Category: General

Weekly Roundup

Posted October 5, 2019 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

G’morning folks. It’s been a tiring week, as my sleeping schedule has been topsy-turvy. I had to go to my parents’ house to get internet every day this week so I could work, which meant getting a lift with my wife in the morning. My circadian rhythm is… not calibrated for this. Gah. And now I’ll be up early on a Saturday for the engineer. Bah!

Anyway, here are the other titles from last week!

Acquired:

Cover of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron Cover of Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Cover of Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw

Cover of Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer Cover of The Rat-Catcher's Daughter by K.J. Charles Cover of Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Some stuff I’m really excited for, some a bit less so, some I’d barely heard of… a nice mix!

Read this week:

Cover of The Rat-Catcher's Daughter by K.J. Charles Cover of Lost Languages by Andrew Robinson Cover of The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch Cover of Making the Monster by Kathryn Harkup

Reviewed this week:

The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter, by K.J. Charles. Lovely, though the Lilywhite Boys kinda stole the show. 4/5 stars
Lost Languages, by Andrew Robinson. An interesting primer on undeciphered scripts and the progress we (might) have made in deciphering them. 4/5 stars
The October Man, by Ben Aaronovitch. Very similar to the Peter Grant books in voice, as well as (obviously) content. Fun, but not great. 3/5 stars
Making the Monster, by Kathryn Harkup. Takes a while to get onto the actual science behind Frankenstein, but not bad once it does. 3/5 stars
Too Like The Lightning, by Ada Palmer. The narrator is very gender essentialist, and this book barely stands alone enough to even begin to judge what it’s doing there, but overall not my thing and I doubt I’ll continue the series. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

That’s it for this week! How’s everyone doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted October 2, 2019 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 Making the Monster by Kathryn HarkupWhat are you currently reading?

I’m most actively reading Making the Monster by Kathryn Harkup. So far it’s more a biography of Mary Shelley and the writing of the book than really being about the science behind it, but it’s starting to get into the background a little more. I loved Harkup’s book about Agatha Christie’s use of poisons in her fiction — it gave me a whole new appreciation, actually — so I’m hoping this will be the same!

Cover of The October Man by Ben AaronovitchWhat have you recently finished reading?

Oof, I’m not sure — it’s been a couple of days. The October Man, I think? Which was okay, but the voice was so similar to that of the main series, it kind of dampened my enthusiasm. My review is up for that, anyway, so you can read all my thoughts here.

Cover of The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia WaiteWhat will you be reading next?

Who knows? But I’m sort of tempted to dig into Olivia Waite’s  The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics. Romance and classic crime fiction seem to suit my mood at the moment, because you know that typically they will set the world to rights by the end, and there’ll be a happily ever after in the case of romance (and often in crime fiction as well, really).

I think we can really use the world being set to rights. Oof.

What are you reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted September 28, 2019 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

Busy week! And lots of reading too, which is nice. Politics in the UK are… interesting at the moment, but for the comfort of all, let’s not discuss them here. Rugby World Cup also, but, samesies, unless you’re supporting Wales.

Here are some new books!

Acquired this week:

This week has been rather massive on the books front, so I’m splitting it into two! Next week will have this week’s fantasy/SF or other books, while this week is solely for crime/mystery books, most of them from the British Library Crime Classics series!

Cover of Death Has Deep Roots by Michael Gilbert Cover of Fell Murder by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs Cover of Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R. Lorac

Cover of Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert Cover of The Belting Inheritance by Julian Symons Cover of Calamity in Kent by John Rowland Cover of Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert

Cover of It Walks By Night by John Dickson Carr Cover of The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers

Read this week:

Cover of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark Cover of Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert Cover of It Walks By Night by John Dickson Carr Cover of In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

Cover of The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell Cover of The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of First Contact / The Cult of Progress by David Olusoga

Reviews posted this week:

The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark. I didn’t love this as much as the other novella I’ve read by Clark, but the setting makes a nice change, and I’d love to know more about  the world. 3/5 stars
It Walks by Night, by John Dickson Carr. Definitely not impressed by this — I’ve tried two novels by John Dickson Carr, and I don’t get the hype. 2/5 stars
Smallbone Deceased, by Michael Gilbert. This was a much better classic crime novel! Reminded me a little of Sayers in the way that Gilbert was obviously intimately familiar with the kind of office he was writing about. 4/5 stars
In the Night Wood, by Dale Bailey. I was not impressed by the angst and woe of the protagonist who let his daughter drown in the bath while arguing on the phone with his lover, and is all upset that his wife doesn’t want to speak to him. Even in a fantasy setting, that’s old now. 2/5 stars
The Interstellar Age, by Jim Bell. Some interesting stuff here! A bit too much about Bell himself at times, and not heavy on scientific detail, but a good history of the Voyager program on a high level. 3/5 stars
The Documents in the Case, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Interesting format, and Sayers’ usual deft touch with character and dialogue. 4/5 stars
Civilisations: First Contact / The Cult of Progress, by David Olusoga. Felt unfocused and kinda perfunctory at times. Meh? 2/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Brain juice.‘ I explained what norepinephrine is, and how SNRI antidepressants work!

So that’s all for now! How’s your week been, folks?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted September 25, 2019 by Nikki in General / 7 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 The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. SayersWhat are you currently reading?

Many things at once, as ever, so I’ll pick out the two standouts! I’m most of the way through a book on the Voyager probe missions, which is pretty fascinating: it’s a little old now, and there have been other missions that added to our knowledge both since the probes did their fly-by and since the book was published, if I’m not mistaken. Still, Voyager was a heck of an undertaking, and completely admirable. I loved the part on the Golden Record and how things were chosen for it, and how Sagan guided it to represent humanity’s hopes and not our fears.

I’m also reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ The Documents in the Case, which I’d never actually picked up before, despite it being Sayers. It’s not Peter, of course, but it is very Sayers: she brings to life some rather different voices, exposes them mercilessly for all their faults, but with a kind of wry fondness for humans and all our foibles.

Cover of Smallbone Deceased by Michael GilbertWhat have you recently finished reading?

The last book I finished was It Walks By Night, with which I was heartily unimpressed. Before that it was Smallbone Deceased, which was a bit more to my taste. I’m afraid I really don’t get on with the author of the former, John Dickson Carr; I’ve read a couple of his now, and he does exactly the same flourish in each like it’s meant to be impressive. Smallbone Deceased actually reminded me of Sayers a little, though — not so much in style, but in the way he brought to life the setting.

Cover of Magic Slays by Ilona AndrewsWhat are you going to read next?

Search me! I have a book on deciphering lost languages by Andrew Robinson which I’m partway through, so I might focus on that. Or I might pick up Magic Slays, the next book in my Kate Daniels reread. Or finish up rereading Dreadful Company in time for Vivian Shaw’s new book, which hopefully will arrive on my doorstep tomorrow!

You get the gist, I’m bad at this.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted September 21, 2019 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

Good morning, guys! Happy Saturday! Here’s the roundup from the blog this week…

Acquired:

Cover of The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis Cover of The Family Gene by Joselin Linder Cover of The Uninhabitable Earth of David Wallace-Wells

Read this week:

Cover of Secrets of the Human Body by Xand and Chris Van Tulleken Cover of Conan Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox The Reluctant Widow Cover of The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien

Cover of Spectred Isle by K.J. Charles Cover of Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis Cover of Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

The Fellowship of the Ring was actually the radioplay, but I haven’t uploaded the cover for that yet!

Reviewed this week:

The Body in the Dumb River, by George Bellairs. A competent mystery; hardly transcendent, but entertaining if you’re looking for a Golden Age crime fiction. 3/5 stars
The King in the North, by Max Adams. Very readable, and from all my knowledge, as solid as a biography of a medieval saint can be. 4/5 stars
Spectred Isle, by K.J. Charles. A lovely queer romance, as ever; I loved Saul quite a bit. I want more in this world! 4/5 stars
Thornbound, by Stephanie Burgis. Very enjoyable, though I have some reservations about the worldbuilding. 3/5 stars
Desdemona and the Deep, by C.S.E. Cooney. Misgenders a key character for the first half, kind of meh standard fairytale. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Putting the Joy Back Into It. My thoughts on where my love for reading has gone, and how I’m going to try and fix it.

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Scared right down to your bones.‘ Links about your skeleton being involved in the fear response have been flying round the interwebs, so I had a pick through the evidence and what it might mean.

