Wazzup 2018

Hey hey, kingcakes and queencakes. I hope this glorious, shiny, new year is treating you as well as it is me.

But enough about me, let’s talk about BOOKS (surprise surprise).

Have you all set your reading goals for this year? I’m going big this year: 123 books in 356 days. Crazy? Most definitely. Doable? We will see. As of today, I’ve read 5 (go me):

Image result for almost midnight rowell

My first read of the year was Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell, which I read on New Year’s Day, as befits a book partially about New Year’s Eves (and ok, Star Wars, too), while I was lounging in bed with my wonderful boyfriend beside me, who was playing video games (and making fun of me for reading). It was an indescribably perfect moment. I can’t think of a better way to start this year.

My next read: Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman. Not my cup of tea, surprisingly. I thought it was a cute idea, but pretty superficial. You’d get much more out of a well-run witchy tumblr.

Next, one of my most anticipated reads of the year: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. In my opinion, it’s Black’s best work yet. I usually find her world-building to be amazing, but her prose to be beautiful but shallow. Very pleasantly surprised to say that there is real depth to the characters here. And a few nice cameos (heyyy Roiben).

I chose to read Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil next because apparently it was the highest rated debut on Goodreads this year? Or something? I dunno. Anyway, mystery’s not my usual genre, but I’ve been reading more and more lately. This was pretty good – I definitely did not see the twist coming, which is a nice change. My inner Agatha Christie usually sees these things from a mile away.

And most recently, I read Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking by Bonnie Frumkin Morales and Deena Prichep. Yes, it’s a cook book, THEY COUNT, fight me, dammit. Ahem. This one was amazing, by the way. Actually makes Russian cuisine look, dare I say it, appetizing. I know, shocker. And the photos… hot damn. Soviet chic, my favourite aesthetic. Plan on making so many things I ended up buying this one.

And that’s it so far! I’m currently reading like 30 books (don’t judge me, pity me). I hope to blog at least once a month this year – aim low, right? But if you’re dying for pics of books, usually in close proximity to a cat and some tea, follow me on instagram and never miss a moment in the glamorous and exciting life of me.

xoxo, R







Robyn is alone, as usual. She has finished packing and is about to leave the city where she achieved one of her most cherished life-long goals: obtaining her Masters degree in Library and Information Science, the first step toward becoming a real-life, honest-to-god, defender of knowledge and warrior in the war on ignorance, that most hallowed of professions, a Librarian.


Fuck yeah, I’m gonna be a librarian! I’ll work anywhere, I’ll do anything, as long as I’m slinging books and shushing people, I’ll be happy.

She pauses, considers.

Except academic librarianship. Fuck that shit.



After years of struggling to break into her profession, Robyn has been a librarian for a little over a year. Currently Queen Bitch of a minuscule branch in a rural library system, she has grown greedy and entitled and self-deluding. The hour and a half drive cuts into time that could, after all, be spent writing her novel, the artistic Sword of Damocles that haunts her every waking moment… or perhaps playing Stardew Valley. She is sprawled on her bed, half-heartedly skimming job postings while listening to Spanish rap and trying not to double-text the broad-shouldered, ill-tempered, gold-hearted love of her life.


Hm, maybe I’ll apply to this academic librarian job.



Robyn sits at a desk in a library comprised of three shelves. She has spent the last three months working as an academic librarian: submitting invoices for textbooks, managing databases (a task that she still has no real idea how to complete; she is amazed that no one has caught on to this fact yet), and responding to passive-aggressive emails with the ghost-making venom of Leiurus quinquestriatus, the Deathstalker scorpion.






Nonverbal Referrals

Sup my sweet sweeties? Today I’m introducing yet another new feature on the old bloggo (YES, ANOTHER ONE, DEAL WITH IT)….. Nonverbal Referrals! Yay!

Here’s how it works: I read a book and sum up my feelings in one – YES, ONE – gif. It will be difficult, but I think I’m ready for it. Are you? And yes, it’s called Nonverbal Referrals, but obviously, there will be some books that I am most definitely not referring.

Okay, first Nonverbal Referral is… Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, book 6 in her Throne of Glass series.

Ready? Here we go…


That’s all, folks!


xo, R

Nonfiction Benediction: THE SEQUEL


Hey hey, cupcakes. It’s been a minute. Blame that chubby little muthafucka Cupid, whose golden arrow hath pierced my once-frigid heart and set it ablaze with Love’s undying flames. Or whatever.


