Category: General


Weekly Roundup

Posted 25 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 1 Comment

Hey hey hey! It’s been a quieter week on this front, and I’ve got some reading done… and, well, some books bought, as well. Here’s the haul!

Books acquired this week:

Cover of The Pandemic Century by Mark Honigsbaum Cover of Extraordinary Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson 

Read this week:

Cover of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho Cover of The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman Cover of Sunshine by Robin McKinley Cover of The Afterward by E. K. Johnson Valour and Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviews posted this week:

Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt, by Rosalie David. Probably quite dry if you’re not already fascinating by the topic, but beautifully in-depth if you are. 4/5 stars
Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey. Beautiful writing, in the sense of being precise and fresh, but not entirely my thing in some ways. 4/5 stars
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Kind of middle of the road for me. I like the setting and ideas more than the story itself. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Fantasy. A quick trip around the fantasy genre as I know it, with some recommendations.
Readalong: The Ninth Rain and Trail of Lightning. My readathon thoughts for last week’s prompts.
WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

How’s everyone doing? Anything delicious on your reading plate?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 22 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 0 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 Afterward by E. K. JohnsonWhat are you currently reading?

I’m currently in the middle of The Afterward, by E.K. Johnstone, which I will probably finish before this post goes live. It’s kind of light, but fun all the same. I’m also partway through rereading The Traitor Baru Cormorant, in that way where I picked it up to read maybe a chapter because I wanted to remind myself I did really like it and it is not actually going to be a chore (because sometimes my brain is daft, okay) and then I read 25% of it in one fell swoop. Oops.

Cover of The Dark Days Club by Alison GoodmanWhat have you recently finished reading?

The Dark Days Club, of which I didn’t think that much; I thought it was relatively predictable, and I’m not super admiring of Lady Helen. It doesn’t feel like she’s really made a choice; it feels like her hand was forced by circumstances. Also, she’s clearly going to be special and not like other Reclaimers and so on. A certain amount of that is fine, but it feels like she breaks the rules we were literally just taught in the story. Meh.

I also finished rereading Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, which… I have more qualms and complaints about it now than I did, but I also appreciate some aspects of it a lot more.

Cover of The True Queen by Zen ChoWhat will you be reading next?

Not a clue! Probably finishing up Valour & Vanity, and then… possibly Fire Logic (Laurie J. Marks) or possibly I’ll start on Middlegame or The True Queen. As ever, I’ll probably figure out what I accidentally inhale it. What I really want to read is The Bitter Twins, but that will have to wait.

What are you currently reading?

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Discussion: Fantasy

Posted 20 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

Text banner: Wyrd and Wonder: Celebrate the Fantastic (1-31 May) - plus a gorgeous stylised dragon glyphFor a while now I’ve been meaning to do some little discussions of genres, talk about the books I’ve read that sold me on the genre or really formed my impressions of it, so it seems appropriate to start off now, during Wyrd & Wonder, with one of my major genres — one that I’ve been reading throughout my life.

Fantasy is a really, really big genre, to be honest. It comes in so many shapes and styles that can overlap and borrow from one another, and the tone can be anything from dead serious to satirical to silly. You can spend your whole time reading in a subgenre and there’ll still be plenty there for you, particularly if it’s a major subgenre.

What counts as fantasy?

With all the subgenres and the changes in tone, it can be hard to put a finger on. I just settle for saying that it depicts a world at an angle from ours: there may be magic, events may have been different, dragons may be real, the characters may be animals or eldritch beings… Whatever it is, you know that it isn’t our world, however much you may wish that it was.

My first fantasy novel:

I’ll have been read several as a kid, but the first one I remember reading with any clarity is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My versions of those books had lovely covers, and I regularly read them to pieces.

My favourite fantasy novel: 

This is a toughie, and always an unfair question, but if I had to go with my gut and blurt something out, right now I would say The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison.

My favourite fantasy series: 

This one is even tougher. There are so many trilogies and sprawling multi-volume epics that I find myself without even a gut feeling. And yet something does seem like clearly the right choice if I stop and think: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea novels.

The last fantasy novel I read:

The last one I finished was The Ninth Rain, by Jen Williams. I’m eager to jump right on the next… just as soon as I finish the last 12 books from my Wyrd & Wonder reading list!

