Grand High

Hey hey, welcome to another edition of Less Than Sober Blogging. Tonight’s drink is the tears of my enemies on ice… jk, it’s vodka coolers cuz I’m a basic bish and A LOT OF THEM.

I guess I should tell you why I’m Less Than Sober, right? I mean, the actual reason, not the vodka coolers (yum).

I am in a bit of a fucking funk, to be honest, dear readers, and since I know that the only people who read this terrible blog are my anonymous internet pals and also my mom (hi mom) I feel like I can tell you the TRUTH. The TRUTH is that I didn’t realize getting engaged would be so stressful. I am in the early stages of wedding planning and I already want to throw myself off the tallest 12-tiered wedding cake I can find. My dudes, I want a marriage, not a wedding. And although I think G would, like me, actually prefer to do a quick city hall ceremony, some people are not pleased by that… and for some reason, that is something we (?) have to think about. Even though it is our wedding. Paid for with our money. Planned on my time, causing my stress.

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Anyway, good thing is, there are still books to be read, and vodka coolers to be chugged with wanton disregard for tomorrow’s responsibilities, and words to be smithed (smithed? smithied?) in the frigid darkness of my gelid bedroom.

And I ramble on… TO THE REWIEW!

Today, it’s Roald Dahl’s The Witches and yes you can bet your goddamn square-toed feet that there will be gifs as far as the eye can see.

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Cover Talk

*Cries in nostalgia*

The Summary Heist

‘A REAL WITCH is easily the most dangerous of all the living creatures on earth.’

That’s a pretty horrifying thought. More horrifying still is that real witches don’t even look like witches. They don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, despicable, scheming harridans who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies.

So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Read this story and you’ll find out all you need to know. You’ll also meet a real hero, a wise old grandmother and the most gruesome, grotesque gang of witches imaginable.

Robyn Says

I was raised with this story. I knew it before I knew it. The movie was my childhood favourite, watched over and over and over again, the fraying VHS tape an early demonstration of the destructive potential of whole-hearted love. I watched so often I could probably recite every line of the film from memory. I watched it so often that by the time I learned to read, the book was one of the first I sought out, and thus was one of the first I read on my own.

Because it’s fucking awesome.

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Dahl is a goddamn genius, you don’t need me to tell you that. But I do recommend that if you haven’t read this book since you were a kid, READ IT AGAIN because it is a whole new kind of awesome when you read it as an (alleged) adult.

This book is dark and hilarious and scary and narratively creative and also weirdly empowering. One of the best parts was that the witch mythology is timeless and familiar, but also uniquely Dahl’s as well – the square-footed, bald witches with overly-large nostrils is so quintessentially absurd and terrifying that only old Roald could  have dreamed it up.

I’m too tipsy to be insightful right now but this kind of savagery reminds me of the old fairy tales. And I’m not even talking about the old Grimm’s, though those are so much darker than the watered-down Disnified dishwater we get these days. I’m talking old old school. Ancient school. Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Bluebeard and his wives. Baba Yaga and her creepy fucking chicken-legged house. Stories that make feel that iron-tasting fear. That’s the kind of terror you get from this story, if you look past the gross-out humour and the silly songs and the Quentin Blake doodles.

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Also, can I just say, the Grand High Witch tho. I mean, I know I’m supposed to be afraid of her but goddamn YAS QUEEN. WERK GIRL. WE STAN A PATRIARCHY-REJECTING FEMINIST HBIC.

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I could say more but I’m drunk and really do I need to say more though? It’s Halloween, man, read the damn book and see for yourself.

Verdict

READ IT. So good. Makes me want to hunt children and maybe even get short bangs again (yeah I said it, deal with it, G, you coiffure-dictating despot)

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Best Lines

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”

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Fancasting couch

The Boy

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Bruno

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Grandmama

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The Grand High Witch

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😍 😍 😍

Book Boyfriend material

Get your mind out of the gutter, this is a children’s book.

