Category: General

What are you reading Wednesday

Posted May 28, 2014 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?
My Beloved Brontosaurus, by Brian Switek, which is a sort of memoir of involvement with dinosaurs. Switek’s enthusiasm is endearing. Before that, Spillover by David Quammen, which was excellent and makes me want to be an infectious disease researcher. (Yes, I am impressionable. Shush.)

What are you currently reading?
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, and The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff. They’re my current rereads, at any rate; my most current reading-for-the-first-time books are Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell), which I’m still not very sure about, and Yendi (Steven Brust), which I have been neglecting horribly. Tomorrow, perhaps?

What will you read next?
Heaven knows! I do need to get round to reading The Islands of Chaldea (Diana Wynne Jones), so quite possibly that; I think the library want it back soon, and it should be a fun read.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted May 28, 2014 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

It’s apparently a freebie week for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I saw someone else talk about the top ten books/series they want to get round to rereading if they have time, which sounds like a good idea. I’m a chronic rereader, with some favourites I never get tired of, but I feel guilty doing it because I have so much I should be reading already!

  1. Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series. I’m actually trying to work on rereading this, since I have the new one as an ARC, but there’s so many books out there, it’s hard to find the time. I remember being utterly enchanted back when I first read the books, though, so I hope the shine hasn’t worn off.
  2. Tanya Huff’s The Fire’s Stone. I just recall finding this one really fun, and enjoying the romance plot.
  3. Cherie Priest’s Cheshire Red books. I love these. I have them to reread, it’s just getting round to it. Adrian is the most badass ex-navy SEAL drag queen you could wish for, and I love the unconventional family Raylene builds up around herself.
  4. Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. I ate these up the first and second time, but it’s been a while now. I’m looking at the new, cheap editions as ebooks and thinking it might be about time. I’m not a big fan of Imriel’s series, but I adore Phèdre and Joscelin, and the politics of it all. “I’ll be damned in full and not by halves” is one of the more memorable quotes in any book I’ve read.
  5. Jo Walton’s Sulien books. Plus A Prize in the Game, which isn’t strictly about Sulien. Asexual protagonist who is a kickass woman in the Arthurian world, what’s not to love? Plus interesting relationships with the people around her. I remember this really fondly.
  6. Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. There’s something about Sunshine and the unrelated Chalice that pull me back again and again. It’s the characters, I think, the way people interact, the way magic works. And the focus on homely things as well, like Sunshine baking and the heroine of Chalice keeping bees.
  7. Guy Gavriel Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan. Well, actually all of his books (I’m revisiting them in publication order, to watch the development of his style), but especially Lions because I think that’s the only one apart from Under Heaven and the latest that I haven’t read at least twice, and I invariably appreciate GGK’s work more on the second go.
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. This is more or less a permanent state of being for me. Having studied the books, I can see so many more layers and bits of interest than I ever did before. It’s also interesting because I’m exploring the world via a different medium, in Lord of the Rings Online, which no doubt will make me pay attention to different details.
  9. Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. I have the ebooks, all ready for a reread, it’s just getting round to it. I remember enjoying these books a lot, and my partner’s just recently read them and feels the same, so I have high hopes.
  10. Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles. I loved Cornwell’s take on Arthur and his men, and this is another case where I’ve bought e-copies for my collection and for an excuse to reread, and… am taking forever to get round to it. Well, hopefully not forever.

So, what interesting top tens are you seeing around, people? Any you’d like to see me do?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted May 24, 2014 by Nikki in General / 38 Comments

Oh. Oh dear. It’s been a busy week, and it’s time for Stacking the Shelves, as hosted by Tynga’s Reviews! There was a library, and a second hand bookshop, and… things just escalated, okay? It doesn’t help that I’ve actually got hard copies of some of the books I originally got as ARCs from the library, just to make me feel guilty when I look at them. I’m not sure it’s working, but. Books! Also re-bought some books I already technically own, for the excuse to reread. You may have noticed I like doing that.

Library books

Cover of Six Feet Over by Mary Roach Cover of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern Cover of Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach Cover of Honor's Knight, by Rachel Bach Cover of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell Cover of The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley Cover of Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins

Of this lot, I already had Fortune’s Pawn in ebook, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches and Wolfhound Century as ARCs, and I’ve already read and adore The Night Circus.

Second-hand bookshop finds

 Cover of The Riddle-master of Hed by Patricia McKillip Cover of Heir of Sea and Fire by Patricia McKillip Cover of The Harpist in the Wind by Patricia McKillip Cover of The Adventures of Alyx by Joanna Russ Cover of Dodie Smith's It Ends With Revelations Cover of The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith Cover of The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith

These are all new to me, though I know Patricia McKillip is great, and I picked up the Dodie Smith books because, oh, how I love I Capture the Castle.

