Tag: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-Fiction I’ve Loved

Posted December 5, 2023 by Nicky in General / 36 Comments

It’s Top Ten Tuesday again, and this week’s theme is a freebie. I get comments now and then on how much non-fiction I read and how random some of my choices are, so this list is about the non-fiction books I’ve loved! It’s a topic I know I’ve covered before, so I’ll try to keep it to recent-ish reads. I’ll link the review, where I have one written.

I know that thumbnails of book covers are missing from some of my older posts. It’s probably been an error since I migrated to my new blog host, and we’re working on it. Sorry about that! Where a thumbnail is missing and you just see the fallback text, you can click on that to see the actual image if you want to check out the cover.

As a side-note, I’m behind on replying to comments and visiting people back, but I’m working through it steadily, I promise!

Cover of Overkill by Paul Offit Cover of The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes by Kate Strasdin Cover of Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori Cover of A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Emma Southon Cover of The Good Virus by Tom Ireland

  1. Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far, by Paul Offit. I’ll start with the book I just absolutely inhaled last night. I was worried at first that this was going to be some kind of anti-medicine, unevidenced rant, but Offit is very careful to refer to specific studies and to specific numbers and stats from those studies. His introduction indicates that he wants to be fact-checked, and a quick skim through the topics reassured me a bit as well. Having read it now, I might not 100% agree (I need to read some of the original sources first), but the evidence he presents is definitely food for thought. I think doctors should read this, for sure, but patients should as well in order to be informed. In the end, I worry that it may erode a little too much trust in doctors (if a doctor tells you that you must keep taking a medication even though you feel better, it’s probably true), but it’s an important wake-up call.
  2. The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes, by Kate Strasdin. I haven’t actually finished this yet, but I’m enjoying it very much. Mrs Anne Sykes was a newly married Victorian woman who kept a record of her clothes and the clothes of people special to her through pasting in scraps of cloth. Kate Strasdin is an expert on the history of fashion, and has also dug deeply to find out who Mrs Anne Sykes was, so the book is a mixture of general social history, fashion history, and zooming in to look at the life of one person.
  3. Around the World in 80 Trees, by Jonathan Drori and illustrated by Lucille Clerc. This book (and the companion, Around the World in 80 Plants) is just beautiful, thanks to Clerc’s illustrations, and each mini-biography of a tree has interesting titbits about the trees, where they come from, how they’re used, and/or where they live now and why. If you’re interested in plants and trees particularly, or just curious enough to read anything, I recommend this. The illustrations are beautiful, and it’d make a good gift, too.
  4. A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, by Emma Southon. Ever been curious about murder in Ancient Rome? Before I read this book, me neither, but Southon’s humour and fascination with the topic carries the book. It’s a fascinating angle for a history of ancient Rome which reveals a lot about the lives and attitudes of the Romans, and I recommend it highly.
  5. The Good Virus, by Tom Ireland. We are approaching a crisis of anti-microbial resistance. For some infections, it’s already here. The Good Virus has some suggestions about where we go from here, with the help of viruses — to be more accurate, very small viruses that kill bacteria, called bacteriophages. They’ve been used for decades in some parts of the world, but they’re hard to regulate, hard to test in the kind of gold standard settings designed for non-living pharmaceuticals, and as such, rolling them out to people has been a big ask. Still, as someone who’s studying for my MSc in infectious diseases, we need them, and Ireland sets out to convince people of that.
  6. Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion, by Louise Willder. Willder is one of the people who writes blurbs for the books we read, the short and informative summaries of plot or the kind of information you can find in books. It’s been her job for years to tantalise and entice, and this is her book about that. I didn’t find any of that part surprising, but I really enjoyed her writing style.
  7. Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow. This is a book from the Object Lessons series, and I could happily choose half-a-dozen of those titles to include here, but I’ll stick to just this one, where I really got hooked. I love the idea of focusing in on a single object and figuring out its history, and sometimes relatively modern items — like a personal stereo or a fancy toaster — can have a surprising history. I found this particular book from the series a particularly easy read, despite having no actual interest in consumer electronics and the history thereof per se.
  8. Murder: the Biography, by Kate Morgan. This is a history of murder (mostly in the United Kingdom), illuminating how our laws about murder ended up the way they are through the historic cases that led us here. Each chapter is illustrated by at least one real-life case, usually more than one, which helps to explain both the law and the cultural reaction at the time which shaped it. It’s not just old brutal murders or something, but also modern issues like Grenfell. I have no particular interest in the law for its own sake, but of course this sheds light on my beloved mystery fiction too, and I’ve also handed my copy on to my sister (who studied law) because I think she’ll find her own interest in it.
  9. Immune: A Journey Into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive, by Philipp Dettmer. This book is beautifully illustrated, and goes through the way the immune system works from the basics to stuff I hadn’t been taught yet (bearing in mind that I’m doing an MSc in infectious diseases, that came as a surprise!). It’s very easy to read, everything is very well explained, and I have a terrible habit of trying to convince everyone that they want it because I was myself so fascinated with it. Did you know that some of our white blood cells, called neutrophils, can create a sticky net that captures invading pathogens? They do it by extruding their own DNA in big loops. We only discovered this in 2004, and learning about it in this book made me want to dance with fascination at how our bodies work.
  10. Index, a History of the, by Dennis Duncan. I know, I know, a history of indexes doesn’t sound too fascinating: aren’t they just a way of finding the information you need in a non-fiction book, often a textbook? Can there really be much to say about them? The answer is yes, and Duncan makes it a fun read. Also, you’d be surprised — someone has, in fact, managed to use an index to further their feud with someone else, which honestly gave me a giggle.

