Category: General


Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 28 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

I’m in a tearing hurry and the theme for this week didn’t excite me madly, so instead, have a Top Ten of books I’ve pulled from the depths of my TBR to take back to Belgium with me to read. Some of them are more recent than others…

  1. Nova, by Samuel R. Delany. I haven’t read any Delany. I know, I know. I’ve just started reading this one, and I’m all at sea, but with how important a work it has been to the SF/F community, I have no doubt it’s going to be interesting.
  2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, by Christopher Moore. I was assured I would enjoy this, but heavily doubted it — while I’m not very religious and definitely not Christian, I still have a certain respect for stories as foundational to culture as the story of Christ. But, I’m 100 pages in and… yeah. I am actually really enjoying it.
  3. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, by James Tiptree Jr. I keep meaning to read it, and I think I mentioned it in a recent TBR, so I loaded it in.
  4. Darkwalker, by E.L. Tettensor. I forget who I follow that read this and sold me on it, but I do recall that it went straight on my TBR after reading their review, so I grabbed it.
  5. The Godless, by Ben Peek. You’re going to groan at me, but this is another one I’ve picked up recently without finishing the others I’ve already started. I’m not in love with the characters, but I’m fascinated by the world-building.
  6. The Beacon at Alexandria, by Gillian Bradshaw. I still need to finish reading Cleopatra’s Heir, but I do love Bradshaw’s work. If you like Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels, it has a similar flavour, though it’s more adult and dense in style. The Beacon at Alexandria features a woman pretending to be a eunuch so she can learn medicine and become a doctor! How can that not appeal?
  7. Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. I have realised that I never finished reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, recommended to me by a wise English teacher who just happened to be ten years too early to catch my interest in non-fiction reading. So I want to read this and then maybe I’ll revisit the other book!
  8. Reality 36, by Guy Haley. From the depths of my TBR, truly — I was given this copy when I visited Angry Robot way back just before I started this blog. I’m a little lost so far, but starting to catch on. (And yes. It is another one I’ve picked up and started recently, but not quite finished. That makes four in this post alone.)
  9. The Family Trade, by Charles Stross. I’ve never yet got on with a book by Charles Stross, but I keep on trying. Technically I have the omnibus containing the first two books of the series, which I think has some changes from the original separate novels.
  10. The Days of the Deer, by Liliana Bodoc. I don’t remember anything about this or why I picked it up, but it happened to be the right size to fill a corner of my suitcase. So in it goes!

Knowing me, I won’t manage to read any of these before I travel back again. It’s the thought that counts…?

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Unstacking the Shelves

Posted 25 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

Yep, it’s happened! That rare, rare week where I actually don’t have any new books to show off, and instead show off the books I’ve read this week in pride of place.

Books finished this week:

Cover of What is Life by Addy Pross Cover of Medical Frontiers by New Scientist Cover of Relativity; Einstein's Mind-bending Universe by New Scientist

Cover of Virolution by Frank Ryan Cover of Urn Burial by Kerry Greenwood

Not a bad week, though the last day or two have been completely taken up by starting to play the new Mass Effect game! A sneak peek at ratings…

-Four stars to… Medical Frontiers and Urn Burial.
-Three stars to… What is Life?, Relativity: Einstein’s Mind-bending Universe, and Virolution.

Reviews posted this week:

Mesopotamia, by Gwendolyn Leick. Aspects of this gave me the feeling the author was speculating wildly without really having any proof, so I actually bailed and never finished it. 1/5 stars
Temeraire, by Naomi Novik. A reread, but I’d forgotten how fun it is! Dragons! Adventure! War! Alternate history! The rest of the series gets less awesome, I hear, but this installment is great. 4/5 stars
On Basilisk Station, by David Weber. I found myself noticing the flaws more this time, but I still really enjoyed the reread. 4/5 stars
Rolling in the Deep, by Mira Grant. Fun, but I feel like it was a little underdeveloped and thus predictable. Nice format, though. 3/5 stars
Natural Histories, by Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss. A little unstructured for my tastes, but some interesting stuff. 3/5 stars
Final Girls, by Mira Grant. This one got under my skin; interesting concept, and the emotional side worked for me. 4/5 stars
p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code, by Sue Armstrong. Fascinating topic, and really readable. If you’re scared of cancer, but curiosity is your antidote, this definitely satisfied mine. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Read In One Sitting. Some of these are pretty long, but they had me hooked.

