Posts by: Nikki

WWW Wednesday

Posted 12 June, 2019 by Nikki in General / 2 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.

Cover of The Pandemic Century by Mark HonigsbaumWhat are you currently reading?

I’m most of the way through The Pandemic Century, by Mark Honigsbaum, which has lots of interesting titbits on various pandemics — some of which I didn’t know. I’m kind of waiting to see where it’s going, though, because it seems to be leaning a bit in the direction of “we can’t predict The Big One, so why get all hysterical about it?”. Which is worrying to me.

Also, I’m sure my family are wincing to hear it, given that I only recently made my mind up to do an MSc in mental health science, but gaaah I want to do more epidemiology and microbiology. Describing how researchers work in the labs that uncover the origins of pandemic disease makes me itch to do some of that work myself. Mind you, by next week I’ll be itching to be an archaeologist or something, so folks can be pretty sure I’ll circle back round to the MSc in time to enrol.

Cover of Tropic of Serpents by Marie BrennanWhat have you recently finished reading?

My reread of The Tropic of Serpents. That book — that whole series really — just fills me with joy. I’m gonna go right on and start on Voyage of the Basilisk… or, being honest with y’all, I already have. I could just eat up Isabella’s adventures, and I love her friendship with Tom Wilker. (I still wanna figure out which part of the UK Niddey sort of corresponds to; I assume probably Ireland, but I like to think of him as a Welshman.)

Cover of Lent by Jo WaltonWhat will you be reading next?

Other than more of Lady Trent’s adventures, I’ll be properly digging into Jo Walton’s Lent now. I have an e-copy because I was so impatient for it, but have been more in the mood for physical books. My physical copy should arrive soon, but even if not, I’m goin’ in! I was excited by the bit I’ve read, and amused because I just played through the Savonarola section of Assassin’s Creed 2.

What are you currently reading?

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Review – Heartstopper

Posted 11 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Heartstopper by Alice OsemanHeartstopper, Alice Oseman

Heartstopper is just freaking adorable. Charlie and Nick attend an all-boys grammar school, and they really meet when they find themselves in the same form (odd, since Nick is in year 11 and Charlie is in year 10? but what do I know, grammar schools can do what they want in many ways; or mine certainly did, anyway). They quickly become friends, and Nick even coaxes Charlie to join him in playing rugby. They hang out together… a lot… and Nick quickly becomes Charlie’s defender and closest friend. And, of course, a mutual crush develops.

The art is cute, and while there is a little bit of angst and confusion, it doesn’t feel gratuitous. I’m a little mad about the cliffhanger this book ends on — and I know I could go looking for the rest online, and probably will, but aaarggghh, that so typical plotline where — well, I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say that I want to get back to them being adorable, whether that’s as friends or boyfriends.

It’s also kind of awesome how British it is. And a grammar school, too! That’s a world I know well.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Middlegame

Posted 10 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Middle-Game by Seanan McGuireMiddlegame, Seanan McGuire

Received to review via Netgalley

I’m still digesting this one, quite honestly. Let’s see if writing it down helps me figure out what I think! Middlegame is a novel in which time is mutable: the two main characters are living out their lives time and time again, and when they fail, time is reset back to a crucial decision point and try again and again to get the right outcome. This isn’t a spoiler — it’s apparent from the start, because the story begins at the end and jumps back.

Roger and Dodger are twins. Roger has command over language, while Dodger is a math prodigy. They were created by an alchemist desperate to prove the theories of his creator and mentor, and their whole lives have been manipulated by him to try and achieve both power and control. The question is really how exactly the twins will achieve their power and not be under his control.

Over and over again their lives touch just a little, and they speak to each other through some kind of link. Over and over again they are separated — sometimes by meddling, sometimes by being human and flawed and not good at their strange relationship. Their relationship is the center of the book, and you can’t help but root for them as they get it right and wrong and right again. I found the timeline a little difficult to follow, because I’m so bad at remembering any kind of numbers (I’m the Roger half of some equation, clearly), and that kind of impacted how I felt about the book — I found it a little frustrating that I kept losing my bearings. It’s cleverly done, though, and the full extent of what Roger and Dodger are takes some time to unfold and really become obvious; the broad strokes are fairly obvious from the beginning, but there’s still a sense of revelation as the book unwinds.

I think, in the end, I’m not head over heels in love with the story, but I think it’s well done and enjoyable. There are some gruesome bits and gore — touches of McGuire’s Mira Grant persona, in some ways — and the complex timeline combined with those is probably what brings down the rating a bit for me. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other readers I know make of it.

Rating: 4/5

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 8 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

I continue to feel rather overwhelmed and worn out, but I did manage to actually make some posts last week, so it’s time for a catchup that covers the last two weeks!


