How now, spirit!

Words, as promised!

The reading blitz continues – yes, I’m as surprised as you are. Who would have imagined that married life would afford so much time to spend in fictional words. Although here’s a hard truth for us all – curling up with a good book and some tea is just NOT THE SAME when you don’t have a cat or two with you. And I intend to remedy that very soon, indeed.

Just, um, don’t tell Georgie.

Today I’m talking about a book I was very excited for: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. Let’s boogie!

Wanderers

Cover Talk

Meh. I don’t hate it, but man, I would have gone for something way more interesting (I mean, compare this to the covers for Wendig’s Miriam Black novels). This is just so effing boring. And believe me, this book is anything but boring. Feels like a late Stephen King cover rip-off… and that was probably intentional.

The Summary Heist

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. In the tradition of The Stand and Station Eleven comes a gripping saga that weaves an epic tapestry of humanity into an astonishing tale of survival.

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Robyn Says

I liked this one, guys. Wendig is hit or miss for me – I loved his early Miriam Black books but hated where the series went, and I was lukewarm on his latest releases. But I think he’s a very strong writer with a distinct and entertaining voice, and I was really eager to read this one, considering the subject matter and the frequent (and justified) comparisons to The Stand.

It’s classic Wendig – the writing is the standout here, quick and nimble and unputdownable. The most notable thing about this book was how fast I read it, and how much I wanted to be reading it when I wasn’t. And it was enjoyable – I had fun, and I wanted to know what was going to happen. I mean, I read 800+ pages in a few days – if that doesn’t tell you something…

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While I really enjoyed this book, I had a few issues. The strongest thing about Wanderers is the story, and the potential end to civilization that is envisions. You read to find out what’s going to happen next. However, while the characters were, for the most part, richly drawn and complex, I didn’t really care about them. And they weren’t all compelling – I may be alone on this one but I felt the entire Pete storyline was redundant. I ended up skimming those portions. They served no real purpose and made the story drag.

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I also had felt the pacing was uneven. The story took some time to start, and even halfway through I felt like we were still being “set up” for the actual events. And then there was the, um, shall we say “objectionable” content. I expect profanity and violence from Wendig, so that was no surprise, but the rape in this one was a little too gratuitous for my taste, and the hyper-realistic portrayal of religious extremists and white nationalists – fucking Nazis – was chilling, given the world we live in right now.

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And the final plot twist was batshit fucking crazy, no question. And not really satisfying from a narrative standpoint. And fucking infuriating from a reader’s standpoint, too, tbh.

But the good remains – a well-written, interesting story that is easy to read, full of pop culture references, apocalypse tropes, and strong, well-researched science… and a depiction of a  crumbling world close enough to the one we currently inhabit to be genuinely frightening.

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I will also add – this book is already being compared to The Stand but in my opinion, the only similarities is that they are both door-stopper books about the apocalypse. That’s it. This one only has a whiff of SFF, heavy emphasis on the S (science, for you non genre nerds.) I would have preferred more speculative aspects, actually… less frightening than the grimly realistic world Wendig has painted. (As for which book is better, well, as much I dislike current King, there’s no beating classic King.

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Verdict

Read it. Pretty effing scary, and overall, an enjoyable read.

Best Lines

Oh, lordy, you know I forgot to track this. Wendig’s a good writer, though, and there were some really great lines. Sampling from Goodreads in 3… 2… 1…

“…the outside air was so hot and so humid it felt like you were the meat in a sandwich whose bread was the Devil’s moist thighs.” 

Ah, classic Wendig. And fitting, too, for the current temperature outside. *Cough* global warming is here and we’re all doomed *cough*

Fancasting couch

Benji

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Omar Epps, you’re welcome

Shana

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The hick vibes are strong with this one

Matthew

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Everything is better with a lil bit of Walton

Ozark

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Rip, Opie

Pete

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Ugh

Black Swan

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Don’t @ me

Book Boyfriend material

Listen, I’m gonna go with my gut and say NO ONE. Everyone in this book is horrible with just a enough redeeming qualities that they’re not straight up evil, with a few glaring exceptions… pretty much like real life, ha ha ha, hashtag is it pessimism or is it realism, WHAT.

