Tag: Katherine Addison

Review – The Grief of Stones

Posted July 1, 2022 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Cover of The Grief of Stones by Katherine AddisonThe Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison

Received to review via Netgalley

As ever, this book continues the trend: Thara Celehar needs a hug, but he won’t let anyone give him one.

That’s a pretty succinct summary of this book, but it’s a bit unfairly reductive, so let’s see what else I can say without spoilering… This obviously continues in the vein of the previous book about Celehar, and it widens the scope again to show us more of this world. Photography, for example, does exist, and is considered automatically rather risqué. Celehar ventures into that world with very little judgement and does what he does best and listens. Not just to the dead, but to what people are willing to tell him, and to the scraps of information that let him eventually put things together: not just who killed who, but also where the scone recipe might be, and the burial customs of particular traditions, and who you need to ask about any given problem.

Slowly, he pieces his way through multiple mysteries, which of course begin to intersect. He’s helped in this by a new apprentice, a woman who began to hear the voices of the dead as an adult and has no training in how to be a prelate, and by the friends he made in previous books.

There is some progress, I think, toward Celehar forgiving himself and allowing light into his life again… but it’s a slow, slow burn. I really want to see that come to fruition — and I really need to know what happens to Celehar next given the results of his work in this book.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – The Witness for the Dead

Posted September 20, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Witness for the Dead by Katherine AddisonThe Witness for the Dead, Katherine Addison

I don’t love this book as much as I love The Goblin Emperor, but that would be very difficult, and there is a lot to love about this book all the same. It follows Thara Celehar, and has very little to do with the first book, except in expanding what Celehar does and showing us his witnessing first hand. It also expands the world far beyond the court, so that we get to see how ordinary people live and interact — a thing which Maia will never, ever see, and which I think he would find fascinating.

The book is a murder mystery, essentially — actually, several — and also features more directly obvious magic than in the first book. There are ghouls and ghosts, and Celehar’s ability to commune with the dead is also a much bigger part. Inevitably, the various stories come together to some degree, but it doesn’t come together in too neat a knot; they aren’t all related. (For fellow mystery fans, I have to say that I don’t think you can actually work this one out for yourself; we don’t have enough information about a particular character to be able to discern their motive, means or opportunity.)

Celehar is just as tortured a character as he seemed from the previous book, and it should be noted that (in this book at least) there’s comparatively little comfort for him. There is a short scene where another character does manage to lighten the burden of his conscience, and he also makes a friend… though the friendship — and the potential that it could be more — also frightens him, because he isn’t over the secret he confesses to Maia in The Goblin Emperor. If you’re looking for something that feels as hopeful as The Goblin Emperor, then this isn’t it; Celehar is deeply guilty, and though his care for his work and his compassion for the dead are as sincere as Maia’s goodness, he is not driven by the same need to be mindful, to be good. He’s a very different character, and it gives the book a different mood and flavour.

In a way, this is a mash-up of Addison’s other books, The Goblin Emperor and The Angel of the Crows, and I don’t love it quite as much as either. I think it suffers somewhat from brevity — at 275 pages, I was wondering how it could possibly be tied up by 314 pages, and the answer is that a couple of the story threads feel rushed — but despite that, I liked it a lot.

Rating: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted August 26, 2021 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

Cover of Magic Bleeds by Ilona AndrewsWhat are you currently reading?

I’ve gone back to my usual habits and I’m reading a couple of books at once: Pen Vogler’s Scoff, for a start, which is slower than I’d maybe expected. It’s all about food and class in Britain, and ye gods, I’d thought my family were snobs but my eyes are getting opened. Then there’s my reread of The Fellowship of the Ring, which feels very slow right now since I only just cleared the Council of Elrond.

Finally, I’m rereading the Kate Daniels series, and I’m now embarked upon book four, Magic Bleeds. I love how Kate and Curran are total idiots and need to communicate properly, yet it doesn’t frustrate me because it doesn’t feel contrived — they’re just that stupid, and carry such a boatload of issues each, that it makes sense things won’t just work between them.

Cover of The Jasmine Throne by Tasha SuriWhat have you recently finished reading?

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri! I really need to sit down and write my review; I’m still sort of digesting it, I think. It felt so chunky and daunting, on the shelf, but it melted away when I sat down for my focused reading sessions each day. Very enjoyable, even though I tooootally called the big secret about Rao’s name.

