Category: General


Stacking the Shelves

Posted 29 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

Good morning, folks! Today I’m off to spend the day with my grandparents-in-law until evening, so I might not comment (or comment back) until tomorrow. It’s been a quiet week, really; I worked on reading some difficult stuff, so I haven’t finished nearly as many books as I’d like. As for new books, well… just one ARC, and a quiet week ahead too, I think. But next weekend is my paper wedding anniversary, and we’re celebrating in style by going to Amsterdam to browse their bookshops, so that might well be a busy week for books!

Received to review:

Cover of The Warrior Princess by K.M. Ashman

I was going to pass on this one, until I realised that the warrior princess in question is Welsh, and this is set in Wales! You have my attention, sir!

Finished reading this week:

Cover of Mapping the Interior Cover of The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin Cover of Life on the Edge by Joe Al-Khalili and Johnjoe MacFadden Cover of American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Four stars: Mapping the Interior, The Trouble With Physics, Life on the Edge, American Gods (reread).

Reviews posted this week:

Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie. I appreciated this one more on a reread, just like the first book. A really great trilogy, and this middle book doesn’t disappoint. 5/5 stars
Bloodshot, by Cherie Priest. I didn’t love this as much as I remembered, but there’s still so much awesome about it. 4/5 stars
The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers. So much to love about this, particularly the way it bursts at the seams with inventiveness and love of books. 4/5 stars
Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by David Whitehouse. Not my favourite area of science, but still an interesting diversion. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Pet Peeves About Blogging. Featuring: why do I get spammed with my own copy?!
WWW Wednesday. The update on what I’m reading, what I’ve just read, and what I’m going to read.

So how’re you all doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 26 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 7 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 Assassin's Apprentice by Robin HobbAt the moment, I’m mostly working on my reread of Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb, and I’ve just started a reread of American Gods, by Neil Gaiman — I’ve been meaning to reread it for a while, since the show started. Not that I’ve been watching the show (I hardly ever watch tv), but it brought it to mind and I did see bits of it while my wife was watching it.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Trouble with Physics by Lee SmolinI juuuust finished reading The Trouble With Physics, by Lee Smolin. It’s a little out of date, I suspect, since it’s from 2007, so before the Higgs boson was found and so on, but I think a lot of the points still hold true. String theory still, as far as I know, hasn’t come up with any predictions or designed any major experiments to prove or disprove the theory, and the musing on the academic community in the sciences is still relevant too.

What will you read next?

Cover of Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyI’m going to read Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey, since that’s a book club read, and then Life on the Edge, by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden, because I’m going to the NS Live event in September and one of the authors is going to be there. Also, because I have no idea what quantum biology is, and I want to find out.

So what are you reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 25 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

There’s still no official theme, so this week I’m going to take a chance on being curmudgeonly. Here’s ten things that annoy me about being a book blogger!

  1. When people don’t comment back, ever. Sometimes, there just isn’t something that they want to comment on, or they’re too busy for a week or two. I totally get that. But if they never drop by in return, it feels totally one-sided — like I’m a number that helps them get ARCs or whatever, but they’re not willing to put in any effort to make a real link between us.
  2. When people comment without reading. I know that when it’s a big link-up like Stacking the Shelves or whatever, people mostly drop by to get visits in return, so they often copy/paste “looks like a great haul!” and a link to their own post. Or “looks like you got a ton of books!” I can get that, but I wish people would put at least a little effort in — don’t tell me I got a ton of books when the text of the post says clearly that those are the books I read this week. I always try to say something about the books they’ve got, or the life updates in their post!
  3. Snobbery. It’s okay to have reading preferences, obviously, and even to comment about why you don’t enjoy x or y. But if you’re only coming by to link your blog, and you say things like “I never read fantasy, it’s all too childish”… well, it doesn’t sound good (and you look silly, since there’s a ton of adult fantasy).
  4. Spam. Why do I get so much spam?! The number one target review seems to be one of my Susanna Kearsley reviews, and I don’t get it at all.
  5. When I get spammed by my own copy. I mean, I’m a copywriter. It makes sense that sometimes I might run into stuff I wrote the advertising for. But it just feels beyond rude when it shows up in the comment spam on my WordPress. One, hey! I didn’t write that for you to spam with! And two, oi, spam filter — are you saying my writing looks like spam?! And three, this is a book blog, so why are you targeting it with copy about picture frames and saving whales?
  6. People making assumptions. When a blogger assumes I’m not a writer, or I don’t read x genre, or that I’m a certain age… Don’t assume, guys, you know who it makes an ass out of.
  7. “I prefer real books.” Ebooks are real. They’re different, and maybe they don’t work for you, but hey. Ereaders help all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons.
  8. People who openly tell authors they’ve pirated their books. Why? Why would you do that? Authors have a right to earn a living, and “exposure” doesn’t pay for food.
  9. People tagging authors in bad reviews. Unless there’s some prior relationship there or the critique is something they might benefit from, why would you do that? And don’t do that even given that if the person who wrote the review doesn’t say it’s okay. Some people don’t want to interact with the author.
  10. Authors commenting on my reviews of their book to argue with me. Most often, it’s male science writers who feel the desperate need to tell me I’m wrong about their book, so you’ll have to excuse the sinking feeling I get when I realise a given comment is from an author. I’ve had some great interactions with authors I’ve critiqued — Tony Hays, author of The Killing Way and the rest of that series, would be one example. But mostly it just doesn’t work out.