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Rating

Eight out of 10 sentient computer programs. Oops.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

I’ve been waiting forever for this moment to come… When it all goes to shit, you guys know where to meet.

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– xo, R

 

 

Honeymoon reads

Ahoy, mateys. Now that the wedding is done and I never have to plan anything ever again, I am back to my normal level of stress – and my normal level of reading. In the week running up to the wedding and the week after, I actually put quite a dent in my TBR pile. Pre-wedding, I needed to distract myself from worrying about all of many terrifying ways in which everything could go wrong. Post-wedding, I spent a lot of time travelling with my new husband (!!!!!) – first we flew to L.A., and didn’t even end up sitting together on the plane, FYI, and then we drove to Corona, California, to visit G’s family there. We also took a three-day vacation-within-a-vacation to Las Vegas so I could live out my Sharon Stone fantasies, which was a 5-hour drive each way.

So I spent a lot of time reading, both physical books and ebooks. Actually,  ebooks were a lifesaver on this trip. I jumped from one book to another, and if I’d packed everything I ended up reading, I would have definitely been over the airline’s allotted weight for checked luggage, considering I spent about 2 million dollars on souvenirs at Disneyland.

Anyway. Here’s a few of the books I read, and what I thought of them, with bonus WWDITS gifs, because why the hell not.

1. Normal People by Sally Rooney

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Hated it. Over-hyped hipster nonsense. Wasn’t even well-written.

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Rating: 2/10

2. The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

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So slow and sooooo forgettable. No ghosts OR notebooks, wtf.

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Rating: 2/10

3. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

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I’ve had this one for ages. It got so many positive reviews from people whose bookish opinions usually align with mine – and it has library in the title – but I was just never in the right mood to start this one, until suddenly, I was. This book did NOT disappoint – it was weird and interesting and different from anything else I’ve read. It was also a hell of a page-turner. My new hubby was a teeeeny bit sulky that I was spending more time at the Library at Mount Char than I was with him 😉 Anyway, I strongly recommend this one, but it’s quite dark. Even I had to put aside a few times, and that’s kind of impressive.

Rating: 8/10

4. The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

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Loved this one. Another library book – this one about a librarian accidentally kidnaps a kid and goes rogue. Overtones of Russian-flavoured nostalgia, which is 100% my jam.

Rating: 9/10

5. Cottonwood by R. Lee Smith

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I mean, was there any question that I was going to go on my honeymoon and NOT read the greatest love story every written about a human woman and an insectoid alien occupying an unabashed District 9 AU? No. No there was not.

Rating: 10/10, obvs.

Adios, chicitos. Next up, a monster review of a monster book that is, alas, not actually about monsters.

– xo, R

Nonverbal Referral: Okay okay okay okayyyyy

No time for actual words, I am losing my mind, someone send cake or a teeny tiny mushroom sprite who can grant wishes and plan weddings.

Today I’m nonverbally reviewing Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, which pretty hyped in my gothy little neck of the bookstagram woods.

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The Summary Heist:

In the north of England, far from the intrusions of cities but not far from civilization, Silvie and her family are living as if they are ancient Britons, surviving by the tools and knowledge of the Iron Age.

For two weeks, the length of her father’s vacation, they join an anthropology course set to reenact life in simpler times. They are surrounded by forests of birch and rowan; they make stew from foraged roots and hunted rabbit. The students are fulfilling their coursework; Silvie’s father is fulfilling his lifelong obsession. He has raised her on stories of early man, taken her to witness rare artifacts, recounted time and again their rituals and beliefs—particularly their sacrifices to the bog. Mixing with the students, Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, speaking her mind.

