Category: General

Stacking the Shelves

Posted 3 June, 2017 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s Saturday again already, huh? My exams are creeping nearer and nearer, so of course I’ve been reading like a fiend. It only makes sense, right?

Here’s the week’s roundup, beginning with a photo of my bunnies because, yes, I still miss them.

Photo of one of my bunnies grooming the other

Yeah, Hulk loves Breakfast now. <3

Received to review:

Cover of The Witch Who Came In From the Cold Cover of Caesar's Last Breath by Sam Kean

I’ve been curious about this serial as it came out gradually, so I thought I’d grab the full volume. And at the last minute I also got approved for this non-fiction about air! I’ve enjoyed Sam Kean’s work before, so should be good.


Cover of The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard Cover of Lightning in the Blood by Marie Brennan Cover of City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault

I am excited for these, especially Marie Brennan’s!

Finished this week:

Cover of False Hearts by Laura Lam Cover of Alchemy of Fire by Gillian Bradshaw Cover of Nightwood by Djuna Barnes Cover of Trial by Fire by Lore Graham

Cover of Dino Gangs by Josh Young Cover of Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan Cover of Shanghai Sparrow by Gaie Sebold

Sneak peek at ratings:

Five stars: Within the Sanctuary of Wings.
Four stars: False Hearts and Alchemy of Fire.
Three stars: Trial by Fire, Dino Gangs, Death Before Wicket and Shanghai Sparrow.
One star:

Reviews posted this week:

Passion Play, by Sean Stewart. This one was darker than I expected, and really got under my skin. 4/5 stars
Herding Hemingway’s Cats, by Kat Arney. Very light and readable, but surprisingly thorough as well. I learnt some things about genetics, which is not something I say often with popular science! 4/5 stars
The Loveless Princess, by Lilian Bodley. An asexual and aromantic princess is the heroine of her own story. 3/5 stars
Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill. Holy infodump, Batman. 1/5 stars
Where the Universe Came From, by New Scientist. Not a bad collection, but heavy on relativity and quantum rather than the Big Bang. 3/5 stars
Harrowing the Dragon, by Patricia A. McKillip. Not all of these stories are to my taste, but McKillip’s writing is always gorgeous. 4/5 stars
Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel. Oh-em-geeeee. I can’t say too much about this in case anybody’s afraid of spoilers, but it’s a great follow-up to Sleeping Giants. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Coming Out Later This Year. Or, as I discovered when writing it, on the very day the post went up!
WWW Wednesday. The weekly update on what I’m reading, what I’ve read, and what I’m going to read.

So how’ve you been doing? If you comment, I’ll swing by your STS/Sunday Post/etc to see what you’ve been getting your mitts on!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 31 May, 2017 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 here if you want to check out other posts.

Cover of Shanghai Sparrow by Gaie SeboldWhat are you currently reading?

I’ve decided to try and finish Within the Sanctuary of Wings (Marie Brennan) this evening — I’ve been putting it off, partially because I just don’t want the series to be over. I’ve also recently picked up Shanghai Sparrow (Gaie Sebold). I haven’t got very far into it; it feels kind of typical steampunky stuff, but it’s fun enough to pass the time.

I probably shouldn’t be reading this much, and instead should be swotting up on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and the ins and outs of homeostasis, but if I close my eyes, my exams can’t see me, right?


What did you recently finish reading?

Dino Gangs (Josh Young), which is partly a biography of Phil Currie’s career and partly about his major theory: that dinosaurs were social, and tyrannosaurids in particular may have hunted as a pack. It’s a little repetitive, and honestly I’d stick to David Hone’s The Tyrannosaur Cover of Assassin's Apprentice by Robin HobbChronicles, if you’re not planning to just read everything in reach.