I’m sure that I could be hoist by my own petard for some of these, because I can be a cranky snob as much as anyone. I try and keep a lid on it, though.

What’re your pet peeves?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 22 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 22 Comments

Good morning! It’s been a week already?! I got my exam results this week — I’ve passed everything, and I even got a distinction in Human Biology. No books for rewards so far, though my birthday presents have been ordered — I’m getting all the re-issues of the Peter Wimsey books, with the snazzy new covers. There’s only one where I haven’t been able to get the new cover, and I have found one that at least matches. Woo!

Received to review:

Cover of A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris Cover of An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles

Yay! I didn’t think I’d be approved for A Pocketful of Crows. It sounds like it’s something different for Joanne Harris, which will be nice.

Read this week:

Cover of Life Unfolding by Jamie A. Davies Cover of Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell Cover of The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg Cover of Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees

Cover of A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna Cover of False Colours by Georgette Heyer Cover of A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris Cover of Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus

Not as good a reading week as last week, but not too shabby either!

Five stars: A Crack in Creation.
Four stars: Life Unfolding, Spellslinger, The Glass Magician, Clouds of Witness, A Pocketful of Crows.
Three stars: Just Six Numbers, False Colours.
Undecided: Buffalo Soldier.

Reviews posted this week:

The Worm at the Core, by Sheldon Solomon et al. A fascinating book about the human fear of death. Some might find it morbid, but I found it rather affirming, really. 5/5 stars
Whose Body?, by Dorothy L. Sayers. A reread, of course, and one I enjoyed greatly, as usual. 4/5 stars
A Rough Ride to the Future, by James Lovelock. I found this rather incoherent, in comparison to the original Gaia2/5 stars
The House of Binding Thorns, by Aliette de Bodard. I suspect that if the first book didn’t work for you, this wouldn’t either. I found it riveting, though. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogs I Follow.
WWW Wednesday. An update on what I’ve been reading!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 19 July, 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 Assassin's Apprentice by Robin HobbI’ve started in on rereading the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb, finally. Just 100 pages a day, pacing myself. I’m also reading A Crack in Creation, by two of the people from the team that discovered cas9/CRISPR (which is a really powerful, really important way of editing genes in all kinds of situations). I’m guessing the moratorium Doudna asked for on using CRISPR for gene editing didn’t come to pass, given I know it’s a big thing in psychiatry lately per my mother!

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Glass Magician by Charlie N HolmbergThe Glass Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg. It’s not great, but it’s light fluffy fun — I’m reading the series while I can’t sleep at night, and they’re proving quite good for just occupying my brain a while until I’ve wound down enough to sleep. Other than that, I think the last book I finished was Spellslinger, by Sebastien de Castell. I still need to write up my review; I found aspects of it a little frustrating — mostly the love interest and the totally abusive family structure — but overall it was good fun.

What will you read next?

Cover of Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyI’ll probably start on Leviathan Wakes, which is one of my book club reads this month. I’ll also try and finish a couple more of my started-but-not-finished pile (“Finish Or Flee”, I call it), like Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 18 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

This week doesn’t have an official theme from The Broke and the Bookish, so I thought it’d be a good chance to feature some of the blogs I follow. Tahdah!

