Category: General


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.

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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.

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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.

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 1 February, 2017 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Look! Look! I remembered!

What have you recently finished reading?

I had a blitz on some of my review copies. The mooost recent book was Birthright, by Missouri Vaun. Fun fantasy with a lesbian relationship at the heart; it’s not a particularly surprising or new story in terms of the tropes, but it’s fun.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve finally dug into my ARC of Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion. I normally prefer her non-fiction to her fiction, but I still think she comes up with some amazing worlds. I’m not very far into it, though.

What are you planning to read next?

Probably A Closed and Common Orbit, or Maisie Dobbs, since they’re both book club choices on Habitica this month. Very different books, heh. I’m hopeful about both of them!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 31 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is graphic novels. I’m not positive I have ten, but then, I have read quite a few comics, so one hopes I do. Here goes!

  1. The Wicked + The Divine, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. The art is gorgeous, and I’m intrigued by the story as well.
  2. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Again, gorgeous art along with a story I’m hooked on, and it’s quite often hilarious.
  3. Ms Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, etc. I’m not going to pick a specific volume — I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything in this run.
  4. Young Avengers, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Yeah, pretty much a winning team on everything, though there have been a couple of their comics I didn’t enjoy. Their Young Avengers were perfection, though. And hey, love saved the world! (And it was queer love.)
  5. Captain Marvel, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, etc. I loved almost all of DeConnick’s run, even when I wasn’t in love with the art. (I did like Dexter Soy’s a lot, for example — I have some of it on a t-shirt — but was less a fan of Emma Rios.) I love Carol with all her faults. Pros: she wants to punch her way through most situations. Cons: she wants to punch her way through most situations.
  6. Civil War: Iron Man, by Brian M. Bendis, Christos Gage, etc. I don’t like the Civil War event in general, but this volume brought home how the Avengers were torn apart, plus Tony’s genuine regard for (and love of) Steve. I don’t know how anyone read it and was unaffected, though the whole Camelot bit was weird.
  7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, by Ed Brubaker et al. I think this was a really, really effective comic — and I love the fact that the storyline also went into the MCU.
  8. Nimona, by Noel Stevenson. Cute, cute, cute, funny… oh wait you just ripped my heart out.
  9. Red Sonja, by Gail Simone. Pretty much all of her run. I loved that other women got involved in the story, that there was humour, that there were little moments lampshading the sexist background of the character…
  10. The Movement, by Gail Simone. The second time I read it, I found more flaws, but… I loved that the team were openly politically disparate, queer, disabled, asexual, weird… All the things they turned out to be.

Hurrah for a week where I feel I really participated in the spirit of the TTT prompt! What’s everyone else been putting together?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 28 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

Happy Saturday! I’d be glad it’s the weekend, but it doesn’t make too much difference to me. I still have work I should be doing, alas.

Books to review

Cover of Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald Cover of Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor Cover of Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

I might not be a lit student anymore, but King Arthur is still a major interest of mine. Fascinated to see what this is like! And hurrah for all the others, too, though now I have to hurry up and read Luna: New Moon. Oops…

Books bought this week

Cover of Goldenhand by Garth Nix

I know, Mum, I know, but it was £2.39 on Kindle and I’m going to read it at some point anyway, it’s the latest in a series.

Books read this week

Cover of Mesopotamia by Gwendolyn Leick Cover of Temeraire by Naomi Novik Cover of The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

Not much reading, I know… I’ll get back to it. Preview of my ratings:

1 star – Mesopotamia.
4 stars – Temeraire (His Majesty’s Dragon) and The Burning Page.

Reviews posted this week:

The Book, by Keith Houston. This is a beautiful physical object, just on its own, and the story it tells of how books came to be is also fascinating. It’d definitely make a good gift, and I’m keeping my copy for sure. 5/5 stars
The Litany of Earth, by Ruthanna Emrys. This short story introduces the world of Winter Tide, and I actually preferred it — the shortness gave it something. 4/5 stars
The Horse and His Boy, by C.S. Lewis. This one has not really aged well in terms of the stereotypes and such. But I still kind of enjoyed it, despite that. 3/5 stars
Slade House, by David Mitchell. This was a little bit repetitive, but it mostly works. I just wish it wasn’t connected to his other books; I hate feeling like I don’t have the full story. 3/5 stars
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Ugh, so preachy. Nope. Without nostalgia or something, I don’t see why this appeals. 2/5 stars
The Toll-Gate, by Georgette Heyer. A likeable hero and heroine, a fun mystery, and Heyer showing off her research and knowledge. Yes! 4/5 stars
Armada, by Ernest Cline. Mmm. This didn’t really work for me, because it felt like the same formula as Ready Player One, without the warmth. 2/5 stars
Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis. One of my favourites of the Narnia books — I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Caspian. 4/5 stars

Other posts: 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books to Nibble. A guest post by my bunny, complete with silly picture.
What are you reading Wednesday. An update on what I’ve been reading.

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 25 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Every time I firmly promise myself I won’t miss this again, something comes up and I miss it for weeks. Sorryyy.

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished up a reread of Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon — and have raided the library here in Leuven for the next few books. It’s better than I remembered, actually; the alternate history is careful and clever, and Laurence’s relationship with Temeraire is sweet. Things which are meant to be emotionally affecting really, really are. And corners are not cut just to give you a nice ending to a story arc.

What are you currently reading?

