Category: General

Weekly Roundup

Posted July 11, 2020 by Nicky in General / 13 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s been a while since I was able to do this, but… this post was prepared on Friday evening! It’s nice to be ahead — and I’m even all up to date on writing reviews, and it’s been a good reading week! I know the cool, rainy summer is really disappointing to some folks, but I’m revelling in it; I loathe heat. (I wouldn’t mind a bit more sunshine, just keep the daytime temperatures below 25°C and the nights cool enough to be refreshing, and I’ll still be happy… but if I have to choose between hot weather and dreary rain, I’ll choose the rain!)

In any case, what have I been stacking my shelves with and reading this week? Here we go! Linking up with The Sunday Post @ The Caffeinated Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves @ Reading Reality & Tynga’s Reviews.

Books acquired:

Cover of The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole Cover of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows Cover of Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland by Lisa Schneidau Cover of Written In History: Letters That Changed The World by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Cover of This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev Cover of Period by Emma Barnett Cover of A Good Time to Be Born by Perri Klass Cover of Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

Thank you to the publishers for the eARCs of A Good Time To Be Born and Eight Detectives!

Finished reading this week:

Cover of Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan Cover of Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette De Bodard Cover of Invasive Aliens by Dan Eatherley Cover of The Dead Shall Be Raised & Death of a Quack by Goerge Bellairs

Reviews posted this week:

Other posts:

  • Top Ten Tuesday: The Authors I’ve Read The Most Books By. As usual, it’s what it says on the tin — I mostly guessed rather than looking at actual stats, which would be dominated by the author of the Rurouni Kenshin manga I read when I was 17, and probably GetBackers as well. Not entirely representative of my current taste!
  • WWW Wednesday. The usual update on what I’m reading, with my thoughts on a couple of the books already mentioned here.

Out and about:

  • Postcrossing: Book Review – The Documents in the Case. It figures that my official introduction on the Postcrossing blog is about books! I’ve written a couple of posts for the blog before, but this little series will be my Thing, where you can see me reviewing books about post and mail systems. If you have any recommendations for epistolary novels or books that revolve around post in some way, can you drop a comment over there? (Or here works too!) In any case, I did a whole review of Dorothy L. Sayers’ epistolary mystery, The Documents in the Case. I’ve reviewed the book here before, but my write-up on the Postcrossing blog is all new, and hopefully still worth checking out!
  • Beeminder: Beeminding the Fuzzy Friends. If you don’t know about Beeminder, basically you set goals… and if you don’t meet them, you pay! My latest contribution to the Beeminder blog discusses how I track spending time with my rabbits, and how those efforts have paid off. If you want to hear about the really cute trick Biscuit can do, you want to read this post!

Full disclosure: I help out at Postcrossing and I’m the Support Czar for Beeminder, so obviously I have Ulterior Motives in boosting these blog posts. I hope they’re interesting, though — I don’t always highlight my blog posts elsewhere, but these seemed like they’d have some crossover appeal!

So that’s everything for this week — how’re you folks doing? Grabbed any new books, or been grabbed by any?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted July 8, 2020 by Nicky in General / 3 Comments

It’s Wednesday again! So here’s the usual check-in. You can go to Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

Cover of Invasive Aliens by Dan EatherleyWhat are you currently reading? 

Actively, I think it’s pretty much just Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch — my loan got renewed from the library even though there were people in the queue, which is weird but I’m not arguing, because it lets me take my time and let it sink in a bit more — and Invasive Aliens, by Dan Eatherley, which I will probably sit down and finish as soon as I get done with this post.

Invasive Aliens is okay, but it feels a bit scattered; there are themes to the chapters, but it starts becoming a bit “and ANOTHER thing” after a while.

Cover of Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette De BodardWhat have you recently finished reading?

I read Aliette de Bodard’s Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders yesterday in a hot bath, and narrowly resisted the urge to arise dripping and covered in bubbles to read bits to my wife, since Asmodeus is definitely her sort of thing. Instead I took photos of the relevant pages and sent them to her via chat, circling the good bits in red. It was rather nice.

