Weekly Roundup

Posted May 24, 2020 by Nikki in General / 3 Comments

Squeaking in at the end of the weekend, here’s my usual weekly roundup!

Linking up with The Sunday Post @ The Caffeinated Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves @ Reading Reality & Tynga’s Reviews.

Books bought:

Cover of Network Effect by Martha Wells Cover of Goldilocks by Laura Lam Cover of When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey Cover of Dangerous Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

Cover of Guardian Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk Cover of Invasive Aliens by Dan Eatherley Cover of Princess Princess Ever After by Kate O'Neill Cover of The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert

A weird mix, as ever! 😀 And this really truly is my last spree for a while; I’m now on a steady diet of one book per week.

Received to review:

Cover of Human kind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Breman Cover of The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky

I… I still need to read The Fated Sky, I’ll be honest. It’s just that my brain is stupid sometimes.

Books read this week:

Cover of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff Cover of Princess Princess Ever After by Kate O'Neill Cover of Unfit to Print by K.J. Charles

Reviews posted this week:

The Replacement Husband, by Eliot Grayson. This is okay but not stellar; enjoyable in the moment but not something that will linger with me, and with which I had a couple of bones to pick. 3/5 stars
Finna, by Nino Cipri. This has some fun stuff in the background and mostly was just too slight for me in the end to bear the weight of the complaints about capitalism, which sort of overshadow everything else now I’m thinking about it over a week later. 3/5 stars
84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff. This is really sweet and often funny, though there is a rather sad surprise waiting toward the end of the first section for those who didn’t immediately look up Helene Hanff… 4/5 stars
Princess Princess Ever After, by Kate O’Neill. Really short, but cute. 4/5 stars
Unfit to Print, by K.J. Charles. As fun as you’d expect from K.J. Charles, and I rather like the two main characters. It all works out a bit quickly, though… 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love Romance. So many reasons! #10 will surprise you. (Or not, actually, if you know me at all.)
WWW Wednesday. Featuring me rambling around reading too much at once, as ever.

How’s everyone doing? Been buying anything shiny?

Tags: , ,

Divider

Review – Unfit to Print

Posted May 23, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Unfit to Print by K.J. CharlesUnfit to Print, K.J. Charles

I was feeling fidgety, so I decided to read for a book by K.J. Charles I hadn’t read yet. Unfit to Print is a standalone, following Gil Lawless and Vikram Pandey, the owner of a dirty bookshop and a high-flying lawyer, respectively. They knew one another at school, but have been separated for quite a long time, with Vik believing Gil to be dead. He’s looking for the son of a local Indian family, though, and that takes him to the street where Gil keeps his bookshop… and there they run into one another again.

Gil’s been hurt a lot and is as prickly as a hedgehog, while Vik’s not been interested in anyone since Gil’s disappearance from their boarding school. They quickly fall into their old intimacies, though Gil finds it hard to offer anything other than the physical and Vik finds it hard to take the physical aspect without the feelings getting in the way. At the same time, Gil needs to help Vik find out what happened to the boy he’s looking for, while trying not to get his reputation all smeared up for him…

It’s a lovely little second chance, and I quickly fell for both characters and their silly desperate attempts not to get hurt more when they’re already stumbling along with plenty of hurt to spare from their pasts. Their interaction smoulders as usual — holding hands was never so sexy — and it was a really fun read overall. The mystery aspect was a little bit perfunctory; it felt a bit of a letdown for the answer to be that easy, but it did make sense as well.

All in all, plenty of fun, though not for all the family!

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , , , , ,

Divider

Review – Princess Princess Ever After

Posted May 23, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Princess Princess Ever After by Kate O'NeillPrincess Princess Ever After, Kate O’Neill

Princess Princess Ever After is a short graphic novel which features a familiar fairytale trope (a princess in a tower)… with a few additions, such as the fact that another princess comes to rescue her, and the fact that her sojourn in the tower was of her own choosing (to some degree) thanks to her sister undermining her and making her feel worthless. The prince they come across needs help from them… and in the end, the two princesses get married!

It’s really really cute, and I appreciate Sadie’s anxieties and difficulties — Amira is completely kickass, but Sadie is strong in her own sweet soft way; they’re very different people and yet both strong. The art is cute too, and I want Amira’s haiiir. (Also I don’t, because long hair is a pain in the butt, but it looks cool.)

It is a bit expensive for how slight it is, but it’s full colour and beautifully presented, and suitable for quite young readers.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

WWW Wednesday

Posted May 20, 2020 by Nikki in General / 5 Comments

It’s that time again! Check out Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

What are you currently reading?