Before that, it was a reread of Death Before Wicket (Kerry Greenwood). Not my favourite of Phryne’s adventures, but I might actually have liked it a bit better this time than last. The mysticism stuff still makes me roll my eyes, buuuut… it’s not the first or last time that’s happened with Phryne.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m planning to read Lightning in the Blood (Marie Brennan). I’ve been looking forward to it for ages! That’s nothing but a nibble, though; after that, I think I’ll get started on my reread of Assassin’s Apprentice, since everyone else doing the reread is probably two books ahead of me by now. (Oops.)

There’s also The House of Binding Thorns (Aliette de Bodard), since my copy just arrived a day or two ago. I had a review copy on my ereader, but… sometimes I just get round to paper books better.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 30 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 14 Comments

Oh dear, the theme this week is books you’re looking forward to in the second half of 2017, and I’ve no idea. But here’s some 2017 books I don’t have yet and really really want.

  1. Our Dark Duet, by V.E. Schwab. I got an ARC of the first book and read it instantly, so I have been waiting far too long now. Gimme!
  2. Shattered Minds, by Laura Lam. I have an ARC of this one and I’ve started it, but I can tell already that I’m going to want to talk about it. Get thee to a preorder, friends.
  3. The Thorn of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch. I don’t know if this is even scheduled for 2017. All I know is, I want it badly.
  4. Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh. Hyperbole and a Half is the best. Okay, Amazon says 2017, but the publisher says 2050 (i.e. delayed indefinitely). But I can dream.
  5. The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin. I should catch up with this series. The new book coming out is probably going to make sure I do.
  6. Provenance, by Ann Leckie. I didn’t even know this was coming before a week or two ago, but now I am definitely excited.
  7. The Witchwood Crown, by Tad Williams. Yessss. The original series were great epic fantasy, so I have high hopes.
  8. The Tiger’s Daughter, by K. Arsenault Rivera. This sounds awesome and has queer heroines. Gimme! (I’m making eyes at Tor on Netgalley, here; I haven’t been accepted or rejected for the ARC yet.)
  9. Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey. Gimme, gimme, gimme! I loved River of Teeth a lot more than I expected.
  10. Lightning in the Blood, by Marie Brennan. Wait. This is out today

That’s me disappearing off to read, folks! But do comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to. I always try and return comments!

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 27 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 26 Comments

Hi everyone! I’m back in the UK for a while, for my exams and the election and so on. I’m missing my bunnies, but I did have a lot of great books waiting for me here!

But here, have a picture of Breakfast meeting Captain America, first…

Right, now I feel better.

Received to review:

Cover of Scourge by Gail Z. Martin

I really need to read something by Gail Z. Martin. I’ve had a couple of her books on my list for a while. Oops.

Fiction books bought:

Cover of City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett Cover of False Hearts by Laura Lam Cover of The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury

Cover of A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas Cover of Caraval by Stephanie Garber Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I’ve had my eye on… pretty much all of these for quite a while now. I’m still not sure about The Hate U Give — people love it so much, and recommend it a lot, but I’m not sure if it’s my thing. Still, gonna give it a try.

Non-fiction books bought:

Cover of Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould Cover of Bones of Contention by Paul Chambers Cover of Evolution in Four Dimensions by Eva Jablonka Cover of How To Find A Habitable Planet by James Kasting

Cover of The Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner Cover of One Renegade Cell by Robert Weinberg Cover of Life on the Edge by Joe Al-Khalili and Johnjoe MacFadden Cover of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall

Quite the stack, I know! Some of these I’ve been meaning to read for ages, especially Gould’s book. I loved the exhibit on the Burgess Shale at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, but only just got round to picking up a copy of this book to go with the experience.

So yeah, plenty to keep me busy!

Books finished this week:

Cover of A New History of Life by Peter Ward Cover of The Emerald Planet by David Beerling Cover of How We Live and Why We Die by Lewis Wolpert Cover of The Worm at the Core Cover of Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Cover of River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey Cover of The Deeper Genome by John Parrington Cover of One Renegade Cell by Robert Weinberg Cover of The Ghost Line Cover of Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood

Sneak peek at ratings:
Five stars: The Emerald Planet and The Worm at the Core.
Four stars: Waking Gods, River of Teeth,  The Deeper Genome, One Renegade Cell,  The Ghost Line and Raisins and Almonds.
Three stars: A New History of Life and How We Live & Why We Die.