(And yes, she’s convinced and plans to read it.)

Cover of Ninth House by Leigh BardugoWhat will you be reading next?

Book club reads this month are Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo and The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, and I’ve been meaning to read both more or less since they came out, so that’s probably something I’ll do soon. I’m probably in the mood for a palate-cleansing murder mystery from the British Library Crime Classics series first, and maybe an installment of the Whyborne & Griffin series by Jordan L. Hawk as well. I also have a wicked bad urge to reread John Scalzi’s Lock In, and I might just listen to it.

So basically, as usual, it’s anyone’s guess.

What are you currently reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read The Most Books By

Posted July 7, 2020 by Nicky in General / 10 Comments

It’s Tuesday again already? Gah. So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is “Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By”. This one’s always tricky because sometimes you can read just one series by an author and it swamps the handful of one-shots by authors you like more. What’s more, I think my stats might be messed up by all the rereads. So I’m going to ignore the actual statistics here and go with the authors I think I’ve read the most of.

Cover of The Books of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin and Charles Vess Cover of The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn Cover of Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers

  1. Ursula Le Guin. She was pretty prolific! She’s got to feature on the list somewhere. I read Earthsea as a teenager and gradually moved through most of her science fiction and then her non-fiction essays… and no matter what she writes, it’s all so good. There are more memorable and less memorable forays (a lot of people discount or didn’t like Lavinia or the Gifts trilogy) but… in general, I’ve found something to enjoy in everything she wrote.
  2. K.J. Charles. Charles takes up a pretty good chunk of my shelf, and of course I don’t have all of them in paperback. I’m going to be willing to try just about anything she writes, and I’m a little sad I only have a handful to go. (Being Proper English, Rag and Bone, Slippery Creatures… and maybe some shorter stories? The Price of Meat and A Queer Trade, at least, and of course the crossover with Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin.)
  3. Kerry Greenwood. On the strength of the Phryne Fisher series alone, she’s probably pretty high on my list.
  4. Carola Dunn. Same, only with the Daisy Dalrymple books — plus one of her romance trilogies. She’s hugely prolific and I really need to decide on a few more of her romances to read, because I really liked Miss Jacobson’s Journey et al.
  5. Dorothy L. Sayers. She’s got to be up there in the list, given I’ve read all the Peter Wimsey books, the short stories, and The Documents in the Case…
  6. Marie Brennan. I actually haven’t read all her books yet, but I’ve read one or two of the Onyx Court books, and all the Isabella Trent books, a couple of novellas and at least two short story collections. I’m willing to try just about anything with her name on it.
  7. Guy Gavriel Kay. He’s got a fair few books out and I’ve even read all but two of them, so I think he must be a contender here! I actually got hooked on his oldest books (The Fionavar Tapestry), but he’s got a beautiful way with words. Just… don’t put him in charge of who pairs up with who.
  8. N.K. Jemisin. I might not actually have read more of her works than some other authors, but she deserves a place on this list for intentions. I’m behind, but I will read everything she’s written and everything she’s going to write, most likely.
  9. Mary Robinette Kowal. At this point I’m just eyeing up my shelves and going “oh, that’s a sizeable chunk of books and I’ve read most of them”… But after not entirely loving Shades of Milk and Honey, I was entirely converted, loved that whole series, loved The Calculating Stars, greatly enjoyed a short story collection… Pretty solid pick here, I think.
  10. Jacqueline Carey. From my first introduction to Kushiel’s Dart, I’ve loved Carey’s work, and I’ve eaten up all her Kushiel universe books… plus most of her others as well. I’m a little behind, as always, but always gonna love her lush prose.

Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay Cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin Cover of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

I’ve no idea how that actually matches up to the numbers on Goodreads, but I haven’t been great about tracking that lately anyway! I think this is a pretty representative idea, anyway.

Who do you read most of? Do your shelves get dominated by never-ending detective series, or do you spread out your reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted July 4, 2020 by Nicky in General / 15 Comments

Happy weekend! I’ve actually been reading this week, mostly because I stuck to what is clearly working for my brain right now… and I also got quite a few new books, through friends, ARCs, giveaways and preorders (plus my own one book from my wishlist per week).