Too much at once, in far too scatterbrained a fashion. Let me think…

Cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ShannonFiction: I have both Network Effect and Goldilocks on the go, and am really excited about both, but also a ball of anxiety. It’s making reading books where I care about what happens (and am not assured of a happy ending) quite the ride. The anxiety’s fading off a bit again, but I’m still in more of a non-fic or romance mood. I am very slowly working my way through The Priory of the Orange Tree with the other Beeminder workerbees; it’s actually quite nice reading it in little sips like this, though it’s not my usual style. I am enjoying how Sabran is being slowly developed and we’re seeing little glimpses of more. I wish there was more of Tané.

Non-fiction: Digging Up Armageddon is still around on a backburner, but I’ve also started How Language Works by Daniel Everett on the go, because it’s for a reading challenge. How To Invent Everything by Ryan North as well, as a matter of fact, also for a reading challenge; it’s interesting in parts but I am bogged down in a list of useful plants going “uhhh this is just a list with slightly amusing commentary”.

Cover of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene HanffWhat have you recently finished reading?

84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff, which is rather sweet and often funny. I just love Helene’s funny letters to Frank and how she huffed at him for being slow with her new books. It seems so weird that these were real people; it really does feel like something you’d read in a book that’s trying very hard to be quirky and cute.

What will you be reading next?

Cover of When We Were Magic by Sarah GaileyWell, on the one hand I just got Invasive Aliens by Dan Eatherley, which I’m intrigued by, particularly as it annoyed someone on Amazon by containing opinions on Brexit and Nazis with which it sounds like I may agree (though the detail was sparse). But no, in all honesty, I’m curious about the topic as well.

I did however also get in an order from Portal Bookshop, which means I now have Sarah Gailey’s When We Were Magic

What about you?

Tags: ,

Divider

Review – 84 Charing Cross Road

Posted May 19, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 1 Comment

Cover of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff

I actually stumbled across this book on someone’s wishlist for a book swap, and then immediately got sucked into reading the opening pages. It took me a while to pick up my own copy, but now I have… and it’s really, really sweet, and funny as well. It’s actually a collection of real letters between Helene Hanff, a writer in the US, and a London bookseller. Starting in 1949, she wrote regularly to the shop asking them for books she wanted, and they wrote back… and slowly a correspondence developed, as they found her beautiful copies of the books she wanted and she ordered them boxes of food and sent friends round to do them favours.

It’s hard to believe that these letters were real, sometimes — it’s just so sweet, and so much like something you’d see in a movie. But it did happen — and typically of reality, Helene didn’t get quite the happy ending one would want. Frank Doel, the man whom she corresponded with, died suddenly of appendicitis before she ever went to London. When she did go to London, the bookshop itself had gone.

The original letters close after the notification of Frank Doel’s death, but my copy had another book in it: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, which is Helene Hanff’s journal of her time in London just after the release of the first book. It’s lovely to read how she saw England and London, and the little character-sketches of everyone she met.

Rating: 4/5

Tags: , ,

Divider

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love Romance

Posted May 19, 2020 by Nikki in General / 14 Comments

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, and this time the prompt is “reasons why I love X”. I chose to talk about the romance genre, because I think most people here originally followed me for my SF/F reviews, and my taste has been expanding a lot in the last couple of years. I still love SF/F, but I’ve tried to abandon any snobbery about any genres and just give more things a try, and now I read about the same amount of romance as I do SF/F! So… why is that?