Reviews posted this week:

Being Human, by New Scientist. As with the other New Scientist collections, this is good if the topic interests you, and less so if it doesn’t. It does interest me! 4/5 stars
All Systems Red, by Martha Wells. Funny, but with some interesting serious touches too. I want more of the Murderbot. 4/5 stars
Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes, by Svante Pääbo. The science is fascinating, but I wasn’t always so sure about the personal details! It’s not so much about Neanderthals at all, really; just the process of extracting their genomes. 4/5 stars
The Builders, by Daniel Polansky. Redwall, but very red in tooth and claw. And other implements of destruction. 3/5 stars
The Vital Question, by Nick Lane. This is a wide-ranging book, almost impossible to summarise, but well worth reading on symbiosis, evolution, the origin of life… 4/5 stars
Sunbolt, by Intisar Khanani. Fun worldbuilding, and I definitely want to read more. ASAP. 4/5 stars
River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey. Hippos! A caper! A hero called Hero! I really enjoyed it. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR. What it says on the tin.
WWW Wednesday. The usual Wednesday update.

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 24 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

IMG_1384-0I found that there’s actually a link-up for posts basically like my ‘what are you reading Wednesday’ posts, which I transplanted from Dreamwidth way back. So that’s how I’ll do these Wednesday updates from now on! 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 this shall save me from Grammarly shouting at me about the former grammar of these posts.

Check out the WWW Wednesdays linkup!

What are you currently reading?

The Deeper Genome, by John Parrington. So far it’s very good at explaining the basics and how things were discovered, although this is not information I personally need, all things considered! I’m looking forward to the later chapters, which complicate matters beyond the central dogma.

Cover of Waking Gods by Sylvain NeuvelWhat have you recently finished reading?

Yesterday, I managed to read three books, so I’ll just stick to those. First off, I finished Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel. It’s the second book in a series, and it has a cruel, cruel ending. I need to know what happens next. I was initially leery of the format, but it actually really worked (for me, anyway).

Secondly, I read The Worm at the Core, by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski (I hope I typed that correctly). It’s an examination of the role of death in how humans live, and I found it really fascinating (and not at all depressing; if anything, the opposite). I have a generally spiritual-ish background heavy on the arts, but I’m going into science and finding that I have difficulty seeing where a ‘soul’ could fit in. This book shows how important that struggle is for all humans — so at least I know I’m not alone in not being sure, and perhaps not liking the conclusions I’m coming to.Cover of River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Thirdly, I read Sarah Gailey’s River of Teeth, which features hippo-herding (and feral hippos) in the US. It’s alternate history based on a suggestion that was once seriously made, to raise hippos for meat. It has a non-binary-gendered hero called Hero, who has a romance with the main character, and this made me pretty happy — quite apart from the awesome hippos. Rosa the stealth hippo might be my favourite.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ugh, I have no idea. I just got to my parents’ where a stack of books I’ve ordered over the past couple of months was awaiting me. I’ve got some fiction I’ve been meaning to read for ages, like Laura Lam’s False Hearts… but also non-fiction I’ve been hankering after, like Robert Weinberg’s One Renegade Cell. And then there’s a bunch of books awaiting review, too. I don’t know! I’ll probably go on instinct.

Before you go, psst: if you want more frequent updates on what I’m currently reading, you can find me on Litsy as shanaqui! It’s kind of like Twitter or Instagram, but all books all the time.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 20 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 14 Comments

Good morning, all! It’s been a good reading week for me, and one of my assignments is done and handed in, so… breathe a sigh of relief! How’s everyone else doing?