I also submitted my application to do an MSc in Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (via distance learning), so hey, wish me luck, restrict non-essential time outside the house, and wear masks when you’re out in public; even temporary cloth masks are proven to help, and if everyone masks up, we can cut transmission waaay faster.

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

Books acquired: 

Cover of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks Cover of The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

These first two were received to review via Netgalley! Yaaay.

Cover of The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson Cover of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso Cover of A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy Cover of You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Cover of How Contagion Works by Paolo Giordano Cover of The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso Cover of Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

The Murders of Molly Southbourne was via a giveaway (thank you again!) and a friend got me The Obsidian Tower and Seafire for being brave enough to actually press submit on my MSc application, ahaha.

(How do I have four other books when I’m meant to get one a week? Preorders don’t count in the one-a-week, and A River of Royal Blood and How Contagion Works were covered by promotional credit. Score!)

Books read this week:

Cover of The Covid-19 Catastrophe by Richard Horton Cover of Threshold by Jordan L. Hawk Cover of How Contagion Works by Paolo Giordano Cover of The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson Cover of A Ruin of Shadows by L.D. Lewis

Reviews posted this week:

Other posts:

Alright, I think that’s everything — and it’s only Saturday! Whew. Normally I end up doing this on a Sunday night. How’s everyone doing? Been stacking any great books lately?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted July 1, 2020 by Nicky in General / 7 Comments

It’s Wednesday again already! Check out Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now… and here’s my answers.

Cover of Brit(ish) by Afua HirschWhat are you currently reading?

Mostly non-fiction; I’m having a hard time settling down to anything. Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch is due back at the library, so I’m trying to finish that on time; I’m not very far into it, and mostly I was struck by realising how strongly my view of people of colour in Britain was informed by growing up where I did, in an area where there are a lot of Muslim and Hindu immigrants. The Ghanaian context Afua Hirsch speaks about is not something I ever really came into contact with growing up. So, yeah, I’m getting the different perspective I hoped for from Brit(ish), even if it is disappointing to see a total blind spot I have.

I’m also still reading Dan Eatherley’s Invasive Aliens, but I don’t think I’ve actually picked it up since last week…

Cover of The Covid-19 Catastrophe by Richard HortonWhat have you recently finished reading?

I read Richard Horton’s The COVID-19 Catastrophe, which is pretty short. Most of it is preaching to the choir, for me, but I hope his clear elucidation of what went wrong helps other people see it. I think he could’ve spent a bit more time on the “how to stop it happening again” part; it feels a bit abbreviated. I think there’s a lot you can say about how to build strong and effective surveillance systems, and on what public health initiatives need to take place.

Still, it’s a pretty good analysis of how we got here and what went wrong in the process.

What will you be reading next?

Nobody knows, least of all me.

What are you currently reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming Releases to Get Excited About

Posted June 30, 2020 by Nicky in General / 16 Comments

This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is about upcoming releases for the rest of 2020! There’s so much to look forward to, but let’s see if I can remember some of the highlights…

Cover of A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik Cover of Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam Cover of Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark Cover of Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles Cover of Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

  1. A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik. I just got an e-ARC in the last couple of weeks, so this one leapt to mind. I always find Novik’s work enjoyable and unputdownable (even when I have serious reservations about it as well), and a magical school story hits a spot for me.
  2. Seven Devils, by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam. I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it… and I have an e-ARC of this, too. Yep, I’m spoiled! Feminist space opera — seven resistance fighters against the Empire. Classic.
  3. Ring Shout, by P. Djèlí Clark. I’ve loved his novellas, so I am super excited for this. It’s dark fantasy woven into the history of the US; I worry I might miss some stuff because I’m not American and not particularly interested in American history, but I’m ready to be schooled!
  4. Where Dreams Descend, by Janella Angeles. Compared to Phantom of the Opera with a touch of The Night Circus? I’m innnn.
  5. Master of Poisons, by Andrea Hairston. I’ve been meaning to read Hairston’s work forever, and this apparently uses a lot of African folktales? Sounds fascinating!
  6. The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I will shame-facedly admit that I haven’t read The Fated Sky, because my brain is just a stupid place sometimes, but I let my wife read my ARC of The Relentless Moon and she outright tore through it.
  7. Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas. Trans Latinx teen accidentally summons the wrong ghost! I’m in.
  8. The Lefthanded Booksellers of London, by Garth Nix. A Garth Nix book is always a good time, and anything to do with books is a winner to me.
  9. Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse. I don’t actually know much about this yet, but though I have some problems with Trail of Lightning and the sequel, they made for really addictive reading. I’m looking forward to this!
  10. Boyfriend Material, by Alexis Hall. It sounds so deliciously tropey and fun, and it’s out very very soon!