Top five subgenres: 

  • Secondary world fantasy, where the author has invented a whole new world
  • Portal fantasy, where people from our world end up in a fantasy world
  • Historical fantasy, where historical events are retold and changed by fantastical elements
  • Urban fantasy, where fairies and magic and all kinds of chaos can intrude into the modern cityscape
  • Fairytale retellings, where traditional stories are deepened and widened, and sometimes twisted

Suggested gateway books: 

  • If you’re into secondary world fantasy, then J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books might appeal — or for something more recent, try some N.K. Jemisin (start with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) or Robert Jackson Bennett (City of Stairs)For a recentish but very traditional epic fantasy series, you could really get your teeth stuck into Tad Williams’ Osten Ard books.
  • When it comes to portal fantasy, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a classic, but I’d personally go for Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy instead. I need to finish Foz Meadows’ A Tyranny of Queens, but An Accident of Stars was enjoyable. If you have other good recs for portal fantasy, actually, let me know! I love the idea, but need to read more.
  • When it comes to historical fantasy, I could just refer you back to Guy Gavriel Kay (Sailing to Sarantium is a particular favourite), but I’m coming to really appreciate Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist books, and Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent books are a treat.
  • For urban fantasy, Seanan McGuire’s cooked up a treat in the October Daye books, and I’d say Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books are well worth it as well. Urban fantasy can get a bit samey, but Toby and Kate still kick ass and takes names from where I’m sitting.
  • Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is the first book that leaps to mind when I’m talking about fairytale retellings, but there are others that hew closer to the original story — like Robin McKinley’s BeautySpindle’s End and Rose Daughter. Personally, I’d go with T. Kingfisher’s retellings, Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood, and a side of Genevieve Valentine’s retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in the 20s, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.

There’s so much out there, so if you’re interested in fantasy but not sure where to begin, I can guarantee there’s a book out there for you — and I’ve had some of my best successes by just picking a random book off the shelves. Get out there and dabble, is my advice!

(The next genre discussion, in a couple of weeks, will be Mysteries and crime, I think, so keep an eye out if that’s more your thing!)

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 18 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 11 Comments

Good morning, folks! I’ve had a busy week, culminating in Friday’s business of going to get my new degree.

That’s an end to degree #3. From English Literature (BA) to Medieval Literature (MA) to Biology (BSc), to…?

(Classical Studies, if they let me enrol.)

Anyway, I have been doing some reading, and some buying of books, so let’s get back on topic!

Acquired: 

Cover of A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes Cover of The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon Cover of The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams

A bit of a mixture there; the first three were treats for a rough day, and The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is on sale at the moment…

Read this week:

Cover of Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier Cover of Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey Cover of The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

Reviews posted:

Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. A reread which I still enjoyed the second time, though with more reservations about one of the characters than I remembered! 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Readalong: The Ninth Rain and Trail of Lightning. My thoughts on last week’s discussion prompts!
WWW Wednesday. The weekly update.

And that’s it for another week! How’s everyone doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 15 May, 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 The Ninth Rain by Jen WilliamsWhat are you currently reading?

Mostly, The Ninth Rain! I think I’ll try and finish this next, because I’m well hooked on the story. I need to order the sequels too, seemingly! I’m very much enjoying it, and actually enjoying the chunkiness of it too — it feels like sinking into a deep hot bath, rather than dipping your toes into a pond: there’s so much to enjoy once you get into it. At least, that’s how it’s working for me.

Cover of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen ChoWhat have you recently finished reading?

The last book I finished was my reread of Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. Highly enjoyable, and I’m glad I refreshed my memory; I know The True Queen can more or less stand alone, but it was very useful to get back in the world in general and the rules that bind it. I’d forgotten far too much. Also, Prunella is excellent.

Cover of The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth DickinsonWhat will you read next?

I haven’t really decided, but it’ll be from my Wyrd and Wonder reading list. Maybe I’ll dive straight into The True Queen, or go off on a tangent and revisit The Traitor Baru Cormorant. As usual, it’s all up in the air and it’s anyone’s guess.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 11 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

How’s it been another week already?! Yet, here we are… It’s felt like a busy week, I’m not sure how much reading I even got done. I guess we’ll find out as I write this post!

