WWW Wednesday

Posted 9 May, 2018 by Nikki in General / 8 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 Planetfall by Emma NewmanWhat are you currently reading?

I’m rereading Planetfall by Emma Newman, since Before Mars just arrived yesterday! I had to stop and take a break last night, though, because Newman is really far too good at portraying anxiety. Meep. I’m also reading How to Survive a Plague by David France, which is just heartwrenching. It’s quite dense, so I’m making slow progress, and maybe I’d like more on the science of AIDs — but it’s an important history, too.

Cover of Brimstone by Cherie PriestWhat have you recently finished reading?

I think the last thing I finished was Brimstone, by Cherie Priest. I liked it a lot in the end — I liked Tomas, with his sad gentleness, and I liked Alice, with her solid attitude to life and getting on with things (and having the occasional drink of bourbon, Prohibition be damned). And of course, her insistence on helping Tomas.

Cover of Artificial Condition by Martha WellsWhat will you be reading next?

Pretty sure I’ll be picking up Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells! I got the ARC on… Friday, but only just got chance to put it on my ereader, so I’ll be digging in soon. Other than that, I want to finish my reread of Planetfall, and hopefully go straight into a reread of After Atlas and then read Before Mars for the first time! I’m also planning to reread Mira Grant’s Feed and finally finish that trilogy, now I’ve got my wife reading it.

What are you reading right now?

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Review – Void Black Shadow

Posted 8 May, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Void Black Shadow by Corey J. WhiteVoid Black Shadow, Corey J. White

Received to review via Netgalley

Wow, it took me far too long to pick up the threads of the story again from the previous novella. I think this is probably my fault more than the novella itself, though, and it’s not as though a novella series has a lot of space to keep reiterating things in between installments. Void Black Shadow as a whole is… rather dark, really. The first book was already like that, of course, but it gets worse, with Mars heading into a high security prison where people are tortured in order to rescue someone who was endangered thanks to her.

The ending is particularly wrenching, with Mookie’s reactions to what’s happened to him hitting that perfect note of complicated devastation. I hope we’ll see more of Mookie and the rest of that crew, though I’ll also welcome more characterisation for Pale. (And a proper name would be good, too.)

A good read, if rather dark… as, I suppose, the title already suggests.

Rating: 4/5

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Discussion: Did Not Finish

Posted 7 May, 2018 by Nikki in General / 9 Comments

This one is a topic that tends to divide bibliophiles: deciding not to finish a book.

I’ll admit, I’m often torn. On the one hand, why should I put in the time on something I’m not actually enjoying? On the other, I usually paid for it or went to some inconvenience like getting on a bus to get on a train to get to a library in order to get the book. Or I’m meant to be reviewing it because I received it free.

My ultimate decision was that I can DNF a book if I’m not enjoying it, and I can still write reviews in that case too — after all, it can be useful to know what made another reader’s interest flag — as long as I state that I didn’t finish the book. Sometimes to write a proper review, I skim through to the end anyway; I’ll usually mention that too.

In the end, it’s come down to my Golden Rule of Reading: reading is not workI’ve read voraciously my whole life as an escape, as a way to visit new places and meet new people. No matter what, I don’t want to compromise that joy in books with a feeling of obligation. Reading is a pleasure that’s always going to be there for me, as long as I don’t make it into a job (I have one of those; well, several, since I’m a freelancer/contractor).

I get the feeling of obligation, I do. And I get those books that you love to hate, too, or feeling like you should give something a chance. But unless you need to read something for a class, why are you doing something in your free time that solely feels like a chore? If you’re not enjoying it at all — if you’re reading only to be finished… I don’t see why you shouldn’t stop now, and read something you’d like better. At least, that’s the way it works out for me, after years of feeling a sort of moral obligation to finish books.

How about you? Do you let yourself DNF?