Rating

10 out of 10 cigar-smoking grannies. This book is so freaking good, guys.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Hey. How are you? No, no, really. Are you good? And not just in the ‘are you happy’ sense. I mean, are you good? Are you trying your best?  Are you kind? Do you do unto others as you would have them do unto you? If Anubis had a go at it, would your heart weigh less than Ma’at’s feather? I look at you all, and it breaks my heart, because I know we are scared and struggling and hurt, but good god almighty, my darlings, you have still got to try. There is enough cruelty in this world already, and fuck I am sooooo drunk, guys, but I feel like I am also in that seeing-things-a-sober-bitch-wouldn’t phase of drunkness, and I just wanna say say, if you need to be a blade, be a blade, but remember that not every problem is a Gordian knot waiting to be hacked to bits. Have you ever tried slicing a marshmallow? Im-fucking-possible. So what I’m saying is some of us are marshmallows and some of us are butter and all of us are knives when we need to be, and G why you gotta be so mean sometimes, man? Anyway, be nice but also be a Grand High Witch when you need to, cuz no one is gonna conquer the world for you, O Cruel One. You gotta do that all on your lonesome.

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NEXT TIME ON THE READING ROBYN: a sober blogger/librarian will review a mediocre/terrible work of literary fiction. Fascinating.

-xo, R

 

 

 

Double double: A FUN SIZE REVIEW

A very spoooooooky hello to you, my perfect little pumpkin pies. How has the month of Halloween been treating you so far? I hope you wake up and blast this festive carol every morning to get you in the spirit of the season:

Today I bring you yet another fun-size review (find the other three here, here, and here, because I am too lazy to tag these posts). You know the drill: a teeny tiny review of 100 words or less, not including gifs, because I am all-powerful and lazy. Today I am reviewing the last book I read, and the only book I’ve liked since the summer (curse you, book slump). It’s A Double Life by Flynn Berry.

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ROBYN’S FUN-SIZE REVIEW OF A Double Life BY FLYNN BERRY:

This book was an unexpected delight, and has a lot of my bookish catnips – dark, moody atmosphere, English setting, an unsolved grisly crime, a protagonist with an obsessive thirst to uncover the truth, and unresolved father issues. Oh yeah, baby. And the pacing is terrific. By using the first-person point of view and splitting the narrative into present and past through the use of very strategically employed flashbacks, Berry makes this book impossible to put down. It’s the book equivalent of a bag of mini-marshmallows… utterly impossible to leave uneaten. This is one book you will want to keep eating.

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Now I’m hungry. Time to bust into the Halloween candy. Here I come, mini pack of peanut m&ms…

– xo, R

Fix Youuuuuuuuuuu

Ignore that title, you are all perfect.

How is life, mes petits mignons? Is that correct? I have no idea, my French lessons are a nightmare, the teacher is an absolute turnip (I am teaching myself).

Life is good and God is great and every moment is a blessing, and I hope all things are as right in your world as they are in mine, my gorgeous internet friends. In case you missed it (in which case, scroll down and check out that rock boiiiiii), my broad-shouldered dragon-slayer and I got engaged (on Hobbit Day fyi) (I know) and I really can’t focus on much else. This just goes to show you, guys, the best way to find your soul mate is to end up working 15 feet away from him in a public library, and spend 6 months creeping on him from behind your computer at the reference desk while he mans the circulation desk in an indescribably swoony display of competence porn and also ignores you pretty much entirely until your last week on the job.

ANYWAYS. I’m so happy all I say is…

On to the review!

Today, in the spirit of everything being pretty flippin’ awesome, I bring you a pretty flippin’ awesome book: it’s The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature by Viv Groskop.

