Category: General


Stacking the Shelves

Posted 25 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 27 Comments

Hey everyone! It’s been a busy week for me again, and I haven’t done that much reading, but thankfully I should have a bit more time for myself now. Here’s hoping, right?

And oh, hey! Look what I just achieved on Netgalley…

Reviews Published

Received to review

Cover of The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig Cover of Frogkisser by Garth Nix Cover of Behind the Mask by various

Looking forward to the sequel to The Girl from Everywhere, and Frogkisser should be fun. Behind the Mask was an impulsive pick, but hey, we all know I love superheroes.

Bought

Cover of The Planet in a Pebble by Jan Zalasiewicz Cover of Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

I felt like I deserved a treat after the report I just had to turn in! As far as possible from protein assays and statistics, I hope.

Books finished this week:

Cover of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin Cover of Brother's Ruin by Emma Newman

Not much read, I know. Still, finishing On the Origin of Species was an achievement! Rating preview:

Five stars to… On the Origin of Species.
Three stars to… Brother’s Ruin. 

Reviews posted this week:

The Family Plot, by Cherie Priest. Priest takes on a haunted house! Solidly entertaining and I enjoyed that those haunted were a salvage crew going over an old house. 3/5 stars
Dreadnought, by April Daniels. Danny’s dreams come true when she receives superhero powers and the transformation she’s always wanted. Not all the existing superheroes are so great about it. Enjoyable stuff, though Danny does struggle in realistic but upsetting ways. 4/5 stars
Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages. Wistful, hopeful story set in an incidentally magical sort of world, which is mostly 1940s San Fransisco. Really enjoyed this. 4/5 stars
Adulthood is a Myth, by Sarah Andersen. It me! 4/5 stars
Murder on the Ballarat Train, by Kerry Greenwood. Though I’m noticing some inconsistencies as I reread, this series is still so much fun, and this outing brings a few more people into Phryne’s found family. 4/5 stars
Virus Hunt, by Dorothy H. Crawford. A pretty in-depth look at HIV and how it moved from animals to humans. I enjoyed it a lot, but it is definitely focused on the epidemiological side rather than the social. 4/5 stars
Scarlet, by A.C. Gaughen. I really wanted to enjoy this take, but the love triangle was weird and the narration didn’t work for me. Alas. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Books I Liked Less Than I Hoped & Five I Liked More Than I Expected. That title pretty much says it all.
What are you reading Wednesday. The weekly update.

How’s everyone else been doing?

Tags: , ,

Divider

What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 23 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

It’s only a little late! And hey, now I’m out of assignment hell… for now.

What have you recently finished reading?

Nothing, this week! The last thing I finished was a reread of Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic, on… Thursday? Yes, I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms. I could probably do with another Mary Stewart reread, for something familiar — This Rough Magic is a total comfort read, like all Stewart’s books for me.

What are you currently reading?

On the Origin of Species is the book I’m reading most actively. So close to finishing it! It amazes me how right Darwin managed to be, given his limited understanding of genetics. I’ve also still got my reread of The Dragonbone Chair and the ARC of The Stars Are Legion on the go.

Oh, and I also newly started After Atlas, by Emma Newman, which I was devouring before my assignment took over everything. And I was also reading Brother’s Ruin, her new novella, which I got as an ARC. I’m enjoying that, too.

What are you planning to read next?

Once I’ve finished with Darwin, I’m going to focus on finishing The Stars Are Legion, After Atlas and Brother’s Ruin. Probably in the reverse of that order. I might also fit in a comfort read like a Mary Stewart book; I’m thinking maybe My Brother Michael, or Nine Coaches Waiting. After that, I’m not sure: the possibilities are endless.

Tags: ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 21 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

This week’s theme is books you loved less or more than you thought you would. I’ll do five of each!

Books I Liked Less Than I Hoped:

Cover of The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian Cover of Hard to Be A God by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky  Cover of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein Cover of The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip

  1. The Children’s Hospital, by Chris Adrian. A notorious failure in one of my online book clubs. Like, I don’t think any of us liked it, and I’m not sure how many of us actually finished it. For a while it was a byword for terribleness.
  2. Hard to Be A God, by Boris & Arkady Strugatsky. I enjoyed Roadside Picnic a whole lot, and then found Hard to Be a God… completely impenetrable. I’m told it’s a hard one to translate.
  3. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, by Kelly Sue DeConnick. It just felt so monumentally pointless. I normally enjoyed DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel, but nope. Not this one.
  4. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. I know, what’s wrong with me, right?
  5. The Book of Atrix Wolfe, by Patricia McKillip. It wasn’t bad, but I just didn’t enjoy it the way I expected to, since I’ve come to appreciate McKillip’s work a lot.