Cover of Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder Cover of Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow Cover of Murder: The Biography by Kate Morgan Cover of Immune by Philipp Dettmer Cover of Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan

There! I tried to bring to this list some of the weird randomness of my own reading, jumping from topic to topic in a way that may not make much sense, but works surprisingly well to ensure that I have interesting background to a lot of things. I know some people prefer to read only about their pet topics, but I mostly just let the random searchlight of my interest pick out things that I don’t know, and then learn about them. I hope there’s something of interest here for others!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set in… the Golden Age of Crime

Posted November 28, 2023 by Nicky in Reviews / 28 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is “Top Ten Books Set in X”. I was having trouble thinking of a place or a type of location or anything that I was confident of thinking up ten items for — but I do know a lot about the Golden Age of crime. The Golden Age for crime fiction was basically in the 1920s and 1930s, and it featured a lot of books written in the same kind of framework, often set in the interwar period. Usually an unlikeable character is set up and then murdered, and a detective (amateur, private or police) comes along and solves the mystery, closing things out with a comfortable solution that sees order restored. Often the solution is very clever — locked room mysteries and such, very contrived, setting a puzzle for the reader.

These books tend to have a certain sort of feel to them, and I love them dearly. So without further ado, here’s a top ten of books with that kind of feel. I’m not just going to include classic books or books that are strictly from the Golden Age, but also a couple of books that I think try to tap into the feel of that era.

Cover of Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton Cover of The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude

  1. Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers was a giant of this genre, along with others like Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, and Strong Poison features not only her series detective (Lord Peter Wimsey), but his love interest and eventual wife, Harriet Vane. In writing the two of them together, Sayers was often at her wittiest, and they have a slow-burn, will-they-won’t-they for the ages.
  2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie. I couldn’t leave out the queen here, so I’ll give you the book I read first and which got me hooked on books of the period. She breaks the “rules” in a couple of ways, but most readers won’t mind, because it’s a fun puzzle. (It’s also worth noting that Christie often wrote about poisons with intimate knowledge, though not in this book — if you’re curious, I recommend Kathryn Harkup’s A is for Arsenic, which discusses that at some length.)
  3. Fire in the Thatch, by E.C.R. Lorac. I think E.C.R. Lorac was genuinely among the greats of the era, even though she was mostly forgotten (at least until the British Library Crime Classics series started republishing her work). This one is characteristic of the care she takes to evoke people and a landscape and a way of living. It’s a little later than the peak Golden Age of crime, but nonetheless, it has that feel to it.
  4. Death in the Tunnel, by Miles Burton. This mystery is one I absolutely loved — and one which would’ve fit into my other potential category, which was “books set on trains”. It’s less focused on people and place than Lorac, and more about the puzzle — and it was a fun one!
  5. The Sussex Downs Murder, by John Bude. As an example of this genre/setting, this is a good one; it’s a solid puzzle, with the sort of methodical detecting characteristic of the period. This sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I’d rather say I’m setting expectations. I enjoyed it a lot, but you have to enjoy it as what it is, and not as a modern psychological crime novel.
  6. Death on the Down Beat, by Sebastian Farr. This one came as a bit of a surprise to me when I read it: it’s an epistolary novel, and also includes a piece of music as a vital clue. It also managed to fool me, which isn’t always easy.
  7. Twice Around the Clock, by Billie Houston. This is a book that was celebrated a bit more when it came out, owing to the author’s minor celebrity. It’s a country house novel with a closed circle of suspects, which is such a classic situation that (combined with the fact that I found it a lot of fun) I had to include it.
  8. Cocaine Blues, by Kerry Greenwood. This one is, of course, a modern novel — and it’s preoccupied with a few things that the classics usually aren’t (sex, fashion, etc). But it has a little of the same feel, to me — and you can believe that the Honorable Phryne Fisher has met Lord Peter Wimsey.
  9. Death at Wentwater Court, by Carola Dunn. Again, this is a modern novel, but it feels very Golden Age. Daisy Dalrymple is an enjoyable protagonist, and certain aspects of the situation in this book are deeply classic for mysteries of the Golden Age.
  10. Shady Hollow, by Juneau Black. Bear with me here, because this isn’t only a modern novel, but also all the protagonists are animals, living peacefully together (herbivores beside carnivores) in a little village. It also feels much less British than all the others I’ve listed. But this is my list, and I get to include something a little aside from the track if I want to: it’s the little village setting and the old-timey feel that makes this one fit into my list.

Cover of Death on the Down Beat by Sebastian Farr Cover of Twice Round the Clock by Billie Houston Cover of Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood Cover Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn Cover of Shady Hollow by Juneau Black

Alright, that was a bit of work! Did anything there interest you? I’d be curious to hear!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Gratitude

Posted November 21, 2023 by Nicky in General / 12 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a US-centric one, in honour of Thanksgiving, but it’s never a bad idea to think about the stuff we’re grateful for. So the theme is “reasons why I’m thankful for books”.

  1. They help me learn new things. I always like to be learning stuff. And sure, I’m studying for my MSc at the moment, and that’s a lot of stuff to learn… but even in my downtime, I like to learn, and informal learning from books is a lot of fun. I’ve been reading a lot of the Object Lessons and Edible books for bite-size non-fiction, for example.
  2. They’ve often given me stuff to talk about. Sometimes that’s in an awkward moment, but I also mean the in-depth rambling conversations with like-minded people where books allow us to just… ramble around in each other’s minds for a while. Many, many conversations about books with my mother, for example.
  3. They help my mental health. The more I’m reading, usually, the better I feel. It’s all about making time for myself, and also about taking my mind away from whatever I’m lingering on. Also, it’s just fun.
  4. They’re exciting… in a way that doesn’t involve me having to do adrenaline-inducing things. Okay, sometimes even reading about it is a little much. But really, it’s fun to have adventures without much skin in the game, beyond my own emotional involvement.
  5. Books are literally always there as an option. They’re never too busy, they don’t get tired or get headaches or have crises in their own lives. So if I need a break from reality, or to read something comforting and familiar, books always have the time.
  6. They make any room look nice and lived in. First thing I move into a new place is at least some of my books…
  7. Some of them smell really nice. Some glue smells are bad, and old books can get really musty. But books that are just right smell delicious somehow.
  8. Books are an experience you can revisit. Sometimes it’s a whole new experience the second time (there are several books I didn’t like at first and tried again and loved them!), but still, books are there for you to come back to, to re-experience, or experience anew.
  9. Books make a lovely gift that you can personalise to a high degree. I can choose books for most of my family that make meaningful, exciting gifts! (Spoiler: if it has dragons, my sister is thrilled.)
  10. You can put a book aside and pick it up easily, at any moment. Reading can be as flexible an experience as you need it to be, whether you’re reading a page a day, a chapter, a whole book… you can pause, restart, etc.

And after I finished all ten, here’s a bonus thought: books make a lovely excuse to be an introvert. You’re not just going off on your own, you’re reading. People find that much more acceptable!