So as I’ve mentioned (*cough* whined about) before, my brain has got a severe case of the Love-Struck Stupids (band name, write that down) and my Goodreads challenge is taking a hit. And, you know, my intellectual fortitude and general mental well-being.

But fear not, good comrades, for I have stumbled upon a solution – the good old NONFICTION BENEDICTION. That’s right, it’s back, babies.

To the review mobile! This week, it’s The First Signs: Unlocking the Mysteries of the World’s Oldest Symbols by Genevieve von Petzinger.

Cover Talk:

Okay, okay. Come through, nonfiction. I see you. Well done, son.

The Summary Heist:

One of the most significant works on our evolutionary ancestry since Richard Leakey’s paradigm-shattering Origins, The First Signs is the first-ever exploration of the little-known geometric images that accompany most cave art around the world—the first indications of symbolic meaning, intelligence, and language.

Imagine yourself as a caveman or woman. The place: Europe. The time: 25,000 years ago, the last Ice Age. In reality, you live in an open-air tent or a bone hut. But you also belong to a rich culture that creates art. In and around your cave paintings are handprints and dots, x’s and triangles, parallel lines and spirals. Your people know what they mean. You also use them on tools and jewelry. And then you vanish—and with you, their meanings.

Join renowned archaeologist Genevieve von Petzinger on an Indiana Jones-worthy adventure from the open-air rock art sites of northern Portugal to the dark depths of a remote cave in Spain that can only be reached by sliding face-first through the mud. Von Petzinger looks past the beautiful horses, powerful bison, graceful ibex, and faceless humans in the ancient paintings. Instead, she’s obsessed with the abstract geometric images that accompany them, the terse symbols that appear more often than any other kinds of figures—signs that have never really been studied or explained until now.

Part travel journal, part popular science, part personal narrative, von Petzinger’s groundbreaking book starts to crack the code on the first form of graphic communication. It’s in her blood, as this talented scientist’s grandmother served as a code-breaker at Bletchley. Discernible patterns emerge that point to abstract thought and expression, and for the first time, we can begin to understand the changes that might have been happening inside the minds of our Ice Age ancestors—offering a glimpse of when they became us.

Robyn Says:

So I’ve been making a conscious effort to begin cultivating a meaningful, well-rounded, spiritually healthy life I can be proud of –

Fuck me that sounds like pretentious new-age hipster bull-shit doesn’t it?

Ok so I been tryna cross off the third item on Shaun’s classic to do list. I mean, I’m a grown-up now innit? Bout time. So the room’s been cleaned out of its adolescent fuckery, the books have been (somewhat) weeded, I got rid of most of my band t-shirts, Twitter and Tumblr, the two greatest time-suckers ever known to man, have been banished from my phone… and I have embarked upon a nauseatingly clichéd course of self-improvement of my own design, cribbed heavily from those terrible, eye-roll-worthy lifestyle gurus you can’t avoid on instagram and youtube. I know, I’m pathetic.

So my new morning routine is about as gag-worthy as you’d imagine (“be still for 3 minutes, and embrace the quiet of your newly awakened mind” FUCK RIGHT OFF, ROBYN, YOU ABSOLUTE TURNIP) but one thing I am kinda proud of is my resolution to learn more – actively learn, I mean, rather than the passive sort of serendipitous knowledge thievery I’ve been doing since bolting out of Western with my MLIS and running hell for leather back to the 6ix, home of my people and more importantly, somewhere that is not London-asshole-of-the-world-Ontario.

To make a long story even fucking longer, I’ve been watching TED talks every morning while I scarf down breakfast. I know everyone’s gaga for the TED talks, but I’m finding that they’re definitely a mixed bag for me. I can’t stand the self-help ones. The ones I do like are, surprise surprise, the ones in which a nerd gets to nerd out for 12 epically nerdy minutes. Watch it yourself right here (see what kind of service you get on this blog? smh i’m amazing)


Mind understandably blown, I did what any sane person would do, and went to the library. Okay, it was 6:15 in the morning and I had to work, so I actually went to the library’s website – and here, my good people, we have an example of one of the classic arguments in favour of ebooks, because I was able, with only a few clicks of the mouse, to check out the digital edition of von Petzinger’s book and start reading it less than 3 minutes after watching her TED talk. Fucking amazing. Yeah technology. Yeah science. Yeah nerds. Yeah books. YEAH LIBRARIES BITCH!

