Category: General


What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 20 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

It’s funny how Wednesday keeps falling on a Thursday, isn’t it?

Cover of The Dispatcher by John ScalziWhat have you recently finished reading?

Most recently was John Scalzi’s novella, The Dispatcher. A good quick read — it takes an interesting ‘what if’ and then generates a mystery story around it. It’s kind of fantasy, in that the reason behind the what if isn’t explored, but kind of speculative fiction/sci-fi in the way it extrapolates the effects on society. This is why I just prefer to call everything SF/F and cover all my bases.

What are you currently reading? 

Judith Herrin’s Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire. It is not remotely surprising to me, all things considered, but I am finding it interesting. Mostly it is making me want to reread Gillian Bradshaw’s The Bearkeeper’s Daughter and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium. Mostly the latter, since I recentlyCover of Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay reread The Lions of Al-Rassan.

What will you read next?

I’m partway through a reread of Amanda Downum’s The Bone Palace, and after that I want to finally read the next book, Kingdoms of Dust. After that, I’m not sure; I should tackle something on my started-but-not-finished pile, so possibly Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff. Or I could just follow my whim and reread Sailing to Sarantium. I also have some books out of the library, and I should particularly try and make progress with G.R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois’ Dangerous Women anthology.

Tags: , ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 18 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

This week’s theme is ten things that immediately make me want to read a book. I’m pretty eclectic, so there’s a lot…

Cover of Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone Cover of Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb Cover of Lifelode by Jo Walton

  1. A really pretty cover. I was hooked by the idea of Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone just from that cover.
  2. A unique-sounding magic system. Or combinations of magic systems that feel different, like Robin Hobb’s the Wit and the Skill.
  3. Genetics. Mostly if we’re talking non-fiction, but a good fiction plot around the topic works too.
  4. Non-traditional heroes. Like Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel, or the Jewish gay Billy Kaplan as Wiccan (originally Asgardian). Same goes outside comics, but they were the examples that sprang to mind.
  5. Non-traditional family structures. Like in Jo Walton’s Lifelode, for example.
  6. Not entirely humanoid aliens. Like the people on Winter in Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, with their temporary genders and non-constant breeding cycles. I love it when aliens are genuinely alien in some way, even if it’s only a small twist.
  7. Found family. I’m thinking of Cherie Priest’s Bloodshot and Hellbent, but also the Phryne Fisher books and… goodness knows how many others. It just gets me, people making a family out of whatever they have, whoever they can find.
  8. Dead gods. Something about that concept just… intrigues. I’m reading Ben Peek’s The Godless at the moment, for example.
  9. Dragons. Because, uh, dragons!
  10. Mixing genres. A spec-fic spy thriller? Gimme! Noir robot detective? Yes please!

Cover of Dead Man's Chest by Kerry Greenwood Cover of The Godless by Ben Peek Cover of Bloodshot by Cherie Priest

Tags: ,

Divider

Unstacking the Shelves

Posted 15 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 14 Comments

It’s a blue moon! Or something. Yep, I’ve had a week where I haven’t bought a single book, or received any to review. So first, have a picture of my two bunnies cuddling…

Bunnies, cuddlin'!

They’re not quite at the point where they can run around together yet, but they’re certainly getting used to each other.

And now, the weekly roundup!

Books I’ve finished reading this week:

Cover of The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay Cover of New Scientist: Where the Universe Came From Cover of The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch Cover of The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Not the busiest reading week ever, but not bad either! And the ratings…

Five stars to… The Lions of Al-Rassan.
Four stars to… The Furthest Station.
Three stars to… Where the Universe Came From.

