Category: General


Stacking the Shelves

Posted 19 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Good morning! Tomorrow is my birthday, so I’m getting a couple more books then… but after that, I swear I’m toning down my hauls for a while.

Since I’m still at my parents’, here’s a bunny pic! Yes, this is Hulk. Yes, that’s her bag of hay — the one we use to replenish her ball of hay, which is the hay she’s actually meant to eat.

Hulk (bunny) bodily in her bag of hay

I recognise that furtive-looking butt…

Sigh.

Bought:

Cover of The Zoo by Isobel Charman Cover of Timekeepers by Simon Garfield

Cover of Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw Cover of The Regional Office is Under Attack Cover of Masquerade by Laura Lam

Ah, Waterstones, I missed you.

Received to review:

Cover of Starlings by Jo Walton Cover of The Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

Yaaaay! I love Jo Walton’s work, so I am excited for this. I’ve also been eyeing An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors for a while, so I’m excited to get to that, too.

Read this week:

Cover of The Ghoul King by Guy Haley Cover of The Button Box by Lynn Knight Cover of The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach Cover of The Hammer and the Cross by Robert Ferguson

Cover of Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb Cover of Defy by Sara Larson Cover of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore Cover of Machiavelli by Michael White Cover of The Warrior Princess by K.M. Ashman

Five stars to: The Carpet Makers.
Four stars to: The Ghoul King, The Button Box, The Hammer and the Cross, Machiavelli, Assassin’s Apprentice.
Two stars to: Defy, Lamb, The Warrior Princess.

Reviews posted this week:

The Martian, by Andy Weir. Still a lot of fun on a reread. Such snark! 4/5 stars
The Spellslinger, by Sebastien de Castell. This is a fun coming of age story that doesn’t go the typical, easy way of fantasy novels that feature misfits who can’t use their magic. 4/5 stars
Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart. More for flicking through than reading exhaustively. 3/5 stars
The Real Lives of Roman Britain, by Guy de la Bedoyere. A good attempt at bringing the Britons of Roman Britain alive. It falls a little short for me, because we have so little information. 3/5 stars
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. A reread I thoroughly enjoyed, although aspects seem a bit too… obvious to me now. 4/5 stars
Clouds of Witness, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Another reread of a favourite. 4/5 stars
The Glass Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg. Ceony drives me a bit mad, but overall I still had fun. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday. My last regular Top Ten Tuesday post, this features a top ten of past top ten posts.

How are you doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 16 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of The Stars Are Legion by Kameron HurleyI’ve finally returned to Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion! I’ve been meaning to finish it for ages, but I needed to refresh my memory, so I’ve started over. I’m also reading Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale; I’m not quite sure what I think of it yet. I’m enjoying the style and the Russian background, but on the other hand I keep putting it down for days at a time. Oops.

What have you recently finished reading?Cover of Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Yesterday I finished up Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb, at last — it’s still really good, though I do find Fitz rather frustrating at times. Still love Verity, too, for his tireless work and his kindness and just — agh, the kind of character I always love. I’ve also just finished reading a history of Vikings, The Hammer and the Cross, by Robert Ferguson. I found it a bit long-winded, though there’s some good stuff.

What will you read next? 

Cover of Pantomime by Laura LamThere’s quite a few options on the table, including starting the second Farseer book, Royal Assassin. I need to start reading Pantomime properly — I stopped so I could include it as one of my Reading Quest books. And I still want to start on my reread of Kushiel’s Dart.

In summary, plenty to keep me busy!

What are you reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 15 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 3 Comments

Hey everyone! This is possibly my final regular Top Ten Tuesday post because, great as some of the themes from The Broke and the Bookish have been, it’s starting to feel like work to participate. The themes are quite often repetitive or just not applicable to me. I’ve done 164 previous Top Ten Tuesday posts; perhaps it’s no surprise that my inventiveness is running out. I still plan to check back and participate when I’m interested in the theme, but I’m not going to schedule posts ahead anymore.

That said, here’s a look at my Top Ten Top Ten Tuesdays!

  1. Book blogging confessions.
  2. Underrated Arthurian novels.
  3. Desert island reads.
  4. If you like epic fantasy…
  5. Heroines.
  6. If I’m found with amnesia, give me these books to read.
  7. My weird bookish habits.
  8. Books that scared me.
  9. Books for my mother.
  10. Bookish things I want to know about friends.