Cover of Elatsoe by Darcie Little BadgerWhat will you be reading next?

Ooof, no idea. I recently reread The Goblin Emperor so I could start The Witness for the Dead while the details of the world were clear in my mind, so maybe that. Or Elatsoe, which is my next book club read. Or maybe one of the books I got for my birthday — The Chianti Flask looks like a good palate-cleanser in the way most of the British Library Crime Classics are.

How about you?

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Review – The Angel of the Crows

Posted June 10, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of The Angel of the Crows by Katherine AddisonThe Angel of the Crows, Katherine Addison

I took ages to read this book, despite being really eager for it, because… well, I didn’t think I’d love it as much as The Goblin Emperor, which holds a pretty special place in my heart, and also because I heard some bad things about the portrayal of some of the characters which made me a little wary. In the end, though, I ate it up — I read it in a few hours flat, and it was very compulsive.

It’s essentially a retelling of Sherlock Holmes, only what if Sherlock was an angel and Watson was… well, there are a lot of things about the Watson character, which I shouldn’t share too much about for fear of spoiling the surprise. Sometimes the retelling is fairly close, and you’ll recognise a lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories if you’re familiar with them, but twisted into a new shape by the changes to Crow (Sherlock) and Doyle (Watson), and the world around them.

If you’re not a fan of Sherlock Holmes (or Sherlock Holmes derivatives), in the end this isn’t going to bring you joy. I’m lukewarm on Holmes as a character and a phenomenon, though I loved the movies with Robert Downey Jr, and ended up loving this, so it’s not that you have to be a Holmes superfan in order to enjoy it. The context helps, I think, though sometimes the story was so close to the familiar one that I kind of wished I wasn’t as familiar with the source.

That said, by the end I just wanted more, more of these characters and their bond, and more of the worldbuilding surrounding them.

Rating: 5/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted October 28, 2020 by Nicky in General / 6 Comments

Here we go! I’m actually pretty on time to post this for once… Check out the host’s post and find others from the comments!

Cover of Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon JamesWhat are you currently reading?

I’m still working on Black Leopard, Red WolfI’ve sort of ended up just letting it wash over me, and see where it goes, and that’s working for me a bit better. I still don’t love the narrative style, and it’s hard to hold onto the clues that will be important later, because it feels unstructured.

I’m also reading Luke Arnold’s Dead Man in a Ditch, which is — like the first book — pretty fun but not amazing. It’s a nice pulpy read, like some of the noir it imitates in fantasy-form, and I’m still so frustrated by how much of an idiot Fetch is.

Non-fiction wise, I’ve got Mary Dobson’s Murderous Contagion on deck; it’s okay, but I know a lot of this stuff already, of course, and it doesn’t often go into the kind of tasty depth I was kind of hoping for (which pop-science/pop-history is perfectly capable of doing). Perils of the type of book it is, really!

Cover of Blackout by Mira GrantWhat have you recently finished reading?

Ugh, what have I? I’m having trouble focusing on reading at the moment, being honest. I did recently finish Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, and I’ve also read a book called The CBT Toolkit to evaluate whether it can be used alone. (The answer is no, I wouldn’t recommend it.) I also joined in part of the 24-hour readathon on Sunday, and finished a couple of books then, so I think mostly my brain is just too tired to hold onto stuff right now.

Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha LeeWhat will you be reading next?

Well, I have four books on my “next up” pile. This doesn’t mean I’m definitely going to read them next, but it means they’ve been plucked off the shelves to sit prominently in my field of vision, increasing the chance I’ll pick them up. So that’s Phoenix Extravagant (Yoon Ha Lee), Cemetery Boys (Aidan Thomas), The Angel of the Crows (Katherine Addison), and The Animals at Lockwood Manor (Jane Healey). I should add a fifth book — Dead Man in a Ditch just came off the shelf, so it needs to be replaced.

What are you currently reading?

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Review – The Goblin Emperor

Posted October 26, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 5 Comments

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

I know, I know, another reread! It was for a readalong, this time — I could hardly ask other people to read it without reading it myself, right? Right??