Cover of The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler HayesBooks read in the last two weeks:

Cover of Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson Cover of A Short History of Europe by Simon Jenkins Cover of Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks

Cover of The True Queen by Zen Cho Cover of Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik Cover of Middle-Game by Seanan McGuire Cover of Extraordinary Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson Cover of The Dinosaurs Rediscovered by Michael J. Benton

Cover of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman Cover of Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Reviews posted:

Silver in the Wood, by Emily Tesh. A retelling of a less well-worn myth than some, with lots of loveliness. 4/5 stars
A Short History of Europe, by Simon Jenkins. Rather meh. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!
A June TBR. I wanted to keep up some of my momentum from last month in keeping up with series, reading stuff I’ve meant to read for ages, etc — but with a lower (easier) threshold, to allow me to include extras. Tahdah, the chosen to-read list!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Hummingbirds and migration.‘ I was asked specifically about feeding species of hummingbird local to Argentina, and whether it might perturb their natural feeding, migration, etc. The answer is no!
NEAT science: ‘Wireless charging. Ever wondered how it works? I explain some of the principles.
NEAT science: ‘You are what your microbes eat.‘ On some of the proof for how your microbiota — the bacteria in your gut — impact your mental health.

And that’s it for this week — all caught up. Except for all the comments and posts I still need to answer… I’m getting there, I swear!

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Review – A Short History of Europe

Posted 6 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of A Short History of Europe by Simon JenkinsA Short History of Europe, Simon Jenkins

I’m just going to confess something here: I didn’t finish this. It seemed to be exactly what it purports to be from the title: a short (yep) history (yep) of Europe (yep). It doesn’t try to be particularly exciting about it, and I found that I felt like I was just being hurtled through the canonical key points of European history. Sure, that’s mostly what I expected, but a better prose stylist would have made it more interesting, and an insightful historian could have found some illustrative moments that aren’t in the standard playbook.

As it is, I felt like I was cramming on history for a test, and I ended up letting it go back to the library. More than that, I got the impression that Jenkins is fairly anti-EU, and other reviews confirm that. Given that I still believe in the European Union, me and this book weren’t destined to have a fruitful relationship.

Rating: 2/5

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A June TBR

Posted 5 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Having a TBR in May actually kinda worked out for me. I’m notoriously contrary and notoriously difficult to pin down, but in May I had a set list of 22 books and a Beeminder goal to get me there*, and get there I did.

I don’t want to do that again, since I did have trouble sticking to the list and not just reading whatever I feel like, but it sounds like a nice way to make sure I stick to reading the series (multiple) I’ve got on my plate, get round to reading stuff for the Hugo voting, etc, etc. So I’m going to try having a 10-book TBR; I can read anything else I want as well, but I’ve got to finish these 10.

Cover of Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews Cover of Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan Cover of Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan Cover of Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee Cover of Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

Here goes the list:

  • Magic Burns, by Ilona Andrews. Because I want some fluffy easy fun!
  • The Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan. Reread for pure love.
  • Voyage of the Basilisk, by Marie Brennan. Ditto.
  • Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee. Because the wife just finished it, and I need to finish it for Hugo voting as well!
  • Tower of Thorns, by Juliet Marillier. I reread the first book in order to prep for finally finishing this trilogy (catching up on this series?) so I want to make sure I don’t need to do that again in approximately five minutes.
  • An Artificial Night, by Seanan McGuire. I’ve been partway through this reread for, uh, a while. It’s time to press on and read this series!
  • Storm of Locusts, by Rebecca Roanhorse. I’d like to read this before the first book fades from my mind.
  • Lent, by Jo Walton. Assuming Waterstones ever actually manage to order my copy, that is. I really want to read this ASAP — especially since I’m replaying Assassin’s Creed 2 at the moment, and am just going up against Savonarola…
  • The Bitter Twins, by Jen Williams. I was dying to read this the minute I finished The Ninth Rain, and now I can!
  • A Talent for Murder, by Andrew Wilson. Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance + a murder mystery with her as a main character? I’m in! Also, it’s my book club pick for this month, so I better read it.

Cover of An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire Cover of Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse Cover of Lent by Jo Walton Cover of The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams Cover of A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson

Wish me luck!

*If you don’t know about Beeminder, I work for them as their Support Czar, and am also a fairly hard-core user. Elevator pitch: set a quantifiable goal, set how often you want to do it, and stick to it… or pay exponential amounts of pledge money if you fail. (Or cap it at whatever level is motivating to you, of course.)



WWW Wednesday

Posted 5 June, 2019 by Nikki in General / 2 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.

Cover of The Dinosaurs Rediscovered by Michael J. BentonWhat are you currently reading?

The top of the pile right now is The Dinosaurs Rediscovered, by Michael J. Benton. Mostly it’s just an excuse to read about dinosaurs; I doubt there’s much that will surprise me, having read several recent dinosaur books in the last year or so. But maybe it will! We’ll see. I’m also reading The Warrior Queen, by Joanna Arman, which is shockingly badly edited. It’s very speculative and padded, which I sort of expect from a book about an Anglo-Saxon queen, but is still kind of disappointing.