I’ll still be swinging by other people’s posts too, so I’ll see you all soon!

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 12 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

Good morning! I’m in the UK again, visiting my parents for my birthday, so I’d better go with the tradition — here’s a pic of one of the buns which my wife sent me! Here Breakfast is somewhere he shouldn’t be, looking very curious…

He’s going to get himself in trouble any minute now.

So, right, the haul. Here goes…

Received to review:

Cover of Harkworth Hall Cover of Swearing Off Stars Cover of Fowl Language by Brian Gordon Cover of Skyfarer by Joseph Brassey

I asked for Harkworth Hall after reading Bob @ Beauty in Ruins’ review, and it was worth it! Swearing Off Stars was a random grab, while I got Fowl Language because I’ve loved the cartoons from Brian Gordon’s series that I’ve seen around.

Fiction books bought:

Cover of Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older Cover of The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston Cover of The Red by Linda Nagata Cover of The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Cover of Arena by Holly Jennings Cover of In the Shadow of the Gods by Rachel Dunne Cover of After the Crown by K.B. Wagers Cover of Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Cover of The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin Cover of Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson Cover of Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson

 Cover of Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells Cover of Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

I know, I know, it’s an amazing haul. Woohoo for the American Book Centre in Amsterdam — definitely recommended: great deals on books, a good selection, and friendly staff. 10% off for students, too! A bunch of these were just €6.99, which is amazingly cheap for imported books in Europe.

Non-fiction books bought:

 

 Cover of The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukharjee Cover of A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley Cover of The Button Box by Lynn Knight

I was initially going to complain that I wanted more non-fiction books, but I let myself buy a few more as I passed through London, and now I have quite the satisfactory haul!

Books read this week: 

Cover of Hengeworld by Mike Pitts Cover of Catching Breath by Kathryn Lougheed Cover of Fowl Language by Brian Gordon Cover of The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black Cover of Harkworth Hall

Four stars to: Hengeworld, Catching Breath, Harkworth Hall.
Three stars to: Fowl Language.
One star to: The Secret History of the World.

Reviews posted this week:

Star-shot, by Mary Ann Constantin. This wasn’t quite my thing, but I was still impressed by the way it was written and some of the fascinating images. 3/5 stars
Machine, by Jennifer Pelland. This left me with pretty mixed feelings. It’s a powerful story, but also disturbing. 3/5 stars
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie. I want more, but this is still a great book. 5/5 stars
The Refrigerator Monologues, by Catherynne Valente. Very fun, although also depressing. 4/5 stars
Life Unfolding, by Jamie T. Davies. A really fascinating exploration of how the human body develops. 4/5 stars
The Paper Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg. This is a bag of cotton candy as far as my brain is concerned. Sweet and some fascinating magic. 3/5 stars
Incognito, by David Eagleman. Very readable, but it won’t contain any surprises if you’ve read other pop-sci about the brain and its weird ways before. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Forced To Read (And Loved).
WWW Wednesday. The weekly update!
The Reading Quest. My sign-up for a new readathon.

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The Reading Quest

Posted 11 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Sign up card for the Reading Quest readathon

I’m a sucker for a good readathon, and this version sounds awesome; there’s so much attention to detail! I shall be embarking on the Knight’s Quest first. Provisional reading choices:

  • The first book of a series: Pantomime, by Laura Lam.
  • A book with a verb in its title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.
  • A book with a weapon on its cover: Magic Binds, by Ilona Andrews.
  • A book with a red cover: Chameleon Moon, by RoAnna Sylver.
  • A book that has a TV/movie adaptation: Caliban’s War, by James S.A. Corey.

I plan to go on and try and do all the squares, but that’s where I’ll start… You can read up on all the rules here, and credit for the art goes to CW of Read, Think, Ponder.

Are we there yet!?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 9 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of The Carpet Makers by Andreas EschbachI’m rereading Andreas Eschbach’s The Carpet Makers, because I’ve been meaning to and it was there when I couldn’t sleep and didn’t feel like starting something new. I’m also reading Pantomime, by Laura Lam, though I’m not very far into it, and The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. I’m about halfway through the latter and not entirely sure what I think. I’m finding it somewhat predictable so far. I’m still reading Assassin’s Apprentice, too.

