I liked it or not. And I’ll be damned if I know whether I’d recommend it. You know what, Imma fall back on the tried-and-true pros and cons list. Except, because this blog is an experiment in self-indulgent, irritating, Absurdist literary criticism, let’s do it my way.

HUZZAH – This is an adult fantasy romance. And there is definitely not enough quality adult fantasy romance to be had. Sometimes YA just won’t do it, you know? (Grace Draven is an excellent author to check out if you’re looking for adult fantasy romance, by the way.). But that leads me to my next point…

BOO-HISS-BOO – It was fantasy-lite. What little world-building there was felt desultory and stale. However…

HUZZAH – Harmon is a good writer. I wanted to keep reading, and I thought the plot, bare as it was, was well-paced.There were dozens of sentences pretty enough to high-light or use as a caption for your moody instagram post. But…

BOO-HISS-BOO – I hated so so much about the story itself. It’s hard to go into much detail without being too spoilery, but if you’re hoping for a feminist read, you’re going to be disappointed. The voiceless heroine, Lark, calls to mind the Little Mermaid (the douchey hero, Tiras, calls to mind every prick boyfriend you’ve ever been happy to see the back of). I kept hoping that when Lark eventually, inevitably regained her power, she would gain some agency. Alas, no. And then there’s the romance, which earns another…

BOO-HISS-BOO – My god, the romance. Exaggerated airquotes around that word, guys. If a man ever spoke to me the way Tiras did, it would be u g l y. Violent. Bloody. Murder-y. I don’t care what anyone says, guys, there is no way to romanticize half the shit he says to Lark. It is not grumpy-but-soft-hearted, lovable-ashole shit. That shit is my ultimate jam, believe. And this is not that. The worst had to be the way he ordered her around. Ugh ugh ugh. Not cool.  And then there’s the fact that…

BOO-HISS-BOO – I kinda felt like not much happened? Like, there were a few battles, and a final showdown with the big baddie (whose reveal was not too shabby, I will admit), but it felt like a lot of telling versus showing. The adrenaline rush of reading a really good action scene was totally absent for me.

So yeah. Bit of a puzzle, this one.

Verdict: Read it – fantasy romances are like Albino Alligators – rare as fuck, so even if it’s a nightmare, you gotta slow down and take a look.

I am a metaphor for fantasy romances. What are you a metaphor for?

Best Lines: I highlighted a few sentences and passages. One of my faves: “I wondered if weakness wasn’t just as dangerous. The weak allowed evil to flourish.” BOOM, RELEVANT.

Rating: Six? Yeah, let’s go with six our of ten distressed damsels who don’t need any help from jack-ass dudes with swords, thank you very much.

rupi-kaur

Preach, sis.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: If I had any magical power whatsoever I would wreak terrible, terrible havoc on this world. Like, I know I would be the villain, without question. God, I wish I had some magical powers…

 

Oh, here’s Book Cat, with a quick reminder:

As the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”                       Resist, humans, and remember we are stronger together. Stay angry, stay hopeful.

Wise words, Titus.Wise words, indeed. Stay strong, guys.

– xoxo, your sister in the Revolution, R.

 

Call me CALL ME on the liiiiine: A Fun Size Review

Greetings, earthlings. Today I’ve got another FUN SIZE REVIEW to chuck at you (quick, duck, here it comes). Hopefully it distracts you from whatever political/educational/existential is currently plaguing you. I’m currently sitting at the reference desk trying not to think about what I’ll do when my contract expires in, oh, 51 days, 5 hours and 51 minutes, rendering me a librarian without a library job once again. HURRY LET’S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE VERY QUICKLY TO AVOID THE TEARS.

Okay. Fun size review. Here we go. Today I’m going to shout at you about A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Prepare for the feels. ALL THE FEELS.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91o1jl2PnFL.jpg

ROBYN’S FUN-SIZE REVIEW OF A MONSTER CALLS BY PATRICK NESS: There are sad books and then are Why-did-god-give-me-emotions? books. This is the second kind. But the interesting thing is that this book is also uplifting, too. It reminded me, in all the best ways, of The Little Prince, in that this book is also about Life and Lessons to get through Life. This book is about loss, in all its forms. The loss of a loved one, of one’s sense of self, even of reality, but Ness also deftly handles questions of fractured families, broken friendships, and the strength – and weaknesses – we find ourselves during our darkest times.

And it will make you feel. Like this

and this

and finally this.

And it turns out there’s a film adaptation in theatres near you right now. I have not seen it, but I plan to. As soon as my tear reservoir has refilled itself to allow me to shed the maximum amount of tears possible as I gleefully indulge in the sweet, sweet heartache all over again.

Also, Liam Neeson is in it.

