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

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

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

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

Same, Voight. Same.

Later, bishes.

-xo, R

 

 

 

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You win this round, bookstagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Read it. Pretty damn good.

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

Fancasting couch:

Evelyn – Lauren Bacall

Monique – Rashida Jones

Book Boyfriend material: The puppy?

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

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

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

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

 

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

-xo, R

 

 

 

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