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

QUEEN OF THE BOOKS

Yooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo guys guess what??

I – ME, Robyn, your (un)friendly local book-slinger – am in charge of my branch’s book club. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!!! I am kind of drunk with power tbh. The mood is very Galadriel being offered the One ring if you know what I mean…

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So I spent my #SaturdayLibrarian shift planning out the books for the coming year (we run September to May, ending before summer reading club takes over my life). I chose all of these books except for the first one, which my boss “suggested” (*cough* demanded) I pick… I’m pretty proud of my selection, though, and I thought you nerds might be interested. I’ll be blogging about the book and the book club’s first meeting, so at least now you’ll know what you’re in for.

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TA-DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA:

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SEPTEMBER: The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Orczy (Classic)

One of the most enthralling novels of historical adventure ever written, featuring the mysterious figure known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, sworn to rescue helpless men, women, and children from their doom. A suspenseful tale that ranges from the squalid slums of Paris to the aristocratic salons of London, from intrigue on a great English country estate to the final denouement on the cliffs of the French coast. There have been many imitations of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but none has ever equaled its superb sense of color and drama and its irresistible gift of wonderfully romantic escape.

Image result for the witches dahl blurb OCTOBER: The Witches – Roald Dahl (Childrens)

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.

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 NOVEMBER: Rules of Civility – Amor Towles (Fiction)

Towles’ debut novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.

 Image result for the moonstone collinsDECEMBER: The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins (Mystery)

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’, The Moonstone is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear.

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JANUARY: The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield (Fiction)

The Studious biographer Margaret Lea is shocked when she receives a letter from renowned novelist, Vida Winter. The inimitable Winter is aging and ill, and she beseeches Margaret to come to her home and hear her story. It is the unforgettable tale of the doomed and beautiful Angelfield family, and Lea is immediately as captivated by the account as she is by her extraordinary storyteller. But she is also skeptical, and becomes determined to discover how much of this tragic story is real. As Margaret gets closer to ascertaining the truth, she must also reconcile her own hidden family secrets. Beautifully atmospheric and haunting, this inspired first novel is reminiscent of classic works such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and is certain to take its place among them as a timeless masterpiece.

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FEBRUARY: The Hating Game – Sally Thorne (Fiction)

A hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love. Lucy and Joshua hate each other, and they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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MARCH: The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert (Nonfiction)

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before and provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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APRIL: The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra (Stories)

This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

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MAY: Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell (Teen)

Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

And that, my friends, is that. Amazing, right? This actually took a super long time to finalize. It wasn’t easy finding books that represented a range of genres, were generally well-received, and “fit” the  season of the year (which actually plays an important role in MY enjoyment of a book)… and we also had to have enough circulating copies in the system to make a full book club set. Yay me.

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Pretty much. Get thee to a library and check out these awesome books (ha ha)

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– xo, R

 

 

 

 

Mouth full of bones

Hello hello, back for more of this sweet sweet book talk I see… Before I continue, a word from our sponsors. (Me. I am the sponsor.) PS-fucking-A, people. I need to get something off my chest. Ready??

Cheesecake is, despite its name, NOT CAKE. It is not pie, either, nor loaf, nor traybake. It exists in its own unique and frankly, disgusting, pastry category, an outlier meant to challenge our culinary preconceptions and test the refinement of our sweet-teeth (yes I said sweet-teeth). It is a bastard pastry child, unwanted and outcast, a waste of precious precious cheese and eggs, undeserving of the noble label cake. Fie upon those of you who would dare to consider this worthy to stand beside the Black Forest and the Battenberg, the Coconut and the Hummingbird, fie I say!

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Sorry not sorry, Aubrey.

MOVING ON. This week I’m talking about horror one again. It’s Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth

Cover Talk

YES, I like it, very creepy and ominous and cute. Reminds me of my younger self. Seriously though, A+, love the way the shattered candy looks so broken. Really perfect choice for this book.

The Summary Heist

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Robyn Says

This was an excellent read. Tightly plotted and excellent pacing made for a very tense read. And of course, this falls into one of my most beloved horror tropes: the hell child.

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I saw a lot of reviews complaining that this wasn’t “fresh” because hell child has been done before. Um…….. so what? That’s what tropes are; part of their impact lies in their familiarity, and arguably, in their ability to be both expected and surprising at once. Also, how the fuck can you not like a hell child?!? I mean, come on, the Grady Twins? That Culkin kid in the Good Son? Those children of the corn? DAMIEN??????

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And this book was fresh af in my opinion. Hanna was delightfully sinister, and her rivalry with her mother over her father’s affection added a very nice touch of Elektra complex to the idea of an evil child. I also really enjoyed the way technology played a role in the plot. Hanna’s top-notch googling allowed her to tweak her evil plans (same tbh), and my librarian’s heart could not help but admire her precocious researching skills.

I also enjoyed the hint of the supernatural. It’s made pretty clear that Hanna’s isn’t possessed, just evil, but still, the witchy subplot was cool, and if it had gone the other way, I think it might have been even better.