In any case, I’ve reviewed this so many times now that I won’t linger. But it is interesting to note that my memories of the book are profoundly positive: sure, there’s a coup or two, and there are some deaths, and past references to abuse and neglect… okay, okay, I see what you’re getting at, but the point is that those don’t define the book, for me. They happen, as bad things always do, but it’s not what I think of when I think of this book.

Instead, I think of the profound grace with which Maia takes his sudden elevation, his determination to be better, his mindful and deliberate rejection of pettiness (though he’s not human, and it does slip through, and he then patiently and carefully atones for it). I think of the way he offers goodness, and kindness, and understanding, and gradually finds his allies from the people who respond to it with kindness in their turn.

That’s what I find so hopeful about this book. Maia might be tempted to descend to the level of his tormentors, but he never does. He sometimes has to take his time, or put something aside to think about later, or he does something despite being terrified… but every time he tries to meet the world with mindfulness and grace, and thus, succeeds.

Rating: 5/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted October 7, 2020 by Nicky in General / 6 Comments

It’s Wednesday again! So here’s the usual check-in. You can go to Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

Cover of How to Change Your Mind by Michael PollanWhat are you currently reading?

Oh, far too much at once! Non-fiction: still working on Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics. Mostly the point so far is that the science isn’t so very new at all; psychedelic drugs were originally expected to be useful in treating mental health disorders, and go figure, now we’re figuring out that that was probably true.

Fiction: I’m rereading Mira Grant’s Deadline, in the firm hope that one day I’ll actually get onto Blackout and finish the whole book. It’s not that I don’t like the trilogy — I’ve read the first book several times! It just hits hard, and especially so at the moment, given the themes the zombie pandemic raises in the book…

I’m also reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and I kinda hate it. I can’t get into the narration, and it’s hard to find a story past the narration. I know, I know, I hear everyone on Twitter shouting at me that I’m just asking for all books to be typical European narratives, and that probably has a part to play. But… I don’t know, I’m not a fan of any of it so far; what I do understand is that there’s a lot of violence, including sexual violence. Just not the sort of thing I enjoy, without other high points.

That’s not all I’m reading, but that’s enough to be getting on with!

Cover of Entangled Life by Merlin SheldrakeWhat have you recently finished reading?

Non-fiction: Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake. I had been really looking forward to this, and it is really fun. I enjoyed all the facts about fungi! I think Sheldrake loves his subject a lot, and that always helps. Need to ponder my review a bit more, though. Obviously this had some odd parallels with How to Change Your Mind, since Sheldrake also mentioned psilocybin mushrooms!

Fiction: I finished my reread of Feed, basically all in one go now I’m not so dang anxious!

Cover of The Angel of the Crows by Katherine AddisonWhat will you be reading next?

Not sure, but I ordered Stuck: How Vaccine Rumours Start and Why They Don’t Go Away by Heidi J. Larson, and that just arrived today, so maybe I’ll get stuck into that before I shelve it and it goes out of sight, out of mind! Larson’s a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, where I now study, so it especially caught my eye — and public health initiatives like encouraging vaccine uptake are something I’d be interested in getting involved with myself.

Other than that, rereading The Goblin Emperor for a book club reminds me I really need to get round to reading The Angel of the Crows.

What are you folks reading?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books for a Younger Me

Posted September 8, 2020 by Nicky in General / 6 Comments

It’s Tuesday, and I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday for the first time in a few weeks! The theme this week is “books for your younger self”, and I can think of a whooole bunch of different ways to interpret that. I’m going with a list of books I wish I’d read sooner than I did!

Cover of The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin Cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison Cover of Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart Cover of Pet by Akwaeke Emezi Cover of An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles

