Category: General


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?

Tags: , ,

Divider

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?

Tags: , , ,

Divider

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.

Tags: ,

Divider

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?

Tags: , ,

Divider

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?

Tags: ,

Divider

Discussion: Book Club

Posted 19 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

I’m somewhat convinced to post an opener for my book club choices on Habitica here, starting in December, but in the meantime I wanted to ponder a little about picking books for a book club. It can be really difficult: do you want to pick something people will like, or something people will discuss? Often those won’t be the same thing at all: a book group I was in had months of fruitful discussion about a book we universally loathed, while a book we loved had maybe five comments in the whole thread. The discussion is often better if a book is divisive, too: if one person criticises it and another digs in to defend it, and nobody’s feelings get hurt, there are hours of discussion to be had.

Confession: mostly, I pick the books for the Habitica book club with three criteria: 1) it’s a different genre to the last two months’, 2) I own it and 3) I want to read it sometime soon. The whole intent was to cut out the difficult bit where people vote on a choice or someone forgets that it’s their month to pick or whatever, and just make sure that it’s a book I already own, want to read, and think could prompt some discussion if anyone feels into it. (Most successful pick in a while for the latter is this month’s pick: The Genius Plague, by David Walton.) To a great extent, it’s a commitment device: I told these people I’ll read it, so I guess I’m gonna have to.

(Sometimes it works.)

If I’m picking for a book club in the real world, discussion is probably the primary thing on my mind — but also trying to balance everyone else’s known likes and dislikes. Is this book going to provoke a political argument? Is this book going to just bore X silly? Is Y going to be a child about what happens in chapter ten? Just sharing a book I enjoyed or expect to enjoy has never really worked, mostly because I feel like other people expect something worth discussing.

I’d love a book club where people abandoned lists of discussion questions or considerations of what other people would like. Every month, a different person would bring along a book they just really loved. Okay, discussions would sometimes just be handflappy “omg the bit with X and Y doing the thing!”… but that sounds kind of nice, and I have no doubt that discussions would still arise organically, not due to intent but simply because books are like that, if you give them half a chance. There would be a strict rule about never telling someone else their taste sucks just because it differs.

To be quite fair, my favourite book club is pretty much like that and consists of two people: me and my wife. Discussions are random, tastes mostly align without total agreement ever being likely or desired, and I’ve never had to offer to crown her with a tub of guac. (Sorry, Robert.) Someday, for the sake of Wife Book Club, I might even get round to reading Republic of Thieves.

Tags: ,

Divider

Weekly Roundup

Posted 17 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 9 Comments

Good morning folks! Thank goodness, the issue with adding images on my site is fixed now, so I can actually get this post done. It’s been a quiet week, partly because I’ve been in a terrible mood and didn’t want to get anything done…

Anyway, here’s the stack this week.

Received to review:

Cover of A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Bought this week:

Cover of The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

Books read this week:

Cover of The Roman Forum by David Watkin Cover of The Mycenaeans by Rodney Castleden Cover of The Crucible of Creation by Simon Conway Morris Cover of The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson

Reviews posted this week:

War Cry, by Brian McClellan. This felt a little unsatisfying, because it didn’t feel like a whole story. It’s an interesting world, though. 3/5 stars
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Read for the comfort of familiarity, and thus as satisfying as ever. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Regular Features. Do you like joining in on things like Top Ten Tuesday, WWW Wednesday, et al?
WWW Wednesday. This week’s update on what I’ve been reading.

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Llama vs flu‘. News about a potential innovative vaccine (made with the help of llamas) to beat flu, without the need for new vaccinations every season.

So how’re you all doing? Big plans for the weekend, or just a nice big book?

Tags: , ,

Divider

WWW Wednesday

Posted 14 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 5 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?

The Crucible of Creation, by Simon Conway Morris. He did a lot of work on the Burgess Shale, so he’s got an interesting perspective on evolution, and he’s pretty sharply critical of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins’ perspectives, so I’m pretty fascinated. I’m onto the middle chapters where he’s doing an imaginative reconstruction of the Burgess Shale lifeforms when alive, which is a bit weird, though. (Interesting thought experiment, I guess, but I’m not sure what it adds?)