Remember… no new books were obtained. I resisted! Instead, we’re celebrating what I managed to read. <3

How’s everyone been doing?

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Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Read in one sitting”, and given that I am a fast reader, this is not too rare for me. So I’ll do my best to pick the cream of the crop…

Cover of Vicious by V.E. Schwab Cover of The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard Cover of On Basilisk Station by David Weber Cover of Liar by Justine Larbalestier Cover of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

  1. Vicious, by V.E. Schwab. I expected to read 50 pages and put it down to do something else. I did not.
  2. The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. When I started it, my wife had just handed me my dinner and gone out to class. When I finished it, she was heading home from class and my dinner was cold.
  3. On Basilisk Station, by David Weber. Whatever faults this series may have, I sat in a cooling bath to read the whole of the first one in one go. And the books aren’t that short.
  4. Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. Man, it’s been ages since I read this, but I really didn’t stop when I was reading it. So satisfying.
  5. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. If you feel like getting your heart ripped out, this isn’t a bad way to go.
  6. Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb. Or, more accurately, the first time I read it I tried to read it in one sitting, but I was 15 and my mother came and confiscated the book so I’d sleep.
  7. Among Others, by Jo Walton. And I never wanted it to end, either. I had the same experience with Farthing, but that felt less personal.
  8. Planetfall, by Emma Newman. I was even on my honeymoon at the time. Sorry, dear.
  9. The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. Heyer’s books are just funny and sweet and perfect when you’re in the right mood.
  10. The Winter Prince, by Elizabeth Wein. I don’t remember the plot of this very well, but I know I read all the books of the series in the space of two days. Not bad.

Cover of Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb Cover of Among Others by Jo Walton Cover of Planetfall by Emma Newman Cover of The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer Cover of The Winter Prince by Elizabeth E. Wein

I can’t wait to see everyone else’s picks!

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Stacking the Shelves

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

Happy Saturday!

The, ah, acquisitive mood of last week prevailed this week too — though I promise, some of these were ordered a while ago and were just waiting for me at my parents’ house. It’s quite the haul though!

New fiction:

Cover of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence Cover of The Vorrh by B. Catling Cover of Wintersong by S. Jae Jones Cover of A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Red Sister and The Vorrh are both review copies. I’m thinking Wintersong might be next up on the list to read…

New non-fiction:

Cover of The Real Lives of Roman Britain by Guy de la Bedoyere Cover of Hengeworld by Mike Pitts Cover of Fairweather Eden by Mike Pitts Cover of Hardian's Wall by David Breeze and Brian Dobson

Cover of The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards Cover of What is Life by Addy Pross Cover of New Scientist: How Your Brain Works Cover of New Scientist: Where the Universe Came From

Cover of How We Live and Why We Die by Lewis Wolpert Cover of Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees Cover of How Long Is Now?

Plus a whole bunch of New Scientist collections, which I won’t feature here right now. But there’s eight of them and I counted them all as books on my acquired list, so I’d better get reading!

Books read this week: 

Cover of How Long Is Now? Cover of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham Cover of Mind-Expanding Ideas by New Scientist

Cover of The Human Brain by New Scientist Cover of Gaia by James Lovelock Cover of Fairweather Eden by Mike Pitts

I fit in some good reading time this week, but it’s all non-fiction! Apparently I’m in an odd mood…

Sneak peek at ratings:
Four stars to… Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, The Human Brain, Gaia and Fairweather Eden.
Three stars to… How Long is Now and Mind-Expanding Ideas.