Cover of The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas Cover of The Lefthanded Booksellers of London by Garth Nix Cover of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse Cover of Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

How about you? What’re you looking forward to?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted June 28, 2020 by Nicky in General / 10 Comments

Greetings, folks! Welp, I’m sort of caught up for right now, but I don’t know if it’ll stick. How’s everyone else doing?

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

Books acquired this week:

Cover of The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper Cover of The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth Cover of The Covid-19 Catastrophe by Richard Horton Cover of The Woman in the Wardrobe by Peter Shaffer

Thank you to the kind folks who have bought me books this week… and the customer service folks at Waterstones who managed to get The COVID-19 Catastrophe shipped to me in the end!

Books read this week:

Cover of Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R. Lorac

Reviews posted this week:

Other posts:

Alrighty, that’s all done! And how about you folks? Got any awesome new books?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted June 24, 2020 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

Hey folks! I keep saying I’m going to be better this week and it turns out I’m still burnt out, so I’m not linking up and being super social this month, but I totally welcome a chance to chat about books and will do my best to comment and visit in return. I know I’ve been saying this a lot; turns out it takes time.

Cover of Invasive Aliens by Dan EatherleyWhat are you currently reading?

I’m in the middle of Invasive Aliens, by Dan Eatherley, which is all about how non-native plants got to Britain and established themselves. There are some surprises in here — I think I knew at some point about rabbits being non-native, but I’d forgotten it, and I also didn’t know that when they were first imported they were helped a lot by landowners. They didn’t establish themselves well at all, compared to their reputation now!

I have a few other things on the backburner, but nothing else jumps to mind as something I want to talk about.

Cover of Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R. LoracWhat have you recently finished reading?

I think it was Murder in the Mill-Race, by E.C.R. Lorac. She’s one of my favourite writers whose works are being reprinted in the British Library Crime Classics series; there’s something very reliable about her ability to portray characters and particularly the landscape and the way people interact with it, and how it shapes people. Most of her novels feature a pretty strong sense of place, if not outright love of the land (it was less prominent in Murder in the Mill Race than in Fire in the Thatch, for example).

Cover of Brit(ish) by Afua HirschWhat will you be reading next?

I don’t know, but my library just purchased a bunch of books I’d requested, which is exciting. There are a few books I want to focus on finishing first, though, including Daisy Jones & The Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid) and Beneath the World, A Sea (Chris Bennett). We’ll see, though — as usual, I do want to try and listen to my whim, and stop if something isn’t working for me, and read according to what sounds good right now.

There’s a couple of library books I’ve had a bit longer and need to read soon, too, like Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish).

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again For the First Time

Posted June 23, 2020 by Nicky in General / 17 Comments

Ten years of Top Ten Tuesday! Wow. This week I’m turning to an old one… that I probably did before, knowing my interests. Here are the ten books I wish I could experience again with fresh eyes. I’m mindful that the suck fairy may have visited books I loved when I was less mature, so I’ve steered away from childhood favourites.

Cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin Cover of The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

  1. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. Everyone knows I loved this one, I think! I wish I could read it again and then compare notes with myself. Did I love the same characters? Did I suspect the same characters? What different things would I focus on, being a different person now than I was then? Honestly, that goes for all of these, though: I’d love to know how things would stack up if I could experience them anew from where I’m standing now. The Goblin Emperor is a special favourite, though.
  2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. This book has been around for 10 years now, and had 12 reprintings! Whoooa. I remember the first time I read it, it was so compulsive — I had to know what happened, how everything was going to work out, why things we’re happening… I’d love to have that experience again.
  3. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. My mother made me wait to read this until I was eleven, to try and ensure I was mature enough to understand some of the subtleties. I know I didn’t get it all, and my readings of it more recently have been layered with those early impressions, and also with studying it. I’d love to be able to read it for the first time with all the stuff I know now about mythology and Tolkien’s intentions.
  4. The whole Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. I’ve read all of the Phryne books now, some of them twice, and I’d love to be able to recapture the first time reading them and falling in love with the characters. Some of it’s getting a little too familiar now!
  5. Band Sinister, by K.J. Charles. It was just so sweet and funny and I laughed so much. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy reading it knowing what happens… but I’d love to recapture that breathless ack, how are they going to deal with this?!
  6. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I’m not sure I can take rereading it in full knowledge of where it’s going, but I remember being so blown away by it.
  7. Fledgling, by Octavia Butler. I feel like I’m better equipped to handle Butler and where her work was coming from now, but I know this book had a lot of impact on me because it was uncomfortable to read. I don’t know if it’s lost that uncomfortableness now… but I don’t feel like it should. I’d like to get uncomfortable all over again, as an older and wiser adult.
  8. A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. The first time I read this book I didn’t love it, and that feels like a waste now. I’d also love to know if it’s something you have to read again to love, or if I was just a crankypants that day.
  9. Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Same! I ended up loving both these series, and yet… did not love the book first time through. I was just drawn back by something to give them another try. I’d love to give them another first try and see what happens!
  10. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee. I feel like this one actually gains from rereading, because I felt like I understood it better on a second read, when I’d absorbed more of the world… but also I remember the way it completely grabbed hold of my brain the first time. I’d like to have a clear schedule and a rainy day, and just… give it a second first try.

Cover of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Cover of Fledgling by Octavia Butler Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Some of these are probably obvious choices, but… it’s not just books I like to reread (actually, I’ve struggled to reread The Sparrow). It’s about recapturing that first impression, and I’ve no idea if I would love all these books the same way if one could do that… but I’d love to find out.

So if I’m ever found with a lost memory… you know what to sit me down with! What would you want to re-experience for the first time?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted June 21, 2020 by Nicky in General / 14 Comments

Hey folks! I keep thinking I’m on top of things again and then crumbling by the end of the week, but I swear there’s progress — and I’ve been reading a lot! I’ve also been getting a lot of books! I haven’t included them all this week, only up to Saturday morning, so I’ll still have something to show off next week. 😀

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

Received to review:

Cover of The Conductors by Nicole Glover Cover of The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow Cover of How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi Cover of A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Cover of Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam Cover of The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates Cover of Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark Cover of Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

I missed Ring Shout and Boyfriend Material off last week’s post, so here they are now! I’m so excited for these books.

Books bought/gifted:

Cover of What We Talk About When We Talk About Books by Leah Price Cover of Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Read this week:

Cover of Mr. Popper's Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater Cover of How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi Cover of Pet by Akwaeke Emezi Cover of The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude Cover of What We Talk About When We Talk About Books by Leah Price

Reviews posted this week:

Think of England, by K.J. Charles. A whole new pair of flawed idiots to adore and want to smack. Exactly as I hoped. 4/5 stars
Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi. A deceptively light read that gets to grips with some problems in a utopian society. 4/5 stars
The Sussex Downs Murder, by John Bude. Pretty much what you’d expect from a British Library Crime Classic, which is not to say it wasn’t enjoyable. 3/5 stars
How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. If you’re hoping for a step by step manual, this ain’t it: it’s more of a memoir, though I think it’s helpful to guide you through your own journey. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer TBR. Okay, it was mostly just an excuse to do a list, I’ll admit.
WWW Wednesday. Chatting about Beneath the World, A Sea and How to be an Antiracist.

How’s everyone doing? Been getting any new books? Looking forward to any new releases? Let me know!

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