Category: General


Weekly Roundup

Posted 2 March, 2019 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s been a good week for finally catching up on the reviews I’ve needed to write for a while; I’m really getting somewhere! And it felt like a good week for reading, even though I finished fewer books than I thought.

Books acquired:

Cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon Cover of My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Books read this week:

Cover of Death at Bishop's Keep by Robin Paige Cover of Fayke Newes by Derek Taylor Cover of Pale Rider by Laura Spinney Cover of My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Reviews posted this week:

Murder Most Unladylike, by Robin Stevens. Not 100% my thing, but fun for a change, and something I would recommend for someone in the right age group. 3/5 stars
Rosewater, by Tade Thompson. For me, the intriguing setting and ideas were eclipsed by the main character being a sex-obsessed misogynist. 2/5 stars
Stars Uncharted, by S.K. Dunstall. A ragtag crew end up being something like a found family, after being chased around the universe by bad guys. Sounds familiar? Yeah. Fun, though, and with a couple of elements that stood out. 3/5 stars
Kill the Queen, by Jennifer Estep. Very very typical fantasy tropes in a blender, but it’s nice brain-candy, and does not take itself overly seriously. This is like… an urban fantasy feel on an epic fantasy scale. 3/5 stars
How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith, by Mary Beard. Really, this is best viewed as two separate books bound into one. Both topics are fascinating, although the analysis here is fairly shallow — an introduction and overview. 3/5 stars
A Local Habitation, by Seanan McGuire. A reread; not the strongest of the series, I think, though there’s some intriguing stuff going on. 3/5 stars
Death at Bishop’s Keep, by Robin Paige. A kind of meh mystery with an interesting female lead. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update on what’s on my reading pile right now.

Out and about:

NEAT science: ‘Burning questions‘. Your chance to ask the science questions you’ve been wondering about!

So how’re you doing? Good reading week? Wish you’d had more time for books? Something you’re excited about?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 27 February, 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 Pale Rider by Laura SpinneyWhat are you currently reading?

I’ve just started reading Pale Rider by Laura Spinney, which is about the 1918 flu epidemic. I’m very curious whether this is going to teach me anything new, given I’ve already read The Great Influenza, and that was pretty in-depth. I’m excited to see, though! It does sound from the introduction like it might go a bit more into the political/social impact of the flu, as well as the medical aspect, which should be interesting.

Cover of Death at Bishop's Keep by Robin PaigeWhat have you recently finished reading?

Death at Bishop’s Keep, by Robin Paige, which was… okay. The main female character is an interesting idea, though perhaps a little anachronistic by way of wishful thinking, but the main male character is kind of meh. I also finished Fayke Newes, by Derek Taylor: it’s all about the media vs those in power, from Henry VIII through to Trump, and it was pretty fascinating to read about how the press developed. It ends on a bit of a paean to unbiased reporting that kind of belies all the evidence presented within the book that really objective reporting that doesn’t bow to power is, um, rare to say the least.Cover of Fayke Newes by Derek Taylor

What will you be reading next?

Well, I just got The Priory of the Orange Tree in the mail today, hurrah! But I’ll probably also read My Sister, the Serial Killer, since it seems quite short and I’ve heard enthusiastic things. The Priory of the Orange Tree is a bit of a huge book, so I predict it’ll take me some time, and won’t exactly be my bedtime/treadmill/out and about reading.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 23 February, 2019 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Almost forgot to set this up — in fact, have snuck out of bed because I know I’ll forget in the morning! 2019 continues with me being very good about book purchases, and better about what I ask for to review — only one new book this week, from Pan Macmillan!

Books acquired:

Cover of The True Queen by Zen Cho

I’m not sure whether I want to reread Sorcerer to the Crown first. Hmm…

Books finished this week:

Cover of The Case of the Murdered Muckraker by Carola Dunn Cover of Rosewater by Tade Thompson Cover of A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire

Reviews posted this week:

The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie. I was so excited to get this advance copy, and it did not disappoint me. 5/5 stars
To Davy Jones Below, by Carola Dunn. Fairly typical Daisy story with a slightly different setting and some recurring characters. 3/5 stars
What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, by Souhaila Abdulali. A frank and freeing look at a taboo subject, treating rape as the violence it is and as something that doesn’t have to be defining, while looking at the social issues surrounding it. 4/5 stars
Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. This novel actually grows on me every time I read it. This one is primarily romance, but the later books expand the world and feature a lot more politics and world events. 4/5 stars
Band Sinister, by K.J. Charles. Like Georgette Heyer, but with more free-thinking and queerness. 5/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual update, featuring my thoughts primarily on Space Opera by Cat Valente.

