Readathon updates: the wife edition

Posted 29 April, 2017 by Lisa R in General / 6 Comments

Note: This is not your usual Bibliophibian. Instead, I am Lisa, I am guestposting, I am the oft-mentioned wife. Hello!

While I have observed many readathons from a safe distance, this is actually my first one.

I will mostly be dipping in and out, lacking the dedication to do the whole thing (and definitely lacking the ability to stay up all night) and being easily distracted by shiny videogames and little bunnies.

14h00: En route from grocery store. Why is it always such a long queue…

14h18: At last! An opening survey…

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Belgium!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I have no defined stack. I’m going to finish Nikki’s copy of Final Girls (Mira Grant) and try and finish High Lord (Trudi Canavan, Black Magician trilogy) though I’m more in a scifi mood…
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I am trying to keep my snacking to a minimum, sadly. But there’s the possibility of mug cake and egg rolls for dinner, so that’s decent.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Much like Nikki, I have exams coming up mid-June. Network and operating systems & Business Intelligence (alongside practical network assignments and a webdevelopment project). Ack! Other than that, I am going to enjoy the heck out of this long weekend.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? …all the reading? But mostly a quiet bookish weekend.


Off to book!

15h08: Finished Final Girls and am now in possession of an actual stack!

My stack: Dust (Elizabeth Bear), Terra & Terra's World (Mitch Ben), The last days of new paris (China Miéville), Behind the throne (KB Wagers)

Books, books, books…


16h20: Went down to Würst to get a hotdog, chili and some hummus because I am weak and it is very tasty. Back to surrealist Paris I go

17h25: This book is so weird. ‘s what I get for reading Miéville, I suppose.

23h15: I did say I’d get distracted. Went out to get a snack, took the bunnies for a drive in an effort to make them bond and get along and then fell into the black hole of stardew valley. Oh well. Something to eat now and bed is likely not far off.



Readathon Updates

Posted 29 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

In an hour or so, the 24 Hour Readathon begins! We’re all ready here — me, my wife, and our bunnies.

Breakfast looking at books

Well, Breakfast is still deciding what he’s going to read.

Not sure how long any of us are going to be reading for, but the wife definitely isn’t staying up overnight. Much as I’d like to, I haven’t for a few years, so I might not make it through the night either. But even a few hours dedicated to reading are well spent. All my updates are going to be edited into this post, so it might get a little long, but at least I won’t be doing tons of posts!

13.59: About to start, but the wife isn’t home from groceries yet and we haven’t set up her update post on this blog (coming soon!) yet. Still, here’s the opening meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Cloudy Belgium!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Probably Waking Gods. It’s certainly the one my wife is most looking forward to me having read…
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? We don’t really have many snacks lined up. No doubt I’ll demand a mug cake at some point.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m taking this weekend for reading out of my exam revision time. Cell bio, human bio and ecology, coming up in early June. Save me.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? As always, I’m going to take it easy; read if I feel like it, stop if I don’t. I haven’t done the full 24 hours in a long time, and that’s fine by me.

Now I’ll just get laundry on and groceries in and then start — probably with The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery. My stack is here, though I probably won’t be sticking to it very well!

14.58: I’m about 80 pages into The Soul of an Octopus. Paused for a bunny snuggle (with Breakfast, the brown bun pictured above; Hulk, our grey lady bun, is sulking on a shelf, appropriately enough) and to help the wife pick a new book. (Her update post is up here, by the way!)

15.28: We both just totally derailed to eat hummus and cheese doritos, and now the wife is off to get us cornbread, more hummus, and some chilli. If you’re in Belgium and within reach of Leuven, the hot dogs at Wurst are okay, but the hummus is amazing.

16.22: I read more while Lisa was out, but then she came back with a copy of the new volume of Saga, some cornbread still warm and fresh, and a pot each of chilli and a pot each of hummus. Om, nom, nom.

17.16: Almost teared up after the death of one of the octopuses mentioned in this book. Non-fiction is not normally so heartwrenching! And here’s a photo of me and the wife and Breakfast chillin’. Hulk is still on her shelf.

Photo of me and the wife reading, with bunny

18.14: Just finished The Soul of an Octopus. Fascinating book. In the meantime, Breakfast and Hulk have been exploring the flat together without much supervision, for once. There’s been no violence, yet! I’m going to have a break now and play some Stardew Valley, and then I should get on with reading Waking Gods — before my wife explodes.

19.36: Reading Waking Gods now, have been for maybe half an hour. Annoyingly, my Kindle’s running out of charge, though.

21.07: I just took a break after getting to about halfway through Waking Gods, and we ended up taking the bunnies for a drive (the slight stress helps bunnies bond). Now they’re shockingly quiet…

23.17: Yeah, nope, not feeling it. Which is sad. Maybe I’ll be back tomorrow?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 29 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Good morning! How’s everyone this week? I’ve had a busy week, but I have some awesome books to keep me company over the weekend.