Cover Talk

ZOMGGGG GORGEOUSSSSSSSSSSSS красиво *heart-eyes*

The Summary Heist

Viv Groskop has discovered the meaning of life in Russian literature. As she knows from personal experience, everything that has ever happened in life has already happened in these novels: from not being sure what to do with your life (Anna Karenina) to being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back enough (A Month in the Country by Turgenev) or being socially anxious about your appearance (all of Chekhov’s work). This is a literary self-help memoir, with examples from the author’s own life that reflect the lessons of literature, only in a much less poetic way than Tolstoy probably intended, and with an emphasis on being excessively paranoid about having an emerging moustache on your upper lip, just like Natasha in War and Peace.

Robyn Says

This book was awesome and I plan on recommending it to everyone. Basically, it’s a self-help book via the Russian literary canon. And if that isn’t the very definition of book crack to you then I don’t know how to help you.

But seriously, it’s genius. Because if you haven’t read any Russian literature, this is an amazing, very charming introduction to some of the major works that strips away the layers of inaccessibility and makes them far less intimidating than they seem (although let’s be honest, they will always be a little intimidating – they’re the Russians, after all). And then, on the other hand, if you have read the Russian classics, you’re obviously already a fan and dying to read a fellow fan fawn over them. (Unless you hate them, and then yeah, you won’t even be reading this blog post, let alone the book – there’s no middle ground, either, you love the Russians or you hate them, it’s all or nothing over here, golubchik).

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So Groskop very cleverly ascribes a life lesson to each major work. I am pretty satisfied with her selections, both of literary works and life lessons. Her writing is very charming, and I really enjoyed her anecdotes about her own experience falling in love with Russian culture and literature as an expat in the Soviet Union. I kinda wish this book had been longer, actually – I was genuinely sad to reach the last page. I also loved being introduced to the Hedgehox/Fox philosophy, which I’d never heard of before. According to Groskop and wikipedia, it’s based on an essay  written by philosopher Isaiah Berlin in 1953.

Berlin “divide[s] writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include PlatoLucretiusDante AlighieriBlaise PascalGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelFyodor DostoyevskyFriedrich NietzscheHenrik IbsenMarcel Proust and Fernand Braudel), and foxes, who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea (examples given include HerodotusAristotleDesiderius ErasmusWilliam ShakespeareMichel de MontaigneMolièreJohann Wolfgang GoetheAleksandr PushkinHonoré de BalzacJames Joyce and Philip Warren Anderson).” (Thanks, wikipedia, I love you.)

Cool, right? I am obviously a fox (in love with a hedgehog).

Yup. Me and G, to a tee.

Verdict

READ IT. And then go read (or reread) all of the books discussed in this one. Winter is coming, what else are you going to do, right?

Best Lines

“This is the definition of a good person: he makes someone else feel that it was fine for them to be very drunk.” (About Chekhov, course – my darling foxy Chekhov)

Fancasting couch

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Leo Tolstoy

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Boris Pasternak

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Anna Akhmatova

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Ivan Turgenev

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Alexander Pushkin

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Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Anton Chekhov, bae

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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Mikhail Bulgakov

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Nikolai Gogol

Book Boyfriend material

Chekhov. I mean

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godDAMN, Tony!

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Rating

10 out of 10 fearless Russian writers, literally risking their lives to disobey a genocidal autocrat and bear witness to the horrors of the Stalin regime (*cough* Akhmatova, my queen)

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Listen, you’re all busy people, so I’ll just leave you with this:

I am made slightly uneasy by how many of these appear in my own fiction… AND MY OWN LIFE. “Pushkin reference.”

-xo, R

Radiance: the RiRi’d Review

Welcome to our very first RiRi’d Review. Today’s book is Radiance by Grace Draven.

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THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined. 

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE 

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light. 

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

Robyn Says

Oh yes, I like this one VERY much. It’s fantasy romance at its best: swoon + smut + some first-class world-building. It’s also the first book in the Wraith Kings series and lord knows there’s nothing fantasy readers like better than a series.

RiRi Says

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The RxR Rating

8 out of 10 uber-ripped alpha-male wraith-king heroes. Oh yeeeeeeeah.

– xo, R

 

Introducing… the Riri’d Review

***NEW BLOG FEATURE KLAXON***

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It’s a New Thing! Introducing… the RiRi’d Review.

