Review – Kushiel’s Dart

Posted 11 March, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline CareyKushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey

I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to get through my reread of this book, because I still find it incredibly rich and rewarding. It’s true that it can be problematic in some ways — it exoticises various cultures pretty much as a part of the plot, and it’s practically text that white French people are the best in the world (the most beautiful, the most talented, the most educated) because they’re descended from the equivalent of Jesus. And if you’re not into sex, well, there’s several extensive scenes that include plot-necessary information, and even if you don’t mind the occasional sex scene, S&M might be rather less your thing.

Nonetheless, there’s a deep feeling in the novel and it packs in a lot of action. Sometimes reading it I feel like it could be a trilogy all on its own in the hands of another writer. There’s so much going on with the politics and relationships between people, and the sense of history between nations as well. It’s not just about the kinky sex: there’s a whole complex plot here revealed partly through those scenes.

I still love it, though maybe I’m side-eyeing the exotic Celt and Roma analogues rather more this time.

Rating: 5/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 10 March, 2018 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

Hey all! It’s been a quiet week for me again, but my hand is finally on the mend. Actually, the quiet is pretty much just because I’ve been beavering away at some crochet projects. Since I don’t have much to show off this week, book-wise, I thought I’d start with a few of those…

Watch a bunny come out of a hat... and go back in... on an infinite loop Tiny crocheted Oreos A stitched monkey plays on a branch that looks rather like a crochet hook

 That’s the tiny, tiny crochet… but something else has been growing much faster.

From humble beginnings… to whoa. It’s not quite finished yet, but it’s pretty close!

Books received to review:

Cover of Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Just one, but it’s one I’m ridiculously excited for!

Books read this week:

Cover of The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

I know, it’s not like me. I blame crochet!

Reviews posted this week:

Shadowplay, by Laura Lam. I read this in two massive gulps, and loved it. And I’m aboard the Drystan and Micah ship now. 4/5 stars
Wonderful Life, by Stephen Jay Gould. Fascinated by fossils, and the weird life of the Cambrian Explosion? This is your book. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday: The weekly update on what I’m currently reading, etc.

So how’s everyone else doing? Getting in more reading than me, I hope!

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 7 March, 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 Masquerade by Laura LamI’m about 50 pages into Masquerade by Laura Lam (paused because I can see an issue coming and I dunwanna) and 100 pages into An Accident of Stars, which I’m enjoying more than I expected for something that’s so far fairly typical portal fantasy in many ways (although it features queer people so that aspect is more unexpected).

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Golden Age of Murder by Martin EdwardsThe Golden Age of Murder, by Martin Edwards, which is about the Golden Age crime writers who were part of the Detection Club. A lot of things I didn’t know in snippets here and there, or things I didn’t know much about — like Sayers’ illegitimate son. It made me want to read more of Christie’s work, along with some of the other authors mentioned — but also it makes me want to reread Jo Walton’s Farthing.

What will you be reading next?

Cover of Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha LeeWell, I just got an eARC of Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun, so I’m very tempted to jump straight into that. If not, then the next book in one of the series I’m re/reading: maybe Kushiel’s Chosen.

What are you reading?

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Review – Wonderful Life

Posted 6 March, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 7 Comments

Cover of Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay GouldWonderful Life, Stephen Jay Gould

Wonderful Life is pretty, well, wonderful. If your curiosity about the Burgess Shale or the weird and wonderful beings of the Cambrian period needs sating, this book should more than do it. It is quite dense — Gould may have been a popular science writer, but he didn’t dumb it down — but it’s worth the time investment.

It’s true that some of the reconstructions of these beings have been challenged since Gould wrote, but it’s still worth reading for his overall theory about the development of life, and much important (and correct) detail about the Burgess Shale.

Rating: /5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
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Review – Shadowplay

Posted 5 March, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Shadowplay by Laura LamShadowplay, Laura Lam

Really, I don’t know why I took so long to get around to reading this trilogy. As with every other book by Lam I’ve read, the pace is great and tempts me to just sit down and read it in one go… which is more or less what I did with Shadowplay, once I picked it up. I greatly enjoyed the development of Micah and Drystan’s characters in this book, and now I’m fully on board the ship, ready to go down with all hands if necessary. The new characters introduced are fun too, and so is the fact that now they go into stage magic.

