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.

Rosemary's Baby

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

rosemary's baby daddy

(#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

Persuasuion: The RiRi’d Review

Wassup boos. I am currently doubting all of my life choices… #thursday amiright?

Haven’t done a RiRi’s review in a while. If you need a reminder of what the heck a RiRi’d review is, check out this post.

So this week, I reread one of my all-time faves, Persuasion by Jane Austen (let’s not attempt to understand why I reread that mmmmmmkay?).

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Of all Jane Austen’s novels, Persuasion is widely regarded as the most moving. It is the story of a second chance.

Anne Elliot, daughter of a snobbish, spendthrift Sir Walter Elliot, is a woman of a quiet charm and deep feelings. When she was nineteen, she fell in love with – and was engaged to – a naval officer, the fearless and headstrong Captain Wentworth. But the young man had no fortune, and Anne allowed herself to be persuaded, against her profoundest instinct, to give him up.

Now, at twenty-seven, and believing that she has lost her bloom, Anne is startled to learn that Captain Wentworth has returned to the neighborhood, a rich man and still unwed. Her never-diminished love is muffled by her pride. Even worse, he appears to be infatuated by the flighty and pretty Louisa Musgrove.

What happens as Anne and Wentworth are thrown together in the social world of Bath – and as an eager new suitor appears for Anne – is touchingly and wittily told in a masterpiece that is also one of the most entrancing novels in the English language.

Robyn Says

*sob*

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*sobbing intensifies*

RiRi Says

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The RxR Rating

10 out of 10 true heroes. Forget Darcy, I’ll take Wentworth any day.

– xo, R

Rosemary’s pale shadow bébé

Oi. Wassup. I’m in a foul mood, for a variety of reasons. And in order to prevent further trouble, I am rewatching Deadwood (yet again) while typing loudly to make sure everything – and everyone – else stays silent.

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So have a fucking book review. Hmmmmm… maybe, Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Let’s fucking do this.

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Cover Talk

I hate all of the Sager covers. They’re just lazy. And that colour is vile.

The Summary Heist

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Robyn Says

Ugh. I had such high hopes for this one. Just as I’ve had for every Sager book. And like his first two books, this one also let me down.

It started off very strong, with sufficient overtones of Rosemary’s Baby to keep me reading, but I loathed every character, thought the premise of the novel was flimsy, and, when I came to the reveal, wanted to burn this book to a pile of disappointing ashes.

This isn’t horror. It isn’t even mystery. It’s a weekday afternoon showing of a B-movie with all the suspense of an episode of Friends. It’s a lukewarm cup of Ovaltine in book form. Shit. Listening to my grandma talk about the petty intrigues and rivalries of her neighbours was more entertaining, and had a fuckton more suspense than this watered down paint-by-numbers bullshit.

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Verdict

Don’t read it. Read the OG fucked-up hotel story, Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin. Shit, read a goddamn Goosebumps. Any one of them will give you a more compelling narrative than this.

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Best Lines

I will never ever remember to take notes while I read, will I? And this is where my website soulmate comes in. Goodreads, what have you?

“Never take anything you haven’t earned, my father used to say. You always end up paying for it one way or another.”

Sure, why not.

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Fancasting couch

Jules

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Resting Idiot Face

Greta

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We stan

Dr. Nick

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Hot diggity damn.

Book Boyfriend material

Dr. Nick, obviously. Listen, I know he turned out to be a murderous organ-harvesting bastard, but he’s a single doctor of marriageable age with dead parents and a penthouse overlooking Central Park, so really… Dr. Nick.

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Clark Sex-King Gable

Rating

Two out of 10 idiot jobless millennials who’d probably willingly sell a kidney or two to get out of debt in a futile attempt to escape the crushing hellscape wrought by the heartless capitalist model of modern Western society.

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ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT

I don’t give a fuck what colour my fucking couch is, but I’ll be goddamned if I’m told what colour my fucking couch will be, if you know what I mean.

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– xo, R

 

 

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*

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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