Tag: books

Review – Provenance

Posted April 6, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Provenance by Ann LeckieProvenance, Ann Leckie

I loved Provenance the first time I read it, focusing on Garal Ket and somewhat on Tic Uisine as being particular awesome points. I also enjoyed the gender-neutral characters included as a matter of course, and seeing something from outside the Radch, from a human point of view. Also, getting some screentime (so to speak) for the Geck! It’s all pretty awesome, but this time all of it was a background to Ingray’s journey, for me. If you’re used to Breq, she’s a much less put-together main character, and we also may feel less close to her as it isn’t a first-person narrative. Nonetheless, her journey to true self-sufficiency — and her healing from some of the wounds of a childhood spent competing with foster siblings — is great.

The book opens with her disastrous attempt to have a neman returned from Compassionate Removal (a sort of prison planet). The captain of the ship she’s about to travel on refuses to take anyone on board who isn’t fully consenting and aware of their destination, so the neman is awoken right there in the dock… and says e is not the person Ingray thought she asking for. Nonetheless, she ends up offering em the fake identity she bought to take that person home, and e ends up accepting — and throwing in with her to scam her family into believing e is the person she was hoping to find. Then the Geck get involved…

It’s an interesting society, which includes some stuff quite casually — part of adulthood is deciding on your gender and choosing your adult name! there is a third, officially recognised neutral gender! Ingray has a lesbian romance with a friend! — which I really enjoy as a) setting this planet apart from the Radch or from our own Earth, and b) the inclusiveness. The idea of the importance placed in this society upon “vestiges”, physical remnants that have been touched by one’s ancestors, is an interesting way to build up the society, too. Ingray’s relationship with her mother and brother are interesting and sad and ultimately rather affirming: despite mistakes made in the past, they remain a family and find a way through it all.

It remains a very enjoyable book, and I ate it up the second time as swiftly as I did the first. That said, if you’re looking for more of the Radch, or for a character more like Breq, this isn’t going to scratch the same itch.

Rating: 5/5

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Weekly Roundup

Posted April 5, 2020 by Nikki in General / 1 Comment

Greetings, folks. It’s been a week. I don’t know what kind of week it’s been, to be honest. A weird one, but they all are right now. Let’s talk books instead.

Received to review:

Cover of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I usually like Moreno-Garcia’s work, some with more enthusiasm than others. Looking forward to giving this a try.

New books:

Cover of Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

From a friend. <3 Many thanks.

There should be more books here, but I basically just have tabs and tabs open trying to decide what books to buy with the book vouchers I was given. I had no idea Carola Dunn had written so many romances, for example, and I have no idea where to start.

Books read this week:

Cover of Drowned Country by Emily Tesh Cover of The Ghosts of Sherwood by Carrie Vaughn Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis Barron

Reviews posted this week:

What’s Your Pronoun? by Dennis Baron. Interesting, but not quite what I hoped for. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. Discussing What’s Your Pronoun? and Drowned Country, this week.

Out and about:

Beeminder Blog: “Self-Isolation Strategies: Nikki’s Operation Safety Bubble.This one’s all me, talking about how I’m using Beeminder to keep me healthy and sane during this difficult time. Some of it is generalisable to planning your life goals in general.
Habitica Blog: “Behind the Scenes: Coping in a Crisis.Habitica’s mods and staff worked together to create a post about how they’re coping with the current situation. And yes, I added a bit. Spot the Good Omens cameo in the photo of my bookshelves…
NEAT science: “How do you define a species? In which I discuss the species definition, and when certain definitions might be useful.

How’re you all doing?

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Review – What’s Your Pronoun?

Posted April 5, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis BarronWhat’s Your Pronoun? Dennis Baron

What’s Your Pronoun? discusses something that’s on a lot of people’s minds, for good or bad: the humble part of speech we call the pronoun. Despite what some idiots protest, everybody uses pronouns all the time: I, you, she, he, they… They’re ubiquitous in speech and have been stirring up people’s emotions for years, whether it be wanting a neutral indefinite pronoun (for when you don’t know the gender of the person you’re referring to), or perhaps (like me) wanting to be addressed using a definite neutral pronoun (when someone doesn’t want to reveal their gender, or doesn’t identify with any).

Barron mostly discusses the former, because that’s something that he feels English is lacking (and which he has a fairly marked preference about, judging from this book). He goes over the numerous attempts to invent neutral pronouns, and some of the societal drivers behind that like denying women suffrage, getting used to women taking equal part in public life, and now the greater acceptance in Western society (the examples mostly stick to the US and the UK) of people who prefer to be gender-neutral.

