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.


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

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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 👏


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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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


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


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.

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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. 


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.

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Fancasting couch


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Book Boyfriend material

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Nine out of 10 baseball bats (yas girl)

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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.


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.


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.


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.”

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Saoaeriseise Ronan


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*Luther voice* ALIIIIIIIICE


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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.


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


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

Long live the King…

Hey hey, my adorable internet friends/acquaintances/strangers/enemies. Been a hot minute. See my previous post for a cryptic explanation. (Spoiler I refuse to review books, which is normally a thing I love doing, if having to review books is a thing I HAVE to do, I don’t know why, I AM AN ONION, I am LAYERED.)




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Wedding planning:

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General state mind:

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Today, I’m talking about my most anticipated read of 2019. THERE WILL BE EMOTIONS. And gifs. Of course.


Cover Talk


The Summary Heist

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Robyn Says

Okay. OKAY. O k a y.

So if you’re a fan of the Grisha or Six of Crows series, you will already know about this book, have probably already read it, and are like SHUT UP ROBYN YOU TWIT LET’S PLEASE JUST FLAIL TOGETHER. In which case,

If you haven’t or aren’t, what the **** is wrong with you, friendo?S

Seriously, though. I’ve been waiting for a Nikolai book since the moment he sauntered into the my life. He is my favourite character in the Grisha series by far, so when Leigh Bardugo announced he would be getting his own books, I was delighted.

Needless to say, the expectations were high. In all fairness, I don’t know if any book could have met them. But King of Scars came veryyyyyy close. There was a great, intriguing plot, further world-building, complex characters both familiar and new, and enough twists and turns to leave me surprised at the ending.

I devoured this book in less than two days, so I might need to reread it at a slower pace to appreciate everything, but the only real issues I had were that I wanted more romance (yeah, I know, whatever, I am a simple woman, make them all kiss please) and that I felt there were some pacing issues. Even with so much happening, at times the story seemed to drag at certain points. I also would have liked more information about the Saints and how that all worked (no spoilers, but what the heck????)

Overall though, amazing, love it, bring on book 2!!!!!!!!!

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Holy frozen bananas, READ IT. But fair warning, you’re definitely gonna need to read the Grisha series first (and also maybe the Six of Crows duology because NINAAAAAAAAAAA)

Best Lines

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns” UMMMMMM TATTOO THIS ON MY BODY PLEASE

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Fancasting couch

OH YES okay where do we start……….


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The Darkling REDACTED but you know who it is:

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God I’m good.

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Book Boyfriend material

THERE IS NO QUESTION: Sturmhond, Korol Rezni, little sobachka, the Too-Clever Fox, Nikolai freaking Lanstov.

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9 out of 10 gorgeous tormented monster boys.

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I got nothing. Have some kittens.


You’re welcome. Until next time, my dudes.

-xo, R