Cover of Extraordinary Insects by Anne Sverdrup-ThygesonWhat have you recently finished reading?

After Wyrd and Wonder, I decided to combine a palate cleanser of something totally different with reading one of the books I’ve been buying. The result was that I read Extraordinary Insects. It’s… interesting enough if you don’t know much about insects and their importance in food webs, but I didn’t think I did know that much about insects, and yet failed to be surprised by much. Kinda meh in the end.

Cover of Heartstopper by Alice OsemanWhat will you be reading next?

Continuing the theme of palate-cleansing and reading my new books, probably Heartstopper. After that, we’ll see, but I’m thinking about The Bitter Twins (Jen Williams) and then Revenant Gun (Yoon Ha Lee) — the latter particularly because a) Hugos and b) my wife’s been reading it and making incredulous stunned noises.

What are you currently reading?

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Review – Silver in the Wood

Posted 4 June, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Silver in the Wood by Emily TeshSilver in the Wood, Emily Tesh

Received to review via Netgalley

I’d call this a quiet story, but there is in fact plenty that happens once it kicks off. Tobias Finch has a quiet life within the forest, dealing with supernatural threats within its boundaries and protecting the forest. He’s a Green Man, a creature of mythology — not quite a male Dryad, but a man whose existence is nonetheless deeply entwined with that of a vast oak growing near his cottage. One day the owner of the lands, Henry Silver, comes by, stays the night due to a rainstorm, and awkwardly flirts with Tobias. Naturally, that isn’t the last they see of each other, though Tobias tries to protect Henry from his own interest in the myths of the forest — myths of wildness and sacrifice, to which Tobias also has links.

The relationship between Tobias and Henry is a quiet centre of this story, along with Tobias’ own development and rejoining of the world outside the forest. There is also a badass older lady who takes down supernatural threats, the coming to life of some myths that would have been better left quiet, and an awesome Dryad called Bramble. Despite the atmosphere of quiet greenery, there’s a lot going on — which is true of all forests, really.

I enjoyed this both as a telling of a less-used myth and for the queer love story. And I’d happily read a lot more about the adventures of Tobias and [spoiler], solving supernatural mysteries and dealing with mythological threats — that part could’ve been a lot longer and a lot more detailed and I’d have been happy.

Rating: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 29 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 0 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.

This week’s is rather late in the day, and I know I’m lacking in posts this week as well. Having difficulty budgeting my time around being randomly massively cranky, and I know my blog posting and commenting and engaging with people sucks right now. I’m working on it!

Cover of The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth DickinsonWhat are you currently reading?

I’ve just started The Monster Baru Cormorant (Seth Dickinson) and I am so not ready for this. From the very first chapter it jumps back into the awful final point of the last book and goes on right from there, losing no momentum or impact. Gaaah.

I’m also most of the way through The True Queen (Zen Cho), which… I’m silly and never actually looked stuff up, so I was caught by surprise by the awesome queerness! And ahh I love Damerell and Rollo.

Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie BrennanWhat have you recently finished reading?

I spent yesterday rereading A Natural History of Dragons (Marie Brennan), which I still adore, and then after that I settled down to finish my reread of The Traitor Baru Cormorant, which is still amazing but still absolutely exhausting and shattering to read. And gah, all those wheels within wheels of plotting.

Cover of Middle-Game by Seanan McGuireWhat will you be reading next?

I’m trying to finish up my Wyrd and Wonder reading list, though I don’t think I’ll finish all the books on it by the end of May. Still, remaining and not mentioned here already are Middlegame (Seanan McGuire), Fire Logic (Laurie J. Marks) and Spinning Silver (Naomi Novik), all of which are actually in progress at the moment. So I’m not far off, either!

What are you reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 25 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 1 Comment

Hey hey hey! It’s been a quieter week on this front, and I’ve got some reading done… and, well, some books bought, as well. Here’s the haul!

Books acquired this week:

Cover of The Pandemic Century by Mark Honigsbaum Cover of Extraordinary Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson 

Read this week:

Cover of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho Cover of The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman Cover of Sunshine by Robin McKinley Cover of The Afterward by E. K. Johnson Valour and Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviews posted this week:

Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt, by Rosalie David. Probably quite dry if you’re not already fascinating by the topic, but beautifully in-depth if you are. 4/5 stars
Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey. Beautiful writing, in the sense of being precise and fresh, but not entirely my thing in some ways. 4/5 stars
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Kind of middle of the road for me. I like the setting and ideas more than the story itself. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Fantasy. A quick trip around the fantasy genre as I know it, with some recommendations.
Readalong: The Ninth Rain and Trail of Lightning. My readathon thoughts for last week’s prompts.
WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

How’s everyone doing? Anything delicious on your reading plate?

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