Mouth full of bones

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

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

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Sorry not sorry, Aubrey.

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

Baby Teeth

Cover Talk

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

The Summary Heist

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

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

Meet Suzette.

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

Robyn Says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Lines

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

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Fancasting couch

Suzette – Rebecca Hall

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Alex – Thorbjørn Harr

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Hanna – either one of these girls

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Book Boyfriend material

Alex, because he

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


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


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

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Vitamin D…N.F.

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

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

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

The Cabin at the End of the World

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

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Next, Séance Infernale.

Séance Infernale

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

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Last, The Favorite Sister.

The Favorite Sister

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

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Other things I have hated recently:

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

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

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– xo, R

The Mission Quest Thing 2.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes it is, Flip. Yes it is.

– xo, R



Mal de Quartet

Ayyyyyyy how goes it, my deliciously crumbly shortbread biscuits? I myself am in a bit of a funking funk, to be honest, and the only thing to blame is summer (okay and myself, jeez, lay off, I’m a delicate thing, you know). Bloody summer, most extra of all the seasons, with literally zero chill (lol); summer, summer, when children run wild and free in the streets, flaunting their savage insouciance in the face of hardworking office drones who toil thanklessly in frigid cubicles; summer, the twilight of the goths, when our mortal enemy (after jocks and valley girls), that brazen bastard the sun, squares up and flexes, burning us all to an antisocial crisp. Only 79 days until Halloween, and then we’ll have our Plutonian revenge, you’ll see, YOU’LL ALL SEE–

Ahem. Sorry, got a bit carried away there. My bad. I just really really hate summer. The dragon-slayer, on the other hand, is an inveterate sun-worshiper, which not only lends the season an unbearable irony, but also means I will undoubtedly be forced to spend my weekends in the actual outdoors rather than the dark, cold sanctity of indoors, where all the sensible people will be.

ENOUGH CHIT CHAT. TO THE REVIEW. Today it’s Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble. Tally-ho!

Cover Talk:

YAAAAAAAAAAAS I love it. So bright. So colourful. So unrelated to the story (?) (Listen I dunno it just works ok? This is Good Book Cover, it’s math).

The Summary Heist:

The addictive debut novel about four young friends navigating the cutthroat world of music and their complex relationships with each other, as ambition, passion, and love intertwine over the course of their lives.

Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; the viola is Henry, a prodigy who’s always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest, the angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness String Quartet.

In The Ensemble, each character picks up the melody, from the group’s youthful rocky start through to adulthood. As they navigate devastating failures and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty, they are always tied together—by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry together, and by choosing each other over and over again.

Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel’s debut novel gives a behind-the-scenes look into the highly competitive, mysterious world of high-level musicians. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.

Robyn Says:

It’s cliche af but I’ve always had a passion for the violin – yeah, yeah, the Gypsy with her violin, I know (also friendly reminder, I can say the G-word because I am one, you can’t, don’t @ me). I played (badly) for a of couple years. but gave it up when I realized I would never be the next Nicolae Neacșu. Instead, I listen to classical music that makes the violin the star, and watch and read anything remotely related to the instrument, fiction and nonfiction… *cough* The Red Violin *cough*

There’s been a lot of buzz around Aja Gabel’s debut novel, and the cover is so pretty I added it to my summer reading list before I even knew what it was about (thanks, Instagram). I was prettttttttty psyched when I discovered it was about the inner workings of a string quartet, because that shit is one of my many jams.

First thing first, let’s get it out of the way – did it live up to the hype? YES. This is a Good Book, guys, get thee to a library and put it on hold and in 3 months READ IT. Or I guess you could buy it, if you’re okay being a slave to literary capitalism.

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The most obvious strength of this novel is its characters. Gabel has created a quartet of four vastly different, incredibly realistic protagonists, and each of them is incredibly rounded, with as many characteristics to admire as to loathe. There’s driven Jana, Henry the prodigy, human equivalent of flan Brit, and angry child-of-my-heart Daniel.

The quartet becomes a sort of family for the musicians, and like all families, there are as many moments of tension and struggle and heartache as there are of happiness and support and, yes, love.

This is undeniably a character-driven novel, though. If you’re looking for action, there isn’t much beyond a pretty predictable plot – not that this is a bad thing. I knew exactly where the story was going, and I still enjoyed every minute of it. Gabel’s writing is delightful, artistic and precise without erring on the side of pretentious. I can’t wait to see what she produces next.


Read it.

Best lines:

A longer one today, actually. I am in a Mood and this passage just hit me right in the feels:

“Love is inexact, Henry said. It is not a science. It is barely a noun. It means one thing to one person, and one thing to another. It means one thing to one person at one point and then something else at another point. It doesn’t make sense. We are gathered here today to not make sense. We are gathered here today to listen to the ineffable. I’m supposed to be explaining it, but I can’t explain it. I love you, it’s a mystery. Because it’s a mystery, we have to take care of it. Feed it. It can go missing, but we can’t tie it up. We can only tie it to someone else. Other people. Then the world is like this: full of the geometry of my rope tied to you, and to you, and yours tied to him, and to her, and hers to someone else. I love you, it’s a mystery. A moment of silence.”He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

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Fancasting couch:

I’m at work and the pages are snitches so there’s no way I’m risking googling hot young actors to fancast this book. Also, it’s so hard when a book spans decades. Do I find actors who kinda look alike to be the younger and older versions, or do I pick one and let you use your imagination? Anyway, it’s moot because of the snitches so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Book Boyfriend material:

Listen I don’t want to say Daniel. He’s probably a hot little swarthy son of a bitch but he’s selfish, he’s thoughtless, he’s outright cruel on more than one occasion, he’s an unmitigated piece of shit with more ambition than talent.

But yeah, Daniel, obviously.


8 out of 10 temperamental musicians sawing away on the strings of their overpriced instruments.

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This is the last book I read with Titus. I miss him so much, and I miss being able to turn to him to ask what he thought. I’m sure he would have had something savagely clever to add to my pitiful review.

Here’s Book Cat, curled up and cozy with the Librarian who still loves him ♥

@girlsnightinclub @thereadingrobyn

– xoxo, R

A New Chapter…

It feels so weird to be writing this blog without my lil reading buddy trying to sit on top of my lap and giving me evils when I try to type over his head. Guys, I miss Titus so much. It really is such a profound loss.

But I know Book Cat would want me to keep my chin up and keep reading and reviewing books (so that he could roast my skills – or lack thereof). I have been the most unmitigated of slackers this summer, though. With work and family and life in general competing for every spare minute of time, I think I’ve only finished three books since the beginning of July. Of course, maybe the reason is that I tend to have five books on the go at one time… at least!

And then, too, I’ve had my hands full the past two weeks…

– xo, R