New books:

Cover of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Cover of Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan Cover of Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah Monette Cover of Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Cover of The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery Cover of Life's Engines by Paul G Falkowski Cover of The Gene by Siddhartha Mukkherjee Cover of The Voices Within by Charles Fernyhough

I am so excited to finally have Within the Sanctuary of Wings, but also really sad because I don’t want the series to end. I feel like I’ve been waiting for Strange the Dreamer for a long time, too, so I’m looking forward to that. The others, well, you probably all know my penchant for non-fiction by now. Certain topics just make me all grabby.

Mum, don’t frown at me. It was store credit and gifts all the way, except the Marie Brennan.

Received to review:

Cover of Darien: Empire of Salt by Conn Iggulden Cover of Sovereign by April Daniels

I keep meaning to read Conn Iggulden’s work, and this one is fantasy, so why not? And I read April Daniels’ first book, Dreadnought, and I want to know where it goes.

Books finished this week:

Cover of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel Cover of The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum Cover of Life's Engines by Paul G Falkowski

Not a very active reading week, as my exams approach and essays are due in. Still, all three of those will receive four-star ratings from me! And luckily, I’m setting aside at least 24 hours this weekend for myself by participating in the 24 Hour Readathon.

Reviews posted this week:

Britain After Rome, by Robin Fleming. Rather dense, but fascinating to me, and largely focused on material culture rather than written records. 4/5 stars
The Furthest Station, by Ben Aaronovitch. Fun, but did leave me wondering where certain characters got to. 4/5 stars
Fairweather Eden, by Mike Pitts and Mark Roberts. The story of one of the oldest Palaeolithic archaeological sites we know of. Fascinating stuff, and well told, with both modern and ancient context given. 4/5 stars
Mind-Expanding Ideas, by New Scientist. A good collection, though focused on physics and not on the other branches of science I might’ve enjoyed more. 3/5 stars
The Prince and the Pilgrim, by Mary Stewart. Might have more in common with her romance/suspense novels than with her other Arthurian books; it’s rather light and inconsequential. But it dooooes have a fascinating political/historical link. 3/5 stars
Mightier than the Sword, by K.J. Parker. Fun novella with some twisty turns. Not my favourite by Parker, but definitely worth the read. 4/5 stars
The Human Brain, by New Scientist. This is more my thing! Braaaains. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Turnoffs. What makes me not want to read a book?
Readathon. My planned stack!

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Review – The Human Brain

Posted 28 April, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Human Brain by New ScientistThe Human Brain, New Scientist

It may not be surprising to learn that this collection, featuring articles and features about the human brain, was absolutely right up my street. If you’re interested in the human brain, but you’re not ready to dive into a full book about it, this makes a great, varied collection, focusing on different things like memory formation, the ageing brain, psychology, sleep…

There’s a lot of stuff in here, but it’s all in bitesize chunks. I do recommend this, and the other New Scientist collections — but if you’ve collected issues religiously, there’s nothing new in here as far as I know.

Rating: 4/5

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Posted 27 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

It’s that time again — readathon time! I’m already thinking about my pile, of course, so I thought I’d share some of what’s on my plate…

Cover of Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel Cover of Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan Cover of Bloodshot by Cherie Priest Cover of Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin

I usually try to come up with books from a bunch of categories, so here’s a menu…

RereadsARCsFinish-this-book-alreadysBacklogNew to the stacks
Lavinia, by Ursula Le GuinWaking Gods, by Sylvain NeuvelThe Godless, by Ben PeekA Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky ChambersWithin the Sanctuary of Wings, by Marie Brennan
Ancillary Justice, by Ann LeckieSovereign, by April DanielsReality 36, by Guy HaleyLegion: Skin Deep, by Brandon SandersonThe Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery
Bloodshot, by Cherie PriestThe Pinks, by Chris EnssNova, by Samuel R. DelanyVengeance Road, by Erin BowmanThe Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
Assassin's Apprentice, by Robin HobbSkullsworn, by Brian StaveleyLamb: The Gospel According to Biff, by Christopher MooreHero, by Perre MooreSomewhere Beneath Those Waves, by Sarah Monette

Although knowing me, I might digress entirely and go off to read something else.

I also need to assemble some options for my wife, since she’s going to join for a couple of hours.  Anyone got any recs for space opera like Lois McMaster Bujold, perchance?



Review – Mightier than the Sword

Posted 27 April, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Mightier than the Sword by K.J. ParkerMightier than the Sword, K.J. Parker

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 30th June 2017

I’ve enjoyed a couple of Parker’s novellas, even though I still haven’t got round to the novels I’ve been sitting on for, uh, a while. So I was pleased to be approved for the ARC of this from Subterranean Press. The ebook is a little bit of a mess — or mine was, anyway — but that’s presumably only going to be a problem for the Netgalley version, and it didn’t get in the way of the reading experience.