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Review – The Red Threads of Fortune

Posted 7 May, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Red Threads of Fortune by JY YangThe Red Threads of Fortune, JY Yang

I might not like Mokoya as much as I came to like Akeha, but I did really enjoy getting to spend more time in this world and especially the character of Rider, who didn’t appear in the previous book. This is set after The Black Tides of Heaven, and deals with some of the fallout from what happens there. Mokoya’s grief and anger and failure to deal with everything is well done, though sometimes her husband seemed a little too good to be true. Who’s that understanding? Well, somebody I’d like to know — it just about worked.

There’s also a lot more of the magic, which is pretty fascinating, and I’d love to know more about where Rider came from and what that place is like. There’s so much hinted at and left to explore — I hope the next novella takes us somewhere new again!

Rating: 4/5

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Review – The Black Tides of Heaven

Posted 6 May, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Black Tides of Heaven by JY YangThe Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang

I know that these are supposed to be stand-alone novellas, but honestly I would start with this one anyway. I didn’t like Akeha at first — they were so possessive of their twin, so reluctant to admit that maybe they’re not absolutely identical in the end, and I didn’t agree with his decision to stay away from Mokoya for so long. But nonetheless, as Akeha started to claim his own identity — first identifying as male, then going travelling, etc — I started to root for him, and in the end I was a little disappointed that this mostly felt like set-up for the second novella.

It’s a good introduction to the world, anyway, with its various social complexities (like people being genderless before whatever age they decide to declare what they choose, and people not choosing or at least not choosing entirely) and the magic. I would like to know more about both — about how the whole situation with choosing your gender and having your body altered magically to match arose, and more about the magic and Mokoya’s part in it.

But also I wish I had more time with Akeha, because I felt like I’d just really got into his story when it ended.

Rating: 4/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 5 May, 2018 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Good morning! Thank goodness it’s the weekend — not that I work any less over the weekend, typically, but I decided to do a readathon from Litsy and thus put a lot of effort into clearing my backlog of things to do. Including the last major assignment of my degree! Just my exams (erk) and my dissertation to go now.

Anyway! Onto the books.

Received to review

Cover of Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik Cover of Artificial Condition by Martha Wells Cover of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Yaaaay, Murderbot!

Oh, and I almost forgot (how rude of me!) — I won this from Imyril‘s giveaway!

Cover of Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr

Read this week:

Cover of The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang Cover of Permeable Borders by Nina Kiriki Hoffman Cover of Spider-Woman: Baby Talk Cover of Semiosis by Sue Burke Cover of Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart

Cover of Universal by Brian Cox Cover of Void Black Shadow by Corey J. White  Cover of Keeping Their Marbles by Tiffany Jenkins

Reviews posted this week:

Exiled from Camelot, by Cherith Baldry. Reread of a book I wrote part of my MA dissertation on. Sometimes feels overly emotional, but I loved what it does with the Arthurian material. 4/5 stars
Spider-woman: Shifting Gears – Baby Talk, by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez. A bit of a left turn out of nowhere for Jessica Drew, but still fun. 4/5 stars
Semiosis, by Sue Burke. I had a couple of quibbles with the narration, but I loved the ideas behind this one. 4/5 stars
Island of Apples, by Glynn Jones. Nope. Didn’t really get it, nor get along with it. 2/5 stars

Other posts:

Discussion: Affiliate links. That experiment on The Bibliophibian is now over! It didn’t work out very well for me, so this is a bit of a post mortem — and a plea for people to support other bloggers whenever they can.
WWW Wednesday. The usual weekly report on what I’m reading right now.

So what’ve you been reading this week? Anything fun going on for you? Let me know!