Books acquired:

Cover of Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

Books read this week:

Cover of Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K.J. Parker Cover of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse Cover of Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis

Reviews posted:

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, by K.J. Parker. I ended up entirely on the fence about this on just about every point. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it. 3/5 stars
Inheritors of the Earth, by Chris D. Thomas. I found myself in agreement with so much of this. Smart, hopeful, and unexpected. 4/5 stars
In An Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire. On one level this really stuck with me — am I giving fair value? But at the same time I felt like there was a distance that got in my way. 3/5 stars
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. Sat down and just steamed through rereading this, though I still have some reservations! 4/5 stars
Snowspelled, by Stephanie Burgis. A short bit of fun with an interesting world we barely get to glimpse! 3/5 stars
The Incredible Crime, by Lois Austen-Leigh. Meehhhh. Horrible romance plot and not that fascinating a mystery. 2/5 stars
Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews. A very fun reread. I do enjoy the worldbuilding a lot. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Trail of Lightning Readalong. My thoughts on the first week of questions!
WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

By the way, if anyone wants to hang out on a site that’s a bit like Twitter for books, a bit more like Instagram solely for books, Litsy’s now on the web as well as on mobile! Find me here!

How’s everyone doing? Busy week? Dead tired? Good book? Let me know!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 8 May, 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.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Dreamer's Pool by Juliet MarillierWell, it’s mid-Wyrd and Wonder and I’ve been reading up a small storm, so right at this second I’m partway through Dreamer’s Pool (Juliet Marillier), for that. I forgot I kind of found Oran’s story a bit embarrassment squicky, so I kinda stalled for a day or two, so I should get back to it.

Other than that, I am reading at least two other books currently. One is A Short History of Europe, by Simon Jenkins. It really is short; it’s an absolute whistle-stop tour of history, pausing at the most obvious moments before tearing on again. It’s not bad, but I might not finish it if it weren’t for a reading challenge. The other is J.S. Weiner’s The Piltdown Forgery, which is about how Weiner, Le Gros Clark and Oakley figured out the Piltdown Man forgery. It’s pretty fascinating, because the forgery seems so obvious now, but it was those three who figured it out when most others were credulous.

Cover of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca RoanhorseWhat have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished was Snowspelled, and before that Trail of Lightning. I want to read the second book for both! Which is lucky, since Storm of Locusts just arrived in the post for me today, and I can’t see any reason not to get Thornbound as well. Trail of Lightning… I had some doubts, but I’m still interested in the world. Snowspelled is sweet, and I want to know what happens, though I’m a little mad about… well, I shan’t spoiler. (I’m not mad at the author, I should clarify. I’m mad at the book for not turning out the way I wanted.)

Cover of Spinning Silver by Naomi NovikWhat will you be reading next?

Pretty sure it’ll be Spinning Silver; it’s the most contrary thing to read on the bingo card I’ve got, so naturally I’ll be drawn to it. Also contrary because I was waiting for the paperback, I even have a preorder of the paperback, so it’d be totally natural and normal for me to go ahead and read the eARC I got way back when now, because… why not?

What are you reading? What’s next on your stack?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 4 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

Good morning, folks! It feels like it’s been a quiet week, but I really haven’t done nearly enough reading to suit me. Still, Wyrd and Wonder has kicked off, and there’s plenty of books ahead…

New books:

Cover of Once And Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy Cover of Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

A queer retelling of King Arthur and a book I’ve been wanting for months?! Yep, my Litsy swap partner for the Mythology and Legends swap spoiled me good. <3

Books read this week:

Cover of Uprooted by Naomi Novik Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews Cover of In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

Reviews posted this week:

The Undefeated, by Una McCormack. I found this a little slow and prone to reminiscing about rather than telling the story, if that makes sense. 3/5 stars
City of Ghosts, by Victoria Schwab. Rather too simplistic and middle-gradey for me, though I’m sure it’s a great read for the right audience. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Wyrd and Wonder Reading List. And I’ve been dared to/bet that I can’t read all of these by the end of May, so watch out!
WWW Wednesday. The usual update post!

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Vaccination safety.‘ Don’t worry, I’m not advocating against vaccines — the opposite! — but I was asked whether getting an extra MMR booster could harm you. (Answer: almost definitely not, but consult with your doctor who knows your individual health status.)
NEAT science: ‘Pandas are not a stupid idea.‘ Really! They’re really well adapted to a bamboo diet, despite common misconceptions.
Once Upon A Blue Moon: ‘Fire & Flame.’ Another short story written to go with a bookmark I stitched!

So what’ve you been up to this week?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 1 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 1 Comment

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsWhat are you currently reading?