Books I Liked More Than I Expected:

Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw Cover of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Cover of The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer Cover of DNA: The Secrets of Life by James Watson

  1. Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates, by Kerry Greenwood. Once upon a time, I read this and hated it. Then I read it again and fell in love, and since devoured the whole series. Right time, I guess.
  2. The Wolf Hunt, by Gillian Bradshaw. I expected to be mad at how heteronormative this was set up to be, given I knew the original lai as something rather “homosocial” (as my tutor would’ve said, and did, often). But somehow it charmed me all the same.
  3. Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. This is the first of Rowell’s books I read, and didn’t expect to be so drawn in by her warm style and her characters.
  4. The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer. I hadn’t yet admitted that I enjoyed some romance stories when I first read this. But Heyer won me over — not a bad person to convert one, I think.
  5. DNA: The Secret of Life, by James Watson. Having read his book on the discovery of DNA, I couldn’t picture getting on with another book of his. But he apparently aged well, and this book was interesting and decidedly less rage inducing.

What about you?

Tags: ,

Divider

Stacking the Shelves

Posted 18 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

Happy Saturday! It’s been a busy week around here, and I should probably be in the digital lab right now, looking at sections of rat tissue. But hey, books!

How’ve you all been?

Received to review:

Cover of Chalk by Paul Cornell Cover of Brother's Ruin by Emma Newman Cover of Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Yay, thank you, Tor!

Finished this week:

Cover of Britain BC by Francis Pryor Cover of Britain AD by Francis Pryor Cover of Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages Cover of This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

Sneak peek at ratings:

4 stars to… Britain BC and Wicked Wonders.
3 stars to… This Rough Magic.
2 stars to… Britain AD.

Reviews posted this week:

Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates, by Kerry Greenwood. A reread, again already? Yep. And it remains a lot of fun — I don’t know why I didn’t enjoy it the first time. 4/5 stars
The Prince of the Moon, by Megan Derr. A sweet queer fairytale, though a little rushed for my taste. 3/5 stars
The Celtic Revolution, by Simon Young. Interesting history, but where it touched on Arthuriana it rather annoyed me, alas. 3/5 stars
Monstress, by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda. Beautiful artwork, but I kept losing track of the story. 3/5 stars
Flying Too High, by Kerry Greenwood. Gotta love all the references to other detectives which, for some reason, I’m only just picking up now. Hurrah Phryne! 4/5 stars
Miranda and Caliban, by Jacqueline Carey. As beautiful as you would expect coming from Carey, and as heartbreaking. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Why haven’t you read ____ yet? The short answer is: I’m terrible. Sorry.
Top Ten Tuesday: Couples That Weren’t. Literary couples I was really rooting for, or who I didn’t get enough of.
What are you reading Wednesday. The usual status update.

Tags: , ,

Divider

What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 15 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

Francis Pryor’s Britain AD, with which I had a lot of arguments. I don’t dispute his understanding of archaeology, but I’m not sure about his grasp of linguistics, genetics or literature, which unfortunately come into this somewhat and appear to counter some of his theories. But I have a whooole post on that coming in… uh, April. So I’ll stop now.

What are you currently reading?

I’m still reading Ellen Klages’ Wicked Wonders, rereading Tad Williams’ The Dragonbone Chair, and I’ve started on On the Origin of Species — Darwin, of course. It’s a little slow going, but as a biologist in the making, I feel like I really should read it — and he argued his case very, very well. I’ve also still got The Stars are Legion…

What are you planning to read next?

I’m trying not to plan what to read next! I need to get some of the books I’m already reading squared away. I’m going to focus on Wicked Wonders next, I think.

Tags: ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 14 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Repost! Since for some reason, WordPress ate the first version.

It’s February 14th, which means it’s Valentine’s Day. Which means that the TTT topic for today is, unsurprisingly, about romance. I’m going to talk about couples-that-might-have-been, and couples-which-aren’t-yet, in books that I love.

  1. Csethiro and Maia, from The Goblin Emperor (Katherine Addison). Okay, they’re getting married, so the chances are good. But we only just glimpsed the two of them beginning to really come together as a couple. I long to see more of Csethiro protecting him, and Maia respecting her and giving her power and influence in his kingdom, and how that unfolds.
  2. Kim and Aileron, from The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay). Come onnnn, I can’t be the only one who saw that. Kim should’ve stayed in Fionavar; marrying Dave makes no sense at all. But then, Kay is kind of prone to that.
  3. Arthur and Guinevere, from Paths to Camelot (Sarah Zettel). I just love seeing them have a functional, central, mutual relationship without betrayal. We get glimpses of them throughout the four books, but… I want more.
  4. Eowyn and Faramir, from The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien). They make sense as a couple, but they have so little time and development. Gimme more!
  5. Alcuin and Anafiel, from Kushiel’s Dart (Jacqueline Carey). It’s not faaaaair.
  6. Phèdre and Nicola, from Kushiel’s Chosen (Jaqueline Carey). I really liked their relationship and wished we saw a bit more of it.
  7. Alan and Matthias, from Blood and Circuses (Kerry Greenwood). Their scenes together with Phryne made me laugh, and I kind of hope that they at least kept up the relationship.
  8. Lin Chung and his wife, from Murder in Montparnasse (Kerry Greenwood). I feel like Lin Chung’s wife deserved a bit more ‘screen time’, so to speak — she and Phryne could have a fascinating relationship, and she seemed pretty interesting as a character.
  9. Rupert and Bryan, from Season of Storms (Susanna Kearsley). Okay, I kind of want them to be my dads, but. The book ends tragically and it’s not fair.
  10. Celia and Marco, from The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). Or maybe I just never wanted that book to end…