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Review – Island of Apples

Posted 4 May, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Island of Apples, Glyn Jones

I’ve been meaning to read this for a really really really long time. It first got onto my to read list back when I was doing my first degree and did a module on Welsh Fiction in English. Perhaps I’d actually have enjoyed it more back then, immersed in its contemporaries and exploring how it reflected on Welsh identity, etc, etc. Reading it now, it didn’t really work for me: it was definitely enjoyable to read Welsh voices and turns of phrase, and people referring to chapel and so on…

But otherwise, I didn’t care about it; I didn’t care about the characters, and I felt all the dreamlike stuff where you can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t was just… too like other books I’ve read? I don’t know. It didn’t stand out to me in any way.

Rating: 2/5

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Review – Semiosis

Posted 3 May, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Semiosis by Sue BurkeSemiosis, Sue Burke

I originally received this to review, but I felt bad for neglecting it and picked up the hardback at that most excellent bookstore, the American Book Center in Amsterdam. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, so that was the impetus to finally get going, and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. The idea is great, and the way it explores a different kind of intelligence, a different way of living, is really great. I enjoyed the character of Stevland; it was a little too human-sounding at times near the end, but I do think that was partially intentional, as Stevland and the humans grew to co-exist and help one another, and genuinely work together (rather than one thinking of training or compelling the other).

I also really enjoyed that though the plants being sentient and against you would make a really creepy and probably enjoyable sci-fi story, it was more complex than that. Nothing was as simple as some of the characters saw it — even Tatiana, whose narration I quite liked for her dedication to working out what was happening, didn’t get Stevland quite right.

I was less impressed with the narrative voice, which sounded too much the same between the different characters, but that was about my only quibble. Sometimes it rather deadened the impact of events, but nonetheless there were some excellent scenes — especially with Stevland, but also one with Tatiana and Jersey.

Overall, not perfect, but recommended!

Rating: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 2 May, 2018 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 Brimstone by Cherie PriestLet’s see, what have I got in progress… I’m partway through Cherie Priest’s Brimstone, which I meant to read back when I got an ARC, but it always kept shuffling to the bottom of my pile somehow. I’ve got to 30% of the way through in a surprisingly short time; I’m definitely intrigued by the characters and how they’re going to come together.

I’m also still partway through An Accident of Stars, Kushiel’s Chosen and Too Like the Lightning. I know, I suck.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Semiosis by Sue BurkeWell, I just fled Brian Cox’s Universal, because though everything is really well explained, it still involves being able to clearly conceptualise numbers. If I have to, I can, but it’s not my favourite thing. So, that’s one book off the TBR.

In terms of actually finishing books, I think the last book I finished was my reread of Madam, Will You Talk? and before that, Sue Burke’s Semiosis, which I really need to put together my review of while it’s fresh in my mind. Short version: the narrative voices could have done with being more distinct, but otherwise I enjoyed the concepts explored.

Cover of Daggerspell by Katherine KerrWhat will you be reading next?

I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Well, no, obviously not, but I don’t really know where I’m going next. Maybe I’ll pick up Daggerspell for the Wyrd and Wonder readalong. (My mother is probably doing whatever adults do instead of a fistpump, having tried to make me read the Deverry books long ago. (I hope I’m misremembering the horrific homophobia, though I have read that there have been revisions now?)

What are you reading?

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Review – Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears

Posted 1 May, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Spider-Woman: Baby TalkSpider-Woman: Shifting Gears – Baby Talk, Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez 

It’s been a while since I read any comics, really, so I picked this one up on a whim. It’s quite a lot of fun: Jessica Drew kicks ass and takes names even when pregnant — even when she’s just had an emergency caesarian. That part isn’t realistic, but the bit about her learning to cope with giving things up, dealing with motherhood, and figuring out who she is now… that’s all probably pretty on the nose. And I loved Carol’s concern for her and how Jessica called out all the overprotective behaviour.

Does it make sense, coming right after the last Spider-Woman comic I read? Not really. It feels like they just decided to take a left turn out of nowhere for the fun of it. It’s comics, so you know it isn’t going to change much — for all I know, Jessica’s kid has been retconned out of everything already.

Still, like I said, it’s fun. And I do like the art in this TPB.

Rating: 4/5

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