Ebooks

Cover of Beowulf trans. J.R.R. Tolkien Cover of Bloodshot by Cherie Priest Cover of Hellbent by Cherie Priest Cover of The Language of Power by Rosemary Kirstein Cover of A Mind of Its Own by Cordelia Fine

The Cherie Priest books are to reread, because I love them. <3 And omg, Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf. I have been hoping for this to be published since I first heard of it.

Hardcovers

Cover of My Real Children by Jo Walton

Look what showed up!

Review copies/ARCs

Cover of The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

I am so excited for this one.

So yeah, busy week! What’s everyone else been stocking up on?

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted May 22, 2014 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

What have you recently finished reading?
Uh. God. I think the most recent thing might be Attachments (Rainbow Rowell), which is lovely and warm and I love surprisingly much. Wow, that’s not a good sign — I’m not reading as much as I should. On the other hand…

What are you currently reading?
A lot. I started Patricia A. McKillip’s The Riddle-master of Hed while waiting for my grandmother to get an x-ray, and nearly finished it all in one go. I’m still reading My Real Children (Jo Walton), because I don’t want anything bad to happen to the characters in either timeline and I’m a little worried something will. I’m also reading Six Feet Over (Mary Roach), which is about what might happen after death from an attempted objective point of view. So far, not sure what I think of that. And then there’s also Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell), which sucks me in as much as Attachments, but which I’m a little unsure about because of all the criticism I’m reading about it re: racism. Oh, and I’ve started reading Yendi (Steven Brust), and am still in the process of finding my feet, narrative wise.

What will you read next?
Ahaha, does anyone believe a word I say about this, honestly? But the idea is: more Patricia A. McKillip, a reread of The Night Circus (Erin Morgernstern), finally finishing Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell). More Steven Brust. And getting round to Rachel Bach’s books. I think that about covers my immediate, laughably unlikely plans!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted May 20, 2014 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

I haven’t done the Top Ten Tuesday thing for a while, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but I like this topic — top ten books about friendship.

  1. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin. The friendship between Ged and Vetch, the quiet solid thereness of it… you know for sure that Vetch would never let you down if he could help it.
  2. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. I actually thought of this because they’ve got it in their list, but it’s still true. Frodo and Sam, Legolas and Gimli… even, in a way, Frodo and Gollum, because Frodo manages to reach out with pity and sympathy to Smeagol.
  3. The Prize in the Game,Jo Walton. Ferdia and Darag. “Your name in my heart,” indeed. (Okay, there’s romantic aspects to that, but I think first and foremost they’re friends.)
  4. The Grey King, Susan Cooper. Bran and Will. The way they fit together, understand each other better than anyone else, and the way they still hurt each other because neither of them is perfect.
  5. Captain Marvel, Kelly Sue DeConnick. Carol and Steve! Carol and Jessica! Carol and Monica!
  6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ed Brubaker. Steve and Bucky. Just, Steve and Bucky. I know this is a movie quote but, “I’m with you till the end of the line.”
  7. The Summer Tree, Guy Gavriel Kay. Paul and Kevin, primarily, although all the bonds between the group are great. Kim and Jennifer, particularly. Just the way there are these deep loves that come entirely out of friendship. Guy Gavriel Kay is also pretty good at this in other books, too, like Tigana.
  8. The Universe Versus Alex Woods, Gavin Extence. Alex and Mr. Peterson. So unlikely, and yet Extence made me believe in it.
  9. Sword at Sunset, Rosemary Sutcliff. Arthur and Bedwyr. Ouch, ouch. “I could have cried out to him, as Jonathan to David, by the forbidden love names that are not used between men; I could have flung my arms around his shoulders.”
  10. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman. Crowley and Aziraphale. Because of course.

I am a little bothered by the fact that almost all of those are male friendships. It’s partly a function of the books I’ve loved since I was a kid, before I was really choosy in any way about what I read, but still. Rec me your books with female friendship!

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Trigger warnings in lit courses

Posted May 18, 2014 by Nikki in Academic, General / 2 Comments

The latest thing I’m seeing coming up a lot on twitter is trigger warnings — not in fandom, this time, but in literature courses. Here‘s an article in The New York Times about it; I’ll wait.

The thing is, trigger warnings are pretty widely accepted in fandom. Not completely, because there are various arguments against them, like the fact that giving a trigger warning takes away from the intended emotional impact and any surprise factor. That’s fair enough, and it’s why fanfic archives like AO3 have a “choose not to use warnings” option. People then are aware going into it that it could be anything, and perhaps the fact that the author chose not to use warnings is enough of a warning in itself. Certainly, you can’t then blame the author that they didn’t warn you: they told you they wouldn’t.

The idea of trigger warnings, though, is to help protect people from things they’re not in a safe place to read. An abuse victim can avoid stories about abuse that might take them back into the part of their mind where they were so badly hurt; a rape victim can avoid being taken back to memories of that rape, etc. With PTSD, certain triggers can make you have flashbacks, panic attacks, maybe even lead you to hurt yourself — or others.

