Category: General


Top Ten Tuesday

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

I’d feel weird if I didn’t do these posts at all, but I’m not primarily, or at least solely, a reader of new books. So themes like the one for this week aren’t really geared at me… that theme being “Top Ten 2017 Debuts I’m Excited For”.

So, going off on an entirely unexpected tangent (/sarcasm font), here’s…

My ten bookish resolutions:

  1. Read for joy. If I’m dreading reading a book, I’m not going to read it. If I’m dying to reread an old favourite, I’ll reread it. If I get halfway through and I can’t bear a minute more, I’ll DNF.
  2. I’ll honestly review books I don’t finish. I think it can still be useful to know why someone didn’t get along with a book, even if they didn’t finish it. So I’ll be reviewing and rating books, even if I don’t finish ’em.
  3. I will strive to remember that my ratings are wholly personal. I think The Goblin Emperor is the most five-star book of all the five-star books. Buuut, that’s just me, and I know it. I rate based on enjoyment, which is why I feel that I can give an honest rating to a book I don’t finish. I need to keep making it totally clear that’s how I rate and review, though. And, especially, not act like a book is bad just because I disliked it.
  4. Read more than I buy. I have a whole spreadsheet for this, which tracks interesting-to-me reading stats. Like the amount I paid for the books I’ve read, and how much I’ve spent on new books, for example. I plan for the former number to be higher than the latter, at all times. We’ll, uh, see.
  5. Spare time? Read! Why do I end up wasting time so often? My plan is to get good at just picking a book up and reading.
  6. I’ll boost books I love. In whatever way I can — reviews, giveaways, etc.
  7. I’ll boost older books too. You never know what might be someone’s gateway drug, or whatever. There are some older books that you don’t see around the blogosphere. A lot of them are amazing!
  8. I’ll read more audiobooks or cancel my Audible subscription. Really, self. More crochet, more walking, more audiobooks.
  9. I’ll comment on at least one other blog every single day. I did this in 2016, and I enjoyed getting out there and interacting.
  10. I’ll comment on at least one new blog every week. Who knows what gems I’ll find, right?

And of course, my usual ones like replying to and returning all comments still stand.

What’re your bookish resolutions?

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2016 Wrapup, and Onward 2017

Posted 1 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

In the last month of 2016, I gave up and decided to just read for joy. Following that, I’m only just getting round to signing up for any new challenges and the like. Here’s a quick rundown of 2016’s stats first…

2016 in Review:

Books bought: 228 (within my allowed number of 250)
Books read:
359 (slightly short of my original goal of 366)
Pre-2016 TBR read:
171 (short of my goal of 200)

So not bad at all.

For 2017, my Goodreads goal is 300 books, but really I’m focusing on my Game of Books score. I’m aiming to finish the year with 1,000 points — which would equal my usual amount of reading, but measured more by quality than quantity. Or that’s the hope, anyway.

shelf love challenge 2017

I am participating in ShelfLove again, of course. Once again, my aim is to read 51+ of my pre-2017 TBR books… There’s no book-buying ban for me this year, though my usual budget basically applies (it’s a percentage of my earnings), and I want to buy fewer books this year than I read by a bigger margin than last year. So I’m aiming at buying 200 books or less. That’s still a lot of books, I know — but I read so much!

Bout of Books 18
Aaaand there’s a Bout of Books read-a-thon from the 2nd January to the 8th, and I’m intending to join in. I have no particular goals, but a book a day would be nice.

I’m also using the Litsy app now, and would love to have more people to share short snippets, quick reviews and book photos with on there. You can find me under the username “shanaqui”!

So there we go. Onward! What book are you starting the year with?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 31 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

Hey everyone! It’s nearly a brand new year, but here’s my last haul for this one first. It’s a pretty epic haul — everyone spoilt me, book-wise. I’m oddly pleased by the fact that I got equal numbers of fiction and non-fiction books!

New Fiction

Cover of Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier Cover of The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman Cover of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch Cover of Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

Cover of The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis Cover of The Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper Cover of The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey Cover of Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

Cover of the Complete She-Hulk by Dan Slott Cover of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness Cover of Slade House by David Mitchell

I had ARCs of a couple of these, but it’s good to have a finished copy. I blame Mogsy @ Bibliosanctum for a whole bunch of these — it was her reviews that made me put them on my wishlist.