It gets a little stodgy at times, personally, because I don’t care exactly when every different neopronoun was coined, and I’m less interested in a neutral indefinite pronoun (which English speakers usually solve with singular “they”, even if they believe that to be ungrammatical) than in a definite one. Baron is definitely behind singular they all the way, by the sounds of his arguments in this book, whether it be definite or indefinite: in answer to the cries of grammatical issues, he points out that singular “you” is a much more recent coinage, and one nobody even murmurs about these days.

I found it fairly readable, with some chapters being very absorbing and others getting a bit bogged down. If you’re interested in grammar, I’d recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted April 2, 2020 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Very quickly, my WWW Wednesday!

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis BarronWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: What’s Your Pronoun? by Dennis Baron. I’ve got a little bogged down in the history of invented pronouns, and it’s mostly actually so far about finding a gender-neutral pronoun for when you don’t know the gender of the person you’re talking about or are talking gender-neutral possibilities. The next bit I think has more about non-binary pronouns, which I’m more interested in.

Fiction: actually, nothing really actively. I still have Feed half-finished, and should pick it back up.

Cover of Drowned Country by Emily TeshWhat have you recently finished reading?

An ARC of Emily Tesh’s Drowned Country. I enjoyed it at least as much as the first book; it makes a nice little duology, though I would happily read more adventures of Silver’s mother tearing around the country. I am not wholly sure about the end; it feels a little too pat, but also in a nice way.

Cover of Castle Skull by John Dickson CarrWhat are you planning to read next?

As usual lately, I don’t really know. I’d like to finish or finally DNF Castle Skull (John Dickson Carr) and Salt: A World History (Mark Kurlansky), so maybe I will turn my attention back to those!

What are you guys reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted March 29, 2020 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

I said I’d get back to my normal format this week, but there’s not much to round up in the way of blog content. However, there’s plenty by way of books — yikes!

Received to review:

Cover of The Last Emperox by John Scalzi Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee Cover of Drift Wood by Marie Brennan Cover of A Good Duke is Hard to Find by Christina Britton

Cover of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab Cover of Goldilocks by Laura Lam Cover of Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Cover of Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott Cover of The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan Cover of Network Effect by Martha Wells

What a haul, right? Bless Netgalley.

New books purchased:

Cover of Digging Up Armageddon by Eric H. Cline Cover of Bringing Down The Duke by Evie Dunmore Cover of The Duchess Deception by Cat Sebastian Cover of The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

My eclectic tastes are well on show in this post, huh?

I’ll skip the books read this week as there’s basically just one.

Reviews posted this week:

It Takes Two To Tumble, by Cat Sebastian. Cuuuute. 4/5 stars
A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, by Cat Sebastian. This is less all-out cute than the first book, though it is also sweet. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday. This week discussing Mark Kurlansky, Mira Grant and Cat Sebastian.
The Book Tempter’s TBR Challenge. Getting our TBRs down while in isolation? Well, maybe.

How’s everyone else doing? Reading anything good?

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Review – A Gentleman Never Keeps Score

Posted March 29, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat SebastianA Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Cat Sebastian

After It Takes Two To Tumble, this book follows the fortunes of one of Ben’s brothers, Hartley. As a teenager, he slept with a much older man, his godfather, to help provide for his brothers — school fees, rank, etc. On that man’s death, he inherited his house and a good deal of money, but now the whispers have gone out about why exactly he was the beneficiary… and, of course, he’s socially ruined. Into his life comes Sam Fox, publican and former boxer, who is kind and careful and handsome, and whom Hartley wants despite all the damage done by the exploitative sex he had as a teen.

On the one hand, it’s a delight how slowly and carefully the sex is explored in this book, how well Sam takes care of Hartley. At the same time, it’s harrowing; Hartley’s fears and self-disgust and inability to let himself find happiness are all over everything, making it a rather more serious book (at least to my mind). It’s not that it lacks sweetness, because it certainly doesn’t, but there’s a certain amount of bitter to it as well that — despite grief and worry — weren’t present in the previous book. There’s no on-screen rape or graphic discussion of it, but it colours everything; those who may find this triggering may want to avoid this.

It does have a lovely found family, much as the previous book does, and Hartley opens out into a lovely character as he loses some of his snootiness and challenges some of his own assumptions. Sam is lovely from start to finish — human, and not always able to be perfectly patient and perfectly understanding, but he strives to be better all the time. There are some fun side characters as well, particularly Sadie and Kate.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot and it broke through a funk during which I wasn’t reading much at all. It’s a little darker in tone, but it does have a happy ending, and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – It Takes Two To Tumble

Posted March 27, 2020 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat SebastianIt Takes Two To Tumble, Cat Sebastian

Looking around for something cute and easy to read with Lisa (Wife Book Club!), this was my first pick because it was described as “like Sound of Music, but with fewer children and less singing”, and that sounded entertaining. And so it is: Ben is the vicar, and people in the village ask him to deal with the unruly kids of a sea-captain. The kids’ mother has died, and the captain is away on his ship, and the kids are running wild. Ben rather likes kids, and doing things for everyone in the village, so he ends up agreeing.