Received to review:

Cover of River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey Cover of Trial by Fire by Lore Graham Cover of The Ghost Line Cover of The Loveless Princess by Lilian Bodley

I love hippos, as in the cuddly teddy bear sort, so I’m not sure how I’m going to take River of Teeth. Possibly Helen Hippo will just be pleased that her relatives are so fierce.

Finished reading this week:

Cover of Neanderthal Man by Svante Paabo Cover of Words and Rules by Steven Pinker Cover of Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani Cover of Passion Play, by Sean Stewart

Cover of The Loveless Princess by Lilian Bodley Cover of Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill Cover of New Scientist: How Your Brain Works Cover of Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip

The ratings sneak peek:

Four stars: Neanderthal Man, Sunbolt, Passion Play, and Harrowing the Dragon.
Three stars: Words and RulesThe Loveless Princess and How Your Brain Works. 
One star: Sea of Rust.

Reviews posted this week:

Relativity: Einstein’s Mind-Bending Universe, by New Scientist. Not exactly my area of science. If it’s your interest, I think you’ll enjoy it; the fault is in my lack of comprehension/interest in a lot of physics. 3/5 stars
Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire. Not one of the stories that was crying out to be told after Every Heart a Doorway, to my mind, but still an enjoyable read. 4/5 stars
Dangerous Women: Part II, ed. George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I remain unconvinced by this anthology. 3/5 stars
The Pinks, by Chris Enss. Lots of stuff I didn’t know here; very readable and interesting. 4/5 stars
Medical Frontiers, by New Scientist. Fascinating collection about the cutting edge of medicine these days. 4/5 stars
Killing Gravity, by Corey J. White. River Tam with telekinetic powers, basically. It’s a lot of fun. 4/5 stars
Dangerous Women: Part III, ed. George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Even more mediocre than the other two parts. Basically: don’t bother. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books My Mother Should Read. What it says on the tin, as ever. Also generally a list of good books.
What are you reading Wednesday. The usual update!

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 17 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

Cover of Sunbolt by Intisar KhananiWhat have you recently finished reading?

Words and Rules, by Steven Pinker, which had a lot of overlap with his other book, The Language Instinct. Interesting stuff, but mostly I let it wash over me unless he’s talking about brain structures, which is more my field. Once that was finished, I also promptly read Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani, all in one go. Fun, but the last half of it reminded me so much of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine that I’m tempted to revisit that now…Cover of New Scientist: How Your Brain Works

Oh, and then later today I finished up reading Sean Stewart’s Passion Play, which was powerful and disturbing and I need to sit with it a bit longer.

What are you currently reading?

The New Scientist Instant Expert book on the human brain. My kinda thing, obviously, so I’ll probably enjoy it, though it’s more basic than I might hope.

What will you read next?

Goodness knows. Whatever comes up next on my Kindle when I can’t sleep, probably!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 16 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

This week is an [International] Mother’s Day freebie. Now the UK Mother’s Day was quite a while ago, but never mind. The thing with me and my mum is that we’ve always shared books, ever since I finally learnt to read — I went from children’s books to her shelves within a year or two. Rare is the letter or conversation that doesn’t involve books somehow, so here are ten books I’d like my mother to read already.

Cover of My Real Children by Jo Walton Cover of City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang Cover of Behind the Shock Machine by Gina Perry