Reviews posted this week:

Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor. These novellas are mostly proving not to be my thing, and it didn’t help that I felt like I needed to reread the first one. 2/5 stars
Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. Some really amazing women and a well-told story of where they came from and how they got where they wanted to go. 4/5 stars
The Burning Page, by Genevieve Cogman. Lots of fun, as with the whole series, but I’m glad there’s going to be more. This didn’t feel like an ending. 4/5 stars
Blood and Circuses, by Kerry Greenwood. Lively and entertaining, as you’d expect with Phryne, though with a surprisingly dark patch near the end. 4/5 stars
Martians Abroad, by Carrie Vaughn. This fell somewhat flat for me — I didn’t really believe in the conflict. 2/5 stars
I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Yong. Entertaining and informative, and perhaps a bit lighter and with more sense-of-wonder than some of the other books on microbes I’ve read. 4/5 stars
Chalk, by Paul Cornell. Well-written, but not my thing at all. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: TBR. A selection of books that I’ll maybe, possibly, hopefully be reading soon.
What are you reading Wednesday. An update on what I’ve been reading, and what I might read next. Or soon. Maybe.

How’s your week been?

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 16 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

The last two were a New Scientist collection about the human brain, which was good, and Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham. Lots of science at the moment. Catching Fire is pretty good; there’s one chapter about gender roles I want to go over again, because I was getting kind of sleepy when I read it. But overall, it was evidence-based and convincing, I think.

What are you currently reading?

I just started reading James Lovelock’s Gaia. It’s a classic, and the Gaia theory is something I’ve been vaguely aware of for a long time, so I thought I’d plunge in. Plus it’s part of OUP’s Landmark Science series, which I really want to dig into. I have a few others.

What are you planning to read next?

I’m not sure. I just got a big pile of books which ideally I need to kind of… dissipate before I go back to Belgium, so I don’t have to drag them all in my suitcase. I think I’ll finally focus on finishing Emma Newman’s Planetfall, and then I might read S. Jae Jones’ Wintersong.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 14 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

Good morning, all! Looks like Top Ten Tuesday is back, and the official theme is what’s coming up on your spring TBR. Well… ten books is far too few, plus when I make these lists I never end up following them. But let’s just say there’s a good chance I’ll read some of these soon. And to spice things up, I’ll give you two books I’m planning to reread, two review copies I need to get to, two books from my backlog I want to read, two books that everyone else wants me to read, and two books I don’t own yet but would rather like to read.

Cover of The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay Cover of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab Cover of The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi Cover of The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard Cover of  The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

  1. To reread: Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan. I’ve been meaning to reread this for a while, and it’s one of my mother’s favourites. I don’t even remember it that well, so this should be good.
  2. To reread: V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s time to read the whole trilogy!
  3. To review: John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire. His books are always a good time, and this one’s been sat waiting for a while. Time to get to it.
  4. To review: Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Binding Thorns. Again, this one has been waiting for me a while. It’s high time, especially since the first book made me forget to eat my dinner.
  5. From the backlog: Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer. This is the Tor.com book club choice, which means it feels rather like a kick in the butt to actually go ahead and read these books… which have been waiting on my backlog for literally years.
  6. From the backlog: James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. It’s a classic, and I feel terrible that I haven’t read it — and now I’m here at my parents’ house for a while, there’s a copy staring me accusingly in the face…
  7. Please read it, Nikki: Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves. Um. I know. I have no excuse. I’m sorry.
  8. Please read it, Nikki: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. My sister really wants me to read this series sometime. Sometime. 
  9. Wishlist: Melinda Salisbury’s The Scarecrow Queen. I haven’t uncritically loved this series, but I do want to know where it goes. There’s something very compulsive about it!
  10. Wishlist: Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer. Give. It. To. Me.

Cover of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr. Cover of Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch Cover of A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin Cover of The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury Cover of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

So there y’go: the TBR I almost certainly won’t complete in the spring… Heh. What about all of you? Can you stick to a TBR?

