Posts by: Nikki

Review – Trouble and Her Friends

Posted 19 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa ScottTrouble and Her Friends, Melissa Scott

Trouble and Her Friends is old school queer cyberpunk — enough said? It is a little on the slow side, but I found that the pacing worked for me: I needed to get to know Trouble (and, well, her friends), and get settled in the world and the old school view of the internet and how it works. I enjoyed the sheer number of queer characters a lot, although it was a little jarring to have a world where they’re clearly somewhat looked down on. From my comfortable position here, it feels like most things are pretty okay on that front.

Once you get a handle on the lingo, it’s a pretty easy read. It’s not hard to guess where certain plot threads are going — surprise! Cerise and Trouble reunite; they keep talking about Seahaven and its Mayor for a reason! — but it takes its sweet time in unwinding all of that. There’s no sudden jumps ahead without pausing to consider, and the characters typically do not do stupid unhelpful things that cause them more trouble. Each step is a step forward, more or less.

I really enjoyed visiting this world, even though it’s one that took its time. The details of the net, the brainworm, the way the characters could hack in a sort of virtual reality, were all fascinating — and so were their relationships and goals. Honestly, I was going to compare it to a sort of cowboy story for the internet before they wore white hats in the final section.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Review – The Hanging Tree

Posted 18 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch

The Hanging Tree does a hell of a lot, gathering together some plot points, revealing some secrets, teasing some future potential, humanising (well, sort of) characters like Lady Ty we might be tempted to just despise… It’s one of the plot-heavy entries to the series, featuring the Faceless Man and Lesley prominently, so predictably it gets a bit frenetic near the end. Characters flit in and out of sight; Peter stumbles into bad situation after bad situation; lots of property damage is incurred.

For the most part, it really worked. The tension ratcheted up as I realised exactly what was at stake, and new characters revealed things I’d wondered about (like a tradition of British women doing magic). Little ironies came up — if the Folly hadn’t been such an old boys’ club, and the new characters had been involved, would Lesley be with the Faceless Man at all? Could he have really tempted her?

And no doubt if this had ended the ongoing plot, I’d have been disappointed that it was so ‘easy’. Yet the ending seemed a little toothless: we know more about the Faceless Man and what he can do, but do we really have information to stop him? It feels like this series could easily go on another six books in this way: a book off and then a book that ends with Peter grappling with the Faceless Man, only for him to get away… I think I wanted a little more forward progress by the end.

There has to be space, though, for appreciating how much I love the new pathologist and Guleed’s involvement. I’m surprised she’s not being trained up at the Folly yet (but then, it’s also cool that she isn’t just following the same path as Lesley, like some “better” Lesley — she’s definitely her own character, with her own approach to problems)…

Despite my slight quibbles, it’s a fun read and a more than worthy entry to the series. Bring on the next! Sooner rather than later, please.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 18 November, 2017 by Nikki in General / 35 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s been a busy week around here with assignments and such, but I managed to get very good marks in my Infectious Diseases class, so I’m super pleased.


You may have noticed, if you’re a follower of this blog, that I now have Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links — general ones in my sidebar, and specific ones on each book. If you’re not in the US or the UK, my affiliate links should redirect to the same book on your local site if you’re in Germany, France, Italy, Spain or Canada. At this point I’m not planning on enabling ads or anything like that, and there’ll be nothing more intrusive or obvious than the affiliate links I’ve just implemented.

I 100% understand anyone who doesn’t want to use Amazon and Amazon-owned companies to buy books, but if you do and you use my affiliate links, I get a 5% commission on whatever you order. I plan to put any money I earn back into this blog, either through buying books to review or just by using it to keep my URL and pay for WordPress plug-ins or whatever. If it doesn’t work out, well, never mind! If it does, I get a little back for the amount of time I put into this blog.


If you sat through that, you deserve a treat, so here’s a bunny picture even though I’m with them at the moment!

A photo of Hulk (a grey and white bunny) lying stretched out in a blue tunnel, thinking she's hidden.

Whaddya mean you can see me?

New books

Cover of Prime Meridian by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia Cover of Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells

Looking forward to reading more of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work! And I couldn’t resist the cover of Blood Binds the Pack, though I still need to read the first book…

Books read this week

Cover of Castles by Marc Morris Cover of Pantomime by Laura Lam Cover of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Cover of Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey

Cover of Camelot's Sword, by Sarah Zettel Cover of Cleopatra's Heir by Gillian Bradshaw Cover of The Viral Storm

Five stars: Castles.
Four stars: Pantomime, Abaddon’s Gate, Cleopatra’s Heir and Camelot’s Sword.
Three stars: The Viral Storm, The Essex Serpent.

