Category: General

Weekly Roundup

Posted July 25, 2020 by Nicky in General / 28 Comments

Greetings, folks. I wasn’t as organised this week, but I’m still getting this posted on Saturday instead of Sunday! It’s good enough for me. It’s been a quiet week as I haven’t been feeling 100% well.

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

Books bought this week:

Cover of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Cover of Alike As Two Bees by Elin Gregory Cover of The Deep by Rivers Solomon Cover of Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Cover of Murder in Vienna by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of Murderer's Mistake by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of Death Came Softly by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of Accident by Design, by E.C.R. Lorac

Cover of Rope's End, Rogue's End by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman Cover of Return of the Earl by Sandra Schwab Cover of Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian

As you can see, I discovered a bunch of E.C.R. Lorac books that haven’t been reissued in the British Library Crime Classics series… are available in ebook for a couple of quid each. Yoink!

Books read this week:

Cover of Like a Gentleman by Eliot Grayson Cover of The Man Who Didn't Fly by Margot Bennett

 

Reviews posted this week:

Other posts:

  • Hobbit Birthday. For my birthday, I’m giving away £50 to spend on books (preferably at Portal Bookshop, but I can be flexible if they can’t ship to you) to one person, and one book under £15 to two people! You can get entries (apart from a freebie and one for following my blog) by doing some little self-care/fun/charity stuff.

That’s it for this week? How’re you folks doing?

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Weekly Report

Posted July 18, 2020 by Nicky in General / 17 Comments

Gooood morning, folks! How’s your week been?

A few weeks ago, I let you know I was applying to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Well, thanks for all your well wishes — I’m in! I’m still working out whether I can take some prior credit in so I can skip the intro to biology module (given I have an entire biology degree), but I should be commencing my studies (part time, via distance learning) in September. I’m really excited!

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

Books acquired:

Cover of The Man Who Didn't Fly by Margot Bennett Cover of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown Cover of Covid-19 The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened And How To Stop The Next One by Debora Mackenzie Cover of Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

Cover of A Declaration of The Rights of Magicians by H. G. Parry Cover of The Secret Life of Bones by Brian Switek Cover of Solve Your Stress Cycle by Emily & Amelia Nagoski Cover of The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Thank you to Moon Kestrel for A Declaration of The Rights of Magicians, Malou for Dangerous Remedy, and the bunnies for The Extraordinaries. I am being spoilt lately, and I love it! Also, thank you to K.B. Wagers for recommending Burnout — I’m normally pretty allergic to any kind of self-help stuff, but a) I need to read a self-help book for a reading challenge prompt, and b) there’s good stuff out there, it’s just hard for the genre to rise above some of the blatantly bad books.

Books finished this week:

Cover of The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole Cover of Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark

Reviews posted this week:

Other posts:

I have a book voucher in need of using… and an order incoming from Portal Bookshop… so it’s going to be a busy week for my letterbox. What books have you been grabbing lately? Anything you’re ready to shake down the postman for?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted July 15, 2020 by Nicky in General / 6 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 The Grace of Kings by Ken LiuWhat are you currently reading?

Fiction: The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu. I was warned by friends who found it really slow that I might not like it… well, I’m not sure about the liking it or not, but I’m definitely not finding it too slow. I haven’t read for a day or two because I wasn’t feeling like it, but I’ve been reading it in chunks whenever I do.

Non-fiction: The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries, by Donald R. Prothero, which the library ordered for me in ebook on my request. It would probably be better in pbook format because it’s got a lot of pictures, but it’s not so bad in ebook; I’m glad I’m reading it, but also glad I didn’t buy it for £27! It’s nothing I haven’t read before, but it’s always fun to spend some time with dinosaurs.

Cover of Ring Shout by P. Djeli ClarkWhat have you recently finished reading? 