Oh… you wanna know about the actual book? Ok, jesus, calm down, keener.

It was fucking awesome. It’s amazing to actually read about something that is probably a huge a discovery as it’s in the process of being discovered. Von Petzinger basically stumbled into her field of research thanks to a fateful mixture of serendipity and curiosity, and even though she’s still conducting her research and her conclusions are constantly evolving, it’s clear that she’s onto something big. The book basically discusses her attempt to catalogue the geometric signs of Ice Age Europe’s cave art, which have been pretty much uniformly ignored by previous scholars who preferred to focus their attention on the depictions of animals that dominate most sites.

(And sidenote, if you wanna live your best life you should IMMEDIATELY watch the documentary by the one and only, the king of glorious weirdness, the great Werner Herzog himself, Cave of Forgotten Dreams… oh look I found it for you YOU’RE WELCOME)

Back to the squiggles. Some reviewers seemed to be dissatisfied with the book because von Petzinger doesn’t actually draw many conclusions from the data she’s collected. For me, that wasn’t a problem – if anything, I was relieved. She’s still deep in the process of collecting information. Anything beyond very general hypotheses would be far too hasty. Good science is slow science. While von Petzinger does theorize that it seems likely the geometric signs found all across Ice Age Europe and Asia have a common origin and perhaps even common meanings, she doesn’t touch on what those meanings might be – because it’s impossible to even guess at this early stage.

I really enjoyed the exploration of early humans and language, both verbal and nonverbal. It made me want to dig out my old linguistics textbooks from undergrad. Actually, this whole book made me curious. I want to keep learning – not just about Ice Age cave art, but about early humans in general, language development theories, the first written languages, the development of alphabetical writing systems… and so much more. And isn’t that the mark of not just a good nonfiction book, but a great one?

Dude. I love nerds.

The geometric signs that von Petzinger has catalogued so far.

The distribution of those geometric signs.

Geometric signs inscribed on deer teeth, which were probably strung onto a necklace, perhaps as a mnemonic device. Found with other grave goods in a burial of a young woman in France, nicknamed the Lady of Saint-Germain-la-Rivière.


Read it. Amazing. Mind-blowing. Will cure you of the worst case of the Love-Struck Stupids since the Trojan War, when basically everyone was Love-Struck and Stupid.

Best lines:

<insert science-y quote here> God, screw y’all, what I am, your mama? Go read the damn book for yourself.

Fancasting couch:

Behold, your theoretical Ice Age cave artist.

Listen I googled “sexy caveman” and this was the first result? Who am I, a mere mortal, to question the awesome and all-knowing Google?

Book Boyfriend material:

Leather speedo up there. He’s no broad-shouldered, ill-tempered, dragon-slayer, but he’s really rocking that fur stole.


9 out of 10 mysterious Ice Age squiggles that probably mean “the aliens put us here you twenty-first century knobs” or maybe “boobs,” we’ll never know.


*Werner Herzog voice* Those abstract and chaotic signs inscribed on the walls of a man’s heart are unknowable, for in the cavernous darkness of the soul, no light ever shines upon them.

Srsly tho it’s writing, right? The most basic kind of pictographic communication, yeah, but still… it’s writing. Awesome-sauce.


Oh, heyyyyy Titus. What’s new, furry baby?


I, too, find myself facing literary stagnation. Get away from me, Librarian, and let me wallow in peace.

Ah, Classic T.

Until next time, pop-tarts and -tarlets!

-xo, R

I’m a little bit on fire

NOTE: I wrote this last week and didn’t post it. I swear to god. Don’t @ me.

Oh no! I completely dropped the July blogging ball didn’t I??? I blame Mexico  – and the broad-shouldered and curmudgeonly cutie responsible for turning my life into a telenovela. #EmotionsAreHigh

Ok I’m squeezing one last review in… wait, is this my ONLY July review? GASP.


Okay, here with go. This week, I’m bitching about Robin Wasserman’s Girls on Fire. You know the drill.

Cover Talk: US cover – meh. Stylish, but kind of bland too? Also, completely unrelated to the theme or vibe of the book, in my opinion. UK cover – so fucking weird that it’s working for me. I’m not going to question it.

