Author: Nikki

Review – What’s Your Pronoun?

Posted April 5, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis BarronWhat’s Your Pronoun? Dennis Baron

What’s Your Pronoun? discusses something that’s on a lot of people’s minds, for good or bad: the humble part of speech we call the pronoun. Despite what some idiots protest, everybody uses pronouns all the time: I, you, she, he, they… They’re ubiquitous in speech and have been stirring up people’s emotions for years, whether it be wanting a neutral indefinite pronoun (for when you don’t know the gender of the person you’re referring to), or perhaps (like me) wanting to be addressed using a definite neutral pronoun (when someone doesn’t want to reveal their gender, or doesn’t identify with any).

Barron mostly discusses the former, because that’s something that he feels English is lacking (and which he has a fairly marked preference about, judging from this book). He goes over the numerous attempts to invent neutral pronouns, and some of the societal drivers behind that like denying women suffrage, getting used to women taking equal part in public life, and now the greater acceptance in Western society (the examples mostly stick to the US and the UK) of people who prefer to be gender-neutral.

It gets a little stodgy at times, personally, because I don’t care exactly when every different neopronoun was coined, and I’m less interested in a neutral indefinite pronoun (which English speakers usually solve with singular “they”, even if they believe that to be ungrammatical) than in a definite one. Baron is definitely behind singular they all the way, by the sounds of his arguments in this book, whether it be definite or indefinite: in answer to the cries of grammatical issues, he points out that singular “you” is a much more recent coinage, and one nobody even murmurs about these days.

I found it fairly readable, with some chapters being very absorbing and others getting a bit bogged down. If you’re interested in grammar, I’d recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted April 2, 2020 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Very quickly, my WWW Wednesday!

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis BarronWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: What’s Your Pronoun? by Dennis Baron. I’ve got a little bogged down in the history of invented pronouns, and it’s mostly actually so far about finding a gender-neutral pronoun for when you don’t know the gender of the person you’re talking about or are talking gender-neutral possibilities. The next bit I think has more about non-binary pronouns, which I’m more interested in.

Fiction: actually, nothing really actively. I still have Feed half-finished, and should pick it back up.

Cover of Drowned Country by Emily TeshWhat have you recently finished reading?

An ARC of Emily Tesh’s Drowned Country. I enjoyed it at least as much as the first book; it makes a nice little duology, though I would happily read more adventures of Silver’s mother tearing around the country. I am not wholly sure about the end; it feels a little too pat, but also in a nice way.

Cover of Castle Skull by John Dickson CarrWhat are you planning to read next?

As usual lately, I don’t really know. I’d like to finish or finally DNF Castle Skull (John Dickson Carr) and Salt: A World History (Mark Kurlansky), so maybe I will turn my attention back to those!

What are you guys reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted March 29, 2020 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

I said I’d get back to my normal format this week, but there’s not much to round up in the way of blog content. However, there’s plenty by way of books — yikes!

Received to review:

Cover of The Last Emperox by John Scalzi Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee Cover of Drift Wood by Marie Brennan Cover of A Good Duke is Hard to Find by Christina Britton

Cover of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab Cover of Goldilocks by Laura Lam Cover of Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Cover of Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott Cover of The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan Cover of Network Effect by Martha Wells

What a haul, right? Bless Netgalley.

New books purchased:

Cover of Digging Up Armageddon by Eric H. Cline Cover of Bringing Down The Duke by Evie Dunmore Cover of The Duchess Deception by Cat Sebastian Cover of The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

My eclectic tastes are well on show in this post, huh?

I’ll skip the books read this week as there’s basically just one.

Reviews posted this week:

It Takes Two To Tumble, by Cat Sebastian. Cuuuute. 4/5 stars
A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, by Cat Sebastian. This is less all-out cute than the first book, though it is also sweet. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. This week discussing Mark Kurlansky, Mira Grant and Cat Sebastian.
The Book Tempter’s TBR Challenge. Getting our TBRs down while in isolation? Well, maybe.

How’s everyone else doing? Reading anything good?

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Review – A Gentleman Never Keeps Score

Posted March 29, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat SebastianA Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Cat Sebastian

After It Takes Two To Tumble, this book follows the fortunes of one of Ben’s brothers, Hartley. As a teenager, he slept with a much older man, his godfather, to help provide for his brothers — school fees, rank, etc. On that man’s death, he inherited his house and a good deal of money, but now the whispers have gone out about why exactly he was the beneficiary… and, of course, he’s socially ruined. Into his life comes Sam Fox, publican and former boxer, who is kind and careful and handsome, and whom Hartley wants despite all the damage done by the exploitative sex he had as a teen.

On the one hand, it’s a delight how slowly and carefully the sex is explored in this book, how well Sam takes care of Hartley. At the same time, it’s harrowing; Hartley’s fears and self-disgust and inability to let himself find happiness are all over everything, making it a rather more serious book (at least to my mind). It’s not that it lacks sweetness, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a certain amount of bitter to it as well that — despite grief and worry — weren’t present in the previous book. There’s no on-screen rape or graphic discussion of it, but it colours everything; those who may find this triggering may want to avoid this.