  1. My Real Children, by Jo Walton. You might cry, Mum, sorry. Motherhood is quite important in this one, and it also handles dementia and how it effects families.
  2. City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett. I’m sorry I took my copy back; I’ll get you the ebook or something. It’s a great series, and it’s finished now, too!
  3. A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. I think you’d enjoy this Victorian pastiche. It’s not as heavy-going as something like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and the lead character is a lot of fun. Plus, dragons!
  4. Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang. Mostly for ‘Stories of Your Life’, which the movie Arrival was based on. (I think you’d like the movie, too.) Warning, this will almost definitely make you cry, knowing you.
  5. Behind the Shock Machine, by Gina Perry. I’ve bought you this, so you have no excuse! It’s a fascinating exploration of Stanley Milgram’s experiments and conclusions, and very relevant to about two dozen conversations we’ve had in the last few years.
  6. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Mostly to find out if you do enjoy it. I’ve been on the fence for years about whether you will. I think it’s very clever and very funny.
  7. The Carpet Makers, by Andreas Eschbach. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this one to you, but it’s a fascinating set of linked short stories. I have a copy, but I’m not sure if Lisa will let me lend it to you indefinitely. Maybe I’ll get you a copy.
  8. Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. Rereading it recently, I enjoyed it a lot. People have emphasised the gender aspects of it, but there’s also a fascinating story about AI and individuality.
  9. The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. I haven’t got round to reading it either, but we really should.
  10. Children of Earth and Sky, by Guy Gavriel Kay. We have the same opinions on most of his books, so you can tell me if I should be shuffling this to the front of my list instead of letting it languish!

Cover of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett Cover of The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie Cover of The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin Cover of Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

And for those who are not my mother, well, those are all good books anyway.

I love the kind of mother-child relationship I have with my mother, where we can discuss books and psychology experiments and space opera and the accuracy of portrayals of mental illness in books, and just about everything else under the sun. She always treated me as an adult in terms of my formed opinions, and that has undoubtedly enriched our relationship and conversation options greatly. I can recommend it as a mode of parenting pretty unreservedly.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 13 May, 2017 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

A good week! But deadline crunch time is approaching…

Books bought

Cover of Saga volume 7 Cover of Ruined by Amy Tintera

I forgot to include Saga a couple of weeks back — my wife bought me it on a whim. Yay wives! And I bought Ruined when it finally came in at Fnac, after Cait @ Paper Fury‘s review aaaages ago.

Received to review

Cover of The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia Cover of An Oath of Dogs by Wendy Wagner Cover of Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill Cover of Dark Exodus by Thomas E. Sniegoski

A nice haul, though apparently Dark Exodus is a sequel, so I need to get on with reading the first book.

Books finished this week:

Cover of Dangerous Women ed. G.R.R. Martin Cover of Reinventing Darwin by Niles Eldredge Cover of Herding Hemingway's Cats by Kat Arney Cover of The Pinks by Chris Enss

Cover of Killing Gravity by Corey J. White Cover of All Systems Red by Martha Wells Cover of The Builders by Daniel Polansky

Four stars to: Herding Hemingway’s Cats, The Pinks, Killing Gravity, All Systems Red and The Builders.
Three stars to: Reinventing Darwin.
Two stars to: Dangerous Women (Part III).

Reviews posted this week:

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. This was the kind of reread that makes you appreciate a book even more. I enjoyed it the first time, but this time I was less distracted by the gender stuff and more focused on the story — which is darn good. 5/5 stars
Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente. I didn’t expect to love this. I find Valente’s writing beautiful, but opaque. But for some reason, this grabbed hold of me — and kept a firm grip to the end. 4/5 stars
Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Fascinating account of octopuses, part scientific, part philosophical. 4/5 stars
The Bone Palace, by Amanda Downum. A stronger book than the first one, partly because it contains a character I can’t help but adore. Savedra steals this book entirely; the more time the narrative spent with her, the happier I was. 4/5 stars
Virolution, by Frank Ryan. Could use being a lot more tightly focused. Most of it doesn’t seem directly connected to viruses at all. Interesting stuff about symbiosis and epigenetics, though. 3/5 stars
Dangerous Women: Part I, ed. Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin. Some entertaining stories, but honestly, I found it remarkably weak for an anthology edited by such big names. 3/5 stars
Reinventing Darwin, by Niles Eldredge. Apart from some stylistic tics that drove me round the bed — “we naturalists” would have received some serious red pen from me — I don’t disagree with the scientific theories presented here. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Gimme More… A bunch of things I’d like to see more of in fiction.
What are you reading “Wednesday”. The weekly update. On “Wednesday”, also known as Thursday.

How’s everyone? Any exciting new books on your stacks?

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