Uhhh, interesting question.  Oh: Ring Shout, by P. Djèlí Clark. I’m still thinking this one over. I found the idea of members of the Ku Klux Klan being literal monsters a bit… simplistic? That’s not quite the word I want. Obvious? And I never wholly warmed to it, though I appreciated a lot of aspects of the novella. I want to read around some other reviews and see if they help it click into place for me, before I write my review. (And of course Tor used to say not to post a review until two weeks before publication; I still stick to that, though most bloggers don’t… I’m auto-approved on Netgalley, though, so I don’t see that approval message anymore.)

Cover of The Lost Boys by Gina PerryWhat will you be reading next?

Still Ninth House, most likely; I’m also eyeing The Lost Boys, by Gina Perry — I was eager to read it anyway, and now it fits a book club prompt (as a book in the 300s in the Dewey Decimal System). I loved Perry’s book on Stanley Milgram’s experiments, and it looks like she’s done much the same here with pulling apart Sherif Muzafer’s experiments a bit and examining how they tick and where they go wrong.

So what are you reading at the moment?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Me Smile

Posted July 14, 2020 by Nicky in General / 26 Comments

Tuesday again already! And this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “books that make me smile”. Which is… honestly, most books. Just being around books makes me smile — even books I personally wouldn’t enjoy, it can be really exciting to look at someone else’s books, or browse through a shelf… But there are some specific books that put a smile on my face for various reasons, so let’s do this!

Cover of The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer Cover of Band Sinister by K.J. Charles Cover of Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of Small Robots by Thomas Heasman-Hunt

  1. The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer. Most Heyer novels have me giggling throughout, but this was one of the first I read, and the reread was just as good. The Reluctant Widow, too. She has some annoying heroes and some repetitive plots/themes… but in general, I’m always going to smile at a Heyer novel.
  2. Band Sinister, by K.J. Charles. Most K.J. Charles books would fit the bill actually… but Band Sinister is one of the rare ones that doesn’t also have a massive bodycount, so it’s the one that fits most readily on a list about smiling! Though A Fashionable Indulgence is also worth mentioning. And A Gentleman’s Position. Ugh, no, they all make me smile.
  3. Have His Carcase, by Dorothy L. Sayers. From the opening paragraph onwards, there’s so much cleverness and wit. And it features two of my favourite characters in fiction, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. How could I not smile? Also, memories of the radioplays and BBC TV adaptations, and so many good conversations with my mum and my wife…
  4. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. Alright, not all of it is happy or comfortable reading, but Maia is a delight and so are many of the characters who surround him. I’m trying not to reread it too often, but honestly, when I’m stressed it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
  5. Small Robots, by Thomas Heasman-Hunt. There’s a Small Robot for almost every occasion, and they’re so often so cute… or so apt for the moment. Check out their Twitter!
  6. The Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. The series has been so much fun, and the accompanying art (including on the cover) is so good. Isabella and her deranged practicality really stick with me.
  7. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. I can’t help remembering being sucked in and just ZOOMING through it, whenever I see this book! And so many great conversations about it, and just… yeah.
  8. Catching Breath, by Kathryn Lougheed. One of the many books about disease (like The Emperor of All Maladies, or Spillover) that a) helped me get over irrational fear through fostering curiosity instead, and b) really set me on my current path when it comes to studying. Of course I smile when I think about this one! There’s so much out there to learn, and I never have to stop. Plus, I wrote my dissertation on TB basically because of this book. I know a lot of people hate their dissertations by the end, but I did not; I’d gladly research and write several more chapters!
  9. This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, by Kacen Callender. I haven’t actually read this yet, but it looks like fun and I’m really excited to finally get through my TBR pile to it. (Not that I am reading a set number of books before I pick it up, just that my brain is like a very crowded train station, and This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story has not — yet — managed to get on the attention-trains zooming through.)
  10. Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston. Ditto the above! It looks and sounds so cute, aaahh.

Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin Cover of Catching Breath by Kathryn Lougheed Cover of This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender Cover of Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I’ll be interested to see what books make other folks smile — and hopefully why! Leave me your links if you’ve done this TTT as well!

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Weekly Roundup

Posted July 11, 2020 by Nicky in General / 24 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 / 7 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 / 11 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 / 16 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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