Category: General


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.

News

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.

Bunnies

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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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.

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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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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 11 November, 2017 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

I have all of one book to feature this week, and it’s not even one I bought! Yep, I passed through London and did not buy a book ‘for the road’ (for the Eurostar), and now I’m back in Belgium where the chocolate is good and the books are expensive.

Received to review: 

Cover of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I quite enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest, as I recall, so I’m interested to follow Holly Black’s new foray into Faerie.

Read this week:

Cover of Goldilocks and the Water Bears by Louisa Preston Cover of The Earth After Us Cover of ZIka Cover of Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle Cover of Futureland by Walter Mosley

Four stars: Zika: The Emerging Epidemic.
Three stars: Goldilocks and the Water Bears, The Earth After Us, Summerlong and Futureland.

Reviews posted this week:

The Brain, by David Eagleman. A bit basic for me, but probably great if you haven’t taken every free course on neurology you could find! 2/5 stars
Away with the Fairies, by Kerry Greenwood. Phryne is terribly daring, there’s a blatant homage to Sayers, and everything ends well for the good guys. It’s your standard Miss Fisher mystery, and none the worse for that. 4/5 stars
A Sting in the Tale, by David Goulson. A nice non-fic book that makes bees seem rather charming. 4/5 stars
Close Encounters with Humankind, by Sang-Hee Lee. Some interesting topics tackling humans from the point of view of a palaeoanthropologist. 3/5 stars
Adventures in Human Being, by Gavin Francis. A readable set of facts illustrated by anecdotes about the human body. 3/5 stars
The Twilight Pariah, by Jeffrey Ford. Kind of fun, but not really very memorable in the end. Bit goofy at times. 2/5 stars
I Hate Everyone But You, by Gaby Dunn and Allison Rankin. I was not a fan. 1/5 stars

Other posts: 

WWW Wednesday: The latest from my climb of Mount TBR.

So how’s everyone doing?

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Unstacking the Shelves

Posted 4 November, 2017 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

Absolutely no new books this week, which means this is officially an UNstacking the Shelves week! For those who haven’t been around for that before, it’s a week where I showcase the books I’ve cleared from my shelves — I’ve just read ’em all, so please don’t tell me to enjoy them or I’ll know you haven’t read my post at all, and I’ll be sad!

First, this is my last weekend away from the bunnies for a while, so have two photos to celebrate!

Cuddle time!

Reading the paper over dinner

Books read this week:

Cover of The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip Jose Farmer Cover of The Rabbit Back Literature Society  Cover of What On Earth Evolved?

Cover of The Silver Wind by Nina Allan Cover of Provenance by Ann Leckie Cover of Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer Cover of The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Four stars to: Provenance, Friday’s Child and The Gracekeepers.
Three stars to: What On Earth Evolved? … In Brief? and The Silver Wind.
Two stars to: The Other Log of Phileas Fogg and The Rabbit Back Literature Society.

Reviews posted this week:

Caliban’s War, by James S.A. Corey. I enjoyed several of the new characters for this installment, while also getting a bit frustrated with the main character of the series and his crew. I’m still intrigued. 4/5 stars
Snowdrift and Other Stories, by Georgette Heyer. Probably not where I’d start with Heyer, but an enjoyable set of stories with her usual comic touches. 4/5 stars
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, by Carlo Rovelli. Rovelli’s really good at getting across big ideas in simple language and a short space, though of course he doesn’t go into depth. 3/5 stars
Kitty and the Midnight Hour, by Carrie Vaughn. There was some stuff I wanted to enjoy about this, but it was overshadowed by the character interactions. Probably a personal reaction, though. 2/5 stars
The Bonobo and the Atheist, by Frans de Waal. Fascinating stuff about the species most closely related to humans. 4/5 stars
A is for Arsenic, by Kathryn Harkup. Fascinating stuff about the chemistry of poisons as well as how Agatha Christie used poison in her mysteries. 4/5 stars
The Servants, by Michael Marshall Smith. It felt like this didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. I didn’t love it and I don’t know who I’d recommend it to, even though I found it interesting enough to read all the way through. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday: What’s on my currently-reading stack, and what’s coming up next.

