Discussion: Affiliate links

Posted 30 April, 2018 by Nikki in General / 12 Comments

The affiliate link experiment on The Bibliophibian is over.

It just wasn’t working. People would tell me they never click on affiliate links anyway, that they don’t trust them, and that it feels too much like advertising. I can get that, but I’d really hoped for enough to pay for my domain name and such, at least. A book or two now and then. As it stands, after several months of the experiment (I think it might be coming up to six months?) I haven’t yet earned enough for any of the affiliates to pay out, and they’re always looking for a reason to refuse to even credit my account with the amount purchased.

So, affiliates are gone now. I’ll slowly scrub them from the previous posts, and get rid of them from my sidebar, etc, etc.

I’m really disappointed though. Blogging is my hobby, but it’s a hobby that has started to take over a serious amount of my life, just while I’m also doing a full time degree and working several jobs as a contractor. As a UK-based blogger, I don’t even get that many free books from publishers. I’d hoped that I could get enough through affiliate links to make it sustainable — and get a bit back from readers who find my reviews worthwhile or interesting without ever costing them anything.

What I will be doing instead is putting up a Ko-fi link. If sometimes you feel I’ve written an interesting post or made you want to really read a book or just been a nice person, feel free to buy me a coffee or three (well, it’s most likely to be a coke, for me). It’s something I try to do while I’m out and about, to show my appreciation for the work people do on their blogs. Some of us spend a lot of time on it, and it’s worth doing something to say ‘thanks’, right?

(I mean, Amazon and Kobo vouchers are always welcome — thebrightspark [at] gmail [dot] com is ready and waiting to receive donations — but that’s a bit steeper than a can of cola. But that would be another way to support my endeavours, if you want to make sure I buy books with my ill-gotten gains from blogging.)

The point is, blogging can be work, and if we appreciate work, we ought to support it. So that’s my pledge from now on — use affiliate links, donate via Ko-fi, don’t block ads on my favourite blogs if they’re not intrusive…

Personally, I run on cola. Cherry cola, even. I know, I know, I’m a heathen. What’s your poison?

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Review – Exiled from Camelot

Posted 29 April, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Exiled from Camelot by Cherith BaldryExiled from Camelot, Cherith Baldry

This was a reread of a book I read aaaages ago for my MA dissertation. Apparently I wanted to look back on more stressful times as I work on my BSc dissertation… In any case, I love what Baldry does with various strands of the mythology, drawing together a more modern Kay and a modern view of him with some of the chivalric world and some, even, of the Welsh mythology. I love what she does with Loholt and even though, per some of that stuff, Cai might end up in opposition to Arthur, and that definitely doesn’t happen here.

It’s also incredibly homoromantic. Kay says Arthur’s the air he breathes for goodness sake. This isn’t a criticism; I quite enjoy this book — but I wonder if it’s why the only copy I could ever find was second-hand and never republished…

Sometimes the emotional stuff does seem overblown to me, but it’s better than dudes who never say what they’re feeling, so why not? I love the value it gives Kay and his emotionality, his work to bring Camelot together and make things work that doesn’t involve pointy objects (other than cutlery).

Rating: 4/5

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 28 April, 2018 by Nikki in General / 14 Comments

Welp, I have deadlines coming out of my ears. I haven’t replied to last week’s STS comments at the point I’m typing this. I’m gonna sit down and blitz through it tomorrow, along with any I get on this post! I am sorry to be a failboat: I blame the fact that I have two (two!) new(ish) jobs and four assignments due within a three week period. And exams coming up.

Ulp.

Still, in cool news, this is my hair now.

(It was teal until yesterday morning, and red for a long time before that. But this was the actual target colour when it ended up teal, more or less.)

Received to review:

Thank you, Tor! But especially thank you Crown Publishing for sending me Foundryside — via express mail, no less!