Reviews posted this week:

Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. A reread. I find this one magical and greatly enjoy the protagonist. 5/5 stars
Britain AD, by Francis Pryor. Unfortunately, Pryor’s shaky scholarship in this book made me seriously worried about his credibility in general. He’s wrong on King Arthur, and I strongly suspect he’s wrong on linguistics and genetics as well. 2/5 stars
Wicked Wonders, by Ellen Klages. An eerie and wistful and tender collection of stories I greatly enjoyed. 4/5 stars
Summer in Orcus, by T. Kingfisher. Reminds me of Valente’s Fairyland books, while still being very much its own book with some amazing and quirky characters. 4/5 stars
After Atlas, by Emma Newman. Works well as a standalone and as a companion to Planetfall, and leaves me wondering, at the end… My only quibble would be that I didn’t engage as fully with the main character as I did in Planetfall. 4/5 stars
On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. A classic and desperately important work, it might be a little slow to read but it was definitely worth it. Darwin was a great scientist, capable of generating testable hypotheses and following through, and criticising his own work. 5/5 stars
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I might not be a fan of the way the Tolkien estate puts out just about anything J.R.R. scribbled, but I did find this fascinating. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Breaths of Fresh Air. Books which struck me as bringing something fresh and new to my experience.
What are you reading Wednesday. The usual weekly update — which happened on Wednesday, honest, guv.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t visit you back last week, I’m afraid it’s because I had a problem with getting comment notifications. I have been baffled about how silent y’all were being! I’m on the case now and will visit back as soon as I can.

Tags: , ,

Divider

What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 13 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

Ssh. It’s not Thursday yet. I’m in a magical bubble of time dilation, or something.

Cover of The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel KayWhat have you recently finished reading?

Juuuust finished my reread of Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan. My heart is broken, of course; he writes brilliantly, and the ending is so tragic and bittersweet. And ugh, I wish Rodrigo and Ammar could just… walk away, and not fight each other. It’s inevitable that they do, and that’s part of the heartbreak, but. Gah.

Cover of New Scientist: Where the Universe Came FromWhat are you currently reading?

With the usual caveat that I’m technically currently reading a lot of things, the top of my pile right now is The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi. I had an ARC, but I saw a published copy in the local bookshop and grabbed it. Couldn’t resist. And now I’ve finally started it!

What will you read next?

I’m fairly confident, for some reason, that on Thursday morning I will start reading New Scientist’s Instant Expert: Where the Universe Came From. Because I haven’t been bending my brain with relativity enough already. Possibly this has something to do with how I can time travel so I’m still in Wednesday as I write this…

Tags: , , , ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 11 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “unique books”. I’m not sure these books are unique, but they felt like a breath of fresh air when I read them.

  1. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. A complete antidote to all the grimdark fantasy out there, this felt like a message of hope. It’s about building bridges rather than walls. Apt for the current political climate, I’d say.
  2. The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I’m not sure why, but this practically leapt off the page for me when I read it first.
  3. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. Character-focused, thoughtful, touching. Small scope, huge heart.
  4. The Bone Palace, by Amanda Downum. The first book didn’t blow me away, but this one did, particularly with the character of Savedra.
  5. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. I went in sceptical; I came out dazed.
  6. This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab. Or perhaps Vicious — either way, there’s some vital spark about Schwab’s work that made it feel genuinely exciting.
  7. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. I picked it up with quite a bit of scepticism, and then devoured it. Something felt new.
  8. City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett. One of those books that made me go, wow, you’ve gotta read this.
  9. Among Others, by Jo Walton. It’s set after the character’s great calamity — it’s about moving on (and the way life doesn’t stop throwing new stories at you).
  10. Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb. I read it when I was fourteen and was totally hooked. The magic systems were just fascinating.

Kinda dreading looking at other people’s lists today — as if I need to expand my TBR more! By which I mean: gimme.

Tags: ,

Divider

Stacking the Shelves

Posted 8 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 34 Comments

Good morning! It’s the weekend! Whew. I’ve set myself up a deadly study timetable, so I’m just glad to reach a breathing space. I did get some reading done too, though; good thing, or I’d go bonkers, I think. (More bonkers.)