The ancient Britons built ghost walls to ward off enemy invaders, rude barricades of stakes topped with ancestral skulls. When the group builds one of their own, they find a spiritual connection to the past. What comes next but human sacrifice?

A story at once mythic and strikingly timely, Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall urges us to wonder how far we have come from the “primitive minds” of our ancestors. 

Sounds good, right?

The Nonverbal Referral:

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Pleasantly surprising! Can’t ask for more!! That’s it, that’s the review!!!

To quote the amazing and witty blogger that is myself, back eventually with actual words.

– xo, R

No thank you please

Hey hey, my tender chicken dumplings. Did you know it’s possible for a (generally) sane, (relatively) even-tempered, (ostensibly) rational adult, human woman to have a nervous breakdown over 3 yards of tulle? IT’S TRUE, don’t ask me how I know.

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As you can see, I’m on a reading and blogging roll, thanks to the INDESCRIBABLE STRESS I’M UNDER. Silver linings, etc.

Today, let’s talk about a book by a new literary “wunderkind” (ugh). It’s Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. Prepare to get salty!

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Cover Talk

Hate it. That colour is offensive to my artistic sensibilities. And one of those women is missing a shoulder, mate.

The Summary Heist

A sharply intelligent novel about two college students and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with a married couple.

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil–and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect.As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.

Robyn Says

No no no no no. Did not like AT ALL. This was basically my literary hate fuck. Pretentious beyond description. AND WHERE WERE THE QUOTATION MARKS?

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A bunch of rotten, poorly crafted characters, created with the mistaken belief that flaws equal depth and complexity. A nothing plot. Bloodless, half-assed writing. Enough occurrences of the words socialism and communism to make me want to blind myself. A maybe-baby-turned-diagnosis-of-endometriosis sub-plot. Stereotypical views on millennial conceptions of sexuality. Shitty sex scenes. God, burn this fucking book and scatter the ashes to the winds. Fuck me, can we stop with this shit? Halfway to thinking that the fastest way to become a literary success is to scrawl a few poorly punctuated, carelessly written stories about miserable people bumping gentialia and being miserable together. I HATE IT.

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Verdict

DO NOT READ IT.

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Best Lines

NO.

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Fancasting couch

JE REFUSE.

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Book Boyfriend material

LITERALLY NO ONE.

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Rating

One (1) out of 10 literary “wunderkinds” ew gross ew ew ew

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

ERASE THIS FROM MY MEMORY AND MY GOODREADS HISTORY, GOOD DAY TO YOU.

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– xo, R

 

 

NONFICTION BENEDICTION: Booooooooooooks

Greetings, internet-lings. Yes, I am back on the blogging bullshit, witness me, etc etc. Things are happening, and as always, I keep a tenuous grip on sanity by shoving as many words-units in front of my eyeballs as possible. And aside from the usual personal woes and worries, we’re in the middle of a weeding blitz at work, and it is the WORST. I hate getting rid of books, even when they’re not my books (a thought so ghastly I refuse to even acknowledge it).

Today, I’m talking about a book about one of my favourite topics: books. It’s The Library Book  by Susan Orlean.

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Cover Talk

Boring? Classy?? Both?????

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The Summary Heist

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.

Robyn Says

I don’t even know what to say. This book is amazing. I loved the double narratives: the mirco level investigation into the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library’s central branch, and the macro level story of libraries, from their beginnings as private lending collections to the monumental industry shift that occurred in the 19th century, to the strange, ever-evolving role they play in modern society. Orlean touches on so many different topics and yet somehow, the entire book feels perfectly cohesive.

And it is stunning prose. She is an amazing writer, with a gift for describing the institution of the public library in a way that feels at once familiar and fresh. My favourite passages were the ones that described the peculiar, almost magical atmosphere of the public library, which is somehow exactly the same no matter which library you go to.