  1. There are happy endings. It’s not the ending, it’s the journey. I know that the couple are going to be happy at the end, but I don’t know exactly how they’ll get there. This really appeals to me, especially lately: I don’t really like not knowing the ending. I don’t really like sitting with anxiety about how things are going to turn out. I don’t need to know all the details, but I need to know everyone will be safe and happy at the end.
  2. It’s often a quick read. I love the fact that there’s so much available that I can read in the space of one bath or in one sitting. I’ve lost my attention span for 6-book epics, I’m afraid. There are shorter mysteries and fantasies and SF novellas and so on, I know! But I’ve tapped into a pool of just-short-enough novels here and it’s perfect.
  3. There’s a lot of diversity. I know there remain huge problems with romance fandom when it comes to diversity, but I know exactly where to turn for the sort of characters I like. I was overjoyed when I first dipped my toes into actually reading romance and the first thing I received to review was An Unsuitable Heir, by K.J. Charles. Finding Pen Starling at that moment was wonderful.
  4. There’s so much out there! Okay, this is actually true of every genre, but it’s a relatively new genre for me, so there are so many surprises and new stuff waiting!
  5. Romance pairs with so many other genres. A lot of the romance I read is actually also fantasy, or mystery, or historical fiction, and sometimes all three at once. You don’t have to stick with just one flavour!
  6. It’s usually focused on characters and relationships. I love some amazing world-building, I really do. But I usually need characters I can get invested in, and by its very nature romance tends to focus on that dimension of the story.
  7. There aren’t usually world-ending stakes, or they aren’t the forefront of the story. Okay, in e.g. Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk, there’s a kind of world-in-peril thing… but mostly you end up wanting to know if Whyborne and Griffin end up making friends again. This is a feature and not a bug for me and my current tastes!
  8. Self-publishing is really strong in this genre. I don’t know if there are pockets of self-publishing out in SF/F where everything’s going really well, but I don’t know of them, and it feels like romance authors have got it down. Often amazing covers, great support for one another, good editing… and well-formatted ebooks at a reasonable price (honestly, I’d pay more for them).
  9. Trope-y goodness. Sometimes it’s really fun to see an author take on a clichéd idea and play with it. I’m here for your enemies-to-lovers, your there-was-only-one-bed, your last minute realisations. Do it — and surprise me!
  10. It really annoys some people. Okay, this is petty, but after someone had a meltdown about me being too “smart” to read romance (having three degrees only makes you a certain kind of smart, as anyone who has ever watched me fumbling through adulthood can attest), I can’t help but really enjoy existing to confound people’s expectations of what a romance reader looks like.

So there you go! Excited to see what other people have been gushing about this week — and don’t worry, if you comment here, I’ll visit you back as soon as I can!

Tags: , ,

Divider

Review – Finna

Posted May 17, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Finna by Nino CipriFinna, Nino Cipri

Nino Cipri is one of those authors I didn’t know anything about a few months ago and then started hearing a lot about all at once, so I was very curious about Finna. It’s set in what is basically IKEA, a megastore called LitenVärld. The layout of the place is so confusing that it wears at the seams of reality, and employees (and customers) have found portals to other worlds opening — and some of those worlds are less friendly than ours. As Finna opens, Ava learns that somebody’s lovely grandmother has vanished into one of these portals… and of course, Ava has to go after her. With the help of her ex-partner, Jules, with whom she has recently broken up.

The book mostly explores a) capitalist misery caused by stores like IKEA — I mean, LitenVärld, and b) Jules and Ava’s relationship, and how they fit together, and all their faults and insecurities getting in the way of what could be a pretty cool relationship. Jules has a tendency to run away from their problems and hide their emotions; Ava has anxiety and lets all her emotions burst out all over the place. Jules is eager to go off exploring, while Ava just wants to find the customer’s grandmother and go home.

T0 say too much about so short a book might spoil it, so I won’t recount any more of the plot or the characters! (Though none of that is a spoiler: it’s obvious from the first chapter.) There are some quirky ideas about the other worlds, and I could wish for a bit longer quest story that takes us through some more worlds — but it’s obvious the focus is really Ava and Jules and how our current world really messes everyone up and is soul-sucking and boring and awful. I’ve never worked retail, but that feeling rings true to me from people who have worked retail, and some of the points about how society is set up and how capitalism can really ruin things make total sense. Jules and Ava’s feelings and messiness all ring true, too.

It’s fun, and I’m not sure the conceit would really have stretched to a long book. It ends on a note of possibility and freedom, and that works for me.

Rating: 3/5

Tags: , ,

Divider

Review – The Replacement Husband

Posted May 16, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Replacement Husband by Eliot GraysonThe Replacement Husband, Eliot Grayson

The Replacement Husband was an impulse read, because it was on Kindle Unlimited and I thought “why not?” It’s set in a Regency-analogue fantasy world where various gods exist and choose people to receive their blessing. Owen is one such, blessed by the goddess Mirreith: he is apparently inevitably gay, and will have to marry a man. Though he obviously cannot produce an heir, his partner is guaranteed to have a healthy heir and good fortune.