The dual points of view between Hanna and Suzette were excellently utilized to portray their rivalry and to evoke sympathy for both characters. The writing was excellent – Stage’s descriptions of pain as related to Suzette’s chronic illness, and really the way her condition was described as a whole, was truly masterful.

The ending was great, too. Hard to find a horror book that ends in a satisfying manner but in my opinion, Baby Teeth manages to do it spectacularly. I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel and a movie adaptation.

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Verdict

Read it. Will creep you out and make you break out in a cold sweat at the thought of leading your next storytime.

Best Lines

“She stuck her finger in her mouth, feeling the ridges of the new tooth that was poking through her gum. And gave one assertive nod.”

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Fancasting couch

Suzette – Rebecca Hall

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Alex – Thorbjørn Harr

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Hanna – either one of these girls

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Book Boyfriend material

Alex, because he

  • was the only male character in the book
  • eventually figured out what was going on and did the right thing
  • could get it (and did, on numerous occasions… this book did not skimp on the boning)

Rating

8 out of 10 creepy little baby teeth that your mom inexplicably keeps in a little silver box inside her lingerie drawer (Mom for real though WHY DO YOU HAVE THOSE?????)

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Kids are terrifying and I wouldn’t trust one as far as I could throw one, which, admittedly, is probably pretty far, depending on how heavy the kid is.

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Vitamin D…N.F.

Ah, the DNF. In case you’re not a massive book nerd who spends too much time on the internet, DNF stands for Did Not Finish. **Some** people have this insane compulsion to read a book all the way to the end, even if every moment is the purest form of agony. I, however, prefer other forms of masochism, and if a book doesn’t grab me by the time I’ve read a third of it then it’s out the window.

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Unfortunately, I have had to defenestrate far too many books lately. And because I am all about that Good Content, have a list of the stuff I hated recently.

First up, The Cabin at the End of the Woods.

The Cabin at the End of the World

Read almost half of this, despite knowing by the third chapter I wouldn’t like it. Oddly slow, despite opening with a home invasion and hints of a looming apocalyptic catastrophe. Annoying kid. Yuppie parents. Villains who maybe aren’t villains. Skipped to the end – no resolution. One of those maybe-maybe-not endings. Hated it.

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Next, Séance Infernale.

Séance Infernale

So bad. Suffered through two chapters. This book has no idea what it is. Reminded me of that Polanski (ugh) film with the rare book dealer played by Johnny Depp (ugh). The Ninth Gate. Could have been so good. Was most definitely not good. Hated it.

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Last, The Favorite Sister.

The Favorite Sister

So much hype. I actually enjoyed the first part of this book, and out of all three of my recent DNFs, this is the only one I might give another chance to. It was just moving too slowly for me, and frankly, there were so many awful characters competing to see who could be the worst that I just had to put it aside and read about elves for a little bit, you know what I mean? Also, so many characters and points of views. It was like a fucking West Coast War and Peace. My kingdom for a cast of characters. Hated it (kinda).

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Other things I have hated recently:

  • the sun
  • heat
  • humidity
  • summer in general
  • library patrons who insist on standing at the circ desk until you check in the items they just returned
  • the 401
  • people who drive on the 401
  • Doug Ford
  • high-waisted jeans that aren’t high-waisted enough
  • those single fucking eyebrow hairs that insist on growing in the wrong fucking direction, like sis, what is wrong with you, follow the fucking curve ffs
  • the last fifteen minutes before your shift ends
  • the 18.4 km distance from Pickering to Whitby, and the emotional distress it both symbolizes and causes
  • gluten free “”bread”
  • treachery

Wow. That was really… cathartic. Damn, guys. You should try this….

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– xo, R

The Mission Quest Thing 2.0

So first thing’s first, let me get this out of the way, because it’s been weighing heavily on my heart for a while and frankly, I don’t have the stomach for any more negativity than my current serving of woe. (Which, thank God and all the Saints, is mercifully small.) So here it is:

I don’t give two flying phantom fucks what you think of me, or what I write, or, more importantly, why I write.

If I know you, if I don’t know you, if our paths crossed on a winter’s eve under a full moon in another dimension, doesn’t matter. Because I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck.

(NB Mom, this does not include you lmao) (Or you, dragon-slayer, although I know you will never read this, you contrary thing you)

This stupid blog that people do seem to love mocking is meant for one person only: me. I am happy for the handful of views I get on each post, and grateful, and a little proud, too – and to all of you guys who seem to enjoy this weird book-slinging bitch yelling, often  profanely and, worse, alliteratively, about random books, thanks.

If you think it’s stupid, fine. I don’t care. If you think I’m a loser, or a nerd, or an idiot, hey, guess what, bingo, bitch. If you think it’s pointless and that I should try to do something with it, like make money or gain followers or build a brand… nah. That’s not why I do this.

I do this because I’m a nerdy loser idiot who likes books and likes writing and really really likes gifs. That’s it. And that’s enough. It’s fun. I enjoy it. I don’t have any plans to do anything more with it. It is exactly what I want to be. This blog… this blog is a tiny ornamental wicker chair placed lovingly atop a cabinet tv in an upper middle class Midlands suburban home in 1986.

Yes it is, Flip. Yes it is.

– xo, R