I mean, obviously, I’m incredibly biased. This book was basically written for someone like me, who as a child saw the library as a safe haven, a refuge from the chaos of an abusive household, a place to get books, which were the ultimate form of escape from a troubling reality, and then grew up idolizing (and idealizing) the public library as a sacred space, and who even now, working in the library profession, when all illusions ought to come crashing down, remains blessed with a wholehearted belief in the  indisputable importance of the library in any healthy, functioning society.

But it’s also just a really fucking awesome book. and if you’re reading this blog, you must have some appreciation for books and libraries, or else why would you even be here dude, and so I say to, GET THEE TO THE LIBRARY.

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Verdict

READ. IT. It’s a book about books, what more do you want?

Best Lines

Every single line of this book was amazing. Some favourites:

“The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.” 

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“All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen.” 

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It wasn’t that time stopped in the library. It was as if it were captured, collected here, and in all libraries — and not only my time, my life, but all human time as well. In the library, time is dammed up–not just stopped but saved.” 

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“People think that libraries are quiet, but they really aren’t. They rumble with voices and footsteps and a whole orchestral range of book-related noises—the snap of covers clapping shut; the breathy whisk of pages fanning open; the distinctive thunk of one book being stacked on another; the grumble of book carts in the corridors.” 

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“The publicness of the public library is an increasingly rare commodity. It becomes harder all the time to think of places that welcome everyone and don’t charge any money for that warm embrace.”

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Fancasting couch

Los Angeles Central Library

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Book Boyfriend material

Mary L. Jones, City Librarian and HBIC

Mary L. Jones

Basically she pissed off  her board of directors, who then decided to fire her and replace her with a man. She wrote the following to her mentor, Melvil Dewey : “I am asked to resign to make way for a MAN.” When she was fired, she refused to resign or surrender the keys to the library, saying : “At first it was my inclination immediately to yield to the request relayed upon me by the president. But, upon reflection, I have concluded that it would not be fitting for me to tender my resignation as the head of a department where only women are employed. When such a resignation is tendered solely on the grounds that the best interests of the department demand that its affairs no longer be administered by a woman. Ever since the adoption of the present city charter, the library has been presided over by a woman with a staff of assistants composed exclusively of women.”

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Rating

Nine and a half out of 10 books about books about books about books about –

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Sometimes, I tell my fiance that I love him more than books… and sometimes, I tell the books I love them more than… er, as much as my fiance. Yes. “As much.”

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– xo, R

Beets. Bears. Babushakas?

Zd… zdrast… zdravstvuyte (yeah I googled it), comrades. How goes it? I myself am scrambling to assemble the most gratuitously purple wedding since Barney married Mrs Barney, and to put it lightly, I am 👏 losing 👏 my 👏 motherfucking 👏 mind 👏

ANYWAY LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK BEFORE I CRY AGAIN.

Today I’m reviewing a book that’s been at the top of my tbr forEVER but which only just this week I felt ready to pick up. It’s Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, the first book in the Winternight trilogy. Let’s boo boo.

Cover Talk

Ah yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah buddy. That’s the good stuff right there. On the left is the Amerian cover, and on the right, the UK cover. I actually think they’re both great, and in different ways, both very fitting for the story being told. My soviet ass is slightly more drawn to the UK cover, because of course.

The Summary Heist

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Robyn Says

Oh boy, where do I even start? I could, as always, sum up in my feelings in a single gif:

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It’s good, guys. It’s so so so so good. Strong characters, strong plot, uber-strong writing – there really isn’t anything missing. But the best part, for me, was the atmosphere. You guys know I’m a sucker for anything Russian-y, but that often tends to be Slavic fantasy or reinterpreted myths. This is close to the latter, but because it’s set in medieval Russia. it feels different from anything else I’ve read. Every time I had to put the book down to, you know, do life stuff, I was disappointed, and my head definitely stayed in Vasya’s world, even if my actual body was stuck irl like a loser.

