Category: General


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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WWW Wednesday

Posted 30 January, 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.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Glamour in Glass, by Mary Robinette KowalI’m partway through a reread of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamour in Glass; I’m being a little irritated by the lack of communication between the two main characters, which I seem to remember would solve a lot and just require a bit of trust on both sides. I hate communication issues driving plots, honestly. I don’t recall it ruining the book for me before — if I remember rightly, I quite liked it overall — but it’s a bit annoying right now.

I’m also reading Roszika Parker’s The Subversive Stitch, which is about how embroidery came to be associated primarily with women and femininity; it’s a little dry and scholarly in tone, but I am enjoying learning more about an art/craft that I’ve been getting into myself. (And which is assumed to say a lot of things about my femininity, which makes me laugh.)

Cover of Kill the Queen by Jennifer EstepI’m also about halfway through Kill the Queen, by Jennifer Estep. It’s frustrating me at the moment because I just want Everleigh to admit who she is; I’m not actually sure of the timeline of these novels (whether she’ll have revealed herself by the end); maybe I should read the summary of the next book to see whether I should be moderating my expectations!

What have you recently finished reading?

I think the last thing I finished was Mary Beard’s How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith — fascinating stuff, really. We tend to think that all ancient art is leading up to a sort of Greco-Roman realism, and interpret it accordingly; it’s worth remembering that people haven’t always thought the same way or had the same expectations of art!

Cover of Hild by Nicola GriffithWhat will you be reading next?

I have no idea. I need to pick my next bookclub choice for the Habitica book club, and I’m not entirely sure what genre I’ll pick. I just got a copy of Hild, by Nicola Griffith, from a book swap… so maybe I’ll set that as the month’s book. It’s certainly high time I got to reading that; I’ve wanted to for ages.

What are you reading?

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A Personal Note

Posted 28 January, 2019 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

I don’t often post exclusively about personal things, though I think readers here know a fair bit about me; I think it’s even more rare for me to post about politics, although I suspect you also have a fair idea of my political stance. This post is a one-off, and unlikely to be repeated, but it’s something that I felt I needed to write, and and an occasion on which I felt it necessary to use my limited platform to say the things that only I can say.

We’re often told that personal stories are what sway people, more than statistics or politicians’ speeches. I’m not sure I believe anymore that there is anyone from the other side of things listening: it’s become so polarised, so fractious, with both sides so very convinced they’re right. And of course, I’m still convinced I was in the right in voting to Remain, and I would do so again — though at the same time I recognise that there’s a reason the country is going this way, and the outright bare-faced lies of the Leave faction have appealed to a real need in people to be heard and to see certain things happen. The division in this country needs to be healed, somehow.

The problem is, the disinformation is still happening. People around me — Leave and Remain voters alike — have this strange idée fixe that Brexit isn’t going to affect them or anyone they know. Even when they know darn well that my wife is Belgian, they cling to the idea that it won’t affect me because we’re married (and thus obviously safe) or it won’t affect me because it doesn’t actually mean people like my wife (who has a job here and speaks perfect English and doesn’t look or sound different).

It does mean her as well. The fact that we’re married actually has no effect on whether she’s allowed to stay or not. Having a job, no effect. Perfect English, no effect. The fact that she didn’t get here until September 2018 is a definite black mark against her (regardless of the fact that it was due to our decision to delay the move until we were financially ready for it, so that we haven’t required any benefits, etc). People with far better claims to remain in the UK — years of paying taxes, families all born here — are being rejected for “settled status”, and despite all the government’s assurances, I remain painfully aware that we have hoops to jump through: pre-settled status, settled status, citizenship… all with associated fees and inconvenience and outright invasion of privacy.

And that’s just what we’re currently being told. Who knows what is actually going to happen. We did all the right things: I had my degree(s!) finished, I had a job, she had a job, we had savings, we didn’t do anything on a whim. And this situation punishes us for it.

I’m not saying that anyone should change their minds based on our story alone, but it’s worth remembering that I planned my life based on European free movement, a right I’m now losing, and I’m far from alone. It’s worth remembering that these same uncertainties and barriers apply to NHS nurses and doctors who were born in other EU countries, and every other kind of skilled European worker. It’s worth remembering that it doesn’t just apply to stopping the free movement of unskilled workers who don’t speak English — it stops everyone’s free movement. It’s worth remembering that the UK gains very little political power by removing itself from the EU, and loses a lot — the power of veto we used to hold, the voice we had in European issues. It’s worth remembering that if we want to trade with the EU, which we will need to do, we’re going to need to abide by their trading standards anyway, so you can put away that old canard about becoming free of the EU regulating things right down to the curvature of bananas. It’s worth remembering that with the best will in the world on both sides, they’re big, and we’re small, and we’ve forfeited our right to direct their policies.

It’s worth noticing where the big companies and the millionaires are going, even the ones who said Brexit was good for Britain.

Leavers complain about the EU taking their rights away, but Brexit itself takes away rights central to my life, and gives me nothing worth the loss. I hope understanding that will help Leavers I know understand what the problem is for me, both personally and in a wider sense. At the very least, please don’t pretend to me that I’ll be better off. You know I will not, and you’re lying to yourself and to me when you pretend that things are going to work out fine for everybody.

Nonetheless, in the words of Jo Cox — murdered not far from where I grew up for her pro-EU stance: “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” Let’s try and justify her faith in us.

Note: I’ve turned comments off on this post because I don’t really want to debate it any further right now — I’m stressed out enough about the whole situation as it is: I don’t trust myself to be the kind of level-headed voice of reason I want to be — and because this is still a blog about books primarily, not a place for political debate.

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Weekly Roundup

Posted 26 January, 2019 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Good morning, folks! It’s been a heck of a week, as I think I already said; thank goodness it’s over, and I can start the next one fresh. In theory, anyway! I’m ending/starting the week with the #24in48 readathon, so that’ll be good.

Books read this week:

Cover of Ninja by John Man Cover of Band Sinister by K.J. Charles Cover of Hidden Sun by Jaine Fenn

Reviews posted this week:

Greenwitch, by Susan Cooper. Never a favourite of the series, but there’s a lot to love all the same. 4/5 stars
A Little History of Science, by W.F. Bynum. Did not finish this one, because inaccuracies. Meh. 1/5 stars
Hidden Sun, by Jaine Fenn. Did not finish this one, because despite some intriguing stuff, the characters decide that rape isn’t so bad as long as you don’t kill anyone, and I’m not into that. 2/5 stars

Discussions:

Discussion: Book Blanket. This week, I shared a photo of one motif, and the pattern I’m using to make them! The photo at least is worth it, I promise; it’s a very pretty colour combination!

Out and About:

NEAT science: ‘Gum Disease causes Alzheimer’s? You heard me! It’s a theory so far, but from what I’ve read, it’s kind of convincing!

So how’s everyone else been doing?

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