It does have a lovely found family, much as the previous book does, and Hartley opens out into a lovely character as he loses some of his snootiness and challenges some of his own assumptions. Sam is lovely from start to finish — human, and not always able to be perfectly patient and perfectly understanding, but he strives to be better all the time. There are some fun side characters as well, particularly Sadie and Kate.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot and it broke through a funk during which I wasn’t reading much at all. It’s a little darker in tone, but it does have a happy ending, and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – It Takes Two To Tumble

Posted March 27, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat SebastianIt Takes Two To Tumble, Cat Sebastian

Looking around for something cute and easy to read with Lisa (Wife Book Club!), this was my first pick because it was described as “like Sound of Music, but with fewer children and less singing”, and that sounded entertaining. And so it is: Ben is the vicar, and people in the village ask him to deal with the unruly kids of a sea-captain. The kids’ mother has died, and the captain is away on his ship, and the kids are running wild. Ben rather likes kids, and doing things for everyone in the village, so he ends up agreeing.

Said sea-captain, Phillip, comes home and is… less than pleased. However, once he gets out of the mindset of expecting everything to run like a ship — partly at Ben’s prompting — he loosens up and becomes rather more fun, and of course, he develops an attraction to Ben. Ben is engaged to a convalescent girl, Alice, with whom he grew up, and throughout the book he struggles with what’s right, realising that he’s falling in love Phillip and what he feels for his childhood friend is nothing like it. Don’t worry, though: the story avoids demonising Alice, and her sweetness and strength are still important for Ben even when they put an end to their engagement.

There’s also a plotline involving dyslexia: Phillip and one of his children are both dyslexic, and the ways that holds them both back are explored carefully. Jamie’s a wizard with numbers, but traditional learning just won’t work for him. There’s no magical breakthrough moment or anything trite and insulting like that: instead, they plan to play to Jamie’s strengths with the right sort of tutor, and… Well, I won’t say more; that would be a spoiler!

It’s all really sweet, and Ben’s adorable. Phillip is a bit meh for me (which is to say, his determination to be an ass at first annoys me), but Ben carries it.

Rating: 4/5

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The Book Tempter’s TBR Challenge

Posted March 26, 2020 by Nikki in General / 5 Comments

I’ve been meaning to do this post for days, so here we go! Here are my likely picks for the Book Tempter’s TBR challenge:

Cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ShannonBOOK 1 – The CHUNKY BOI: 500 pages+

The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon. It’s been hanging around on my TBR for ages, and I even just got into it as a readalong group with coworkers!

BOOK 2 – The NEWBIE: The newest book on the TBR

All at the same age at the time of writing: Bringing Down The Duke (Evie Dunmore), Digging Up Armageddon (Eric H. Cline) or A Delicate Deception (Cat Sebastian). Not to mention the ARCs I’ve been racking up, like Laura Lam’s Goldilocks… or the books still winging their way to me, like Red, White and Royal Blue. I’ll count any one of the books I’ve added to my TBR since the lockdown began.

BOOK 3 – The OLDTIMER: The oldest book on the TBR

Oh, criminy. A lot of my oldest books are at my parents’, and we’re staying apart at the moment. If I’ve got Robin McKinley’s Dragonhaven here, it might be that; if not, I’ll probably go with something else from 2011. Maybe Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier.

Cover of A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra RowlandBOOK 4 – THE COLLECTOR: Short stories

Hmm, I’m fairly lacking in anthologies in print, but there’s probably something in my backlog on Kindle. If not, I’ll cheat a little and read N.K. Jemisin’s How Long Til Black Future Month?

BOOK 5 – DO NOT TRANSCEND GENRE: Read a book from your favourite genre

This one’s pretty open… let’s say I’ll use this as a prod to finish A Conspiracy of Truths, by Alexandra Rowland.

Cover of The Fifth Season, by N.K. JemisinBOOK 6, 7 and 8 – THREE IS COMPANY: A trilogy

I’m not going to nail myself to these, but probably N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season et al. I never read this series. I’m covered in shame, I know.

BOOK 9 – FACE REALITY: Non-fiction

I have lots and lots of options here. I’m bouncing off Mark Kurlansky’s Salt right now, so I’ll go with Dennis Baron’s What’s Your Pronoun?

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis BarronBOOK 10 – BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS: A book by a non-US/UK author

Technically I’ve read this before, but I can’t go onto the next book without rereading The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

BOOK 11 – RANDOMMMMMM: A random choice

This is meant to be “the third book from the left/bottom of the second shelf in your TBR”, and this is a complicated proposition with my shelves. I’m actually going to go with my library books for this one, and it looks like I’m reading Not Quite A Lady by Loretta Chase.

Book 12 – TREAT YOURSELF: A favourite or book by a favourite author

So this will be either The Goblin Emperor (Katherine Addison), or one of K.J. Charles’ books I haven’t read before — maybe Think of England.