Night Magic GIF by Alexandra Dvornikova

Also, Arden did a fantastic job with the mythology. The textual records for pre-Christian Slavic mythology are almost nonexistent, and what we do have is often contradictory and never simple. Somehow she managed to wrangle domovoi, leshiye, and rusalkas into a cohesive mythos, and I salute her.

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So yeah, I am besotted, BESOTTED I SAY. This book was all my feminist Slavic fairy-tale dreams come true. I am about to read the second book in the trilogy, The Girl in the Tower, and I can’t wait for a certain someone to kiss a certain someone else WINK WINK.

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Verdict

Read it NOW. This has the rare READING ROBYN GUARANTEE.

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The Reading Robyn Guarantee

Best Lines

Sooooo many good lines in this book, you have no idea. Of course, one of the stand-outs is Vasya’s feminist manifesto:

“All my life,” she said, “I have been told ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.” 

But another favourite comes from Mr Frost magic tutorial, and might actually be my new morning motivation quote:

“You are too attached to things as they are,” said Morozko, combing the mare’s withers. He glanced down idly. “You must allow things to be what best suits your purpose. And then they will.” Vasya,” 

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Fancasting couch

Young Vasya – Disaster Girl

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Older Vasya – Eleanor Tomlinson

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Dunya – me in 10 years

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Konstantin – the guy who looks like that cat

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Morozko – Oscar Isaac without a beard??? I dunno, this one stumped me fam

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Solovey –  this guy

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Book Boyfriend material

The rusalka, that bitch was cold.

Good Night Sticker by Alexandra Dvornikova

Rating

10 out of 10 (yes, I said it) grumpy little domovoi hiding under the table, doing all your mending, you ungrateful bastards.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Man, sometimes I wish I could just pick up and run away to a secret little cottage in the Russian wilderness, with only  my cats and my books and the domovoi to keep me company. I would plant a field of sunflowers around the house, and the flowers would keep out any strangers who wanted to disturb me. I’d paint the door blue for luck, and hang crystals in the windows like a basic bitch. I’d have bees for honey, and in the summer the bears would bring me fish from the river. When I got lonely, I would visit Baba Yaga cause that bitch has allll the tea.

– xo, R

P.S. the stunning gifs are from a Russia-based artist named Alexandra Dvornikova, everything she makes is BEAUTIFUL. You can follow here on tumblr here.

Reading Read GIF by Alexandra Dvornikova

 

Nonfiction Benediction: All Hail the Queen

Hey hey heyyyyyy. Yes, it’s me, the queen of sporadic book-blogging, how goes it? I myself currently hate everything and everyone (except you, dear reader, of course). Feeling very The-Second-Coming-y if you know what I mean. MOVING ON.

Today I bless your eyeballs and brainballs with some Quality Content: another entry in the Nonfiction Benediction series, focusing on the Queen Herself, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, first of her name, a.k.a. Queen Bey. YES GOD. The book is Queen Bey, a collection of essays edited by Veronica Chambers.

You ready? (I don’t think they ready) (sorry) (not sorry)

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Cover Talk

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinteresting. I mean, yes, gorgeous, flawless, Bey in a beautiful gown, but also, in another way… hm. I mean, it’s Beyoncé, any picture they chose would have made a beautiful cover, but I think they could have gone farther. This feels kinda flat, no? And she is anything but flat.

The Summary Heist

Beyoncé. Her name conjures more than music, it has come to be synonymous with beauty, glamour, power, creativity, love, and romance. Her performances are legendary, her album releases events. She is not even forty but she has already rewritten the Beyoncé playbook more than half a dozen times. She is consistently provocative, political and surprising. As a solo artist, she has sold more than 100 million records. She has won 22 Grammys and is the most-nominated woman artist in the history of Grammy awards. Her 2018 performance at Coachella wowed the world. The New York Times wrote: “There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year or any year soon.” Artist, business woman, mother, daughter, sister, wife, black feminist, Queen Bey is endlessly fascinating.