Unfortunately, in his little countryside estate, there’s very little chance of him meeting anyone anyway. At least until he takes a tumble, hits his head, and is gallantly carried home by a pair of brothers. He quickly falls for Tom, the more handsome and lively of the two — but Tom jilts him more or less at the altar by having a shotgun wedding with someone else. Tom’s brother Arthur steps in…

I wasn’t wholly enamoured of Arthur’s possessiveness and temper; provoked or not, several times he’s inches from violence, and clearly frightens Owen. He is in general a considerate partner, in fact, and takes pains to make Owen comfortable… at the same time as saying things like “say stop now or it’ll be too late”, which, ah, no. No thank you. Owen should get to say no whenever he likes, dude.

So there was some stuff about their relationship that was weird and uncomfortable, and led to me not quite believing in the sweetness of it as they settled in. However, I also did not root for Tom and his behaviour, and I find it difficult to believe that the next book is about Tom getting a happy-ever-after. I might read it if it’s on Kindle Unlimited, because I’m very curious as to how Grayson manages that — Tom makes himself extremely unlikeable — but I’m not in a hurry. Particularly since the other protagonist of the next book is apparently a complete arsehole.

In conclusion: fun enough, but not something I’d be in a hurry to read.

Rating: 3/5

Tags: , , ,

Divider

Weekly Roundup

Posted May 16, 2020 by Nikki in General / 5 Comments

Greetings, folks! How have you been? I’ve had an up-and-down-y week, but next week will be better (because I say so). And I have a lot of books to show off this week!

Linking up with The Sunday Post @ The Caffeinated Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves @ Reading Reality & Tynga’s Reviews.

Bought:

Cover of Hold Back The Tide by Melinda Salisbury Cover of Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco Cover of Finna by Nino Cipri Cover of Arabella The Traitor of Mars by David D. Levine

Cover of The Lost Boys by Gina Perry Cover of The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski Cover of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Cover of Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk Cover of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

And that’s alllmost the last spree for a while, though I have a pending order with Portal Bookshop to come through still…

Received to review:

Cover of Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

Though it seems to be a PDF format, so I’m not positive I’ll read it… maybe if my new ereader is as amazing with PDFs as they claim, whenever it arrives!

Books read this week:

Cover of Infernal Affairs by Jordan L. Hawk Cover of The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel Cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Cover of The Beautiful Librarians by Sean O'Brien Cover of The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson Cover of Finna by Nino Cipri

Reviews posted this week:

The Atlas of Disease, by Sandra Hempel. I just wish I had this in a physical format instead of in PDF via the library. It’d be great to study some of the figures more. 4/5 stars
Infernal Affairs, by Jordan L. Hawk. Not my thing, alas, though the non-binary protagonist and love interest is cool. 2/5 stars
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow. I did not love this one the way I expected, but it was fun. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books I Abandoned. I chose to go with books that I’ll probably come back to, rather than list books I didn’t finish and don’t intend to ever finish.
WWW Wednesday. Featuring quite the array of books I’m currently reading!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘The awesome thing about dinosaurs. I mean, there’s a lot of awesome things about dinosaurs, but I’ve picked out one…

So that’s my week! Have you all been stacking your shelves high?

Tags: , ,

Divider

WWW Wednesday

Posted May 13, 2020 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

It’s that time again! Check out Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

Cover of Network Effect by Martha WellsWhat are you currently reading? 

Fiction: Network Effect, by Martha Wells! I won’t say too much about it, given people may not even have their copies yet. I got the eARC and then didn’t read it because I was waiting for my wife to read it. Now she’s ahead of me. So it goes.

Non-fiction: I still have Digging Up Armageddon on the backburner, but I’ve started How to Invent Everything by Ryan North, as well, for a book club. It’s got a fun conceit, but once you’ve grasped that, the first few sections are mostly obvious. I suspect it’ll get better as it describes more complex concepts.

Cover of The Beautiful Librarians by Sean O'Brien What have you recently finished reading?

The Beautiful Librarians, by Sean O’Brien — it’s a poetry collection and I frankly did not get a single one of the poems on any kind of level.

Before that, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, which I did not love nearly as much as I was expecting.

Cover of How Language Began by Daniel EverettWhat will you be reading next? 

Well, How Language Began by Daniel Everett is high on the list, also for a book club — or technically, a Habitica challenge. (Side note: it’s a fun challenge, where each month a different Dewey decimal category is announced and you have to find and read a book that fits somewhere in that category. This one is the 400s, languages.)

Other than that, I’m not sure. I’m being bad at focus. I am really interested in Gina Perry’s The Lost Boys, which promises to pick apart Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave experiment in much the same way Behind the Shock Machine picked apart Stanley Milgram’s most famous experiment.

How about you? What’re you reading?

Tags: ,

Divider