So yeah. A Monster Calls. Read it.

Stay gold, pony-boys and pony-girls.

xoxo – R

What’s a God to a Non-believerrrrr

Happy new year, book nerds! 2017 is going to be our year, I can feel it!

ohfuckyeahcillianmurphy: “…by order of the Peaky Blinders! ”

And would you believe it, I’m already 4 books into my 2017 reading challenge. I know, I’m a hero.

For my first review of 2017, I’m actually going to talk about the last book I read in 2016 – one I mentioned in my last post. Turns out, the last quarter of the book was as good as the rest of it. It’s The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky.

(I’m actually pretty disappointed with this cover. It’s far too generic, considering how great the book was.)

The Deal: (pilfered from the back of the book, you know how it goes)…

MANHATTAN HAS MANY SECRETS.
SOME ARE OLDER THAN THE CITY ITSELF.

Manhattan. The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone-just the way she likes it. She doesn’t believe in friends, and she doesn’t speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.

Murders. In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago. To protect the innocent-and to punish those who stand in her way.

Gods. With the NYPD out of its depth, Selene vows to hunt the killer on her own. But when classics professor Theo Schultz decodes the ancient myth behind the crime, the solitary Huntress finds herself working with a man who’s her opposite in every way. Together, they face a long-forgotten cult that lies behind a string of murders, and they’ll need help from the one source Selene distrusts most of all: the city’s other Immortals.

Robyn says: I *love* retellings of mythology. It is one of those really narrow subgenres that I’m completely obsessed with. I didn’t actually hear about this book from any of my usual sources, though (twitter, tumblr, and goodreads, to be specific). This book first came to my attention when it was reviewed by one of the wonderful Smart Bitches here. It’s a pretty stellar review, for all that it was only given a B rating. I actually really enjoyed The Immortals, and while I prefer a numerical rating system, if forced to use a letter grade, this would definitely merit an A from me.

Without a doubt, the best part of this book was the world-building. The author did a terrific job of explaining how the Greek gods had ended up in New York City, and created a system the explained how the gods’ existence was tied to the faith of their followers – and how that existence was imperiled as new gods displaced them. I thought the characters were, for the most part, quite well-conceived, though Selene really was the stand-out: resilient, tough, ruthless, and independent. Total HBIC and feminist eh eff. I never really warmed to Theo – he’s not the kind of romantic lead I’m partial to, and even overlooking his unsuitability as a match for the ass-kicking Selene, he was also kind of a pretentious git. One of those converse-wearing, long-haired, “call-me-Dave” profs that I always hated. Also, if I ever heard anyone use ‘Holy Roman Empire’ as an exclamation, I would have to sit on my hands to resist from punching that person in his smug face. It was really interesting to see where the other Greek gods had ended up, and I also enjoyed the archaeological and classicist Easter eggs the author scattered throughout the story.

As far as plot goes, it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to solve, but I still really enjoyed reading it. It was literally UNPUTDOWNABLE. I was late for work a few times because I was trying to read while also doing my hair and packing my lunch. And then when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the story – and that, in my opinion, is the highest recommendation anyone can give a book.

Minor quibble – I felt the ending was a bit sudden, and I was left with quite a few questions. I know there’s going to be a sequel (and hopefully more after that) but I would have liked a bit more of a resolution, particularly in terms of Selene and Theo’s relationship. Overall, though, it was an original, well-written, highly enjoyable book.

And it gave me an excuse to scroll through the mythology edits on tumblr!

So pretty.

Verdict: Read it. Who doesn’t need more ass-kicking Greek goddesses in their lives, right?

Best lines: (I really need to get better at writing down quotes while I’m reading.) One by one, the nymphs had grown wan and weary, their glossy hair dulled, their long limbs attenuated. The changing world saved no room for the creatures of glade and spring. Selene still felt drawn to the trees, those hardy denizens of the city, eking out a life among cement and steel. Yet she found little comfort in them–only heartache, a remembrance of the companions she’d lost. One more reason she chose not to live in the forests and mountains that were her birthright. Too often, the woods only reminded her just how alone she really was. (somewhere in chapter 4, I can’t remember the page number)

Rating: 8 out of 10 spooky palimpsests that can only be detected using fancy high-tech multispectral imaging.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: Is it wrong that I have always found the Persephone myth really freaking hot? Yes? Whatever. All I’m saying is, if that if the ground opened up a sexy creepy underworld god offered to make me his queen, I wouldn’t exactly be struggling.

Hey! Book Cat, happy new year!

Displaying 20161218_125054.jpg

I’m a shark. Leave me alone, librarian.

Okay. 2017. Greek gods and shark cats. I like it. Keep it going.

xoxo -R