Received to review

Cover of All Good Things by Emma Newman Cover of Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell Cover of The Dispatcher by John Scalzi Cover of The Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Cover of The Innkeeper Chronicles, by Ilona Andrews Cover of Mightier than the Sword by K.J. Parker Cover of The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch Cover of Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

A nice little haul, as you can see! I’m pretty excited about all of these, honestly.

Books finished this week:

Cover of After Atlas by Emma Newman Cover of Britain After Rome Cover of The Vital Question by Nick Lane

I swear, I’m trying to read more fiction again!

Sneak peek at ratings:
Four stars to… After Atlas, Britain After Rome and The Vital Question.

Reviews posted this week:

Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. I think this might be most appealing to those who don’t know the Eddas well in the first place. As it is, while I could appreciate the clever takes on the old stories, I knew what was going on a little too well. And some of the cleverness is not Gaiman himself, but straight from pre-Christian Norse tradition. 3/5 stars
Deadly Companions, by Dorothy H. Crawford. A great survey of how disease has shaped human society. Not very in-depth, though. 3/5 stars
Britain BC, by Francis Pryor. I have some issues with some of Pryor’s theories, based on my understanding of genetics, linguistics and literature, but the archaeological evidence discussed is fascinating. 4/5 stars
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, by Richard Wrangham. Solid theory, and really engagingly written. 4/5 stars
Ruddy Gore, by Kerry Greenwood. A reread, and still fun, though there are aspects of Phryne’s character/treatment and understanding of others I’m a little tired of. 3/5 stars
Proof of Concept, by Gwyneth Jones. This took a while to come together for me, but there were aspects I enjoyed. 3/5 stars
Brisk Money, by Adam Christopher. More fun with Christopher’s noir robot PI world. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Comics I Follow. The theme was fandom, and I went with comics!
What are you reading Wednesday. My weekly update.

Tags: , ,

Divider

What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 5 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

I juuust finished The Vital Question, by Nick Lane. I’d like to read some papers on this kind of thing, rather than a pop science book; he seems so certain about how life evolved and why life anywhere in the universe is probably under the same constraints! And the best bit is, this is kind of my field, so I probably can follow up on some of it. It does give me that wonder-of-science feeling.

What are you currently reading?

I just started The Furthest Station, by Ben Aaronovitch, and other than that I think Samuel R. Delany’s Nova is next on my list to finish.

What will you read next?

I haven’t really decided that yet… I have a new method which my wife taught me. I pick five books out that I’d like to read, she picks two of them, and then I pick one of those two. It seems to be working surprisingly well so far. And I should do that now, probably.

Tags: ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This one is a “fandom freebie”, which I’m going to spin to being about asking which comics I follow (or try to follow), because I’m not so much into fandom, especially book fandom, lately.

Cover of The Wicked + The Divine by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen Cover of Marvel's Young Avengers: Mic-Drop at the Edge of Time and Space Cover of Captain Marvel #1 Cover of Ms Marvel: No Normal by Adrian Alphona Cover of Captain America: The Red Menace

  1. The Wicked + The DivineIt’s gorgeous, for one thing. And I’m kind of hooked on the story too, even if the third volume didn’t really advance it.
  2. Young AvengersAnd any/all of the characters from that series — Hulkling, Wiccan, Speed, Ms. America, Hawkeye… I love that they’re starting to appear in the adult Avengers teams now.
  3. Captain Marvel. Because Carol’s pretty amazing and the series has had some gorgeous art. I wasn’t totally wowed by Rise of Alpha Flight, and Civil War II sounds like a nightmare of a crossover event, but I’m still here for Carol.
  4. Ms Marvel. Because Kamala Khan is badass.
  5. Captain America. Kind of… I love Cap, but mostly the MCU version.
  6. Spider-woman. Because who doesn’t love Jessica Drew and her, uh, sismance(?!) with Carol Danvers. Speaking of which, who noticed they stuck Jessica Drew’s wings on Spiderman in the trailer for the new one? Ugh.
  7. Silk. Because I love the starburst of spiderwomen we’ve had lately.
  8. Spider-Gwen. Ditto!
  9. Thor. Mostly the Jane Foster version, mind you.
  10. Avengers. Sort of. Mostly I love the MCU version, but I’m very much here for the new team-ups like A-Force in principle. I need to catch up, though…

