Category: General


WWW Wednesday

Posted 12 December, 2018 by Nikki in General / 1 Comment

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 Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-LodgeI’m still partway through Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. There are no major surprises for me, but despite knowing better I’m still a little surprised by how recent some of these racial issues are, and how recently there have been really, really gross racist views going unchallenged. The issue about policing… I thought it was better in the UK than in the US, but aside from fewer fatalities, some of it sounds very familiar from the US news.

We’re also listening to Rivers of London while doing crafts various,

Cover of A Most Novel Revenge by Ashley WeaverWhat have you recently finished reading?

A Most Novel Revenge, by Ashley Weaver. Amory isn’t as charming to me as Daisy, and Milo’s far from being the kind of character I enjoy, but the mysteries are a nice way to while away an afternoon or two, so I’ve stuck with them so far. They’re a bit lukewarm in many ways, and my reviews are probably gonna end up damning them with faint praise.

Cover of Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel KayWhat will you be reading next?

I don’t know. I’m tempted to read Sailing to Sarantium, since my wife’s reading it at the moment. Then there’s always the Daisy Dalrymple books, and a plethora of library books I’ve been telling myself I’ll get to any minute now. Or there’s one of the British Library Crime Classics I haven’t read… Or one of the books I already have in progress but half-abandoned.

What are you currently reading?

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Discussion: When To Give Up

Posted 10 December, 2018 by Nikki in General / 5 Comments

It’s probably not a shock to anyone reading this that I have a large number of books I own, in both ebook and dead tree, that I haven’t yet read. Somewhere around 1,200, I would guess. No, I don’t mean that’s the number of books on my wishlist. I own them, and will quite possibly be crushed to death by them if I’m not careful. My darling wife (who knew full well what she was in for when she married me) kindly went through and figured out exactly how many I have remaining from each year, after Chuckles’ post breaking down her TBR inspired me!

2011: 28 unread (60 listed) – 47% unread
2012: 152 unread (208 listed) – 73% unread
2013: 363 unread (519 listed) – 70% unread
2014: 198 unread (392 listed) – 51% unread
2015: 103 unread (255 listed) – 40% unread
2016: 109 unread (228 listed) – 48% unread
2017: 101 unread (233 listed) – 43% unread
2018: 158 unread (210 listed) – 75% unread

It looks like I was amazingly bad at picking books I actually wanted to read at some point in the last five years in 2012 and 2013 — but it’s not quite so, since the pre-2013 lists don’t include books I bought and had read before the blog started in late 2013. 2018, I put down to the year not being finished yet. The dust hasn’t settled!

The reason this entry is titled “When To Give Up” is because I don’t know when that is. It’s very rare for me to strike off a book on my backlist without trying it, and sometimes even when I have tried it. I guess I’m just reluctant to miss out on something that could be good through feeling like I should have fewer books. Also, I know I’m a mood reader and that you never can guess when I’ll suddenly want to read something obscure from the backlog.

Still, as a little experiment in public accountability, I’m going to include some stats in my Weekly Roundup posts from now on: number of books in, number of books read, and number of books from the backlog read. Let’s see how that goes! I suspect it’s going to find that I am easily distracted by — oh look, a library!

Anyway, there, Mum — was it as bad as you thought? And other readers, how do you think you compare? Do you read books right away, or hoard them like a book dragon?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 8 December, 2018 by Nikki in General / 7 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s starting to look kind of like Christmas here — me and my wife have our very first Christmas tree (since this is the first time we’ve lived together and been together at Christmas), and we have the very best (if unconventional) topper.

 

Books bought this week:

Cover of Rattle His Bones by Carola Dunn Cover of To Davy Jones Below by Carola Dunn Cover of The Case of the Murdered Muckraker by Carola Dunn

Books read this week:

Cover of Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn Cover of Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver

Reviews posted this week:

Rogue Protocol, by Martha Wells. A fun entry in the series, though I miss ART and feel it’s a little… episodic for my tastes. 4/5 stars
Requiem for a Mezzo, by Carola Dunn. One of those cosies where the dead person is so awful you can’t really help but root for whoever did them in… Fun, but not demanding. 4/5 stars
Pax Romana, by Adrian Goldsworthy. Definitely an interesting re-examination of the Roman Empire and its benefits for those under its banner. 4/5 stars
The Division Bell Mystery, by Ellen Wilkinson. Mostly stands out because of the setting, but has some surprising moments of pathos near the end. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Habitica Bookclub: Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About RaceAn intro post about my pick for December’s readalong.
WWW Wednesday. The usual update on what exactly I’m reading right now.

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Gecko Jesus‘. Or, “how exactly do geckos walk on water?”

So yeah, how’s everyone doing? Getting Christmas-y, if you celebrate? Any good books lately? Tell all!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 5 December, 2018 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 Rosewater by Tade ThompsonWhat are you currently reading?

At the gym (where I go on the treadmill and sulkily walk 45 minutes, at the moment) I’m reading Rosewater by Tade Thompson; I got a good chunk read last time, so I’m starting to get a handle on the world. I’m slightly put-off by the amount of sex; it’s not actually excessive if I try to enumerate the number of times it’s come up, but it sticks in my mind when I think about the book.