New Non-fiction

Cover of A New History of Life by Peter Ward Cover of The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss Cover of The Tyrannosaur Chronicles by David Hone Cover of I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong

Cover of Natural Histories by Brett Westwood Cover of A Monstrous Commotion by Gareth Williams Cover of The Wood for the Trees by Richard Fortey Cover of The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle

Cover of The Copernicus Complex Caleb Scharf Cover of What If by Randall Munroe Cover of Human Universe by Brian Cox

Tyrannosaurs! The Loch Ness monster! Microbes! It’s a great haul, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Finished this week:

Cover of Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu Cover of Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds

Cover of Slade House by David Mitchell  Cover of What If by Randall Munroe Cover of Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood

Reviews posted this week:

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. Rather, well, predictable, if you already know your psychology. Still interesting, and very readable. 3/5 stars
Death of a Unicorn, by Peter Dickinson. Does not actually contain any unicorns. I knew that, but still found it disappointing. 2/5 stars
A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. A little predictable, but nonetheless, really hard-hitting about grief and dealing with it. 4/5 stars
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, trans. Ken Liu. This intrigued me, but I wasn’t totally sucked in. Part of that might be the translation. 3/5 stars
Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, by Matt Ridley. A little dry and a little out of date, but still fun of interesting stuff for the genetics aficionado. 3/5 stars
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Some of this goes a little too far into, well, ‘woo’. But the central idea was valuable to me. 4/5 stars
Miniatures, by John Scalzi. More or less what you’d expect if you know Scalzi’s work. Probably great as a collectible, less so for enjoying a solid piece of fiction which goes places. These are fun enough, but they’re all very short (of course) and have the same sort of humour behind them. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourites of 2016. Pretty much what it says on the tin.
A Game of Books. So next year, I’m going to treat reaching my reading goals like a game. I get points based on book length and how long it’s been on my TBR, for example. There’s a spreadsheet and anyone’s welcome to join in and play!

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A Game of Books

Posted 28 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

I have trouble with reading goals. If I set a number, I’ll find myself racing through books, sticking to shorter books, and ignoring the books I truly want to read. So, I have two plans for next year. Resolutions, I suppose.

The first one: read for joy.

You’d think it’s obvious, but nope. I find myself reading out of a sense of obligation all the time. I don’t reread X because I need to read A in time for the publication date. I don’t read Y because B has been on my list for longer. I don’t read Z because C is shorter, which means I can meet my reading goal faster. And though quite often I enjoy A, B and C, I wanted to read X, Y and Z more.

So my plan for this year is to read whatever brings me joy. I just have another rule — or, well, a game.

A "Game of Books" image, based on the Iron Throne

Yep. It goes like this: let’s say I normally read about 30 books a month when I’m trying to stick to a reading goal. So we’ll call that… 90 points, if each book is worth 3 points (see below). I want to earn 100 points a month. Each book gets points from a couple of different categories: Acquisition, Length and Joy Factor. I get more points for reading a book I bought back in 2013 than for a book bought in 2017, more points for a 500-pager than a 300-pager, and more points for reading something that felt in any way like a chore.

 AcquisitionLengthJoy Factor
12017, borrowed, current ARC, rereadComic/under 300 pagesMUST READ NOW
22015-2016400+ pagesIt can wait
32013-2014500+ pagesI'm not exactly pumped
42011-2012600+ pagesDo I HAVE to?

So say I read Owl and the Japanese Circus, which I got in 2015. I want to read it, but I’m not all grabby-grabby. I only have it as an ebook, so I’ll check the page count on Goodreads… 432. So that’s two points for Acquisition, two for Length, and two for Joy Factor. Six points for the book in total.

If I finally read Glyn Jones’ The Island of Apples, that’s from 2011 (4 points), it’s 256 pages long (1 point) and I’m not very enthused about it (3 points, possibly 4). So that’d get me 8-9 points. I’d only need to read 13 books in that month to hit my goal, but I’d have picked up something from way back in the TBR that I was interested in (because I’ve never bought a book I had no interest in) that I might not have picked otherwise.

The point is that little bit of extra motivation… or not, if all I want to do is devour 30ish books of under 300 pages in length each month.

Also, to give myself some wriggle room, while 100 is the monthly goal — which would mean a yearly goal of 1,200 points — I’m going to make my overall goal 1,000 points, to keep things a bit more relaxed.

Can I do this too?

Sure! Feel free to adapt it however you want, but I’d appreciate a link back here. I’ll be posting updates every month on how I’m doing, and I’ve made a spreadsheet with a template sheet you can copy, edit, whatever. You can find that here! And don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing if you do join in.