Said sea-captain, Phillip, comes home and is… less than pleased. However, once he gets out of the mindset of expecting everything to run like a ship — partly at Ben’s prompting — he loosens up and becomes rather more fun, and of course, he develops an attraction to Ben. Ben is engaged to a convalescent girl, Alice, with whom he grew up, and throughout the book he struggles with what’s right, realising that he’s falling in love Phillip and what he feels for his childhood friend is nothing like it. Don’t worry, though: the story avoids demonising Alice, and her sweetness and strength are still important for Ben even when they put an end to their engagement.

There’s also a plotline involving dyslexia: Phillip and one of his children are both dyslexic, and the ways that holds them both back are explored carefully. Jamie’s a wizard with numbers, but traditional learning just won’t work for him. There’s no magical breakthrough moment or anything trite and insulting like that: instead, they plan to play to Jamie’s strengths with the right sort of tutor, and… Well, I won’t say more; that would be a spoiler!

It’s all really sweet, and Ben’s adorable. Phillip is a bit meh for me (which is to say, his determination to be an ass at first annoys me), but Ben carries it.

Rating: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted March 25, 2020 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

Hey folks! A quick WWW Wednesday…

Cover of Salt by Mark KurlanskyWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. I’m thinking of ditching it, though. It doesn’t feel very much like there’s a coherent narrative here; it’s just a lot of facts about salt, one after the other. It is interesting, but it feels more like reading a series of encyclopaedia entries or something.

Fiction: I’m partway through rereading Mira Grant’s Feed, which I think I talked about last week. Wife Book Club (aka me and my wife read the same book at the same time) is now The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein. It’s a reread for me, but Lisa’s discovering it for the first time. We haven’t actually discussed it much yet…

Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat SebastianWhat have you recently finished reading?

It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian. It’s just adorable; somebody described it as Sound of Music, minus some of the kids and all of the singing. That’s pretty much it. There’s also a subplot involving one of the main characters having dyslexia, as does his son, which I felt seemed well-handled? And I enjoyed the female love interest (inasfar as she was really a love interest).

What are you going to read next?

I have no earthly idea. Honestly, I’m not managing to read much. My anxiety medication is helping, but either I’m not finding the right book or my mood isn’t stable enough yet. I’m not going to make any guesses or set any goals; I’ll figure it out in its own time.

What are you currently reading?

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Weekly Roundup

Posted March 22, 2020 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

Well, folks, it’s been quite the week. I haven’t been very well (mentally), and while I’m getting better with the help of some anxiety medication (sigh, I was so proud to have weaned myself off it), it’s been rough. So here’s the haul of books I got on our last hurrah day out before moving to social distancing mode and ending non-essential trips, a couple weeks ago.

Next week I’ll share the ARCs I’ve been getting, and whatever’s come through the mail, and try to get back to my normal format.

Books acquired:

Cover of What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She by Dennis Barron Cover of House of Fiction by Phyllis Richardson Cover of Murderous Contagion: A human history of disease by Mary Dobson Cover of The Rules of Contagion by Adam Kucharski

Cover of The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh Cover of Rag and Bone by K.J. Charles Cover of Unfit to Print by K.J. Charles Cover of Recoil by J.T. Nicholas

Cover of The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian Cover of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian Cover of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian

Cover of Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters Cover of The Green Man's Heir by Juliet E. McKenna

Some non-fiction, some romance, a little sci-fi, a little fantasy and mystery… a typically mixed haul for me.

How’s everyone else doing?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted March 18, 2020 by Nikki in General / 6 Comments

Let’s get back to normal a bit. Here’s my WWW Wednesday post!

Cover of Feed by Mira GrantWhat are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: The Rules of Contagion, by Adam Kucharski. This is a bit on the nose at the moment, clearly. I’m enjoying it in little snippets, though.

Fiction: I’m rereading Mira Grant’s Feed, for… probably obvious reasons. It’s at once anxiety-inducing and anxiety-beating; it reminds me of my first experience with reading it, when I had a lot of trouble with my anxiety and this was hitting all my buttons in both good and bad ways.

Wife Book Club (AKA me and my wife pick a book and read it together, at the same pace, in the same place, at the same time): It Takes Two To Tumble, by Cat Sebastian, which is so far very cute and generally fun.Cover of The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

What have you recently finished reading?

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, by Zen Cho. It’s an ARC. I enjoyed it, but felt like I was Missing Something. I haven’t read/seen/otherwise consumed much Wuxia, so I guess that’s part of it.Cover of The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein

What will you be reading next?

Possibly The Steerswoman, by Rosemary Kirstein, for Wife Book Club. I’ve read it before, and enjoyed it, but never got onto the rest of the series.

So what are you reading?

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