At home, I’m reading Dead in the Water, the next Daisy Dalrymple book I’ve got to. That’s rather more restful!

Cover of Damsel in Distress by Carola DunnWhat have you recently finished reading?

Ugh, I think the last thing I finished might just have been the last Daisy Dalrymple book, Damsel in Distress! It was fun too, with Phillip Petrie getting a bit more development and a little story of his own. He may not be the brightest, but he is a dear.

Cover of Styx and Stones by Carola DunnWhat will you be reading next?

I’d like to say any one of the many books I’ve been wanting for ages and desperate to pounce on, or one of the books I’ve been intending to reread, or whatever. But apparently my stress levels say it’s cosy mysteries all the way, so I’m going to guess it’ll be Styx and Stones and then Rattle His Bones, the next two Daisy Dalrymple books! I might try and finish rereading Murder Must Advertise as well, though…

What are you currently reading?

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Habitica Bookclub: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Posted 3 December, 2018 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

This month’s randomish pick for the Legendary Book Club on Habitica is Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I’ve been seeing it around a fair bit, but haven’t read it — and then there it was, in a buy-one-get-one-half-price sale in Waterstones. It seemed like the ideal time, so I added it to the stack, and now it’s my pick for the book club run solely by my own caprice.

I’m particularly interested in the fact that it’s based on experiences of race from a British non-white perspective. So much of the discourse online is based around the experience of black people in the US, which I’ve always been convinced is a different kettle of fish — cue the protests of white Americans who think that I’m being racist to suggest that maybe race isn’t experienced in the same way universally. The idea that it might be different for a African-American person born in the South whose family has been in the US since the 1700s and a hijabi born in Bradford whose parents emigrated as children… is not really widely considered, at least in the circles I run in. The model of racism discussed online has always been rather US-based, ignoring those differences. (And of course the inevitable differences in the ingrained ways of thinking about race.)

I’m also interested because people have such a kneejerk reaction to it, but often when you actually read pieces like that, it turns out the title is really all a lot of other folks have read. (See also: Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit. So much kneejerk angsting from men over an essay that is plainly talking about the habits of a certain kind of man.)

So that’s the background! Assuming I actually get to reading this book within the month this time (alas for The Genius Plague), I’ll try and get a review up and maybe even a discussion post. For now, feel free to comment here if you’ve read the book/plan to read it/think it’s obvious rot from the title alone, and let’s chat!

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 1 December, 2018 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s been a quietish week, which was a nice feeling! But I got a couple of books I’ve been excited about, and my book subscription box (Illumicrate) arrived this week too, so there’s a couple of new books to get excited about. And then there was one review copy, so… maybe it wasn’t that quiet after all! Here goes…

Received to review:

Cover of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

New books:

Cover of Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce Cover of Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch Cover of Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean Cover of The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

Books read this week:

Cover of Samurai by John Man Cover of Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola Dunn Cover of Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Carola Dunn Cover of Damsel in Distress by Carola Dunn

Reviews posted this week:

The Testament of Loki, by Joanne Harris. I thought the concept was kind of goofy, and that bothered me enough that I didn’t really enjoy the book, even though Harris writes Loki’s voice so convincingly. 2/5 stars
Unearthing the Dragon, by Mark Norell. Some interesting stuff about feathered dinosaurs, but a lot of weird exoticising stuff about China. Meh. 2/5 stars
Sandman Slim, by Richard Kadrey. Gritty urban fantasy with a tough male protagonist who has just got back after being dragged down to hell, and various angels, demons and monsters. No, I’m not intentionally describing Supernatural… It’s not a bad read, but it didn’t feel particularly fresh to me either. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussions: ARCs. Do you get them? Do you hanker after them or just accept them when they come? Are bloggers getting too entitled about getting ARCs?
WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’ If you feel like your family only ever tend to have daughters, then you might be right. Scientists have confirmed it really does happen, and how.

So how’s your week been? Getting any reading done?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 28 November, 2018 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 Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola DunnI think the only thing I’m actively reading is Requiem for a Mezzo, which I haven’t picked up in a couple of weeks! I need to get back to reading more, but work seems to have taken over my head — that and Stardew Valley multiplayer. Oh, and I do have Adam Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived on the go, but I’m kind of meh about it. Almost nothing in it is new to me, so it’s boring me.

Cover of Samurai by John ManWhat have you recently finished reading?

Samurai, by John Man: it’s mostly about Saigō Takamori, but of course it talks about the samurai tradition that led to him. It’s amazing how wrong my mental calculations of Japanese chronology are: he only died in 1877, despite samurai still being armed with swords. And of course, the manga Rurouni Kenshin is set in the Meiji period, around the same time. Whaaaat.

Cover of The Mortal Word by Genevieve CogmanWhat will you be reading next?

Well, I just picked up a copy of Genevieve Cogman’s The Mortal Word… but I also just finally got my copy of Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch’s new book, so I guess those two are going to have to battle it out for which one I start next. Or I might be contrary and read something else altogether. It’s difficult to know; I’m far too driven by whim!