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 1 November, 2017 by Nikki in General / 13 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 Camelot's Sword, by Sarah ZettelAbout 15 different books. I know, I’m utterly terrible. However, I am trying to focus on two of them right now: What on Earth Evolved? …in Brief, by Christopher Lloyd is one of them. It’s not very surprising to me, because I do know my biology reasonably well, but there have been one or two titbits I did enjoy (slime moulds can move towards food!) and it is interesting to see what someone else classes as important in its impact on the planet.

Secondly, I’m rereading Camelot’s Sword, the third book of Sarah Zettel’s series of romances about Gawain and his brothers. This one features Gareth and Lynet; not my favourite pairing, but I do adore the supporting characters.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip Jose FarmerUhh, I think the last thing I finished was The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, by Philip Jose Farmer. It was okay — I liked the idea of taking Verne’s classic and bolting on a true sci-fi story — but the source material limited it, and the narrative voice didn’t always work for me. It stuck fairly close to Verne’s story, except when it didn’t, so it felt rather fragmented.

What will you read next?

Cover of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. ValenteI’m trying to alternate finishing two books from my currently reading stack with one new book (whether that be a reread or an actual new-to-me read). At the moment, I’m really tempted to do some rereading and pick up Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, but I am actually a capricious creature (I know, you’re all shocked), so who knows what will happen.

What are you reading?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 28 October, 2017 by Nikki in General / 24 Comments

Hey all! It’s been a fairly quiet week, seeing my family, playing video games, reading… Hurrah for exactly that kind of week. And here’s Breakfast relaxing to go with it…

Received to review:

Cover of The Sisters of the Crescent Empress

Just last week I read the first one and complained I didn’t have the sequel right away. Hurrah, now I do!

Bought: 

Cover of How to Survive A Plague by David France

I probably love reading about diseases a little too much.

I also got a whole suitcase full of books from Bastian’s Book Reviews, but while they’re all awesome, I’m not adding them to my cataloguing right now.

Read this week:

Cover of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch Cover of Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott Cover of The Hidden Life of Trees Cover of The Great Influenza by John M. Barry Cover of Spin by Nina Allan

Reviews posted this week:

The Naming of the Shrew, by John Wright. Amusing at first, but starts to drag because it becomes too much of a list. 2/5 stars
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Pretty much just a taster, so it genuinely is for people who aren’t fans of astrophysics already. 3/5 stars
The Language of Thorns, by Leigh Bardugo. Interesting invented fairytales, some of them retellings, and it doesn’t matter if you already know Bardugo’s Grisha world. 4/5 stars
The Tiger’s Daughter, by K. Arsenault Rivera. I wanted to love this for the queerness and the elegant writing, but I was turned off by the depiction of the cultures borrowed from here. 2/5 stars
The Gods of Olympus, by Barbara Graziosi. Not much of a surprise for me, but a good survey of the Olympian gods and what people have believed about them over the centuries. 3/5 stars
Damn Fine Story, by Chuck Wendig. Good advice on how to tell stories, though there’s quite a lot of filler padding it out. 3/5 stars
Under the Pendulum Sun, by Jeannette Ng. It’s hard to know what to say about this one — it’s fascinating and twisted, playing with stories about the Fae and bringing Victorian realism to it. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. What’s hot and what’s not on my reading pile.

So how is everyone? Let me know and I’ll try and swing by and comment back ASAP, though I’m quite busy today!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 25 October, 2017 by Nikki in General / 8 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 Great Influenza by John M. BarryFar too much, as ever, but most actively I’m back to Abaddon’s Gate and making some progress. I don’t necessarily always feel like reading these books, but once I pick one up it’s sure hard to put it down! I’m also reading a book on the 1918 ‘flu pandemic, The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry. Interesting so far, though I’m going quite slowly with it. Not the most enticing prose, somehow.

I’m also reading The Gracekeepers, which I’m about half of the way through. Still not sure what to make of it, though!