Reviews posted this week:

Bog Bodies Uncovered, by Miranda Aldhouse-Green. If you find bog bodies fascinating, this is definitely a great book for you. 4/5 stars
Connection Error, by Annabeth Albert. A sweet romance which builds slowly and features an injured Navy SEAL and an ADHD video game developer. 4/5 stars
The Chocolatier’s Wife, by Cindy Lynn Speer. A cosy mystery in a fantasy setting, with a bit of romance. I enjoyed it a lot. 4/5 stars
Bring Back the King, by Helen Pilcher. If you’ve read other books on de-extinction, you might want to avoid this, but it’s a fun enough read. 3/5 stars
Sea, Swallow Me, and Other Stories, by Craig Laurence Gidney. Powerful stories, some of which I found really disturbing. 3/5 stars
The Five Daughters of the Moon, by Leena Likitalo. A fascinating fantasy retelling of the fall of the Romanovs, only marred by the fact that it isn’t a complete story in one volume. 4/5 stars
Ebola, by David Quammen. Avoid it and just get the full book, Spillover3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. An update on what I’m reading.
The Book Depository Bookmarks Disaster. So I collect Book Depository bookmarks, right? And I have bunnies, right? … A plea for help rebuilding my collection.

So how’s everyone else doing? Feel free to leave links to your weekend posts here; I always comment back as soon as I can!

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Review – Ebola

Posted 17 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Ebola by David QuammenEbola, David Quammen

This is actually an excerpt from the excellent book Spillover, with a few details added because it was published slightly later, as the ebola epidemic really kicked off. It doesn’t contain anything new that wasn’t in Spillover, and I actually ended up asking for a refund because that wasn’t clear up-front.

However, it’s a great excerpt, and I do strongly recommend Quammen’s writing on diseases — just don’t be fooled into getting the excerpts of Spillover instead of just buying the whole book. It’s a crafty idea by his publishers, but it’s just annoying. The full book links up the various diseases and expands on themes they share; this mostly comes across from Ebola on its own, but you get a much fuller picture with the rest of the book to refer to.

Information: good, packaging: disingenuous.

Rating: 3/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Review – The Five Daughters of the Moon

Posted 16 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 5 Comments

Cover of The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena LikitaloThe Five Daughters of the Moon, Leena Likitalo

First off: if you’re like me and don’t pay enough attention, you might miss that this book is the first of a duology. It very much just comes to a stop, and will require the second volume to become a full story. You might want to hold off until you have your hands on both of them to start reading, because they’re the same story.

Anyway, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a historical fantasy based on the story of the Russian revolution. If you know the story of the Romanov sisters, you know there’s not likely to be a happy ending coming — and you know which characters to be suspicious of. Each chapter is told from the point of one of the five girls, from the youngest to the oldest. Likitalo actually does a pretty good job of distinguishing each of the voices — you wouldn’t think Sibilia was Celestia or Alina when reading, for a certainty — but Alina’s narration, at six years old, sounds rather too mature for her age.

Setting that aside, it’s beautifully written, and the worldbuilding that emerges slowly is lovely. The idea of the Empress being married to the moon, the arrangement whereby each of the girls has a different earthly father (or “seed”) but is considered a daughter of the Moon, the soul beads — it isn’t all immediately apparent how it works, but as you need to know, you learn. I think that’s well done.

Overall, a fascinating novella retelling, to my mind, but I do wish the two books had come out together (or that it was just sold as a novel).

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Review – Sea, Swallow Me

Posted 15 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Sea, Swallow MeSea, Swallow Me, and Other Stories, Craig Laurence Gidney

I’m not honestly sure what I thought of this collection. The writing is really strong, and I found that I had to keep turning the pages to get more of it — but some of the stories just grossed me out so much and made me feel really uncomfortable. They’re undoubtedly powerful, but not really a style that I enjoy. There’s a bit in the Goodreads description that about sums this set of stories up: “rich, poetic, dark and disturbing”. Yep.

One of the most powerful of the bunch is definitely the most disturbing to me; if you want warnings about what ‘Etiolate’ contains, I can let you know.