How’s everybody doing? Read anything good this week?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 20 February, 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.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Space Opera by Catherynne M ValenteMost actively, it’s Space Opera, by Cat Valente. It feels way, way too beholden to Douglas Adams in terms of the tone and humour, while Valente’s usual adjective-vomit is in full spate. It’s a style choice, and I’ve enjoyed some of her other books despite that being very much her usual style… but in Space Opera it feels like I’m standing in front of a firehose of adjectives. I lose the point of sentences before I’ve got to the end. I know some other people have really enjoyed this, but… gah. I’m not sure I can find the plot for sheer adjectival profusion.

I mean, it’s also very much the style of and critical reaction to the musicians she’s writing about, so it’s probably intentional, and I’m probably a joy-stealing curmudgeon, but… all the same, you can’t make yourself enjoy something.

I’m also reading Heartstone, by Elle Katherine White. I’m enjoying that and figuring out what various characters’ deals are, and thinking I could use reading some more fantasy romance in this vein. (Which is, in summary: Pride and Prejudice, but with dragons.)

Cover of The Case of the Murdered Muckraker by Carola DunnWhat have you recently finished reading?

The last thing I finished was, uhh… The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, which was a fairly typical Daisy Dalrymple book, only with death-defying aerial stunts and a chase across the country, set in the USA. Ms Geneveieve/Eugene Cannon was a particularly interesting glimpse of a character.

Cover of The Dark Days Club by Alison GoodmanWhat will you be reading next?

I have no idea. I have a book on Aztecs from the library, so maybe that. Or maybe I should get back to my neglected read of The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman? I was enjoying that, but it kind of got shelved and I didn’t pick it back up. Whoops.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 16 February, 2019 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

Today I’m going to keep this quick, because one of my rabbits has been sick* and I’m really tired and worn down. And starting to get a cold myself! Gah. So, keeping it quick…

(*It’s Biscuit. She was spayed on Wednesday and hasn’t been eating too great since then. Cross your fingers for her!)

Books acquired: 

Cover of Threads of Life by Clare Hunter Cover of The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Books read: 

Cover of Threads of Life by Clare Hunter Cover of Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall Cover of The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Reviews posted:

Stitches in Time, by Lucy Adlington. A restful read that goes into some details about the history of the clothes we wear. 4/5 stars
Busman’s Honeymoon, by Dorothy L. Sayers. This might not be the height of the series, but it’s lovely for those who know and love Peter and Harriet. They are my idea of romance. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Book Blanket. A progress pic (with a scene-stealing hedgehog) and some pondering on how to fit it together.
WWW Wednesday. The usual update.

How’s everyone else doing? Read anything good this week?

Right. Writing this the night before, so hello from the wrong side of sleep, and goodbye!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 13 February, 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 Threads of Life by Clare HunterWhat are you currently reading?

Way too much at once, as ever! Most actively, Threads of Life, by Clare Hunter. It’s about the history of embroidery and its meaning/use in different cultures/contexts, so it’s covered all sorts from banner-making for political events to traditional sewing. The BBC radio thing is very very abridged and the book contains a lot more interesting things, in case anyone was wondering!

Cover of The Copernicus Complex Caleb ScharfWhat have you recently finished reading?

I think the last thing was The Copernicus Complex, by Caleb Scharf. Not bad, but I felt like I came to more or less the same conclusions long ago, and thus I was the choir, being preached to. Basically, he’s pointing out that we can’t rely on our world being mediocre (i.e. not the centre of the universe in any sense), but we also have no good evidence that it’s especially rare in the sense of being fine-tuned for life. Which to me is so obvious I find it frustrating.

Cover of The Raven Tower by Ann LeckieWhat will you be reading next?

The Raven Tower! I got a copy from Orbit and I’m pretty excited to get right to it. I’ve been excited for this for waaaay too long now, I need to tuck in as soon as I can. There’s a couple of things I already have on the go that I should probably finish first, though.

What are you currently reading?

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Discussion: Book Blanket

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

It’s been a few weeks since the last update, so how’re things going?

Here it is! It’s 10 hexagons in width, about a metre long, and currently has 19 hexagons joined. (Thank you to Hogglestock, my large inflatable hedgehog/seat, for his patience in modelling this.) I quite like the way the joining is working out — that ridge works nicely in defining each square and in just adding a little bit of oomph. I think I’m probably going to add a white border around the outer edge, though I’ll have to ponder how to give that the right texture. (Probably either front post crochets, or just crocheting into the front loops only.)

Things that’ve changed since my last post: I added a colour, in a sense, in that for a book which I read a significant amount of (over 25% minimum), if I feel it was still significant enough to record, I’m adding a motif with a white centre. You can actually see one there in the second row: that’s Jaine Fenn’s Hidden Sun, which I DNF’ed after discovering it came over all rape-apologism at the end.

I’ve also moved the categories slightly: books from my backlog from 2016 are now also using the dark green “bottle” colour, to try and balance out the sheer amount of the 2017-2018 books in “petrol”.