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Stacking the Shelves

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

I might not be commenting much this weekend, as I’m in London attending a genetics event and hopefully learning a ton. But! I do have some new books to show off, and you can bet I’ll comment back after the weekend.

Received to review:

Cover of Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

After last week, I’ve been pretty restrained in my requesting…

Bought:

Cover of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel Cover of The Poison Eater by Shanna Germain Cover of Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip Cover of The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan

Cover of The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins Cover of Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles Cover of The Paper Trail by Alexander Monro Cover of The Brain Supremacy by Kathleen Taylor

Cover of Neanderthal Man by Svante Paabo Cover of Gaia by James Lovelock Cover of Herding Hemingway's Cats by Kat Arney Cover of The Emerald Planet by David Beerling

But there were a couple of books on sale I didn’t want to miss, and also I hit the bookshops in London while I could. Grabbed The Poison Eater because I’ve been playing Torment: Tides of Numenera and I wanted more background to the world. And a lot of non-fic from my wishlist, because my non-fic shelf at my wife’s place is looking a bit thin and sad.

Books read this week:

Cover of In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle Cover of Touch by David J. Linden Cover of Brisk Money by Adam Christopher Cover of Standard Hollywood Depravity by Adam Christopher

Cover of The Vikings by Neil Oliver Cover of Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire Cover of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Sneak peek at ratings:
Five stars to… Every Heart a Doorway.
Four stars to… In Calabria, Brisk Money, Standard Hollywood Depravity and Down Among the Sticks and Bones.
Three stars to… Vikings and Touch.

Reviews posted this week:

Foxglove Summer, by Ben Aaronovitch. A step back from the main action of the series, this takes Peter (gasp) outside of London! It’s lacking in some of the support characters we all love, but there’s a fascinating extra bit of lore, and Peter’s still pretty badass. 4/5 stars
Birthright, by Missouri Vaun. A fun fantasy with lesbian main characters and a happy end. 3/5 stars
Agents of Dreamland, by Caitlin R. Kiernan. Another riff on Lovecraft, though a less well-known idea. Creepy and bleak, but very effective. 4/5 stars
The Green Mill Murder, by Kerry Greenwood. Three words: wombat ex machina. 3/5 stars
The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, by David Hone. Want to know everything currently known about tyrannosaurs? This has got you covered. 5/5 stars
Brother’s Ruin, by Emma Newman. Intriguing start, but I’m not quite sold yet. 3/5 stars
Standard Hollywood Depravity, by Adam Christopher. Like the other related works, this is a fun, Chandler-esque romp… with robot. 4/5 stars
The Buried Book, by David Damrosch. An excellent accompaniment to reading one of the world’s earliest surviving stories, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Lots of context both for the poem and how it was found again after being lost for so long. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want to Finish. About what it says on the tin!
What are you reading Wednesday. My usual update on what I’m reading, what I’ve just read, and what I’m planning to read.

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 8 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 9 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished reading waaaaas… Neil Oliver’s Vikings, which was interesting and kind of contradicted what I was reading in Francis Pryor’s books! More research necessary to see if the two views can be reconciled? Anyway, a pretty easy read for non-fiction, with a bit of a tendency to veer off into fictional imaginings of individual Vikings.

What are you currently reading?

Most of the books I was reading last week, because I suck. But also Britain After Rome, by Robin Fleming (also contradicts Pryor) and a reread of Every Heart A Doorway.

What are you planning to read next?

Down Among the Sticks and Bones, obviously!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 7 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

Looks like Top Ten Tuesday isn’t back yet, so here’s another theme of my own. Cribbing from someone else’s choice last week, here are some series I want to finish (or at least continue, in the case of series which haven’t finished yet)!

Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire Cover of Feedback by Mira Grant Cover of Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas Cover of Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

  1. Lady Isabella Trent, by Marie Brennan. The last book is out soon. Okay, this is sad and depressing and I don’t want it, also, but I can’t wait to have the last book.
  2. October Daye, by Seanan McGuire. I don’t know if this actually has a projected end, at this point? But nonetheless, I’d like to get there someday.
  3. Newsflesh, by Mira Grant. I keep stalling on reading the other books, having read the first, but I definitely want to.
  4. Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas. I see plenty of people who don’t like the way the series has gone, and I haven’t read the latest three books (I think) yet, so I might change my mind. But for now, I’m definitely interested.
  5. Clockwork Century, by Cherie Priest. I didn’t love the first book, Boneshaker, but I do remember enjoying it and there’s a lot that intrigues me about the later books.
  6. Phryne Fisher, by Kerry Greenwood. …Again.
  7. Temeraire, by Naomi Novik. Someday! I’ve read the first book again recently, and I would like to read them all this time.
  8. The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman. There should be more books in the future, from what I hear, so gimme, gimme, gimme!
  9. Blackthorn and Grim, by Juliet Marillier. Even though I’m being terrible about getting round to it, even with a copy right here…
  10. Peter Grant, by Ben Aaronovitch. Someday! Not soon, I hope…

Cover of Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik Cover of The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman Cover of Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier Cover of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 4 March, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Happy Saturday! Phew. Busy week, as ever, but I have fit in more time to read than I have been doing lately, so that’s something!

Also, I keep meaning to post this! You may not know this, but I’m a moderator over on Habitica, a site that’s all about gamifying good habits. A few weeks ago they did a contributor spotlight about me, and this piece of art happened. <3

shanaqui_legendarybookclub

That’s me on the left as you look at it — it’s my mod avatar, which is really awesome and done by Leslie from Habitica. The rest of the graphic is by beffymaroo, another staff member.

And hey, if you’re on Habitica, the Legendary Book Club are reading After Atlas by Emma Newman this month.

Received to review:

Cover of In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle Cover of The Asylum of Dr Caligari by James Morrow Cover of A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys Cover of The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

Cover of Standard Hollywood Depravity by Adam Christopher Cover of Proof of Concept by Gwyneth Jones Cover of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

I’m especially excited about Down Among the Sticks and Bones, but it’s a pretty awesome bunch overall!

Finished this week:

Cover of The Planet in a Pebble by Jan Zalasiewicz Cover of Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood Cover of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by J.R.R. Tolkien

Cover of Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher Cover of Proof of Concept by Gwyneth Jones Cover of Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan Cover of Chalk by Paul Cornell

A better week for reading, too, as you can see! Hurrah. Sneak peak at ratings:

4 stars to… Summer in Orcus, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun and Agents of Dreamland.
3 stars to… The Planet in a Pebble, Ruddy Gore and Proof of Concept.
2 stars to… Chalk.

Reviews posted this week: 

Diamond Dogs, by Alastair Reynolds. A really well put together novella that stuck with me a long time — and yet still had the delights of recognition and understanding the second time round. 4/5 stars
An Artificial Night, by Seanan McGuire. Remains a super fun urban fantasy, with some clever stuff going on with references to Shakespeare and folklore. I do wish Toby would grow up and let people help her, though. 4/5 stars
The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. Not a comfortable read, but very informative about what we’ve done to the world. I do wish there’d been more looking forward, though. 3/5 stars
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe. I can’t speak for the accuracy of the science, but I do enjoy the humour — and wish I understood how Munroe can make stick figures cute.
Death at Victoria Dock, by Kerry Greenwood. Very dramatic and full of all the usual elements of a Phryne mystery. 3/5 stars
The Secret Library, by Oliver Tearle. Beautifully presented, and good to dip in and out of, but not something you’d sit down and just read through. Unless you’re me. 3/5 stars
The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean. Well explained science, though a bit grasshoppery in terms of the subject matter. If you like chemistry and some physics, this’d be up your street. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Have A Squish On. A bit like a crush, but not quite.
What are you reading Wednesday. The Wednesday update about, well, what I’ve been reading.
ShelfLove/Game of Books Update. How I’ve been doing in this year’s reading challenges!

So how’re you doing?

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