  1. The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. Okay, maybe this one’s cheating, but I’m reading this at the moment and being so annoyed at my slightly younger self for not jumping right on that.
  2. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. This book has been such a comfort to me; teenage me could’ve really done with it.
  3. Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart. Or really any Mary Stewart book; I was so snobby about romance novels, but reading Stewart and Heyer made me see. How much awesome could I have read if I started sooner?!
  4. Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi. I feel like I’d have appreciated this even more if I’d read it when I was closer to the age it’s aimed at. I liked it now, but… I’d have liked it more then, I think.
  5. An Unsuitable Heir, by K.J. Charles. Also one of the books that properly pulled me into romance, but this one is extra special because the existence of Pen as a character, as a person it was possible to be, would’ve possibly sped up figuring out some stuff for me.
  6. Spillover, by David Quammen. Because it helped me figure out that staying curious about stuff really does help with anxiety — and maybe if I’d read it a couple of years earlier, some of my anxiety would have hit less hard. Or maybe it’d have chosen a different path, who knows.
  7. Feet in Chains, by Kate Roberts. Or pretty much any Welsh classics, the existence of which I only discovered at the age of 21, having been told that Welsh people didn’t write anything worth reading.
  8. River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey. I needed Hero. Much like Pen, they’d have taught me a bit more about what’s possible. Also, hippos.
  9. Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw. This is just so much fun, I’d have liked it to be in my life way before now.
  10. Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Or the whole series, of course, but I can’t believe I only picked these up in my twenties. Though that’s partly because they were out of print, I think? I can’t imagine my mother wouldn’t have bought me them sooner if they were in print.

Cover of Spillover by David Quamnem Cover of Feet in Chains by Kate Roberts Cover of River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey Cover of Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw Cover of Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers

How about you? Anything you wish you’d read when you were younger?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again For the First Time

Posted June 23, 2020 by Nicky in General / 18 Comments

Ten years of Top Ten Tuesday! Wow. This week I’m turning to an old one… that I probably did before, knowing my interests. Here are the ten books I wish I could experience again with fresh eyes. I’m mindful that the suck fairy may have visited books I loved when I was less mature, so I’ve steered away from childhood favourites.

Cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin Cover of The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

  1. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. Everyone knows I loved this one, I think! I wish I could read it again and then compare notes with myself. Did I love the same characters? Did I suspect the same characters? What different things would I focus on, being a different person now than I was then? Honestly, that goes for all of these, though: I’d love to know how things would stack up if I could experience them anew from where I’m standing now. The Goblin Emperor is a special favourite, though.
  2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. This book has been around for 10 years now, and had 12 reprintings! Whoooa. I remember the first time I read it, it was so compulsive — I had to know what happened, how everything was going to work out, why things we’re happening… I’d love to have that experience again.
  3. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. My mother made me wait to read this until I was eleven, to try and ensure I was mature enough to understand some of the subtleties. I know I didn’t get it all, and my readings of it more recently have been layered with those early impressions, and also with studying it. I’d love to be able to read it for the first time with all the stuff I know now about mythology and Tolkien’s intentions.
  4. The whole Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. I’ve read all of the Phryne books now, some of them twice, and I’d love to be able to recapture the first time reading them and falling in love with the characters. Some of it’s getting a little too familiar now!
  5. Band Sinister, by K.J. Charles. It was just so sweet and funny and I laughed so much. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy reading it knowing what happens… but I’d love to recapture that breathless ack, how are they going to deal with this?!
  6. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I’m not sure I can take rereading it in full knowledge of where it’s going, but I remember being so blown away by it.
  7. Fledgling, by Octavia Butler. I feel like I’m better equipped to handle Butler and where her work was coming from now, but I know this book had a lot of impact on me because it was uncomfortable to read. I don’t know if it’s lost that uncomfortableness now… but I don’t feel like it should. I’d like to get uncomfortable all over again, as an older and wiser adult.
  8. A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. The first time I read this book I didn’t love it, and that feels like a waste now. I’d also love to know if it’s something you have to read again to love, or if I was just a crankypants that day.
  9. Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Same! I ended up loving both these series, and yet… did not love the book first time through. I was just drawn back by something to give them another try. I’d love to give them another first try and see what happens!
  10. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee. I feel like this one actually gains from rereading, because I felt like I understood it better on a second read, when I’d absorbed more of the world… but also I remember the way it completely grabbed hold of my brain the first time. I’d like to have a clear schedule and a rainy day, and just… give it a second first try.

Cover of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Cover of Fledgling by Octavia Butler Cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan Cover of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Some of these are probably obvious choices, but… it’s not just books I like to reread (actually, I’ve struggled to reread The Sparrow). It’s about recapturing that first impression, and I’ve no idea if I would love all these books the same way if one could do that… but I’d love to find out.

So if I’m ever found with a lost memory… you know what to sit me down with! What would you want to re-experience for the first time?

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