Finally, I’ve been deciding on how exactly to shape the blanket, just today! Right now there are 10 motifs in the first row and 9 in the second, and I actually tied off in order to take a fairly neat picture. However, there are two possible ways to do this — or really, way more, but I already decided I wanted it to be more or less straight rather than off-setting each row. Here’s the image I whipped up in Paint to show my wife:

I’ve decided to go with #2, I think — for one thing, it’ll help control the length of it, even if I read an absolute ton!

So that’s where we are right now!

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 9 February, 2019 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

This post is prepared well in advance, as I’m away this weekend! I’ll pop by and see everyone as soon as I’m back, though: pinky-promise! We’re just off to Wales to see some of my friends from university (*waves*) and my aunt. Road trip time!

Books read this week:

Cover of 4th Rock from the Sun by Nicky Jenner Cover of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

Reviews posted:

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers. It’s a lovely book that is the culmination of so much in the other books, while being unlike them in some ways. (For instance, it’s largely Harriet’s point of view, and it’s mostly not a crime story but a story about a long process of trying to prevent a crime… but mostly coming to terms with personal and philosophical pros and cons of married life vs vs a job vs academia.) It’s well worth it for people who are fans already, but I wonder how interesting it is to new folks. 4/5 stars
Breaking the Maya Code, by Michael D. Coe. Really fascinating history of how the Mayan glyphs were finally, finally decoded. 4/5 stars
Mystery in White, by J. Jefferson Farjeon. Rather incoherent and reliant on coincidence, actually; I turned out not to be much of a fan, despite enjoying Farjeon’s other work. 2/5 stars
The Cobbler’s Boy, by Katherine Addison and Elizabeth Bear. A historical fiction/mystery about how Kit Marlowe first became a spy… I really enjoyed it, though the decision to render the dialogue somewhat realistically for the time period might throw people off. 4/5 stars
Ninja, by John Man. Eminently skippable. Bleh. 2/5 stars
Molecules at an Exhibition, by John Emsley. Kind of interesting but got boring fast as the novelty wore off. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

Out and about:

Once Upon a Blue Moon: ‘A Woman Skilled in Physic.’ A short story which will turn out to be a retelling if you give it a few moments…
Once Upon a Blue Moon: ‘A Room Without A Soul.’ An attempt at making books creepy.

So how’s everyone doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 6 February, 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 A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam RutherfordMost actively, I’m back to try and finish off Adam Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. Most of the anecdotes are familiar to me, though, and I’m really past the point where I could possibly ever need another primer on DNA, so I haven’t been that engaged so far. I enjoyed the demolition of the concept of race that I just read in the last chapter, though!

I’m also reading S.K. Dunstall’s Stars Uncharted; I’m enjoying it, but it feels like much the same ground as The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, in many ways. It’s not bad, but I’m not going to be shouting from the rooftops about it either.

Cover of 4th Rock from the Sun by Nicky JennerWhat have you recently finished reading?

I think the last thing I finished was… hm, 4th Rock from the Sun, which is about Mars — history, literature, exploration, a little bit of everything. It still amazes me how little we know about planets we think of as being so close to us. There’s so much about Mars and indeed almost the whole Solar System that is still conjectural and even controversial.

Cover of The Ruin of Kings by Jenn LyonsWhat will you be reading next?

No clue. I know Jenn Lyons’ The Ruin of Kings is due out on Thursday, and I’ve been so tempted that despite being annoyed by getting an ARC that turned out to be just a preview. So maybe I’ll get that and dig straight in. On the other hand, there’s myriads of books that I genuinely received as ARCs, and I should probably get to them.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 2 February, 2019 by Nikki in General / 7 Comments

Hey folks! Another week, another… total lack of new books?! What’s wrong with me??

Anyway, so that was January, I guess. I read 15 books, bought only a handful, and generally behaved myself pretty well.

Books read this week:

Cover of The Cobbler's Boy by Elizabeth Bear and Katherine Addison. Cover of Seahenge: An Archaeological Conundrum by Charlie Watson Cover of How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith by Mary BeardCover of Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Reviews posted this week:

The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Beautifully atmospheric, and always one of my favourites of the series. I love how much work Sayers did to integrate change ringing into the fabric of the story. 4/5 stars
Seahenge, by Charlie Watson. Definitely a good primer on what Seahenge was and what was done to preserve it; Francis Pryor’s book does more work on interpretation, though, if that’s your interest. 4/5 stars
Styx and Stones, by Carola Dunn. Okay, one aspect of this book really annoyed me: that stupid scene where Daisy and Alec briefly break up. What’s the point? Otherwise a fairly standard entry in the series, with a couple of twists you may not expect. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

A Personal Note. In lieu of a discussion post this week, I wrote about my feelings on Brexit.
WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly update!

Out and about:

NEAT Science: ‘Is there any (intelligent) life out there? My answer is ‘I really don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else has any idea how likely it is either’ — and I touch a little bit on why I think so and why other people think it might be likely or unlikely.

So that’s this week. How’s everyone else been doing? Any good books? Anything you’ve been dying to get your hands on finally fall into your lap?

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