The Summary Heist: Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

Robyn Says: I hated this book. I read it last week and all I can remember is hating every minute of reading it and hating myself for continuing to read it. It was predictable, pretentious, and self-aware. I can’t even bring myself to give it a proper review.

Verdict: Don’t read it. Just fucking don’t. Unless you want to. Do what you fucking want, I’m not the king of you.

Best lines: n/a

Fancasting couch: Je refuse.


Book Boyfriend material: Kurt Cobain, who does not deserve this.

Rating: 1 out of 10 [redacted due to unrestrained and unholy vulgarity]

ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: This just goes to show you, kids, that the hype is so often unwarranted. #TrustNoone

Take it away, Titus.

You’re terrible at reviewing books. You know that, right?


Sorry, T, I can’t hear you *la la la la la*

Robyn out.

-xo, R





Back to reality

So I’m back. Mexico was afuckingmazing. I mean


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Beach time

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Plus I had this hottie all to myself:


Oh, and this happened:

Still in vacation mode, I’m afraid, to that’s all for today! Later gators 😉

-xo, R




Beach reading with a sexy philistine

No review this week, due partly to what I’m afraid is the beginning of a dreadful book slump, myriad career-related stresses, and my  “””boyrfriend.””” I love him, but, well, every step a fucking adventure. Ah, modern love.

Anyway. We’re going on vacation next week. I know, right? To Mexico, god help me. Sun, and heat and humidity. The things we do for the broad-shouldered, ill-tempered men who have captured our hearts, eh?

The kicker, and the point of this post, is that this gorgeous philistine has had the audacity to insist I bring no books, or, if I must, bring only a tablet or e-reader. To which I can only respond with:

Oh, sweet summer child! You’re (maybe) dating a librarian – and you think she’s not gonna smuggle at least one paper book with her? Yeah, no.

I mean, we all remember the great e-reader debate of 2011, in which I enumerated the many pros and cons of e-readers(if not, click here to relive the glorious insanity). Although I think I came out pretty strongly in favour of my shiny new kobo back then, these days I tend to do about 75% of my reading with physical, paper and ink books. Gasp, right? Fucking hipsters with their analogue paper and ink. Srsly tho. We’re going to a beach. Beach + electronics = crying. And what if the power goes out or I lose my charger (it’s one of my particular talents, losing chargers)? What if I want to read a book I’ve bought but haven;t downloaded and there’s no wifi? What if I end up getting stuck on top of a pile of Mayan ruins, surrounded by man-eating vines, and my battery dies? What if I need to throw something at someone? An e-reader just doesn’t have the necessary weight to do the necessary damage, man.

Wait, now. Jokes aside, kiddies, that has a whiff of truthiness to it. Weight. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the difference. Paper and ink books feel… weightier. More real, somehow. They’re an experience – or rather, they are the manifestation of the experience the story tells. You go on a journey with a paper and ink book in way you just can’t with an e-book, simply because you hold it in your hands, touch it, hold it, sleep with it, move through it. It’s almost like… like you become a book, too. If the paper and ink book is the container of the story it tells, as we read, we too contain the book.  Holy Fahrenheit 451! WE ARE THE BOOKS!

Or maybe I’m my English major/master bullshitter is showing.

Anyway, the point is, I’m bringing some goddamn books – plus my e-reader. Suck it, G, you hot bastard. It took a while to decide, but here’s what I’ve settled on (although I’m not leaving til Sunday, who knows how many books I’ll buy in the next five days, lol): The Flight by Gaito Gazdanov, The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan, and Final Girls by Riley Sager.

vacay reds

An obscure Russian novel from one of my favourite publishers, a Southern Gothic historical potboiler, and a brand-spanking new horror by a debut author. I am a book-selecting genius, guys, bow to me.

Ok, well anyway-


I beg your pardon? You’re going on a vacation with this broad-shouldered reprobate? Unchaperoned?? To MEXICO??? Absolutely not. I forbid it. Cats before bros, you love-sick fool! Who will get the books from the top shelves for me??

Uh oh. Gotta go calm down my cat, guys. Wish me luck. He’s got a nasty temper.

The next time you hear from me I’ll be hiding from my nemesis, the sun, and avoiding sand/surf/people. Let the fun times begin!

-xo, R