  1. The Bibliosanctum. And it’s not just because I want to steal all Mogsy’s ARCs, I promise… Lots of great reviews in the SF/F line.
  2. Chuckles Book Cave. A great place to find all kinds of indie books. Low on romance, high on zombies, vampires and werewolves, oh my!
  3. Bastian’s Book Reviews. He’s not posting much lately, but he has good taste in books, even if we have come close to him wearing my guac at a book club meeting because he doesn’t love Captain America.
  4. Of Dragons and Hearts. Quite a bit of overlap in our SF/F tastes!
  5. Paper Fury. Every post is hilarious, but the book reviews remain totally sincere too.
  6. Reviews from a Bookworm. One of the first blogs I followed, I think! Good on YA especially.
  7. SpecFic Junkie. One of my fellow mods from Habitica. Not many recent posts, but some very good ones on various spec fic which I really should read, if I haven’t already.
  8. Beauty in Ruins. Another TBR list I simply must stalk. Also does weird fiction reviews which are less my thing, but are entertaining.
  9. Reading Reality. I’ve only been following this blog since she teamed up with Tynga’s Reviews for the Stacking the Shelves linkup, but already I’ve seen some great reviews which include various genres.
  10. A Dragon in Space. Even just the blog name is awesome…
  11. x+1. Because I missed this blog out originally, and that’s a crime. (Sorry, imyril!)

That’s just a few of the blogs I frequently check out (sorry if I’ve missed you!). What about you? Who should I be following?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 15 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 32 Comments

It’s been a pretty awesome week for reading, I’ve gotta say. Exam results next week, so I’m starting to get nervous, though…

Received to review:

Cover of Artemis by Andy Weir Cover of The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Yeees. Here’s hoping Andy Weir’s new book is as entertaining as The Martian!

Bought:

Cover of Gilded Cage by Vic James Cover of The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmburg Cover of The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg Cover of The Master Magician by Charlie N Holmberg

I’ve heard conflicting things about the first two, but they were on sale, so I thought I’d give them a try… and then I did enjoy The Paper Magician, so I bought the sequels.

Finished reading this week:

Cover of Unnatural by Philip Ball Cover of Personality by Daniel Nettle Cover of Reality 36 by Guy Haley Cover of Nova by Samuel R Delany Cover of Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Cover of Caesar's Last Breath by Sam Kean Cover of Killing Is My Business by Adam Christopher Cover of Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine Cover of Machine by Jennifer Pelland Cover of Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Cover of The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente Cover of The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmburg Cover of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin Cover of The Martian by Andy Weir

Yeah, it’s been quite the week for reading! No, I am not fucking kidding. And yes, I really have read all of these, and no, there isn’t a secret to it. I just make the time, often while my wife catches enough zzzs for both of us.

Five stars to: Ancillary Mercy.
Four stars to: Killing Is My Business, The Refrigerator Monologues, The Martian.
Three stars to: Unnatural, Personality, Nova, Wicked Plants, Caesar’s Last Breath, Star-shot, Machine, The Paper Magician.
Two stars to: The Westing Game.
One star to: Reality 36.

Reviews posted this week:

NeuroTribes, by Steve Silberman. Interesting exploration of autism and autistic people, though I didn’t always like where it focused and it got a bit rambly. 4/5 stars
Walking on Knives, by Maya Chhabra. I wanted to like this, since it’s a lesbian retelling of The Little Mermaid, but all the epithets instead of names didn’t work for me, and the dubious consent scenes were… gah. 2/5 stars
Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty. A fascinating mystery with a bunch of misfit characters, most of whom were interesting if not exactly loveable. 4/5 stars
Shattered Minds, by Laura Lam. This feels darker and more difficult than the first book, in that the characters are way more messed up, but it’s still a pleasure to read. I really enjoyed it. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Rereads. Books I can reread (or have reread in the past) over and over again…
WWW Wednesday. The weekly update on what’s in my immediate TBR pile.

So what have you been reading and adding to your shelves?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 12 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 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 here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Ancillary Mercy by Ann LeckieI’ve just started my reread of the last Imperial Radch book by Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy. Not very far into it yet, but the joy of rereads is that I know I’m going to enjoy it — and actually, with this series, I’ve enjoyed each book more now I’m rereading them.