And now I kind of want to go and reread all these books.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Divider

Why haven’t you read ____ yet?

Posted 13 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

I know I read really fast. You must figure I read really fast, since there’s a new review up here every single day (and they’re actually scheduled up through March). So it makes no sense that I haven’t read a book I got as a review copy or a book I insisted on getting the moment it released… two years ago.

(Sorry, Scott Lynch. Robin Hobb. Joe Abercrombie. Guy Gavriel Kay. Various others.)

The thing is, I have a backlog currently standing at 1,049 books purchased and not yet read. Yes, I said 1,049. That figure doesn’t include ARCs or library books or books that’re just on my wishlist. This is books on my shelves or on my Kindle, ready for me to get round to them.

The other thing is, when I make strict rules and reading lists, I stop reading. When I’m impulsive and I just read what catches my eye, I read a lot more. Whichever way I do it, I end up behind on books I requested or bought with the greatest impatience — and it’s not that I don’t want to read them, don’t think they’re shiny, have gone off the idea, whatever. It’s just that I have a lot of books, an impulsive way of choosing books, and an inability to just stick to one reading list. (And, well, sometimes I have gone off the idea of the book, for now. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested at all, just that right now I’m trying to devour everything in reach featuring a certain trope or certain information. At the moment, it’s archaeology.)

I’m doing my best. At the moment, I’m loading books to review onto my Kindle right away and starting them ASAP, to prevent my backlog getting bigger. I’m working through the backlog slowly, rediscovering things I thought were exciting before and finding new excitement about them. I feel bad that these books have been sitting so long, but there is some consolation in the fact that these are books that’re probably no longer actively being marketed, and with as many active readers as follow me, I’m bound to help someone match up with a backlist book they’d love.

The other thing is, well, I’m kind of contrary. If you hype a book up to me, I might well avoid it. Or I’ll get a book the minute it comes out… to taunt myself with for months, delaying the pleasure.

And, well, I bite off more than I can chew. A lot. All the time.

I’m also busy. Really busy. I’m doing a full-time biology degree through the Open University, which means that I have to direct my own pacing through the course while still meeting rigid deadlines for assignments and prepping for exams. I’m also self-employed, and sometimes after a long day of transcription and copywriting, I just want to flop into a chair and reread Strong Poison for the umpteenth time. Sorry.

The thing is, I’m a fairly rubbish human at times. I’m doing my best. Have a bunny.

Photo of my grey and white rabbit, sat on a bookshelf with my textbooks and folder.

Mea culpa.

Tags: ,

Divider

Stacking the Shelves

Posted 11 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

Happy Saturday! It’s been a bit of a bad week for me, just cause I haven’t felt very well… but hey, there’s books!

Received to review:

Cover of Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages Cover of Redder than Blood by Tanith Lee

Thank you to Netgalley and Tachyon for these! I read Passing Strange by Ellen Klages last week, and definitely want to read more of her work.

Bought:

Cover of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Cover of Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

My wife bought me Norse Mythology to cheer me up because I’m still not well, and Four Roads Cross was only a couple of quid on the Kindle store. I want the whole set of Gladstone’s books someday in paperback, for those beautiful covers. But for now, I have the ebooks!

Finished this week:

Cover of Deadly Companions by Dorothy H. Crawford Cover of Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire Cover of Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose Cover of The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss Cover of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Not as much reading as I’d hoped, really. I’ve been so tired! A sneak peek at my ratings…

Four stars to… Late Eclipses.
Three stars to… Deadly Companions and The Death of Caesar.
Two stars to… Reading Like A Writer.