Queen Bey features a diverse range of voices, from star academics to outspoken cultural critics to Hollywood and music stars. Essays include:

“What Might a Black Girl Be in This World,” an introduction by Veronica Chambers
“Beychella is Proof That Beyoncé is the Greatest Performer Alive. I’m Not Arguing.” by Luvvie Ajayi
“On the Journey Together,” by Lena Waithe
“What Beyoncé Means to Everyone,” by Meredith Broussard with visualizations by Andrew Harvard and Juan Carlos Mora
“Jay-Z’s Apology to Beyoncé Isn’t Just Celebrity Gossip — It’s a Political Act” by Brittney Cooper
“All Her Single Ladies” by Kid Fury
“The Elevator” by Ylonda Gault
“The Art of Being Beyoncé” by Maria Brito
“Getting, Giving and Leaving” by Melissa Harris Perry and Mankaprr Conteh
“Beyoncé the Brave” by Reshma Saujani
“Living into the Lemonade: Redefining Black Women’s Spirituality in the Age of Beyoncé” by Candice Benbow
“Beyoncé’s Radical Ways” by Carmen Perez
“Finding la Reina in Queen Bey” by Isabel Gonzalez Whitaker
“Beyoncé, Influencer” by Elodie Maillet Storm
“The King of Pop and the Queen of Everything” by Michael Eric Dyson
“Style So Sacred” by Edward Enninful
“The Beauty of Beyoncé” by Fatima Robinson
“Because Beyoncé.” by Ebro Darden
“King Bey” by Treva B. Lindsey
“Meridonial: Beyoncé’s Southern Roots and References” by Robin M. Boylorn
“B & V: A Love Letter” by Caroline Clarke 

Robyn Says

Full disclosure, I loved this book (and not even because my fiance got it for me, which generally increases my enjoyment of a book). I was not initially a huge Beyoncé fan, although I’ve followed her career from Destiny’s Child on. But when Lemonade dropped, my mind was blown. Grown-up Beyoncé, artistic, powerful, angry Beyoncé – she’s definitely one of my role models, so I was really keen to read this, and to my surprise, I was not disappointed.

Of course, it is a collection of essays from different writers, which means that the quality of writing varies, and that some essays will be of greater interest than others. I definitely had my favourites, and there were a few I skimmed, but overall, I loved the attempt to explore Beyoncé’s evolution and impact on many different levels, in a nonlinear and inclusive fashion. Having many different contributors serves to emphasize just how far-reaching Beyoncé’s cultural influence is.

A few of my favourite pieces were: “Beychella is Proof That Beyoncé is the Greatest Performer Alive. I’m Not Arguing” by Luvvie Ajayi (agreed), Beyoncé the Brave by Reshma Saujani, and “The Art of Being Beyoncé” by Maria Brito. My favourite piece of all was “The Elevator” by Ylonda Gault – I’ve been fascinated by what happened with ‘a million dollars in the elevator’ ever since the TMZ video hit the internet, and this essay delved into the debacle in a thought-provoking and poignant manner.

The reason I gave this collection 5 stars on goodreads was because when I read the last page and closed the book, I felt like my understanding Beyoncé as an artist, performer, and cultural figure had grown. And I felt like I could take over the goddamn world. 

Verdict

Read it. It’s Beyoncé, dammit.

Best Lines

Yeah, I definitely did not take notes. In my defense, I was sick, and I am also incredibly lazy.

Beyonce Oops GIF

Fancasting couch

Duh.

the office beyonce GIF

Book Boyfriend material

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Rating

Nine out of 10 baseball bats (yas girl)

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

I could probably communicate entirely in Beyoncé gifs. Who needs words when you have a literal goddess to express literally any emotion for any situation you could possibly imagine? And there is only one song that makes me feel better when G pisses me off: 

Amen, B.