The best bit, of course, is that the fantasy setting is expanded by the addition of a character with powers, and some explanations of the Phantom Damselfly’s appearances. Doctor Pozzi makes an appearance, apparently sincere and eager to help Micah, and at the same time we get a this-book-only plot of a duel between magicians (with suitably high stakes of said magicians’ careers, of course).

I’m looking forward to how all this wraps up — the background is starting to become clear, and now I just need to know what happens to Micah in the end…

Rating: 4/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 3 March, 2018 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

Good morning, folks! I have a lot this week, because I have a backlog of approved books on Netgalley that I didn’t get emails for somehow. It’s been a quietish week reading-wise, though, because I’ve picked crochet back up…

Received to review:

Cover of Lost Gods by Micah Yongo Cover of Dragon Road by Joseph Brassey Cover of In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck Cover of The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath

Cover of Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian Cover of Good Guys by Steven Brust Cover of Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Oof. Quite a haul, right?

Bought:

 Cover of Experiment Eleven by Peter Pringle Cover of Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns Cover of Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart

Quite an odd mix, I’ll admit.

Read this week:

Cover of Shadowplay by Laura Lam Cover of Experiment Eleven by Peter Pringle Cover of The Terracotta Army by John Man

Reviews posted this week:

Virus X, by Frank Ryan. A bit out of date now, but fascinating stuff. 4/5 stars
Camelot’s Blood, by Sarah Zettel. I love what Zettel does with the Arthurian story, and this might be my second favourite of the series because of how it humanises Agravain and shows how much he really cares. 4/5 stars
The Stone of Farewell, by Tad Williams. It remains pretty typical fantasy, but I think this book is stronger and better paced than the first. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday: The weekly update.
Behind the Screen Tag: A little bit about the me behind the blog.

How’s everyone doing? I haven’t been posting/commenting as much as I’d like because I’ve injured my hand in a stupid way, and it makes typing quite painful after a while (while crochet only really requires dexterity from one hand). I’m hoping to pick things back up more by Monday!

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Behind the Screen Tag

Posted 1 March, 2018 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

This book tag was originally from here, and when I saw it on Chuckles’ blog, I had to nab it. If you want to do it too, consider yourself tagged.

1) When did you start blogging and what was your first review?

Soon after I visited Angry Robot for the day, so back in 2013! My first review posted here was Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight, though I’d been writing reviews on Goodreads for a long time before that.

2) Who/What inspired you to start blogging?

Leah at Uncorked Thoughts! She was interning with Angry Robot at the time I visited, and she urged me to get a blog. She also urged me to read Laura Lam’s Pantomime, which I was a lot slower about… Sorry!

3) What is a blog related goal that you have?

I just want to enjoy it. I don’t really care how many people visit (though it can be nice to know people appreciate my reviews). Maybe I should make a goal of finishing all the books on my TBR and getting the reviews up on here…

4) What is the one thing that you wish someone told you about blogging?

You’ll get dozens of comments on the most throwaway posts, and absolutely nothing on posts you spend hours on.

5) What is your biggest blog-related accomplishment?

I’m still updating it after four and change years?

6) What types of posts do you enjoy writing?

Sometimes, all my posts feel like a slog. But when I’m in the right mood, I like doing all of them.

7) Where do you usually blog? What does your set up look like?

Wherever I can set up my laptop, really. Generally I have it on a fold-up desk and sit in my armchair, since I don’t have a proper desk here.

8) What was your last 5 star read?

My reread of Kushiel’s Dart, I expect.

9) What was your last 1 star read?

None yet in 2018! May it remain that way.

10) What are three words that make you pick up a book?

Queer, mythology, magic. Combine all three and I am there.

11) What is your Hogwarts House?

I… uh, I don’t like Harry Potter much, actually. But Ravenclaw/Gryffindor, depending on the test/my mood/time of day/phase of the moon.

