Wakey wakey, Billy Shakey

What ho, lambkins and ladybirds! I hope March has treated you better than it has me. I have been suffering through a horrendous book slump. At this point, I think I might just have to reread one of my favourite series to shake it off. (Dragonriders of Pern? Downside Ghosts?? Every single Richard Sharpe book???) But any rereading will have to wait until May because this month, I am doing a thing, possets. It may be a foolish thing. It may be a thing that reveals my literary hubris. It may be a thing that no one but myself cares about at all. But it is most definitely a thing that I am doing. LISTEN UP.

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The thing is that April is going to be a month of SHAKESPEARE. In the next 30 days, I will endeavour to read every single one of Shakespeare’s plays. That’s right, every. single. one. And blog about my thoughts, of course. There will be gifs, and pictures of my cat with my Riverside Shakespeare, and probably a lot of raging about high school English lit curriculum design. And because 2018 is all about The Brand™, I am gonna do the whole bookstagram strut and surround myself with a maelstrom of hashtags. How about… #30DaysofShakespeare. And #robynreadsshakespeare. And also #monthofthebard. I am the boss of this whole thing, so yeah, those work.

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Why April? Because it’s the month of his birth and his death, and also National Poetry Month, and because I want to. Why do this stupid thing at all? Because I devoted a large part of my undergrad to studying Shakespeare and still haven’t read every play. And because I feel intellectually stagnant and want to challenge my atrophying brain. And because I like themes and challenges and making big plans that will inevitably go awry and end with me cursing my own overly ambitious goals. And because I want to.

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There is only one rule: read every play by old Shakey. I’m gonna go chronologically, which means my month of the Bard will look something like this:

  1. Comedy of Errors
  2. Henry VI, Part II
  3. Henry VI, Part III
  4. Henry VI, Part I
  5. Richard III
  6. Taming of the Shrew
  7. Titus Andronicus
  8. Romeo and Juliet
  9. Two Gentlemen of Verona
  10. Love’s Labour’s Lost
  11. Richard II
  12. Midsummer Night’s Dream
  13. King John
  14. Merchant of Venice
  15. Henry IV, Part I
  16. Henry IV, Part II
  17. Henry V
  18. Much Ado about Nothing
  19. Twelfth Night
  20. As You Like It
  21. Julius Caesar
  22. Hamlet
  23. Merry Wives of Windsor
  24. Troilus and Cressida
  25. All’s Well That Ends Well
  26. Othello
  27. Measure for Measure
  28. King Lear
  29. Macbeth
  30. Antony and Cleopatra
  31. Coriolanus
  32. Timon of Athens
  33. Pericles
  34. Cymbeline
  35. Winter’s Tale
  36. Tempest
  37. Henry VIII

SO that’s 37 plays. In 30 days. Oh, new hashtag (#30days37plays). It’s gonna be one gloriously poetic nightmare of a month.

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See you tomorrow. Now, where the hell is my copy of Comedy of Errors…

xo, R





I owe you actual words

I know, I know, the laziness of the gif review is inexcusable. Mea culpa etc etc. But in my defense, words are hard, and words about words are even harder.

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Today, I’m writing about a genre I usually don’t touch: horror. But Robyn, you are probably (not) asking yourself, why don’t you like to read scary books? Aren’t you a self-confessed horror addict who has seen every scary movie ever made?? (That’s not hyperbole, by the way, I think I could probably write a PhD or two in horror film studies.) Yes, dear reader, you are correct. I love scary movies. They’re my comfort watch. When some people turn to light-hearted rom-coms or nostalgia-oozing childhood favourites, I watch Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining. Literary horror, however, has never been my thing, though the precise reason for this disinterest has always eluded me. Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, even Stephen King of Horror himself; none of their works ever made a single hair on the back of my neck twitch. (Okay, maaaaaaaaaybe Pet Sematary gave me a teeny weeny case of the creepin’ willies, but I am only human and that book is messed up).

Pet Sematary GIF

(Why did I post that, I am gonna have myself some fucking nightmares tonight, believe)

(Actually, I think it might be because of sound. Scary movie soundtracks are the terrifying cherry on the dread-seeped sundae that is a horror film. Whenever the characters start getting slashed, I don’t cover my eyes. No, instead I clamp my hands over my ears so that my frantic heartbeat drowns out whatever nightmarish score is playing over the Final Girl’s artfully piercing shrieks).