What have you recently finished reading?

The Mycenaeans by Rodney Castleden. I need to read around a bit to decide how in or out of date the book is, though it’s obviously a step-up from Kitto’s book on the Greeks. He weirdly manages to talk about Alexander and Achilles, and the affinity Alexander felt for Achilles, without mentioning Hephaestion once. Patroclus is mentioned, but only in passing (Achilles organises his funeral games, Achilles seeks revenge, etc) — it’s not an important point in the context, but it feels so weird to just ignore that aspect of Alexander and Achilles. Instead he talks about Alexander’s fascination with Roxane as being like Achilles’ with Briseis…!

What will you be reading next?

I’m not sure. I have rather weirdly and for no apparent reason been told that I’m not to use one of my local libraries anymore, without explanation, so I need to finish the books I have out from that one. So possibly The Traitor God, by Cameron Johnston. Or maybe the book on the Sumerians… Who knows!

This week this post goes live without cover thumbnails, because WordPress is being super weird and suddenly no longer letting me add images. 🙁

What about you? What’re you reading?

Tags: ,

Divider

Discussion: Regular Features

Posted 12 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 14 Comments

A lot of bloggers participate in various features every week — Stacking the Shelves, Top Ten Tuesday, What Are You Reading Wednesday… Personally, I kind of cooled on the Top Ten Tuesday themes I was seeing, but there’ve been a couple I liked recently, and maybe I should keep a better eye on that. I prefer to keep my blog mostly reviews, though at the moment it’s kind of half-and-half as I’m not posting a review as well on most days (been reading kind of slow, I guess — I don’t have reviews to post!) that I have another feature running.

At the same time, with features like this I get kind of lazy. I turn out my posts for the regular features and then don’t go and comment on others, and that just feels unfair. It helps if there’s interesting topics and I’m likely to meet other thoughtful bloggers who actually want to discuss (rather than just drop a random comment to get a follow), though.

So, out of curiosity, any you’d like to see me do? And conversely, any that you really hate and wish people would stop posting? I can’t think of any in the latter group for me, though I’m unlikely to participate in any that are just about posting covers.

Really, I’d like to participate in more that encourage talking about books and reading (or sometimes blogging) in a way that promotes discussion and exposure to other people’s thoughts. I do a monthly readalong on Habitica, for instance, and I keep wondering if I should post about that here as well, maybe even come up with some discussion questions, and try and make a bigger thing of it…

Tags: ,

Divider

Weekly Roundup

Posted 10 November, 2018 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Good morning folks! It’s been quite a week, with one of the new buns rather suddenly becoming a teenager on us and needing to be separated from his sister. They get play dates, but they can’t live together now. It’s a bit sad, but on the other hand one cage now lives next to me so I have tons of awesome pictures of them just hanging out close by.

It would’ve been a quiet week, book-wise, except that a few I ordered last week have come in and I have one new ARC!

Received to review:

Cover of The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

New books:

Cover of This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova Cover of Murder of Millionaire's Row by Erin Lindsey Cover of Wychwood by George Mann Cover of The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A Wolf

Cover of Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn Cover of Styx and Stones by Carola Dunn

Cover of The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Barber Cover of Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David Cover of The Bull of Minos by Leonard Cottrell

Read this week:

Cover of The Greeks by H.D.F. Kitto Cover of Unearthing the Dragon by Mark Norrell

Reviews posted this week:

Magna Carta, by David Starkey. Not bad, but seemed basic to me. 2/5 stars
Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse. I liked this when I first read this, but apparently that moment can’t be recaptured! 2/5 stars
One Way, by S.J. Morden. I’d have liked this more if it wasn’t so very much like another book I read recently, though I found the characters thin and mostly distinguishable by their crimes. 2/5 stars
The Ancient Celts, by Barry Cunliffe. Beautifully presented, but for some reason Cunliffe’s writing seems to put me to sleep. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Film Adaptations. Yay or nay?
WWW Wednesday. The usual update!

So how’re you all doing?

Tags: , ,

Divider