12) What is your favourite reading environment?

Anywhere! I like reading in bed with a hot water bottle under my back, though. You know it’s a good book when I find I’ve burnt myself the next day… Other than that, I also like reading on trains; it just feels like a nice insulated environment set apart from all the stuff I have to do.

13) What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Don’t do it for fame and fortune. You won’t get either, and in fact you’ll barely make anything even if you have affiliate links (and ads just tend to annoy people). Do it because you love books and want to connect with others who also love books… or don’t bother, because it’ll only be disappointing.

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 28 February, 2018 by Nikki in General / 4 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 Experiment Eleven by Peter PringleThere are currently only two books on my currently reading pile, and they’ve only been there a day each! I know, it’s shocking. One is Laura Lam’s Masquerade, the final book of the trilogy — I just had to start on it right away, ’cause, you know. Must know what’s next. And the other book is Experiment Eleven, by Peter Pringle, about the discovery of streptomycin. I’d hoped for more about its efficacy against TB, but it’s mostly just about the struggle for intellectual ownership rights over streptomycin.

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Masquerade by Laura LamI think the last thing I finished must have been Shadowplay, the second book in Laura Lam’s trilogy. I ate that up in no time, and I am now totally in love with Micah and Drystan. And Cyan, to be honest. Okay, with all of it.

What will you be reading next?

Cover of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo, I think: I should’ve read it in February because it was a book club choice, and it’ll finish another series on my rather-too-long list of series I’m partway through! Plus, I do really want to know what happens next.

What are you currently reading?

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Review – The Stone of Farewell

Posted 27 February, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 3 Comments

Cover of Stone of Farewell by Tad WilliamsThe Stone of Farewell, Tad Williams

There are many things about this series which are just rather typical. You can predict a lot of the narrative beats and tropes, because it’s drawing from the same well of story as a lot of other epic fantasy. However, if you made it through the first book (a feat in itself just because of how long it is), you’re probably aware of that and on board for the characters. And I’m pleased to note that they don’t disappoint: Simon gets less annoying, Rachel the Dragon continues to play her part, Binabik’s background is explored somewhat, there’s more of Jiriki… and most importantly to me, remembering that he was my favourite character before, there’s more of Josua. Although, on this read-through, I might actually be preferring Deornoth…

In any case, the story barrels along at a reasonable pace, and though there are one or two sticking points, it never slows up as much as the first half to two-thirds of the first book. I remembered somewhat why I’d found a particular character so annoying, which was a little disappointing after rather enjoying their part (such as it was) in the first book.

Pryrates remains an excellent villain of the cackling evil laugh sort, doing evil things with little remorse. Elias is a little more grey-shaded, but really not much: this series up to this point has a pretty black-and-white view of morality, with the Sithi perhaps being the most subtle element.

I’m enjoying it very much for what it is: very much drawn from fantasy tropes, but with a solid cast of characters who don’t fall too easily into stereotypes.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Camelot’s Blood

Posted 26 February, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Camelot's Blood by Sarah ZettelCamelot’s Blood, Sarah Zettel

When I first read this series, I mostly dismissed it as romance — back when I felt pretty dismissive of romance in general, I’ll admit. Reading it now, I’ve been impressed all over again by the work Zettel did to bring together different Arthurian threads and weave them all into a cohesive story. Reading the end of this book, I kind of want to read her version of how the story plays out.

On the other, I really don’t, because this is a good ending to the story of the four brothers from Gododdin, which lets you imagine they stay happy. And maybe they could, in this version… after all, who could stand against Rhian, Elen, Lynet and Laurel? Forget the men: they’re really the stars of these stories.

In terms of this book alone, I adore how Zettel humanises Agravain, after the rather unflattering portrait of him we get in the other books (apart from the odd moment where his concern and love for his brothers really shows through). And I love the insight on how Arthur and Gawain are both devoted to their whole kingdom, while Agravain only cares about his own land — and that’s why he makes a good king of it.

All in all, a worthwhile series, though if you’re not a fan of romance you probably won’t enjoy them as that is the main thread.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US
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