Cover of Spider-woman: Vol 0 Cover of Silk by Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee Cover of Spider-Gwen: Greater Power Cover of Thor: Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaron Cover of Avengers Assemble: Science Bros

So yeah. Fandom! Ish.

Tags: ,

Divider

Stacking the Shelves

Posted 1 April, 2017 by Nikki in General / 30 Comments

Good morning! I haven’t been doing much reading this week, but I totally blame the new addition to my family for that — welcome Breakfast!

Photo of Breakfast the bunny popping his head out of a cardboard box.

You might remember that we already have one bunny, Hulk, and have been trying to find her a companion for a while now. So far, things are going well with Breakfast, so fingers crossed!

But, right, this is about books…

Books to review:

Cover of The Pinks by Chris Enss Cover of Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

The Pinks looks fascinating — I didn’t even know Pinkertons had female detectives. And Waking Gods is a sequel to a book I bought a couple of weeks ago, and continually hear good things about. I really should’ve read the first book first, but the sequel was on ‘read now’…

Books bought:

Cover of Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow Cover of The Worm at the Core Cover of The Upright Thinkers by Leonard Mlodinow

Another batch of non-fiction — I’m getting predictable…

Books finished this week:

Cover of Being Human by New Scientist Cover of Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

I know, it’s pathetic by my usual standards!

Reviews posted: 

This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart. A comfort reread, with a delightful heroine who doesn’t go on mere appearances but actually weighs up the characters of her putative lovers, and figures out much of the mystery to boot. 3/5 stars
Reading Like A Writer, by Francine Prose. I love the idea of close-reading, and advocate it, but this book is much more about reading like Francine Prose, and appreciating the same things she does. 2/5 stars
Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire. In this installment, we get more of a peek into Toby’s parents and her true heritage, as well as a story in which all does not turn out okay at the end. 4/5 stars
Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear. I was hoping for my new Phryne Fisher, but Daisy feels a lot colder, and the writing is not all that. The structure takes away from any mystery and suspense. 2/5 stars
Gaia, by James Lovelock. A now-classic theory of the world’s interlocking systems of biological and non-biological cycles, which I really don’t find myself disagreeing with much. 4/5 stars
The Death of Caesar, by Barry Strauss. Interesting, and went into aspects of Caesar’s assassination I knew nothing about, but not the most riveting of Strauss’ books. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Should Get Round To Soon. You guessed it. It’s a list of books I want to get round to sometime soon.
What are you reading Wednesday. What was I reading on Wednesday…?

Tags: , ,

Divider

What are you reading Wednesday

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

Cover of Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-SmithWhat have you recently finished reading?

I read Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith on the Eurostar yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It makes me really tempted to get some diving experience so I can meet octopi and cuttlefish, though I’m very surprised to learn that they actually tend to live only two years. When he was talking about meeting friendly individuals, I was imagining being able to revisit the same cuttlefish throughout something closer to the same lifespan…Cover of After Atlas by Emma Newman

What are you currently reading?

A lot of things. The next book I’m going to focus on finishing is After Atlas, by Emma Newman; I also recently picked up Samuel Delany’s Nova, Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff and Ben Peek’s The Godless — all of which are fascinating, but I should really try and focus on one at a time.

What will you read next?

Probably I’ll get on with finishing The Godless and then turn to Britain After Rome to finish that, but maybe dual-wield it with Lamb for a lighter touch!

Tags: ,

Divider