And if you can make better graphics, knock yourself out…

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 27 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

Is it Tuesday again already? Hope everyone had a good weekend, and a good Christmas if you celebrated! The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the top books of 2016, so without further ado…

Cover of Dinosaurs Without Bones by Anthony Martin Cover of City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett Cover of City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett Cover of Vicious by V.E. Schwab Cover of Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

  1. Dinosaurs Without Bones, by Anthony J. Martin. Entertaining and informative, and it’s about dinosaurs. I loved it and it got five stars without hesitation.
  2. City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett. It took me far too long to get around to it, but once I did, I was blown away. And my wife just devoured it in two days, so it’s a winner around here.
  3. City of Blades, by Robert Jackson Bennett. Again, super awesome. I can’t wait for City of Miracles.
  4. Vicious, by V.E. Schwab. I know I’m late to the V.E. Schwab train, but I’ve been making up for it this year. I think Vicious might’ve been my favourite so far.
  5. Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees. I took ages to get round to this one, and I don’t know why. It’s true it’s a little slow, but it’s magical.
  6. In the Labyrinth of Drakes, by Marie Brennan. So satisfying, and a certain mystery of the series is solved. I can’t believe the next book is the last.
  7. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. Powerful and clear-sighted about critical issues. It’s not an easy read, and enjoyment might be the right word, but I appreciated it a lot.
  8. In the Forests of Serre, by Patricia A. McKillip. Another magical one, and one of my favourites of McKillip’s work that I’ve read so far.
  9. Planetfall, by Emma Newman. This only got four stars, but it’s been on my mind since I finished it.
  10. The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. Also a four-star read, but it has to be mentioned since it made me utterly forget about my dinner one evening; my dinner went cold as I read 250 pages.

Cover of In The Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan Cover of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande Cover of In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip Cover of Planetfall by Emma Newman Cover of The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

I’m looking forward to seeing other people’s lists, but it’ll probably be terrible for my TBR pile…

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Unstacking the Shelves

Posted 24 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

It’s nearly Christmas! I can’t wait to give my family their presents — and this is my wife’s first Christmas spent with us, too. It’s gonna be awesome. In the meantime, I’ve been reading a ton. Yay!

For those new to the Bibliophibian, Unstacking the Shelves is when I feature the books I’ve read in the past week, because I don’t have any new ones to show off! I know it’s not what people usually do, but I super appreciate it when people leave a relevant comment instead of just copy/pasting a message telling me to enjoy my haul. Thank you!

Finished this week:

Cover of Camelot's Honour by Sarah Zettel Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood Cover of The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

Cover of The Miss Silver Mysteries by Patricia Wentworth Cover of Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson Cover of Memory of Water by Emma Itaranta Cover of Hatchepsut by Joyce Tyldesley

Cover of Strangers in Company by Jane Aiken Hodge Cover of Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Cover of One Plus One Equals One by John Archibald  Cover of Gutenberg's Fingerprint Cover of The Celtic Revolution by Simon Young Cover of The Buried Book by David Damrosch

The first row of these are rereads, but the others were all new and four were ARCs, so definitely good progress.

Reviews posted this week:
Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt, by Joyce Tyldesley. Informative about a figure who is honestly mostly myth in general knowledge, and also about the time in which she ruled. 4/5 stars
Terra, by Mitch Benn. It’s cuuute. And fun. 4/5 stars
This is Your Brain on Music, by David Levitin. I feel like I don’t really understand music enough for this book, though the neurological stuff is interesting. 3/5 stars
The Sealed Letter, by Emma Donoghue. Eh. Good on historical details, meh on the characters. 2/5 stars
The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer. Still a very fun adventure/romance. 5/5 stars
Natural Causes, by James Oswald. This was a weird genre-crossing one, entertaining enough but not something I’m interested in continuing to read. 2/5 stars

Other posts:
Top Ten Tuesday: A Very Bookish Christmas. Because of course.

Hope you all have a very good Christmas, if you celebrate, and a warm and safe weekend if you don’t!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 20 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

The theme for this week is books or non-book bookish items that I’m hoping to find under the tree. I’m pretty sure of what I’m getting, in general, so I’m not going to guess, just feature some cool stuff I’m getting.

  1. The Infinite Library Kindle Case. My wife is getting me this and I’m so excited.
  2. The Funko Pop Captain Marvel t-shirt. So cute, so badass.
  3. A book on tyrannosaurs. I know my sister’s getting me this, or planned to, but I can’t remember any other details.
  4. I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Yong. Microbes! Yes please.
  5. The Burning Page, by Genevieve Valentine. Gimmmeee. Technically I have an ARC, but hush about technicalities.
  6. The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch. Same.
  7. The Death of Caesar, by Barry Strauss. I’ve enjoyed his books before, so Christmas seemed like a good time to ask for more.
  8. She-Hulk Complete Collection vol 2, by Dan Slott. This was ridiculously hard to find for some reason.
  9. The Bloodbound, by Erin Lindsey. Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum‘s fault entirely.
  10. The Edge of Dark, by Brenda Cooper. Ditto, I believe.