That’s it for this week! Have you picked up anything good this week? Any exciting bookish adventures ahead?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted September 14, 2019 by Nikki in General / 11 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s been a busy week, and I’m not honestly sure where the time has gone. Ah well.

I did at least get an Amazon voucher from the bunnies this week, so I’ve indulged in some ebooks — and I got a couple of new releases, too.

Acquired:

Cover of A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker Cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow Cover of Return of the Black Death by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan Cover of Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis

Cover of The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore Cover of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark Cover of Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

Thank you, bunnies!

Finished reading this week:

Cover of The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs Cover of The King in the North by Max Adams Cover of Hekla's Children by James Brogden

Reviews posted this week:

The Aztecs, by Richard F. Townsend. Actually managed to make the Aztecs boring, though I imagine it’s a good scholarly resource. 2/5 stars
The Piltdown Forgery, by J.S. Weiner. A fascinating study, though it pulls back at the last minute to avoid incriminating the obvious culprit. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The weekly update on what’s been on my reading plate!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘What is a gene drive? I respond to a question about a genetic engineering technique that may help us eliminate malaria and other pests and diseases.

So that’s this week! How’s everyone else doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted September 11, 2019 by Nikki in General / 6 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 The King in the North by Max AdamsWhat are you currently reading?

A few books at a time, as ever! First of all, my current non-fiction read is Max Adams’ The King in the North. Ostensibly about Oswald of Northumbria, it’s a little wider ranging than that, covering the whole context of Oswald’s life — so much of it occurs before he’s born or after his death. I found myself totally bored by a similar sort of book recently, but this one works; something in the prose style keeps it moving. It helps that it’s very clearly referenced, too; I have fewer questions about the validity of some of the claims. (Though I do think a lot of imagination is at work here, too, Adams is much clearer about when things are his opinion.)

Cover of Hekla's Children by James BrogdenIn fiction, I’m reading Hekla’s Children, by James Brogden, which came very highly recommended. Personally, I’m finding it a bit predictable? I’m also partway through Alexandra Rowland’s A Conspiracy of Truths, and honestly would probably be further along with it if it were chaptered instead of one long exhausting narrative with only breaks between paragraphs instead of fresh chapters. And finally, I picked up Gideon the Ninth somewhat by accident (I was curious to read the first couple of pages, but ended up reading 50). I’m very curious about this one; it’s so hyped, and yet people have been saying they’ve struggled with it.

Cover of The Body in the Dumb River by George BellairsWhat have you recently finished reading?

I think the most recent thing was The Body in the Dumb River, by George Bellairs. It’s not a hugely original or surprising piece of Golden Age detective fiction, but it’s satisfyingly of its type. I find that most of the British Library Crime Classics are like that — solid enough, but not something to knock you over with stunning originality.

Cover of Banewreaker by Jacqueline CareyWhat will you be reading next?

As ever, who knows? I have picked what my next random pick from my shelves will be: I’m going to reread Banewreaker, by Jacqueline Carey. Technically, I’ve read it before, which would make it ineligible, but it’s on my list of unread books because I bought it in paperback after originally reading it in ebook. So there.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted September 7, 2019 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Well, last Saturday was problematic for my weekly roundup, because my site went down! So here’s two weeks’ worth.

Books acquired:

Cover of Making the Monster by Kathryn Harkup Cover of Chernobyl by Serhii Plokhy Cover of The Border by Diarmaid Ferriter Cover of Skin Deep: Journeys in the Divisive Science of Race by Gavin Evans

Cover of The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs Cover of Murder at the Fitzwilliam by Jim Eldridge Cover of Murder in the Bookshop by Carolyn Wells

Not quite as eclectic as my usual mix, perhaps!

Books read in the last two weeks:

Cover of Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw Cover of Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Cover of Any Old Diamonds by K.J. Parker Cover of The Border by Diarmaid Ferriter Cover of Heraclix and Pomp by Forrest Agguire

Reviews posted in the last two weeks:

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, by Alan Jacobs. A long essay on reading and how Jacobs thinks you ought to do it. Not as prescriptive as many, but kind of snobbish; an interesting read, but expect to argue with it. 3/5 stars
Perihelion Summer, by Greg Egan. Solidly not my thing; it’s based around an idea, rather than people, and does neither very strongly from my perspective. 2/5 stars
Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire. These books are always fun, but I feel like Toby was hit particularly hard with the idiot stick in this book, missing the obvious way too much3/5 stars
Within the Sanctuary of Wings, by Marie Brennan. The last of the Lady Trent books, this wraps up with some surprising and satisfying reveals… 5/5 stars
Darwin Comes to Town, by Menno Schilthuizen. Lots of examples of evolution to suit urban environments. I quibbled a bit with the organisation of the chapters, though. 3/5 stars
The Warrior Queen, by Joanna Arman. Badly edited, and mostly not about its ostensible subject. Also, prone to leaps of imagination without even the courtesy to source its wild claims. 2/5 stars
Turning Darkness into Light, by Marie Brennan. Picking up on the world of Lady Trent with her granddaughter, I found this just a delight. 5/5 stars
The Blue Salt Road, by Joanne Harris. A decent take on selkies — fairly traditional, but with a slightly re-shaped ending. 4/5 stars
To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers. Not a bad novella, but it suffered a bit from its narrative format. 3/5 stars
Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw. A delight, as ever — this was a reread. 5/5 stars
The End of Epidemics, by Jonathan Quick. Recommendations on how to manage epidemics (and pandemics) better in future; not entirely sure it’s directed at the right audience, since much of it requires work on the part of governmens and the WHO. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. Last week’s edition…
WWW Wednesday. This week’s edition.

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Trilobite shakeup.‘ I wrote about a study that might disrupt our view of trilobite fossils!

Phew, that’s the lot. How’s everyone doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted September 4, 2019 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.

Cover of Heraclix and Pomp by Forrest AgguireWhat are you currently reading?

I have a small informal project now for reading my unread books: each week I go to the next shelf and pick up an unread book from it that appeals to me, and either read it or put it in my bag to go to charity. This week was the start of that project, in the As in my fantasy/SF section, and the book choice was Heraclix and Pomp, by Forrest Agguire. So far it’s not really working for me; it’s readable enough, but there’s a sort of “and then this happened, and then this happened, and then the other thing happened” quality to the prose which is annoying, and I’m just… not that thrilled?

Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann LeckieWhat have you recently finished reading?

I juuuust finished up my reread of Ancillary Justice, earlier today! I care more about the world and characters each time I read it. This time I particularly enjoyed the way Seivarden — in all her flawed and unpleasant glory — becomes so necessary to the narration and so dear to me. She might not be one of Breq’s favourites, but somehow you come to love her anyway. Perhaps partly because she has begun to learn and begun to try.

Cover of Dreadful Company by Vivian ShawWhat will you be reading next?

No idea! I’ve not written a reading list for this month, and I think I’ll give that a break for a while. I was failing a bit too much at it, and chafing at it too. I’d like to finish rereading Ann Leckie’s books, including Provenance, and I have Dreadful Company to reread, too.

What are you currently reading?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted August 28, 2019 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 Strange Practice by Vivian ShawI’ve tucked into a reread of Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw, since the third book is coming out in September, and I felt the need for a bit of pure joy. As always, I am greatly entertained by the fact that it treats the idea of a doctor for supernatural creatures seriously; I am delighted by the ghoul on antidepressants and the demon with COPD and… yeah.

I’m also still reading The Gendered Brain, by Gina Rippon. I think Cordelia Fine’s similar book was more readable, somehow, because this one just isn’t sticking in my brain; I had to restart it after a couple of weeks where I’d put it down, because I couldn’t remember the thread of the argument.

Cover of A Little Light Mischief by Cat SebastianWhat have you recently finished reading?

Mmm, what have I recently finished reading? I think the most recent was possibly Turning Darkness into Light, which was wonderful; it may also have been the novella A Little Light Mischief, by Cat Sebastian, which was fun and cute.

I also ditched Townsend’s The Aztecs for somehow managing to be entirely boring, despite talking about a civilisation that is fascinating to me.

Cover of Angel Mage by Garth NixWhat will you be reading next?

I’m not sure. I’m feeling the need for a bit of whim, particularly as we just tidied and that involved a fair amount of rearranging my shelves, thus making me very aware there are books I want to read or reread that I’ve wanted to read or reread for weeks, months, and sometimes years. Whoops. I do think I’ll get to Angel Mage soon, in proper thanks for having been given a proof copy; I’m also intending to get to the next book in the Kate Daniels series soon.

What are you currently reading?

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