A lot of arguments against using trigger warnings in lit courses and other serious settings revolve around censorship, narrowing the discussion, etc. I think it depends on what you think trigger warnings are for. For me, in that context, they’d be saying, “We’re giving you advance warning that you need to be in a safe space to read this. Don’t try to cram it in at the library before class. Give yourself time, and space, and kind people around you. It’s still required reading, but we’re giving you a chance to make yourself as safe as possible.” And if you then make the choice not to read it, the impact on your grade is your responsibility (unless you can prove extenuating circumstances through existing methods).

It’s not actually a good idea to use trigger warnings to avoid stuff all the time. Avoiding something increases your fear of it. Take it from the person with GAD. You know, I actually have an appropriate bookish situation to bring up here: in Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged stirs up an awful dark power which chases him, which intrudes into his life in nightmares and shadows, even when he thinks he’s safe. And as long as he runs from it, it gains in power. When he finally turns to chase it in turn, to hunt it, he is at last able to defeat it.

That’s where I am with my anxiety, with the aftermath of bullying and all sorts of attached problems I don’t want to talk about (and let’s avoid discussion of the specifics of my personal issues). I’m chasing it. I like to think I’m somewhere out on that impossible shore, like Ged, closing on my fear and about to name it with my own name and make it part of me, a part of my strength, not something which oppresses me. It helps. This isn’t the only narrative there is, and maybe some people will never be strong enough to turn and face their fears, and that’s not their fault. The least we can do is give everyone the opportunity to take care of themselves, though.

It’s difficult to make a hard and fast rule. Some triggers are just not common — I’m terrified of insects and parasites, for example — and it’s hard to figure out where the line is between ‘this is offensive’, ‘this may cause harm’ and ‘this isn’t a comfortable read’. But to my mind, warnings for basic triggers like abuse, violence, rape and gore would help protect people and actually foster debate, not stifle it. If you give people the tools to protect themselves, they will know they’re safe engaging with the material you’ve set, rather than holding back out of fear.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted May 17, 2014 by Nikki in General / 28 Comments

Time for the Stacking the Shelves meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Busy week! These actually came in an assortment of omnibuses, but seeing the individual books with their old covers seems more fun to me.

Cover of Taltos by Steven Brust Cover of Phoenix by Steven Brust Cover of Athyra by Steven Brust Cover of Orca by Steven Brust Cover of Dragon by Steven Brust Cover of Issola by Steven Brust Cover of Dzur by Steven Brust Cover of Jhegaala by Steven Brust

Also received my print ARC of Carrie Patel’s The Buried Life! <3

Oh, and some comics…

Cover of Marvel's Captain Marvel, issue three

Oh, and one final review copy…

Cover of Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick

I’m not a big fan of Emma Rios’ style, but I do enjoy Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work, so I’m excited. And yes, this post is pretty much the Steven Brust and Kelly Sue DeConnick show.

What’s everyone else been up to?

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted May 15, 2014 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

What did you recently finish reading?
Most recent was The Twelve Caesars (Matthew Dennison), which was disappointing in its total inability to make any concrete statements. Like being wrapped up in wool. Ugh. I’ll stick to getting round to Suetonius. Before that was The Door into Summer (Robert Heinlein), which I liked well enough but didn’t blow me away (and creeped me out in the place it usually creeps people out).

What are you currently reading?
My Real Children (Jo Walton). I gulp it down when I get a minute, but I haven’t been in the mood to read as much so I haven’t been making the minutes. Also The Buried Life (Carrie Patel), same issue.

What will you read next?
For once, I’m fairly certain: it’ll be Steven Brust’s Yendi. Otherwise, I’m still going to work on the endless currently reading list, though I am for some reason very tempted to try Jim Butcher again, and to try reading more Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold). Because it’s not as though I have enough on the go already, right?

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted May 10, 2014 by Nikki in General / 34 Comments

Aaand time for Tynga’s Reviews‘ Stacking the Shelves. It’s been a busy week, book-wise. I didn’t think it would be, but then I ended up in an indie bookshop, plus I ordered one book Jo Walton recommended, and have now ended up ordering the whole series. Most of them haven’t arrived yet, though, so I’ll save them for next week’s post!

Review copies/ARCs

Cover of The Bluffer's Guide to Rugby by Steven Gauge Cover of My Real Children by Jo Walton

Library

Cover of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Cover of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson Cover of The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley

Bought

Cover of Jhereg by Steven Brust Cover of Yendi, by Steven Brust Cover of Teckla by Steven Brust Cover of Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley Cover of A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney Cover of The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

The Vlad Taltos series is the one that’s dragged me in kicking and, well, not at all complaining, just flailing vaguely to get my book-balance. Enjoying it very much, so far. Will probably have finished Jhereg by the time this post goes live. That’s the plan, anyway. And of course I’m very excited to have My Real Children, though time and Steven Brust are conspiring against me getting round to reading it.

What’s everyone else up to?

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