NetGalley Review: Romanov

Before I say anything else, let me say that I have an intense interest in Russian history, and in particular, the last Romanov tsar and his family. I’m also a fantasy nerd, so I was delighted to get a copy of Nadine Brandes’ fantasy interpretation of their final days, and excited for a historical fantasy addition to the many books about the tragic end of the Romanovs.

The book was very well researched, and I think Brandes did a great job of weaving historical facts into the narrative. However, I did not like this book as much as I’d expected to. One main issue I had was with the characters, whom I felt were flat and uninteresting. I think this may be related to the use of first-person p.o.v., which sometimes makes for lazy characterization. I just couldn’t seem to connect with any of the characters, which was totally surprising, considering they were based on such well-known, interesting historical figures, who led rich lives and left behind a large amount of personal documents.

I also felt that there were some pacing issues – the book rushed when I wanted it to linger, and dawdled when it should have focused on action. I would have also liked more backstory and world-building – I feel like Brandes introduced some great ideas and created a world that could provide the backdrop for other stories (did I hear someone say prequel?)

I think the biggest problem is that the story of the Nicholas II and his family, including the most famous daughter, the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia, is just far too dark to make for any kind of reimagining. The tragedy may have happened over a hundred years ago, but the brutality of the deaths is still too fresh, and it casts a shadow over even this novel.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and Nadine Brandes, as well as NetGalley, who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Expected publication: May 7, 2019

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Lace me up, Scotty

¡Hola chiocs! Sup. Today I’m playing #saturdaylibrarian and frankly I’ve had enough goddamn weeding for the day, there’s only so much getting rid of books a girl can handle. Usually this would be the point where I start wedding planning to pass the time, but, miracle of all miracles, we may actually be back on track.

Yes, it is noice.

On to the review! Today, it’s The Corset by Laura Purcell, and if you read this post, you’ll remember that her first novel, The Silent Companions, was one of my favourite reads of 2018.

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Cover Talk

Aesthetically, I like it BUT I feel like it doesn’t convey the proper amount of creepiness. Because this book is creepy dialled alllllllllll the way up to 11.

The Summary Heist

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

Robyn Says

Damn, guys, I was NOT expecting this book to be THIS good. It was soooooooo creepy and ominous and Gothic, and maybe I’m in the minority, but I actually didn’t guess the twist until really close to the big reveal.

I loved the dual setting of the book – the working class slum and the upper crust society of Victorian England. Add a faintly supernatural murder mystery, compelling characters, a whole lot of information about Victorian dressmaking, and phrenology to boot?? Talk about Robyn catnip.

(Sorry.)

I read a few other review of The Corset that mentioned the book dragging or feeling bloated with unnecessary characters, but I disagree. I actually wish the book was longer (*cough* sequel *cough*), and, too, the meandering quality added to both the creepiness levels and the overall Victorian feel of the novel. I mean, Dickens, need I say more? (No.)

I really enjoyed this book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a horror-lite novel. I will definitely be thinking about this one for a while.

Verdict

READ IT. Loved it, adding it to the insta-rec pile. You will not be disappointed. Giving you the official #readingrobynguarantee.

Best Lines

I didn’t take notes, I read this on my phone lol. And the ones on Goodreads aren’t the best but…

“But instead I shared the fate of all girls who are poor of pocket: I was tied to my work, like a needle tethered by thread.”

Fancasting couch

Ruth

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Saoaeriseise Ronan

Dorothea

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*Luther voice* ALIIIIIIIICE

Billy

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ugh, I don’t get it

Book Boyfriend material

Hmmmmmmm, maybe that posh guy who had alllllllllll the tea, but really, no one, this was definitely a girls kicking ass book.

Rating

9 out of 10 poisonous but so so pretty green velvet gowns.

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Totally off topic, but since it was Valentine’s Day a few days ago, have a pic of me and my gorgeous fiance 😉 I like to show him off 😍

me and g

God we’re cute.

Until next time. Read on, chicos.

-xo, R