I started a reread of Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews, to kick off Wyrd & Wonder! I’ve been meaning to reread/finish this series for ages (as with so many series, I know), and it seemed like a good time. I’m ripping through it — and wildly entertained by the start of Curran and Kate’s relationship! “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty…”

Cover of Uprooted by Naomi NovikWhat have you recently finished reading? 

Two rereads! First, I finished rereading Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which I just sort of tore through in a matter of two days. Then last night I also finished rereading Raven Stratagem, leaving me ready to go on and finally finish Revenant Gun. At this rate, I might even finish Revenant Gun before my wife gets there (if she likes the series and reads all three, I mean — if she does, she often beats me to the last book of a trilogy).

And Uprooted, I just sort of inhaled. I have Feelings about how Novik managed to make the Dragon go from incomprehensibly awful to “that’s… kinda cute actually”.

Cover of Magic for Liars by Sarah GaileyWhat will you read next?

I really don’t know. Something fantastical, probably, since it’s Wyrd and Wonder. But then maybe not — who knows, when I’m in charge? Whims, whims, whims. Whims all the way down. I’m most tempted to finish up with Magic for Liars (Sarah Gailey), and then maybe diving into something new-to-me. Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, maybe!

What are you currently reading?

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Wyrd & Wonder Reading List

Posted 1 May, 2019 by Nikki in General / 22 Comments

Text banner: Wyrd and Wonder: Celebrate the Fantastic (1-31 May) - plus a gorgeous stylised dragon glyph

So here we are. It’s May, and Wyrd & Wonder has begun! I promised I’d come up with some kind of reading list, and here it is. Will I be able to read all of these? Almost certainly not (but it is theoretically possible, I promise). Will I even try? Unlikely. But I always get along better with goals to strive for, and you never know…

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list, either. I could read something else. I probably will.

Rereads:

  • Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews. I’ve been meaning to reread/finish this series for a while, and it’s a bit different to… almost everything else on this list!
  • A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. Because the new book is coming out on my birthday this summer, and it’s always a good time to spend time with Lady Trent.
  • Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. I actually got The True Queen as an ARC… and I’d like to reread this first. (Sensing any patterns?)
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson. I enjoyed this a lot the first time, but it’s been so long. Gotta reread this before I can read the sequel.
  • Valour & Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’ve been rereading this series, and I’m up to this one, the last one I’ve read before!
  • Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. I want to read the whole trilogy, but I only read this one, and quite a while ago now, so… you’ve got the idea by now.
  • Sunshine, by Robin McKinley. I just got hit by the urge to reread this, so what the hey — it’s on the list!
  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. I feel like the amount I can remember about this is actually shockingly bad, so before I read Spinning Silver, I’d like to revisit!

Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho Cover of The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson Valour and Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal

ARCs:

  • The True Queen, by Zen Cho. See above! I’m late to get this read… oops.
  • The Monster Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson. It’s time for me to read this! It really really is!
  • Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey. This is due out… 4th June. I should read it before then!
  • In An Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire. You may be sensing a theme here… I really need to stop procrastinating on ARCs.
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire. It’s not out yet! I’m doing well here!
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik. It’s my book club choice on Habitica! It’s also an ARC I’ve had for far, far too long.

Cover of Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey Cover of In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire Cover of Middle-Game by Seanan McGuire Cover of Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

From the backlog:

  • Snowspelled, by Stephanie Burgis. This is not very backlogged; I just got it, and I would like to get to it soon.
  • The Dark Days Club, by Allison Goodman. I might have started reading this at the start of the year and… put it down… and not picked it back up yet?
  • The Afterward, by E.K. Johnston. I’ve had this on my wishlist for a while, I forget exactly what I read about it, and picked up a copy recently.
  • Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Time to finally finish reading this series!
  • Fire Logic, Laurie J. Marks. I have been meaning to read this for so very long, and recently picked up a physical copy. It’s time and past time!
  • Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, by K.J. Parker. I picked it up on a whim during my trip to Amsterdam, and I’d like to stay on top of this year’s book purchases. So, voila.
  • Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Apropos of the Wyrd & Wonder readalong!
  • The Ninth Rain, by Jen Williams. Ditto.

Cover of The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman Cover of The Afterward by E. K. Johnson Cover of Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K.J. Parker Cover of The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

Now I kinda want to do some kind of challenge about how well I can stick to the list… But I know myself. The number one rule has always gotta be “have fun, and stop reading it if you aren’t”!

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