Books read this week:

Cover of Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon  

Cover of The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang Cover of Immune by Catherine Carver Cover of Murder in the Channel by Freeman Wills Croft

Reviews posted this week:

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, by Dan Ariely. Nothing much new to me, but solid stuff if you don’t know the psychology. 3/5 stars
Bats in the Belfry, by E.C.R. Lorac. Fun mystery, with a good twist and some very sinister scenes. 4/5 stars
War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull. It’s the grandma of Kate Daniels, October Daye and their like, and it’s a lot of fun. 4/5 stars
Evolution in Four Dimensions, by Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb. If you want to learn about non-genetic methods of inheritance, this is a great place to start. Not all of the layout worked for me, but there’s some very good stuff. 4/5 stars
The Cornish Coast Mystery, by John Bude. If I was just reading this as a random story picked up without context, I might not have enjoyed it so much, on reflection. But being able to place it in the Golden Age of crime fiction, and knowing a little about the influences and so on, I found it an entertaining cosy mystery and worth the time. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW WednesdayThe weekly update!

How’s everyone else doing? Been reading, in a slump, too many other things to think about? Anything amazing hit your doormat as an ARC?

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Review – The Cornish Coast Murder

Posted 27 April, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 5 Comments

Cover of The Cornish Coast Murder by John BudeThe Cornish Coast Murder, John Bude

The Cornish Coast Murder is an entertaining enough story, with the murderer being actually guessable (mostly because I looked for the character who was mentioned but seemed not to have a motive, but sshh) and some rather fun interchanges between the Vicar and the Doctor, crime fans extraordinaire. It has a good sense of place and nothing’s too fantastical, and it classically has killed off a person no one really cares too much for, which makes it fine as a cosy.

It’s definitely fun enough to make me think of picking up more of Bude’s work — I think there’s more republished in the British Library Crime Classics editions, at least. If not, maybe I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but as it is it’s enjoyable.

And I still like the mental image of the Vicar crawling around the place with strings to get the trajectory of the bullets.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Review – Evolution in Four Dimensions

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

Cover of Evolution in Four Dimensions by Eva JablonkaEvolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka, Marion J. Lamb

This is really clear if you know a bit about what it’s talking about, and probably impossibly dense if you don’t. The illustrations are rather whimsical usually, rather than being useful (even for people who aren’t me and can make sense of things they’re looking at!), and there are “dialogues” at the end of each chapter which go over the previous points and basically play a bit of Devil’s advocate. They didn’t work for me because it was so artificial — obviously they wrote the dialogues entirely themselves, so it was just the questions they wanted to answer — but it might be helpful in clarifying some things for some readers.

There’s some new stuff since this revised edition came out, but it’s still a good primer on epigenetics and some of the other things that are significant when you discuss evolution (like culture). I probably wouldn’t recommend it to a layperson, but if you’re already interested, it’s a good one.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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WWW Wednesday

Posted 25 April, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 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 Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline CareyMost actively, it’s just Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, which is a reread. I’m juuust at the point where I kind of want to stop and bang Joscelin and Phèdre’s heads together for a solid minute until they stop hurting each other and communicate properly. Honestly, yeesh.

I’ve realised I can’t remember if all of Phèdre’s chevaliers make it through the trilogy, and I have a sudden bad feeling…

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of The Black Tides of Heaven by JY YangI finally read The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang. I love the world, I’m really intrigued by all of it — the magic, the society, what happens next for them… I loved the twin that this book focuses on, and I’m a little reluctant to move on and spend time with the ‘main’ twin. I mean, his whole plot was about being a spare, and reading other reviews it’s like his story is just set-up for his sister’s. Bah.

What will you be reading next?

Cover of The Red Threads of Fortune by JY YangProbably The Red Threads of Fortune, though I might take a break and dig into another of the British Library Crime Classics, just for the sake of spending some cozy time with something relatively classic and predictable. My brain’s tired: so many deadlines.

Speaking of which, if I owe you comments, etc. I will get to them, I promise! Just, so much to do!

What are you reading?