I’m also a big fan of books which play with manuscripts, and though that’s a minor part of this story, it was still pretty cool. The main character is fun, and the whole tone works really well to make it sound like a romp, even when there’s a certain amount of pillaging and violence going on. I called the twists, but getting there was still a fun ride. I think The Last Witness is still my favourite for sheer smarts, but this was definitely very enjoyable.

Rating: 4/5

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 26 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

I think the last book I finished was Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I had a couple of reservations about the format, but I found the whole thing just so compulsively readable. I made my wife start reading it too, and she raced on and finished the second book too. (And is now cursing me because there’s no more.)

What are you currently reading?

Actively, The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum and Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. The latter is fascinating for the same reasons as the first book; the former is awesome because Savedra completely rocks and so, on a second reading, does Ashlin. And the whole complex sexuality and gender stuff going on. I do find myself wondering a little bit about how appropriative the use of the term hijra is, but I do enjoy the book.

What will you read next?

I’m thinking of rereading American Gods (because of the tv show) or Ancillary Justice (just because), but I don’t know for sure yet. I might read Strange the Dreamer, since I finally have my hands on it. Or I should be reading Assassin’s Apprentice again, for a book club.

So many choices! Luckily, the 24-hour readathon this weekend should help me get some reading done. (Even if I hardly ever actually do the whole 24 hours.)

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Review – The Prince and the Pilgrim

Posted 26 April, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Prince and the Pilgrim by Mary StewartThe Prince and the Pilgrim, Mary Stewart

Although this fits into the Arthurian world constructed by Stewart in The Crystal Cave and the books that followed it, The Prince and the Pilgrim is really a separate story which has perhaps more in common with her romances. She takes a short incident from Malory and expands on it, and dwells on Morgan and her wicked seductive ways (yawn) into the bargain. It’s not a bad story, and her gift for evoking atmosphere and landscape shines through, but I found it very light. The most intriguing aspect involved the references to the Merovingian kings and the way it wove Alice’s story in with a real historical context.

The ending is more or less inevitable, even if you don’t know the original story, and Stewart’s embellishments are mostly pretty tame. A fun light read, but not really a return to the world of The Crystal Cave in anything but name (and that devotion to Morgan being a sexualised, predatory witch).

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Mind-Expanding Ideas

Posted 25 April, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Mind-Expanding Ideas by New ScientistMind-Expanding Ideas, New Scientist: The Collection

Possibly necessary for full disclosure: I got four of these as a free gift for subscribing to New Scientist. They contain articles from past issues, generally the ones that stand the test of time, and collect them together by topic. This one is mostly physics, which… is not so much my thing. It’s “the most incredible concepts in science”, can’t we have some more love for biology? Epigenetics is mind-expanding — and probably more personally relevant than quarks and leptons to most readers.

That said, I am into biology and find physics a little frightening. Reading this volume mostly left me a little scared and at least halfway to an existential crisis.

If your interest is in dark energy and quantum theory and special relativity, though, then there’s a good chance it’s perfect for you.

Rating: 3/5

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 25 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is complementary to last week’s list, which was about the top ten things that will instantly make me want to read a book. This is about instant turn-offs. This is a little harder for me, actually, because I read so eclectically. Let’s have a go, though…

  1. “The X’s Y” titles. So often it’s stuff like The Mapmaker’s Daughter or The Sin-Eater’s Daughter, and I’m honestly tired of protagonists being defined in terms of other people. I have picked up some of these books and will probably continue to, but it does give me a moment’s pause.
  2. Fabio on the cover. It usually heralds a sort of romance fiction I’m not interested in.
  3. This Will Change Your Life. I don’t like feeling like you’re selling me something. Obviously you are, but if all of these books could change my life, I wouldn’t be the same person day to day. (And in another sense, every book will change your life for the period that you’re reading it, at the very least…)
  4. The new Tolkien. I liked the old one, actually. And the new ones just don’t seem to have J.R.R.’s attention to detail. Same goes for the new anyone, really. I don’t want to read the same books over and over again — or rather, if I do, I’ll go back and read that book.
  5. “Inspired by [x] culture.” Translation: “I took the stuff that interested me and ditched the rest.” This is rarely done well and with attention to detail, although some authors like Guy Gavriel Kay can produce something very satisfying from that starting point.
  6. White saviours. If your cover copy hints that your white character is going to save the poor and downtrodden through their special sympathy and understanding, I’m going to be very sceptical right from the word go.
  7. The real King Arthur revealed! Just stop it with that, please.
  8. The real Robin Hood revealed! That too.
  9. The real Sheriff of Nottingham revealed! Come on…
  10. The real Will Scarlet! Aren’t you reaching at this point?

So yeah, as you can see, I was running out of ideas toward the end of this… Doubtless I’ll think of a dozen more just as soon as this goes live.

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