(Which is not a bad thing, to clarify; vive la whimsy.)

What are you currently reading?

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Discussion: ARCs

Posted 26 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

For some book bloggers, life seems to revolve around ARCs (that’s advance reader’s copies, if you haven’t caught the bug). Getting them, reviewing them, swapping them, collecting them… Some people seem to forget that really they’re being put out there to encourage people to buy the book, especially when it first comes out.

I mean, bloggers end up practically swarming the American Library Association’s annual event, taking along a big suitcase so they can fit in as many review copies as possible — copies really intended for librarians, to help them decide what to order for their own libraries, what to recommend to readers, etc. Some bloggers then go online right after and start selling their ARCs (which if you didn’t know, that’s a big no-no: they’re specifically not legal to be sold).

I mean, I get the appeal, obviously! You get an awesome book before anyone else. I apply or ask for or just receive ARCs in the mail pretty often (mostly apply and ask for, not just get them — or when I do get them, sometimes they’re actually genres I wouldn’t read). Occasionally a publicist will even reach out to me and offer me one! That’s all great. But sometimes… sometimes, guys, I think that book bloggers have lost the plot. ARCs aren’t something we should receive as a right. They cost money to produce, and often a blogger won’t buy a copy of a book they got as an ARC, especially when it’s a print ARC. It can help with buzz, but buzz isn’t sales, and that first couple of weeks is really important for a book — you need readers to be fired up and desperate to get their hands on it!

Often, these days, I think part of it is the “next day delivery” phenomenon (I don’t know about you, but I used to wait a week or two for my book orders, but now I get irrationally annoyed if they take more than a day), the urge to have things right now. Isn’t it an awesome feeling to get it before everyone else?

I don’t know about you, but I’m planning to trying to live more in the moment. I don’t read half the ARCs I’m so grabby about before the book comes out anyway. Let’s get excited about pre-orders again, about reading the book all together the day it’s out instead of on our own months before.

I mean, not that I’m staying off Netgalley or anything. But I’m also not going to whine if I don’t get the book I want. Pinky promise.

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 24 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Hello, everyone! This week I’m away from my bunnies, visiting my grandmother. Here’s a pic of Biscuit back home — hiding out in my pocket while her cage was being cleaned last week!

Bought:

Cover of Life in a Medieval Castle by Francis Gies and Joseph Gies Cover of The Warrior Queen by Joanna Arman Cover of Queen Emma and the Vikings by Harriet O'Brien Cover of The Elements of Murder by John Emsley

Cover of Molecules at an Exhibition by John Emsley Cover of How Long Till Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin Cover of Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of The Luck of the Vails by E.F. Benson

Books read this week:

Cover of Timekeepers by Simon Garfield Cover of Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey Cover of The Testament of Loki by Joanne Harris Cover of The Teamaster and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

Reviews posted this week:

Angkor and the Khmer Civilisation, by Michael D. Coe. A scholarly but nonetheless fascinating discussion of the Khmer and particularly Angkor. 3/5 stars
The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle. A response to Lovecraft with some genuinely horrifying bits. 3/5 stars
The Magpie Lord, by K.J. Charles. I really enjoyed the characters, and the mystery is pretty fun too. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Book Club. Are you a book club person? How do you pick a book for a group read?
WWW Wednesday. The weekly update!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Concerning wombats.‘ Did you know that wombats have cube-shaped poop? Well, now you do — and scientists have figured out why, if that interests you.

So how’re you doing? Up to anything good this weekend?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 21 November, 2018 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 The Teamaster and the Detective by Aliette de BodardWell, me and Lisa are listening to the radioplay of Strong Poison again while we’re crafting in the evenings, which is very soothing. I know the story so well now… and we get to grin and anticipate the good bits of piffle. “I’m told I make love rather nicely,” indeed.

Other than that, I just started a book on the Sumerians. It’s primary intent is to be a textbook, but I don’t mind an academic slant, so I’m hoping I’ll still enjoy it. I’m interested so far, anyway! I also fired up The Tea Master and the Detective on the Kindle app on my phone, which I’ll probably read while on the treadmill tonight. (Plantar fasciitis means I’m about limited to a brisk walk on the treadmill at the moment for exercise; normally I’d be running, but…)

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Testament of Loki by Joanne HarrisThe Testament of Loki, by Joanne Harris. I’ve enjoyed the rest of her Norse-inspired books, but the concept of this one was a little too goofy for me, somehow. I just couldn’t get into it, even though I love modern takes on mythology. This one just felt cringy for me — Loki in a teen girl’s body, with the teen girl present and conscious and afraid — ugh at that part, and then meh at the video game bit.

What will you be reading next?

Cover of Authority by Jeff VanderMeerI should dig into another library book, so either the one I have on Otzi the Iceman and the archaeology around his body, or possibly John Man’s books on samurai or ninjas. They should be pretty quick reads, based on past experience with his work! And I really, really should finish rereading Authority.

What about you? What are you reading?

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