So yeah, plenty of books, I hope. And cool book-related stuff. And whatever other surprises my dad has in store.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 17 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

Happy Saturday! It was going to be an Unstacking, and then people on Netgalley decided to be generous… Also, I have read a lot this week, and it makes me happy. I might actually end up hitting my yearly goals by accident.

Received to review:

Cover of Miniatures by John Scalzi Cover of The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi Cover of The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

New Scalzi! Kameron Hurley! Excited!

Finished this week:

Cover of The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker Cover of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman Cover of The Book by Keith Houston Cover of The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer Cover of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Cover of Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis Cover of Armada by Ernest Cline Cover of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers Cover of Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas Cover of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Cover of The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis Cover of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis Cover of Invisible Planets ed. Ken Liu Cover of Miniatures by John Scalzi Cover of Weird Dinosaurs

Quite a few of these (Narnia, Throne of Glass) were rereads, but all the same, what a week! Whew.

Reviews posted this week:
She-Hulk: The Complete Collection vol 1, by Dan Slott et al. Fun, though I think it lost momentum somewhat. 3/5 stars
Gut, by Giulia Enders. Irreverent and definitely aimed at the layman, and therefore quite a lot of fun. 3/5 stars
Emma, by Jane Austen. I hate Emma, as a character. ’nuff said. 2/5 stars
The Boys from Brazil, by Ira Levin. Not a fan, let’s say. 2/5 stars
The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of, by Joseph Hansen. There’s a lot of red herrings and such here, but it’s still a solid story. 3/5 stars
Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively. This is also a book I wasn’t a fan of. Very consciously literary, and unlikeable characters to boot. 1/5 stars
Flashback Friday: Cold Night Lullaby, by Colin MacKay. Do you want to make yourself cry in the most undignified way you can imagine? This might help. 5/5 stars

Other posts:
Top Ten Tuesday: Books in First Half of 2017. Whoa, there’s a lot to look forward to.
What are you reading Wednesday. The weekly update.

Got something to look forward to in the next week? Share!

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 14 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?

A bunch of things, actually; it’s been a pretty good week for reading. The most recently finished was my reread of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas; I still think it’s fun, but I don’t see why anyone ever thought it was the most amazing thing ever. Solidly enjoyable, yes, but… And if you have an OTP in these books, I don’t see how: Celaena goes from being still in love with Sam in the first part to falling for Dorian to toying with Chaol all in the same book. More power to her, but it doesn’t display great constancy.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve started rereading the second of Sarah Zettel’s Paths to Camelot books, Camelot’s Honour. It’s the most Welsh of the bunch, it sometimes seems, particularly since it draws most from the Mabinogion. But also for language stuff, like references to the tylwyth teg. I haven’t got very far with it yet.

I’m also about to start rereading The Silver Chair, which is possibly my least favourite of the Narnia books. Honestly, sometimes I feel like skipping it and The Last Battle entirely.

What are you planning to read next?

I don’t really have a plan, honestly. I might start by rereading The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay… then again, I might wait until I’ve finished at least one of the series I have on the go.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 13 December, 2016 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is all about the books upcoming in the first half of 2017. While I’m not always on the ball about this stuff, there are a surprising number of books I’m actually aware of. Here goes…

Cover of City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett Cover of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Cover of Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab Cover of Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire Cover of Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

  1. City of Miracles, by Robert Jackson Bennett. This is a sequel to City of Stairs and City of Blades and I need it, I need it now.
  2. Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. I don’t need to know much about this. I love Laini Taylor’s prose just to begin with!
  3. Our Dark Duet, by Victoria Schwab. I loved This Savage Song, sooo I’m pretty confident I’m gonna be happy about this one.
  4. Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire. This is a companion/prequel to Every Heart A Doorway, and I’m definitely excited to see what it does with the characters.
  5. Thick As Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner. I was so excited when I spotted this! I recently reread the other books, too, so I’m aaaall ready for this one.
  6. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. Between Gaiman’s skill as a writer and my interest in Norse mythology, this book is bound to be awesome.
  7. Frogkisser, by Garth Nix. Only just found out about this one, but it’s Garth Nix — I’ll read it eventually.
  8. A Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab. Okay, I actually need to read the second book first, but still…
  9. The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli. I enjoyed Albertalli’s other book, so this one should be fun.
  10. Traitor to the Throne, by Alwyn Hamilton. The first book didn’t totally knock my socks off the way it did for some people, but it was still a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Cover of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Cover of Frogkisser, by Garth Nix Cover of A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab Cover of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli Cover of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Aaargh, just gimme them already.

Anything else I should have thought of?

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