I reread books. A lot. Like, I think I reread as many old books as I read new ones. Someone one asked me why bother to read a book again if you’ve already read it. That person disappeared one foggy night on the Yorkshire moors, never to be seen again by man nor beast. Jk I told him he was an idiot and then threw my glass in his face.

Anyway, the word reread always make me think of my hero, name-sister, and role model in all things, the goddess living among us known as Robyn Rihanna Fenty First of Her Name. Aka RiRi. AND THUS THE RIRI’D REVIEW WAS BORN. Wherein I, your humble bookslinger, rereads a book and reviews with a single Rihanna gif.

Why, you ask? Because I fucken want to, cowboy, that’s why.

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– xo, R

Mmmmmoidah

Sup bitches. My dragon-slayer is back from vacation which means I am a fully-functioning human again (or at least as good as I get). I spent two weeks moping around the house, too morose to do anything at all – even read (*GASP*). But in the 36 hours since he’s been back, I’ve managed to read one and a half books. Which just goes to show you that there isn’t much you can do with half your heart sunning itself on a California beach and the other half cooped up in a teeny tiny library in East York.

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But he’s back, and the reading is once again underway.

Today’s book: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone.

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Cover Talk

Yeah, not too shabby. I like the colour scheme, and the design of the split face is fitting, if a little too on the nose. Still, would definitely work on the ‘gram, so it gets my seal of approval.

The Summary Heist

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

Robyn Says

Okay, this book is getting a lot of praise, and while I liked it, I did have a few reservations.

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Let’s start with the good. Points for featuring a classic anti-heroine that was, despite the sociopathy, quite likable, I thought. Jane was so unapologetically horrible and so hellbent on having her (admittedly) righteous vengeance that I couldn’t help but root for her. Of course, considering the targets of her revenge were so loathsome, this wasn’t exactly a stretch. I thought the book was, overall, fresh, funny, and smart, and had a few fade-to-black sexy-times that satisfied my more salacious tastes.

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HOWEVER. There were some downsides. A lot of reviews mention how easily they sped through this book, but for me, it was exactly the opposite. I had to force myself to get through the first chapters, and while I know the background was necessary to set up the whole revenge plot, I think it could have been accomplished in a more compelling way.

I also thought Steve (and his father) were too cartoonish in terms of how awful they were. Repeat after me: a good villain is a complex villain, a good villain is a COMPLEX VILLAIN. (That’s a rule you learn reeeeeeeeeeal quick in the fanfic world lemme tell ya).

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And call me crazy (heh) but I thought the ending was a cop-out. Spoiler… not enough blood. Lex talionis, people. You know me, though. Code of Hammurabi or bust.

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But overall, it was a pretty okay read. I’d recommend this to any romance reader looking for something darker, or any mystery/thriller/suspense reader craving a book a little outside their usual hardened-detective fare.

Verdict

Maybe? This is really the epitome of YMMV here, so I dunno. Read it. Don’t read it. Follow your heart, flip a coin, you, my internet friends, are the architects of your own destinies.

Best Lines

“Maybe I should get a cat. The thought invades my head fully formed and utterly obvious. A cat. Another little sociopath to curl up beside me at night and keep me warm.”

Yes, hard agree.

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Fancasting couch

Jane – Rachel Weisz

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Yaaaaaaaaaas.

Steven – Human Dirtbago

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Ugh. Kill him, Rachel.

Luke – Ditchwater.

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As in, he’s as dull as…

Book Boyfriend material

No one. Yes, no one, not even Luke – can’t love a doormat, sorry.

Rating

6 out of 10 sociopathic cats.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Sometimes I wonder, as we all do, of course, if I’m a sociopath, but then I see an old man standing in bewilderment in the milk aisle of the A&P and I know I actually do have a heart because IT’S FUCKING BREAKING, SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MILK TO THESE OLD GENTLEMEN PLEASE.

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-xo, R