The Burning Page, by Genevieve Cogman. I’ve nearly finished it now, which is both exciting and a little daunting. There are going to be more books, right? Right??

What are you planning to read next?

I’m not sure. I might try and finish Dark Sky, by Mike Brooks, as I am enjoying it and I’m not sure why I put it down. I’ve also been meaning to reread The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay, or possibly his Sailing to Sarantium. Hmmmm, so many choices…

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 24 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 17 Comments

Today we have a guest post from my favourite person…

Photo of my rabbit, lying very flat on a box

Hulk, the bunny

Over to her! Her spelling mistakes and typos have been corrected in the interests of readability.

Hi! I am a bunny. I like to nibble books, and here are the books I want to nibble.

  1. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. In French. Because Mummy forgot to read me the end and I want to know how it ends.
  2. The dictionary. Lots of quality nibbles in there.
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. It was used to keep me from rattling my cage before I lived in a pen. Vengeance will be mine.
  4. Among Others, by Jo Walton. Mummy and Mommy both like it.
  5. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. Because Mummy and Mommy read it a lot and I am jealous of it.
  6. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro. I have nibbled this a tiny bit in the past and I got a taste for it.
  7. There’s A Hippopotamus on my Roof Eating Cake, by Hazel Edwards. Because I want cake!
  8. Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. The things Mommy makes from it SMELL nice, but I’m never allowed any.
  9. The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. Because Mommy says Locke is her “tiny thieving boyfriend” and she is not allowed anyone except Mummy so BYEBYE TINY THIEF.
  10. Anything else I can reach! Wait, Mummy says that’s cheating. It’s not. It’s not! I am not a cheating bunny.

Now comment and tell Mummy to give me ALL THE KERRIT [ed. she means carrot].

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 21 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

G’morning, people! It’s been a quiet week for me, as I got down to work on my second and third assignments. After this third one, though, I get a break again! Not too much of one… but still enough. Also, I’ve started playing Final Fantasy XV, and that’s just eating my free time.

Received to review:

Cover of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

My wish was granted on Netgalley, to my surprise! Looking forward to reading this; I wasn’t totally blown away by Rebel of the Sands, but it was definitely enjoyable.

Read this week:

Cover of Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey Cover of Natural Histories by Brett Westwood Cover of The Family Plot by Cherie Priest Cover of Dreadnought

4 stars to… Miranda and Caliban and Dreadnought.
3 stars to… Natural Histories and The Family Plot.

A light reading week, for me. Alas.

Reviews posted this week:

The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman. So much fun, and perhaps a little easier to follow having read it once before. I do love the sheer fun of these books. 4/5 stars
Fair Chance, by Josh Lanyon. The characters continue to be fun and totally non-stereotypical, though the mystery relied a bit too much on coincidence. 4/5 stars
Camelot’s Shadow, by Sarah Zettel. A reread just for fun, and one I enjoyed very much. Probably my favourite of the four books, this one features Sir Gawain, so, you know. 4/5 stars
Grey Mask, by Patricia Wentworth. Not a bad read, but a bit too obvious. And oh wow, one of the main characters is just… silly. 3/5 stars
Invisible Planets, ed. Ken Liu. I wanted to enjoy this more than I did, because it’s a great range of stories. But for me the translation doesn’t quite work. 3/5 stars
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. I still don’t get the appeal of Turkish Delight, but everything else about this book is a delight to me, despite the allegory. 4/5 stars
A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson. With this one, I think I have to rule Wilson’s work just not to my taste. There is some great worldbuilding and sensual, lyrical language… but it just isn’t for me. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems. Books I wish more other people would read, so we can talk about ’em.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 17 January, 2017 by Nikki in General / 11 Comments

This week the theme is based on hidden gems read in the last year or so. I’m going to twist it slightly because I’m writing this on a train and my brain doesn’t want to work. Here we have books I’ve read and wish more other people would read (so we can talk about them).

  1. Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton. Victorian-esque dragons! Who wear hats! And eat each other. It’s amazing, I promise.
  2. The Carpet Makers, by Andreas Eschbach. Honestly, I need to reread this, but I was blown away by the structure and the quality of it.
  3. Seaward, by Susan Cooper. I know I’m enthusiastic about her Dark is Rising sequence, but Seaward is more mature, and at least as beautiful.
  4. Island of Ghosts, by Gillian Bradshaw. Or maybe Bradshaw’s work in general. Amazing historical fiction, and too much out of print.
  5. The Positronic Man, by Isaac Asimov. I loved this as a kid, and read it over and over. I haven’t seen the novel around very often, though. It’s worth reading.
  6. Always Coming Home, by Ursula Le Guin. I was reluctant to read this, once upon a time, because it’s not a novel as such. But it’s very, very good, and I do recommend it.
  7. Lifelode, by Jo Walton. Is this cheating? Still, this book is far too rare and really should get to a wider audience.
  8. Chime, by Franny Billingsley. I remember a few people reading this back when I read it, but I don’t think I’ve seen people talking about it lately. But it’s so good!
  9. The Falling Woman, by Pat Murphy. I only read this in 2016, and I really wish I’d read it sooner. It’s very good, with great atmospherics.
  10. Postcolonialism Revisited, by Kirsti Bohata. This mostly just because I would love to be able to talk to more people about Welsh literature as post-colonial literature.

I’d say I’m looking forward to other people’s lists, but “dreading” might be the better term — I don’t need more books on my wishlist!

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