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Review – War for the Oaks

Posted 24 April, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of War for the Oaks by Emma BullWar for the Oaks, Emma Bull

Reading this was like meeting the grandmother of October Daye and Kate Daniels. Knowing it was one of the early books to really make urban fantasy a thing, per Naomi Alderman’s introduction, it’s amazing how fresh it must have felt back then — it stood up pretty well now, but I found some aspects of it predictable because I know later books in the genre. So many of the elements were in place as far back as this. I had a lot of fun, and the descriptions of Eddi’s band and the way they play, the fun they have, are really infectious. It’s surprisingly vivid, even for me (and I don’t have a visual imagination at all!).

Likewise, the plot with Faerie and even the character arc of the phouka are all fairly obvious if you’ve been hanging around in urban fantasy — but it’s still well done and Bull does a great job of making her faeries genuinely strange, genuinely different to the humans they interact with.

All in all, a lot of fun, and I recommend it, especially for those who enjoy urban fantasy, but not only for them!

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Review – Bats in the Belfry

Posted 23 April, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Bats in the Belfry by E.C.R.LoracBats in the Belfry, E.C.R. Lorac

There’s some great bits of atmosphere in here — the Belfry is genuinely creepy-sounding, and the foggy interludes too. It’s a fairly typically entangled plot for a Golden Age crime novel, featuring all kinds of motives and inheritances and missing heirs, but you get the clues to guess the culprit, and I found it fun to follow through. I also appreciated that the solution is arrived at mostly by solid routine police work, not wild leaps of intuition or luck.

Definitely good enough that I’m picking up another of Lorac’s works, even if most of the characters are pretty unlikeable. (The cold, hard, cheating wife who is an actress and doesn’t forgive her husband’s lack of success, bleh.) I wasn’t expecting miracles, and thus enjoyed it accordingly.

Rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Review – The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

Posted 22 April, 2018 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan ArielyThe (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely

The reasons why we lie and to what extent we’re willing to lie are pretty fascinating, and if you haven’t read anything else of the sort before, this might be pretty revelatory. Ariely explains the various studies and results pretty clearly, and it’s definitely not aimed at people who have actually dug into the academic publications: it’s accessible to a layperson, definitely, and to my mind pretty much aimed at the layperson. At any rate, I didn’t find any of it surprising, because I’ve read most of this before and know something of the way we’ve discovered our brains work. I’m not 100% positive there was nothing new, but there wasn’t much that didn’t sound familiar.

So, a good read if you’re looking for something on the subject, but probably not much point if you’re already pretty aware of research into dishonesty and why we lie.

Rating: 3/5

Buy this book: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository
The above affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, provide a small commission for me if you purchase something.

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Stacking the Shelves

Posted 21 April, 2018 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

Sooo, Amsterdam happened! And so did many books. Also some awesome socks.

Books acquired

Cover of Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston Cover of Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay Cover of Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Cover of Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs Cover of Roar by Cora Carmack Cover of Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn Cover of Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

Cover of Head On by John Scalzi Cover of Semiosis by Sue Burke Cover of Skullsworn by Brian Staveley Cover of The Sisters of the Crescent Empress

Cover of The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis Cover of I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher

Though the last one is, of course, an ARC — Tor are as good to me as ever.

Books read this week:

Cover of The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu by Charlie English Cover of The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton Cover of War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Cover of A Long Day In Lychford by Paul Cornell Cover of Exiled from Camelot by Cherith Baldry Cover of The Brain Supremacy by Kathleen Taylor

Reviews posted this week:

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin. This was mostly just a comfort read so I didn’t actually have much to say. I still love it with all its flaws. 5/5 stars
The Poisoned Chocolates Case, by Anthony Berkeley. I add to a classic murder mystery in my review… 4/5 stars
The Atrocities, by Jeremy C. Shipp. Some good atmosphere but ultimately I didn’t love it. 3/5 stars
The Golden Age of Murder, by Martin Edwards. This book tries to do a lot, but it’s mostly successful and it made me really curious about Golden Age crime fiction I’d never even heard of. 4/5 stars
A Long Day in Lychford, by Paul Cornell. I don’t love this series like some other people do, but this book did really manage to put its finger on some of the feelings in Britain around Brexit. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW WednesdayThe weekly update on what I’ve been reading lately.

How’s everyone doing? Delicious book hauls? Dying of the sudden warm weather, Europeans?

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