YAY ME!!!!!!!!!!

Hey bookish babies, been a hot minute, hasn’t it? MY FAULT, no excuses, life is an unending wheel, time is a flat circle, and marriage involves so much cooking, I AM ONLY ONE WOMAN. Neverthless, although the blogs are not being blogged, the books are still being read, and since last we spoke, I have not only dipped my aristocratic toes into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, celebrated 100 days of marriage to the dragons-slayer, and turned 33, the most magical number (and hence, year, it must follow) of all… I also completed my 2019 Goodreads challenge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that’s something to celebrate.

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Fyi, as of last count, I’m actually sitting pretty at 118 out of 105 books…

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That is all.

– xo, R

 

Nonverbal Referral: An Elderly Lady is a BAMF

Hello fellow grannies and granny-wannabes, I hope that your needlecraft projects are progressing nicely and that your cats are in good health. I myself am carving out a joyless existence sans embroidery AND feline companionship, what even is life.

Today I’m nonverbally reviewing An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten, yay for elderly ladies sticking it to the man.

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The Summary Heist:

Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and…no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.

Over the course of her adventures—or misadventures—this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?

(That cover tho *heart-eyes*)

The Nonverbal Referral:

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Yes! More of this please! And also take that, TBR, you are one book shorter!

– xo, R

Antisocial creature

Did absolutely no TBR reading this weekend, due to the indescribable agonies suffered by 50% of the human race. Biology is a bitch.

I did watch a lot of Netflix, though. So there’s that.

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So I’m talking about a book from July that I read, and to my surprise, actually enjoyed quite a bit. It’s Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton. Let’s do this.

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Cover Talk

Like it. Gives me Black Swan vibes, or that movie from the 2000s with Josh Hartnett with the banger soundtrack and that line, “love makes you do crazy things”… come on, what was that movie? *quick break to google* WICKER PARK. Thank you, imdb.

The Summary Heist

A dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

Robyn Says

I really liked this one, guys. I finished it fairly quickly – it was about a 2 day read for me. Very vividly written, suspenseful, good pacing, delightfully terrible characters, and some dark twists and turns. I was surprised that other readers really did not like this book – seems like an even split, actually, so you either like it or REALLY hate it. Interestinggggggggg.

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The only thing that kind of irked me was that pieces of this novel felt almost like they could have been set in the 1920s or 30s, not the present. Tweed-wearing academics, parties where people trade literary quotes and argue about great writers, bright young things-style antics that just felt out of place.

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That doesn’t actually happen, does it? If it does, I’m going to the wrong parties, my dudes.

Anyway. I can’t say too much else without giving anything away, but this book is billed as a modern day Talented Mr. Ripley and you know what, it’s not that far off. I liked the ending, thought it fit the story and the character. Would have liked more violence, but that’s just me.

So yeah. Pretty good instagram-era psycho-horror. Give it a whirl.

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Yeah, pretty much.

Verdict

Read it. If anything, it will teach you to never trust social media influencers or their flunkies. A valuable lesson, my friends.

Best Lines

“There are things it is better for a person not to know. The day and the manner of your own death, that’s one, or whether or not you’re going to fuck your mother and kill your father. What people say behind your back. The names somebody you love has called somebody else. There’s a reason people are able to function, in this world, as social creatures, and a good part of that reason is that there are a lot of questions intelligent people don’t ask.”

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Fancasting couch

Louise

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Lavinia

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I’d love to see Kiki be a villain for once.

Book Boyfriend material

No over, every one was horrible, I loved it.

Rating

Eight out of ten vapid, generic white-girl-goes-on-a-yoga-retreat-and-has-to-document-every-minute instagram captions peppered with emojis, random capitalizations, and of course, enough misspelled words to remind you that all is well and good in the world.

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

Kinda wish that heavy black eyeshadow look would stop being just for crazy girls about to black swan their rivals and maybe go mainstream enough for me to wear it once and a while, you know?

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– xo, R

Hi my name is Robyn and I accidentally read a book about the conception of the antichrist.

So I know I spent the last blog post yammering on about the six books I meant to read this month… but I accidentally read a book that wasn’t on that list. And yes, it was about the conception of the antichrist. That’s right, kiddos, Halloween is in the air, let’s talk about one super fucked up demon fic, the OG monster-smut (I kid… kinda), the one, the only… Rosemary’s Babyby the great Ira Levin.

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Cover Talk

HELL YEAH BOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII.

The Summary Heist

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, an ordinary young couple, settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them. But by the time Rosemary discovers the horrifying truth, it may be far too late!