Cover of Hengeworld by Mike PittsWhat have you recently finished reading?

Hengeworld, by Mike Pitts. It’s an examination of the whole ritual landscape in palaeolithic times, mostly in Wessex — Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury Hill and other associated monuments. It’s pretty fascinating, and it digs deep into all the different digs which have gone on at those sites.

What will you read next?Cover of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

I think I’m going to embark on my reread of Jacqueline Carey’s work, starting with Kushiel’s Dart. It’s been ages since I read it, and I conveniently have copies of this trilogy available both at my wife’s and at my parents’ place, so I don’t have to drag them around while travelling.

What are you reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 8 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is gleaned from the old prompts on the page. Here’s ten books I was forced to read — which I loved! I’ve a vague feeling I’ve done this before, but I can’t find it by searching back, so why not?

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. It’s a classic, of course.
  2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. I even had to read it in a week, thanks to a dare with my dad.
  3. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I didn’t get far with this when I tried to read this as a kid, but when I finally had to read it for school, I fell in love.
  4. Troilus and Criseyde, by Geoffrey Chaucer. I didn’t have high hopes for this because I wasn’t a fan of The Canterbury Tales, in general. But I really got into dissecting it, in the end.
  5. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Is this cheating? I read a translation, of course, but I had to read it in the Middle English for my BA, and that was revelatory. The playing with language is gorgeous.
  6. The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles. In style and content it’s not at all what you’d expect me to enjoy, but I really did.
  7. Postcolonialism Revisited, by Kirsti Bohata. I was never much of a fan of actually reading theory, in my lit degrees, preferring to closely analyse the texts. But this was pretty revelatory, discussing Welsh fiction as postcolonial fiction — because in many ways, the Welsh experience was like that of colonialism.
  8. Richard III, by William Shakespeare. I was never a fan of Shakespeare, but I ended up having to take a class on his history plays for lack of other modules that interested me. And I loved this one.
  9. Country Dance, by Margiad Evans. Or indeed, all the other Welsh fiction I read for that particular class. I’d never even been fully aware there was Welsh fiction like this out there.
  10. The Annotated Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien et al. I love The Hobbit, of course, but I’m not really a fan of annotated texts. Still, the annotated version of The Hobbit was fascinating for its insights on Tolkien’s process.

There’s probably dozens of others I should think of — at one point, my mother bought me a whole bunch of classics she said I had to read before I went to university, for example! (She wasn’t wrong in suggesting they were important to know. Should’ve included more Oscar Wilde, though, Mum, and insisted I read more Shakespeare. Now you know!)

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 5 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

Good morning, folks! Today I’m off to Amsterdam with my wife to celebrate our paper wedding anniversary in bookshops. Hurrah! To celebrate the one-year anniversary of our wedding (and the 12th anniversary of being together), here are a couple of our wedding pics! Click to embiggen, if you’re so inclined.

And now, back to books.

Bought:

Cover of Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey Cover of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

I needed Caliban’s War for a book club read, and A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived was on sale on the Kindle store for 99p!

Received to review:

Cover of Acadie by Dave Hutchinson Cover of Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone Cover of Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara

Cover of Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng Cover of The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker Cover of The Fifth Doll by Charlie Holmberg

A lucky week, though I’m still sad I didn’t get approved for Provenance or Into the Drowning Deep on Edelweiss!

Books read this week:

Cover of Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey Cover of Babylon by Paul Kriwaczek Cover of The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley Cover of The Real Lives of Roman Britain by Guy de la Bedoyere

Cover of Starborn by Lucy Hounsom Cover of Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara Cover of Acadie by Dave Hutchinson

Reviews posted this week:

Unnatural, by Philip Ball. This is billed as popular science, but honestly it’s as much lit-crit as it is science. Interesting topic, of course, but… 3/5 stars
Nova, by Samuel R. Delany. I wasn’t as big a fan as I hoped I was going to be. I feel like a bad SF fan. 3/5 stars
Personality, by Daniel Nettle. Landmark science this is not, but it is interesting enough. 3/5 stars
Reality 36, Guy Haley. Not characters I want to hang out with. 1/5 stars
Caesar’s Last Breath, by Sam Kean. Not as entertaining as his book on neurology, but still interesting. 3/5 stars
Killing is My Business, by Adam Christopher. Another entertaining entry in this series — and I want to know where it’s going next! 4/5 stars
Genomes and What To Make of Them, by Barry Barnes and John Dupré. Somewhat out of date now, and probably not worth picking up. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookshops I Have Loved. More or less as you’d expect, though you might not expect that bookshops in Dublin, Ireland and Calgary, Canada are on the same list…
WWW Wednesday. This week’s update on what I’m reading.