Rating: 3/5

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The Book Depository Bookmarks Disaster

Posted 15 November, 2017 by Nikki in General / 9 Comments

I collect Book Depository bookmarks. They’re always the perfect size for any book, they have some cool designs, and they appeal to my “gotta catch ’em all” mentality of a kid who grew up with Pokemon. I’m not sure how many I have, since some of my collection are safely tucked away at my parents’ house for now, but I have quite a few. No complete sets though, alas!

And, alas, a couple of days ago Breakfast Bun knocked over a glass of coke, and apparently coke turns into a thick brown sticky mass if you don’t realise it’s got all over the place. Not that we could’ve saved the bookmarks anyway, since they’re made of card, but… Anyway, so, disaster.

A post mortem of some of the victims.

So! If you happen to have a bunch of Book Depository bookmarks (of any set) that are in pretty good condition, and you don’t collect them mildly obsessively like me, let’s talk! Annoyingly, three of those above are ones a friend sent me in response to this exact plea, which is beyond annoying.

Anyway, yeah. Now you know my silly secret. And to reward you for being patient, here’s a photo of the culprit in all this.

The culprit behind bars.



WWW Wednesday

Posted 15 November, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. CoreyI’m on the last 100 pages of Abaddon’s Gate, finally! I’ve been really good about chipping away at my currently-reading list, and currently Abaddon’s Gate is up.

It’s not that I’m not enjoying the books on my currently-reading list! I just get distracted by a new shiny, and then it’s hard to get back into books I put down… and it gets harder the longer I ignore them, of course. But I got right back into Abaddon’s Gate, even if I remain astonished at how much trouble one man (Jim Holden) can get into.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Essex Serpent by Sarah PerryThe Essex Serpent — yes, finally! I’m still mulling over what I think of it. I didn’t love the narrative style, that’s for sure. Sometimes it just felt like a litany of x-did-this and y-did-that, framed by some pretty description. But some of the scenes which were actually fully explored were really powerful, and the relationships between the characters too. Ultimately, I don’t think I could be called a fan, but I wouldn’t have wanted to stop halfway through, either.

What will you read next?

Cover of Swordspoint by Ellen KushnerYou know, I really don’t know? According to my new rule about reading two books from the currently reading list for every one I pick up, I could’ve picked up a new book after The Essex Serpent and before Abaddon’s Gate. But I really can’t decide what to read. Maybe Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, since that’s a reading group choice for this month.

The next currently-reading book I’ll focus on… I’m very bad at predicting these, but the choice is (finally!) narrowing down, even if I keep finding books I don’t want to start over with a bookmark tucked into them and elongating the list again. I think I’ll focus on finishing The Stars Are Legion at last.

What are you reading?

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Review – Bring Back the King

Posted 14 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Bring Back the King by Helen PilcherBring Back the King, Helen Pilcher

If you’ve read Beth Shapiro’s How to Clone a Mammoth, all of the content in this book should be pretty familiar. Helen Pilcher’s voice is entertaining, and some of her examples are different, but the basic concept is the same. I wouldn’t recommend reading both, though I would recommend either of them if you haven’t read the other.

The only thing you may not enjoy about Pilcher’s is the flippant humour — she even has a chapter about cloning Elvis, for example. She’s a stand-up comedian as well a biologist and a journalist, so it might well be that you just don’t get along with her sense of humour. I’ll admit it did begin to wear on me. Nonetheless, she presents the information clearly and in a way that’s easy to digest, so it might be the best way to get the information across for some folks.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – The Chocolatier’s Wife

Posted 13 November, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Chocolatier's Wife by Cindy Lynn SpeerThe Chocolatier’s Wife, Cindy Lynn Speer

This is a romance set in a fantasy world, with a bit of mystery as well, so if any of those things fail to appeal, you probably won’t get on with it. I found it delightful, though: the world isn’t incredibly rich or anything, but there’s enough there to give a solid background to the story and prevent it feeling paper-thin. The romance is sweet, and the characters are enjoyable: the way they deal with their situation right from the start, the way they write to each other, the way they take care of one another.

There are a few instances of stupid misunderstandings which mostly just serve to drag out the tension, which is a little annoying — my least favourite trope or way of spinning out a story ever. Still, it wasn’t too painful, and the way they worked out their issues and actually communicated actually kinda made up for it.

I’m definitely planning to read more of Speer’s work in future.

Rating: 4/5

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