Enough chin-wagging. To the Review!


Today, it’s Ararat by Christopher Golden, which won the 2017 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.

Cover Talk:

Boring. Yeah, it obviously depicts the setting of the novel, but still. Lazy. I would have preferred something either more stark, all white maybe, with only a ghostly outline of the titular mountain, or even better, something much much darker. The British cover went with the first option. I like it better, but can’t find any HQ photos to link to, deal with it.

The Summary Heist:

When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. The artifact tempts their professional curiosity; so they break it open. Inside, they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man that they expected, a hideous creature with horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone. 

Robyn Says:

It’s a demon.  Oopsie daisy, my bad, um, spoiler alert? It’s a demon and he possesses them one by one and then the group begins to turn on itself, bad people die and of course some good people too, sacrifices are made, but in the end it’s worth it because the enemy is vanquished, but oh, w h a t ‘s  t h a t, surprise surprise, twisty ending on the last page, demon still chillin in a host body, winner takes it all, final shot of The Omen with Damien breaking the fourth wall and looking back at the audience, aaaaaaaaaaaaand scene.

What a wet-towel of an ending. What a three-days past the expiry date on a carton of milk story. What a colossal, earth-shattering, white-guy-blinking-in-disbelief.gif of a book.

Some genres can have stories that are predictable. That’s ok – look at romance. I know what I’m getting, and if I didn’t get a predictable happy ending, I’d be livid. But horror novels are meant to be scary, and generally, predictability is not scary.

(And I should mention that I thought the characters were all flat, the writing was mediocre, and the only thing that kept me reading was the desire to keep up my Goodreads challenge numbers.)

Sorry, guys. I know I’m being mean, and yeah, I haven’t even managed to finish writing one book, so this author’s already light-years ahead of me… but this is a book review blog, after all, and not all reviews are good, eh? These are savage realities of literary criticism, and here on my shitty little wordpress blog, there is no room for false kindnesses, we are here for bookish real talk, bitches, so sometimes, it’s gonna get mean.

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Yeah I’m gonna go ahead and say you might be better off exploring some classic horror films you may not have seen, given that film is a severely underappreciated medium in terms of its cultural and artistic value, and that no genre is more unfairly maligned than horror, especially international horror. Suggested: Rosemary’s Baby, Suspiria, and House.

Best lines:

lol no

Fancasting couch:

Absolutely not.

Actually wait, here is how I envisioned the young, probably good-looking Kurdish guide who takes the idiots up the mountain.

handsome-Omar-Borkan-500x500 10 Most Handsome Arab Men in the World - Hottest Arab Guys

Okay, so yeah, that author didn’t say he was drop-dead gorgeous, but like, he didn’t not say it either, so????? i apologize for nothing.

Book Boyfriend material:

See above.

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2 out of 10 biblical demon mummies (fuck, there I go again with the spoilers, somebody stop me)


Okay, I know I’ve just roasted this book so badly it could be Sunday night dinner, but you know what… it might actually make a pretty good movie.


Titus is sleeping, so you will not be treated to his unique brand of savagery today.





Nonverbal Referral: A Book Too Good for Actual Words

March 1st. March. MARCH. How is it March already?!?!? March??? What even is time???This is adulthood, by the way, just constantly looking at the calendar and being furiously bewildered.


Read a book. So good it fucked me right up and I’ve been in a hell of a bookslump for about a week. Thing is. This book was so fucking good I don’t think I know how to blog about it. Imma try, because I literally have nothing else to do right now thanks to my boss leaving the office and taking all of the database passwords with him (oh, by the way, I’m a failure again, no more library for me – for the moment, anyway… although let’s be realistic, I think I have a better chance of finding Emily Bronte’s second manuscript than of landing a permanent position in a public library again, and fuck you to every motherfucker who made it virtually impossible to do the job that I love so dearly and that I am so. fucking. good at).

Anyway. I’m just warning you straight up that no traditional review will do this book justice, and so I bring you another edition of Nonverbal Referrals. In case you forgot or you’re new here (no point in looking for an escape route, newbie, you’re one of us poor souls now), the rules are simple: I read a book and sum up my feelings in one – YES, ONE – gif. Today’s book is Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak.

Ready? Ok. Here goes…


– xo, R