Robyn Says

Well godDAMN that was fun. Like any other self-respecting horror fan, I’ve seen Polanski’s film adaptation a billiob times. P*lanski is a child-molesting piece of shit, but that movie is flawless – it somehow doesn’t feel at all dated, despite being filmed and set in the 1960s, and is as terrifying every time you watch it as it was the first time you saw it. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the book is just as awesome (which means the genius behind the film isn’t that little pissant P*lanski, but the great Ira Levin after all… it’s always the writers, my babes).

And fuck, Ira Levin didn’t write many books, but every single one he did write is apparently a banger, and was adapted into an equally banger movie. Who knew??

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Back to Rosemary, though. This book was just plain awesome. Easy to read, well plotted, great characters, suspenseful (even though anyone who’s seen the movie will know what’s going to happen, of course), and pretty funny, actually. The only thing that kinda sucked was that it is literally identical to the movie. Sometimes word for word. So that fucko P*lanski isn’t just a child rapist, he’s also an unoriginal prick bastard. But that’s not the book’s fault, or Levin’s, is it?

So anyway. I loved it. Literally no complaints, a perfect summer horror read, one I will definitely reread when next summer rolls around. And bonus, I learned from poor Rosemary that there is such a thing as a birth announcement, so nuts to anyone who says pulp fiction is worthless reading. You learn something new from everything you read.

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Verdict

Read it. It’s Rosemary’s Baby, duh.

Best Lines

“Like so many unhappinesses, this one had begun with silence in the place of honest open talk.”

Ouch.

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(Seriosuly, though, this book is really well written – vivid, readable, quotable. Really really great.)

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I’m not about to mess with perfection, so…..

Rosemary

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Guy

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Minnie

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Roman

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You-Know-Who

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(#sorrynotsorry)

Book Boyfriend material

Okay, this might be the only blog post that could legit threaten the future of my immortal soul, so let’s move on before things get sacrilegious.

Rating

Eight and a half out of ten teeny tiny baby satan claws.

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

I am no closer to finishing that TBR pile.

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Worth it 😈

– xo, R

Robyn vs her TBR: August 2019

Question for you all, dear readers. Have you ever feared being crushed beneath the ever-growing tower of books you intend to read? Wonderful, glad I’m not the only one.

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I had a brilliant idea that I would suspend all new book acquisitions, both from the library and from the bookstore, for the month of August. Because I love August. August is the ultimate Procrastinator’s month. It’s the end of summer, baby, and suddenly all the shit you’ve been meaning to do and talking about doing and putting off doing has to GET DONE. Because school’s around the corner, whether you’re a student or not – September is the Darkest Month, forever and always – so this is it, it’s your last chance, time to DO ALL THE THINGS. Including putting a significant dent in the old TBR pile.

Oh, August. Month of the greatest Toronto event that ever has been or ever will be, the Ex (or the “CNE” for the squares). And longer nights. And hot, rainy days. And the first hint of autumn in the air, if you wake up early enough to catch a whiff. And the bittersweet tinge to every day that passes, making it a month of melancholy. And there are suddenly sunflowers in the stores, and pens, and new books –

Which brings me back to my original point. No new books, until I’ve finished some of the poor darlings that have been languishing in the stack beside my bed.

So, without further ado, my August reads:

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Wish me luck! And lots of spare time 😉

– xo, R

 

Witch, Please: A Fun-Size Review

Blessed be, my witchy babes. Onward with the blogging… amazing how much time a girl has when she’s not planning a wedding, isn’t it?

Today, I’m bringing back an oldie: the Fun-Size Review, in which I talk about a recent read in less than 100 words. I just finished one of my most anticipated summer reads, Pam Grossman’s Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power. Here we go!

Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power

ROBYN’S FUN-SIZE REVIEW OF WAKING THE WITCH BY PAM GROSSMAN:

No surprises when I say this book was extremely my jam. It’s combination of personal witchy development narrative, historical overview, pop culture analysis, and examination of the current American political shitshow climate and how the witch fits therein. So it’s also kind of a mess. I felt that Grossman was trying to fit too much into one book. It definitely could have used a tighter structure – the introduction of topics often felt very random – as well as a tighter a focus. I’d read a whole book on the witch in pop culture, which was by far my favourite part. I’d definitely recommend this for baby witches, though, and any Muggles looking for a gentle introduction to the subject.

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Stay witchy, girls and boys.

-xo, R

Forget it, Andrei, it’s Russiatown.

Privyet, bishes. I am trying to be more regular with the updates, as you can see. Who knows how long this sudden discipline will last, so we’ll just roll with it while we can, hm?