I don’t think there’s actually anything else directly on the go right now, shockingly, except the books I’ve been neglecting for a while already.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Machine by Jennifer PellandI’ve been having a bit of a spree, honestly. Last night I read Machine, by Jennifer Pelland, all in one go — it’s an interesting character study, but also kind of disturbing in some ways, and I’m not sure whether I liked it or not. I had to finish it and find out how things worked out for the main character, Celia, but some of the sex parts were just… no. I mean, not that I’m normally interested in that aspect of a book anyway, but this was something else.Cover of Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine

I did also read Star-shot, by Mary-Ann Constantin yesterday. I’m not actually sure what to think of that, either! It’s magical realism, and the characters all blur into each other just a little (in a way that I think was very much intentional). Again, I had to finish it, though, and I’m more sure that I liked it!

What will you read next?

Cover of False Colours by Georgette HeyerI think I’ll tackle finishing something from the pile of books I’ve got half finished. Maybe Georgette Heyer’s False Colours, or Mike Brooks’ Dark Sky. The problem with the Heyer is that I can see exactly where it’s going — the main character is pretending to be his twin, and that’s bound to lead to all sorts of hijinks that I’ll probably find acutely embarrassing. (Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so easily vicariously embarrassed!)

After that, I might get onto my reread of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

What’re you reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 11 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

There’s still no official themes from The Broke and the Bookish, so this week I’m going to cover rereads — the books that, for me, have been tested to destruction. Not all of them are books I love right now; some are books I read to bits as a kid (and which I should maybe look at reading again?).

Cover of The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff Cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper Cover of The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

  1. The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff. This used to be a favourite. It’s still a book I love very much, if not a favourite exactly. I just love the way Sutcliff took a real weird event (the discovery of a Roman Eagle) and wove a story around it.
  2. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Well, of course. What else did you expect, from me?
  3. Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers. If Sayers’ writing ever gets old for me, that’s when I’m done living, I think.
  4. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. The most recent addition to the list, but one I’m confident will stick around. I just… I love pretty much everything about it.
  5. The Winter King, by Bernard Cornwell. This is probably the only portrayal of Galahad I’ve ever loved, and sadly you don’t see many Galahads like him. Arthur’s pretty great, too, and it all feels… real and possible. A great interpretation of the Arthurian myth, even if sometimes it stretches.
  6. The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. I didn’t actually read this as a child — I was probably 16 when I finally read it. But the BBC audio adaptation was seriously formative.
  7. The Positronic Man, by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg. I think my copy has vanished again, but when I was about nine or ten, I had a copy out of the library (on my mother’s library card, because they wouldn’t let me borrow adult books). I think the fine I ran up with this book alone had to be the worst I’ve ever incurred — and I got some pretty steep ones as a student.
  8. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Oh my goodness, I read at least two copies to death.
  9. The Railway Children, by Edith Nesbit. Also this one. It made me briefly consider watching trains as a child, one boring summer. Of course, the lack of train tracks anywhere too nearby put a damper on that.
  10. The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay. In fact, pretty much everything by Guy Gavriel Kay, since I’m a glutton for punishment, apparently.

So what about you? What do you read and read and reread?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 8 July, 2017 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

Good morning! This has felt like a long week for some reason — maybe because I have no class and not much work to have been worrying about! Fortunately, there’s always books.

Received to review:

Cover of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Dragons and dragon-slayers? I’m in!

Finished this week:

Cover of The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard Cover of Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of Bloodshot by Cherie Priest

Cover of Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie Cover of The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers Cover of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Five stars to: Ancillary Sword.
Four stars to: The House of Binding Thorns, Whose Body?, Bloodshot, The City of Dreaming Books and A Closed and Common Orbit.

Yep, this has been a good reading week!

Reviews posted this week:

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. I’m definitely not best-placed to comment on the accuracy/authenticity of this book, but I think it’s a powerful and timely one. 5/5 stars
Spaceman, by Mike Massimino. Basically Massimino’s memoir of his experiences in the space program, and how he got there. Interesting though mostly not about the science. 3/5 stars
Nature’s Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts, by Philip Ball. A fascinating exploration of patterns in nature, biological, geological and chemical. 4/5 stars
Newt’s Emerald, by Garth Nix. Basically a classic Georgette Heyer plot with a magical twist, I found this a lot of fun. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: The Stuff I’ve Gotta Know. Things about people and books I always like to find out.
WWW Wednesday. An update on what I’ve been reading and what I think about it!

What’ve you been reading? Any exciting new books in your stacks?

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