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Hidden Life of TreesTrouble and Her Friends! It’s rather old school cyberpunk in terms of the technology levels, but I enjoyed the interplay between the characters, and the fact that it didn’t rush. The worry about regulating the internet seems rather prescient now…

I also finished The Hidden Life of Trees, which was fascinating, although sometimes I felt things were presented too simply. The fact that trees can sense chemicals in the air does not mean that they taste them in the way we do, for example. Still, a lot I didn’t know.

What will you read next?

Cover of Regency Buck by Georgette HeyerI’m feeling kind of like reading some Georgette Heyer — I kind of want to reread The Grand Sophy, but I do have Heyer books I haven’t read before which are on my backlog… I have Regency Buck and Friday’s Child with me in paperback, and a few others on my ereader. We’ll see! I just realised Regency Buck is part of a series, so I’m not sure how readable it is on its own. Darn.

What are you reading?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 21 October, 2017 by Nikki in General / 31 Comments

Good morning, folks! Here is my haul of books about diseases, for background reading for my course. I’ve already torn through four of them, actually, and it is very helpful to have this perspective.

It hasn’t been a great week in some other respects, so hey, at least I have books. And bunny pictures.

Bought:

Cover of Ebola by David Quammen Cover of Virus X by Frank Ryan Cover of No Time To Lose by Peter Piot Cover of Rabid by Bill Wasik

Cover of Angel of Death by Gareth Williams Cover of Paralysed with Fear by Gareth Williams Cover of Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC

Can you tell what I’m studying this semester? Heh.

Read this week:

Cover of Ebola by David Quammen Cover of I Hate Everyone But You Cover of Paralysed with Fear by Gareth Williams Cover of Rabid by Bill Wasik Cover of Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

Cover of Angel of Death by Gareth Williams Cover of The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim Cover of Sea, Swallow Me   Cover of The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo Cover of The Chocolatier's Wife by Cindy Lynn Speer

Reviews posted this week:

Jhereg, by Steven Brust. A reread to get back to the series. It remains fun, though there were no surprises (obviously), and I think some of the fun does come from working things out. 4/5 stars
Just One Damned Thing After Another, by Jodi Taylor. I don’t know why I’m the odd one out, but to me the title summarised how this book felt. It had a natural end and then — kept going. I can’t say I loved the characters, either, or the fact that the plot was advanced by sexual assaults. 2/5 stars
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, by Angela Saini. Takes a look at — and skewers — supposed science about in-built differences between genders. 3/5 stars
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t get the enduring charm that’s made this a classic, I’m afraid. 2/5 stars
First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones. Holy rape culture, Batman. 1/5 stars
Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey. This had less of the team feel than the previous book, and basically I’m 10,000% here for the lot of them settling down, making a found family and having capers (together) forever. 4/5 stars
The Beautiful Ones, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I didn’t love Signal to Noise, but this worked much better for me. It’s very Heyer-esque. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday: The weekly update on my currently reading stack, and what I might read next!

How’re you all doing? I’ll always visit back if you leave a comment here, so feel free to drop in a link directly to your STS post.

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 18 October, 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 Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa ScottMost actively (the key words, with the way I stack up a bunch of currently-reading books!), it’s Trouble and Her Friends, by Melissa Scott, and Angel of Death, by Gareth Williams. The former is queer cyberpunk, and I’m having a lot of fun with it — it’s a little slow to unfold, but I read 25% when I should’ve been sleeping, so I’m gonna say it’s hooked me. Angel of Death is fascinating in other ways, of course, because it’s about the history and science of smallpox. I am learning a lot of things I didn’t know about it!

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Rabid by Bill WasikThe last thing was a cultural history of rabies, Rabid, by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, because there was a lot of emphasis on the cultural stuff, like rabies’ relation to vampirism and werewolves. Still, there was some interesting stuff, especially about recent cases who actually recovered from rabies (which is normally considered 100% fatal in humans).

What will you read next?

Cover of The Gracekeepers by Kirsty LoganI started The Gracekeepers, by Kirsty Logan, at the weekend, and I want to pick that back up and finish it. I also want to focus on my Kushiel’s Dart reread. I’m trying not to tempt myself too much beyond that! I’m intrigued by The Gracekeepers; I haven’t read much, so I haven’t got to grips with the setting yet.

What are you reading?

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