Today I’m reviewing yet another book about Russia, because I am nothing if not predictably Russophilic. Is that a word? Oh well, I’m deciding that it is. Gather close around the fire, Baba Robyn is talking about A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen.

A Terrible Country

Cover Talk

Wow, what a missed opportunity. At the least the cover is preparing us for the novel within…

The Summary Heist

A literary triumph about Russia, family, love, and loyalty–the first novel in ten years from a founding editor of n+1 and author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

When Andrei Kaplan’s older brother Dima insists that Andrei return to Moscow to care for their ailing grandmother, Andrei must take stock of his life in New York. His girlfriend has stopped returning his text messages. His dissertation adviser is dubious about his job prospects. It’s the summer of 2008, and his bank account is running dangerously low. Perhaps a few months in Moscow are just what he needs. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn, packs up his hockey stuff, and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother, a woman who has outlived her husband and most of her friends. She survived the dark days of communism and witnessed Russia’s violent capitalist transformation, during which she lost her beloved dacha. She welcomes Andrei into her home, even if she can’t always remember who he is.

Andrei learns to navigate Putin’s Moscow, still the city of his birth, but with more expensive coffee. He looks after his elderly–but surprisingly sharp!–grandmother, finds a place to play hockey, a cafe to send emails, and eventually some friends, including a beautiful young activist named Yulia. Over the course of the year, his grandmother’s health declines and his feelings of dislocation from both Russia and America deepen. Andrei knows he must reckon with his future and make choices that will determine his life and fate. When he becomes entangled with a group of leftists, Andrei’s politics and his allegiances are tested, and he is forced to come to terms with the Russian society he was born into and the American one he has enjoyed since he was a kid.

A wise, sensitive novel about Russia, exile, family, love, history and fate, A Terrible County asks what you owe the place you were born, and what it owes you. Writing with grace and humor, Keith Gessen gives us a brilliant and mature novel that is sure to mark him as one of the most talented novelists of his generation.

Robyn Says

Man, I am so apathetic about this book. Was it great? No. Was it terrible? No. But it could have been so good – there was so much potential, I’m actually just disappointed. Just missed opportunities at every turn. The set-up is great: Russian-born child of Russian emigres returns to Russia after disappointing professional and personal developments, under the guise of caring for his elderly grandmother, hijinks and personal growth ensue.

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But it was really just another navel-gazing novel from a straight white male American author with visions of literary prizes dancing in his head. There was no plot really, or only the barest thread of one, no redemption – or resolution – for any of the characters, no ending, happy or otherwise, no lessons learned, no epiphanies had, no point at all to any of this. Unless the pointlessness is the point, in service to capital-L Literature. In which case, gag.

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Thing is, Gessen is a pretty great writer, and I think that’s what makes this so disappointing. I mean, take this passage on the making of kasha (каша), buckwheat cereal or porridge that you can really eat with anything:

“Kasha was easier than kotlety. You take a cup of kasha, pour it into a small pot. Pour cold water over this, to let the dust and kasha bits burned during the roasting process rise to the surface; drain the water; rinse once more; then pour twice as much boiling water on this as you have kasha. (This first time and several times after, I showed it to my grandmother, who eyeballed the level: good.) Place on a burner and bring to a boil (about three minutes); now mix in butter and salt and lower to a simmer; cover. In fifteen to twenty minutes, you have perfect kasha.

“To watch this happen – to be the vessel through which kasha is brought into the world, after a lifetime of eating it – how to describe this feeling? Tolstoy had eaten kasha; Chekhov had eaten kasha. With the power of kasha in my hands, I needed to rely on no one ever again. I still make kasha just about every day.”

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Verdict

Read it if you, like me, crave anything Russian-flavoured, or don’t, if you don’t.

Best Lines

For a novel that was quite a letdown, there was some really lovely writing. Gessen knows how to do the words.

“The same inability to joke, to parry and deflect, made me kinder. I was impatient sometines, and angry sometimes, but I was never cutting, I was never sarcastic, I never made a quip that took a second to think up and six months, somehow or other, to take back.”

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Fancasting couch

Andrei

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Grandma

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Yulia

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Book Boyfriend material

Grandma, no question. She was the only real one.

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Rating

Five out of 10 spiritually lost first-gen immigrant children, desperately seeking a sense of identity from an idealized concept of their ancestral homeland.

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

I just really want a bowl of kasha right now. And also to like, return to my ancestral homelands in a futile search for meaning and self-awareness.

Or something.

– xo, R