Here we go!



WWW Wednesday

Posted March 25, 2020 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Hey folks! A quick WWW Wednesday…

Cover of Salt by Mark KurlanskyWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. I’m thinking of ditching it, though. It doesn’t feel very much like there’s a coherent narrative here; it’s just a lot of facts about salt, one after the other. It is interesting, but it feels more like reading a series of encyclopaedia entries or something.

Fiction: I’m partway through rereading Mira Grant’s Feed, which I think I talked about last week. Wife Book Club (aka me and my wife read the same book at the same time) is now The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein. It’s a reread for me, but Lisa’s discovering it for the first time. We haven’t actually discussed it much yet…

Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat SebastianWhat have you recently finished reading?

It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian. It’s just adorable; somebody described it as Sound of Music, minus some of the kids and all of the singing. That’s pretty much it. There’s also a subplot involving one of the main characters having dyslexia, as does his son, which I felt seemed well-handled? And I enjoyed the female love interest (inasfar as she was really a love interest).

What are you going to read next?

I have no earthly idea. Honestly, I’m not managing to read much. My anxiety medication is helping, but either I’m not finding the right book or my mood isn’t stable enough yet. I’m not going to make any guesses or set any goals; I’ll figure it out in its own time.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted March 22, 2020 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Well, folks, it’s been quite the week. I haven’t been very well (mentally), and while I’m getting better with the help of some anxiety medication (sigh, I was so proud to have weaned myself off it), it’s been rough. So here’s the haul of books I got on our last hurrah day out before moving to social distancing mode and ending non-essential trips, a couple weeks ago.

Next week I’ll share the ARCs I’ve been getting, and whatever’s come through the mail, and try to get back to my normal format.

Books acquired:

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis Barron Cover of House of Fiction by Phyllis Richardson Cover of Murderous Contagion: A human history of disease by Mary Dobson Cover of The Rules of Contagion by Adam Kucharski

Cover of The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh Cover of Rag and Bone by K.J. Charles Cover of Unfit to Print by K.J. Charles Cover of Recoil by J.T. Nicholas

Cover of The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian Cover of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian

Cover of Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters Cover of The Green Man's Heir by Juliet E. McKenna

Some non-fiction, some romance, a little sci-fi, a little fantasy and mystery… a typically mixed haul for me.

How’s everyone else doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted March 18, 2020 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Let’s get back to normal a bit. Here’s my WWW Wednesday post!

Cover of Feed by Mira GrantWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: The Rules of Contagion, by Adam Kucharski. This is a bit on the nose at the moment, clearly. I’m enjoying it in little snippets, though.

Fiction: I’m rereading Mira Grant’s Feed, for… probably obvious reasons. It’s at once anxiety-inducing and anxiety-beating; it reminds me of my first experience with reading it, when I had a lot of trouble with my anxiety and this was hitting all my buttons in both good and bad ways.

Wife Book Club (AKA me and my wife pick a book and read it together, at the same pace, in the same place, at the same time): It Takes Two To Tumble, by Cat Sebastian, which is so far very cute and generally fun.Cover of The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

What have you recently finished reading?

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, by Zen Cho. It’s an ARC. I enjoyed it, but felt like I was Missing Something. I haven’t read/seen/otherwise consumed much Wuxia, so I guess that’s part of it.Cover of The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein

What will you be reading next?

Possibly The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein, for Wife Book Club. I’ve read it before, and enjoyed it, but never got onto the rest of the series.

So what are you reading?

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Review – A Gentleman’s Position

Posted March 14, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of A Gentleman's Position by KJ CharlesA Gentleman’s Position, K.J. Charles

This is the final book in the Society of Gentlemen series, and it beautifully wraps things up — not just for Richard and Cyprian, but for the characters of the other two books as well. It’s all very cleverly done, with David Cyprian pulling the strings and manipulating things into place, and Richard stumbling towards happiness with large blundering feet. The plot is mostly: Richard fucks up, Richard needs Cyprian back, David Cyprian is too loyal for his own good, Richard puts his foot in it some more. I was at once longing for a happy ending and wanting David to realise Richard truly is an idiot and walk away.

Charles can always bring me round to enjoying a character or plotline I didn’t think I would; she had no problems here, as I was already eager to see what David could do and how things would work out. I actually read this all in one go.

It’s not just the characters and their relationship, though. I really liked the side characters, including the way Richard’s elder brother and his wife try to take care of Richard and are supported by him in turn. Knowing the world already from the other books, it’s interesting to see it from a new slant and discover the other sides of people one might have already disliked or dismissed.

As with the first book, I have very little I want to criticise here. It was a lot of fun. Just one point: Richard is portrayed as pretty much demisexual (and apparently word-of-God says he is), but there is a scene which puts the lie to that where he says he wanted David since he first saw him. Neither the inclusion nor that moment are a major part of the plot, but it’s a point worth being aware of if you’re hoping for demisexual representation.

Rating: 5/5

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