Reviews posted this week:

A History of the World in 12 Maps, by Jerry Brotton. Unfortunately not for me; rather dry, and not quite the focus I’d been hoping for. Might be good for someone who is more interested in maps and cartography, though. 2/5 stars
One Plus One Equals One, by John Archibald. No, he’s not bad at maths — he’s talking about the history of symbiosis which gave animal cells mitochondria (for one example). Not very revolutionary to me as I think my mother excitedly told me about this when I was a teen and it was a newish theory, but interesting stuff. 3/5 stars
The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis. Not a fan of this one at all, sadly. The kids are quarrelsome and Rillian makes a bad first impression. Still, there’s Puddleglum. 2/5 stars
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire. Works very well as a novella — McGuire has the trick of it, I think. Just enough background and such to make the world interesting, while focusing on the plot. 4/5 stars
Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta. Slow, lyrical, a personal and quiet post-apocalypse. I enjoyed it a lot. 4/5 stars
The Masked City, by Genevieve Cogman. A reread, which of course I enjoyed a lot. 4/5 stars
Hatchepsut, by Joyce Tyldesley. There isn’t enough information about this pharaoh, but what she has, Tyldesley presents and organises well. 4/5 stars
The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis. There are things about this that I like, but mostly… nope, nope, nope. 1/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Can See From My Chair. And my thoughts on them. I didn’t have enough brain cells free this week to do anything more complex!
What are you reading Wednesday. What it says on the tin — a reading update per what I was reading and thinking about on Wednesday.

Tags: , ,

Divider

What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 8 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 7 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

I just finished reading Barry Strauss’ The Death of Caesar. It was interesting, but not as good as his previous books — it felt a bit drier, somehow. But it did teach me some stuff I didn’t already know about Caesar and the people around him. For example, I knew nothing about Decimus Brutus — who is not the Brutus everyone remembers via “et tu, Brute?”

What are you currently reading?

Uh, let’s see. I’m partway through The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams, which I’m rereading. It’s a bit of a chunky book, so I’m making fairly slow process. I’m still only halfway through The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley, too. I had that as an ARC and it’s out now, so maybe I should get to that. And I accidentally started reading Ellen Klages’ Wicked Wonders, which I just got an e-ARC of via Tachyon.

What are you planning to read next?

I haven’t really decided yet. I’m tempted to read some more non-fiction, but on the other hand I’ve been hitting that fairly hard lately. Maybe if I get my hands on a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, I’ll go with that. On the other hand, I have a book that’s due back at the library pretty soon, so maybe I should read that — The Dark Mirror, by Juliet Marillier.

Tags: ,

Divider

Stacking the Shelves

Posted 4 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

Happy Saturday! Not that it’s the end of the work week for me. Big project to be doing, which means a surprising amount of money and hopefully a correspondingly large number of books. Also, class.

But still, I managed quite a bit of reading this week!

Received to review

Cover of The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams Cover of The Regional Office is Under Attack Cover of Masquerade by Laura Lam Cover of Final Girls by Mira Grant

Hee! I need to reread The Dragonbone Chair, stat — I’ve been meaning to for a while anyway, but now this is extra motivation. I’m not sure if The Heart of What Was Lost stands alone, but it sounds like it comes after the series?

Bought

Cover of p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong

It’s fine, Mum, it cost £1.49, and besides, it’s always a good thing for me to read about things that scare me. Knowledge is power, etc.

Finished reading this week:

Cover of Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf Cover of Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn Cover of Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor Cover of Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

Cover of Final Girls by Mira Grant Cover of Birthright by Missouri Valin Cover of Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear Cover of p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong

Not a bad week, as you see! And five of them were ARCs. Hurrah me. And the ratings sneak peek:

4 stars… p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code, Final Girls and Passing Strange.
3 stars… Proust and the Squid and Birthright.
2 stars… Martians Abroad, Binti: Home and Maisie Dobbs.

Reviews posted this week:

Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas. A reread, which I once again found solidly enjoyable. I don’t expect great literary merit from Maas, just a fun time, which maybe helps. 3/5 stars
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. A lovely space opera adventure, full of characters you get to know and love. Just one criticism: the vaguely episodic feel to each of the events. Everything feels like it gets wrapped up very quickly, with only the bare bones of a larger plot. 4/5 stars
Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, by John Pickrell. Very enjoyable, and not always just for the dinosaurs but also for the people — almost characters — caught up in their story. 4/5 stars
The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I still love this, but my review this time poked at some of the flaws. 5/5 stars
The Sense of Style, by Steven Pinker. If you’ve encountered academic technobabble, and particularly if you’re allergic to it, this makes a good antidote. 4/5 stars
Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, by Merilyn Simonds. More of a memoir than I’d thought going in. Some interesting stuff, but… meh. 2/5 stars
Strangers in Company, by Jane Aiken Hodge. Mystery, politics and romance, in the vein of a Mary Stewart novel. Fun, though not mindblowing. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Graphic Novels. A rundown of my favourites!
What are you reading Wednesday. Another update from my neverending assault on Mount TBR.

Tags: , ,

Divider