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 2 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.
Cover of The Real Lives of Roman Britain by Guy de la Bedoyere

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished the book I was reading earlier, so now the only book actively on the go is Guy de la Bedoyere’s The Real Lives of Roman Britain, which I’ve really only just started. Oh, and I’m still partway through rereading Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb. Other than that, there’s a bunch of books sat around with bookmarks in, but I haven’t touched them in, uhhh… too long. Oops.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Shadowy Horses by Susanna KearsleyThe Shadowy Horses, by Susanna Kearsley. It was a lot of fun — yay, archaeology-based stories! Yay, romantic Scotsmen! Yay, friendly ghosts! Once upon a time I’d have described Kearsley’s books as a guilty pleasure, but stuff that. I like reading romance sometimes, apparently. (I do need recs for other stuff like Susanna Kearsley, Jane Aiken Hodge, Mary Stewart… Do feel free to indulge me, if you know of anything that might suit.)

Before that, I finished James S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes. Whoa. I need to sit down and collect my thoughts on that.
Cover of Starborn by Lucy Hounsom

What will you read next?

I’m planning to try Lucy Hounsom’s Starborn, to see if I want to request the sequel on Netgalley. I think I’ll start on Caliban’s War, the sequel to Leviathan Wakes, pretty soon as well. So much reading to do. So little time. I should also get back to Assassin’s Apprentice and the sequels, and maybe finish up The Essex Serpent.

What are you reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 1 August, 2017 by Nikki in General / 7 Comments

There’s still no official theme from The Broke and the Bookish, so this TTT is again of my own devising. This time I’m going to look at bookshops I have loved!

  1. Waterstones (Wakefield). I’ve had plenty of nice chats with the people working there, and some of the same people still work there from when I was a kid. They’ve held some great events — I attended a talk by Robin Hobb back when Fool’s Fate came out, for example — and though the shop is a little small for my tastes, the SF/F section has typically been good enough that I can find what I want.
  2. Waterstones (Manchester). One of the biggest bookshops in the north of England, I think? Nice little cafe, and so many books. And they have baskets you can grab at convenient intervals, which is useful because I’ve never got out of there without needing a shopping basket. A really great non-fic selection as well as a good amount of SF/F.
  3. Paramount Books (Manchester). When I last went, it was still tiny and inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair or possibly even on crutches, but it was a great place to browse, with all kinds of second hand books.
  4. Hatchard’s St Pancras (London). I’m not a huge fan of their fiction section, which isn’t divided up into genres. They have some SF/F books, but it’s not always easy to pick them out. I love how convenient it is to drop in on my way to or from the Eurostar, though, and their non-fiction section has pretty much always been worth the browsing.
  5. Forbidden Planet (London). Signed books, American books, new releases… I’m not sure what I haven’t been able to find there. And even though it’s Forbidden Planet, I don’t just mean comics. They have a great selection of SF/F books, and I’ve seen some really good bargains there as well.
  6. Wellfield Bookshop (Cardiff). It might be small, but I always felt at home there and perfectly welcome to browse. They’re very helpful and would always offer to order in anything I wanted.
  7. Sterling Books (Brussels). They’ve moved to a smaller location, which is a crime as far as I’m concerned, but they still have a reasonably good selection of English books, both fiction and non-fiction. Also, free bookmarks!
  8. Chapters (Dublin). New and used books, and tons of them. The staff weren’t the friendliest, but the selection more than made up for it.
  9. Fair’s Fair (Calgary). They have a couple of stores, and nearly all of them contained some delights for me. Seriously recommended, if you’re in Calgary.
  10. Troutmark Books (Cardiff). A treasure trove to me when I was a student — and apparently served my grampy with bags of books before me. It’s conveniently in the centre of Cardiff, and too many people miss it because it’s tucked away in one of the arcades. Well worth going to — great selection and great pricing.

That’s not all of the bookshops I’ve ever loved, of course, but I thought I’d share a little bit of the joy!

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