Okay, I struggled a bit with this and what to share, but I think that made a good start. Fascinated to see what other people have come up with!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Mainstream Authors

Posted November 14, 2023 by Nicky in General / 42 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is one I’m not totally sure how to answer, because I don’t really know what counts as “mainstream” for these purposes, and I have pretty eclectic taste. Let’s have a shot: the theme is “Mainstream Popular Authors that I Still Have Not Read”.

  1. George R.R. Martin. Okay, he’s a fantasy writer, but pretty much a household name by now, right? Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by him — and I definitely haven’t read the Game of Thrones series.
  2. James Patterson. I do have one of his books on my to-read list because it involves postcards (and I review books about postcards for Postcrossing’s blog), but I haven’t read any yet.
  3. Zadie Smith. I think I audited a course that had one of her books on the list, back in university, but I wasn’t actually sitting the course so I didn’t do all the reading.
  4. Elena Ferrante. I try most stuff, but her books don’t really appeal to me, so I doubt I’ll give them a shot any time soon.
  5. Hilary Mantel. I’ve got a couple of her books to read, but I’ve not touched them yet. Oops?
  6. Jonathan Franzen. Something about his work just super does not appeal.
  7. Michael Chabon. I own a couple of his books, I’ve even intended to read them very strongly at times… but I’ve never actually got round to it.
  8. Sally Rooney. I don’t actually know much about her books? They’re not squarely in my wheelhouse, or I’d know more about them from others at the very least, but it’s not like I’ve made a firm decision not to try them. Rather, what I’ve seen/heard is fairly limited, and I’ve made no decision, but nothing’s drawn me in either.
  9. Amy Tan. I have a copy of The Joy Luck Club somewhere, or I used to, but I never touched it. Oops.
  10. Steig Larsson. His books never really called to me from all I heard about them, though they were such a thing for a while that I had my eye on them.

Do I have surprising gaps here? Is there something you’re curious about whether I’ve read it or not?

Just… don’t try to argue with me whether these are mainstream or not. I just found a list or two of mainstream authors and cherry-picked from that!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Headlines

Posted November 7, 2023 by Nicky in General / 24 Comments

It’s been a while since I participated in Top Ten Tuesday, but I’ve been kind of a hermit for a bit and I’d love to get back in touch with the wider blog-o-sphere, so let’s give this a go! This week’s list theme is “titles that could be headlines”. Hmmm…

Well, first up, a lot of mystery novels are perfect for this task. I’ll stick to only a few of those, and see if I can find some other neat ones as well, but to get us started…

  1. Requiem for a Mezzo, by Carola Dunn. One of the early Daisy Dalrymple novels. I could actually use the titles of this series for quite a few answers — Murder on the Flying Scotsman, Fall of a PhilandererDeath at Wentwater Court, anyone?
  2. Murder in the Dark, by Kerry Greenwood. I do love the Phryne Fisher series, but I think I’ve only ever read this one once. I should carry on with my reread of this series!
  3. Post After Post-Mortem, by E.C.R. Lorac. You can just picture a headline with that kind of snappy alliteration and mystery-causing, right? Also, this is a really good book, though personally I found it a bit harrowing due to the themes.
  4. A Very English Murder, by Verity Bright. I haven’t read this one, but I can still picture it on the front page of some newspaper or other.
  5. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, by Dorothy L. Sayers. I can see a particular sort of “respectable” newspaper choosing something kind of… restrained to refer to a murder.

Cover of Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola Dunn Cover of Murder in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood Cover of Post after Post-Mortem by E.C.R. Lorac Cover of A Very English Murder by Verity Bright Cover of The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

Now let’s see if we can get a bit more adventurous and grub up some other headlines…

  1. Black Ops and Beaver Bombing, by Fiona Mathews and Tim Kendall. It sounds kinda weird, definitely like one of those headlines they use to pique your interest. As it happens, it’s about British wildlife. I haven’t read it, so I can’t honestly answer you about what the beaver bombing is about.
  2. Unmasked by the Marquess, by Cat Sebastian. Okay, this probably isn’t a modern headline… but nobody specified that, right? And the book is fun, too.
  3. How Long Till Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin. A pertinent question, after all.
  4. Europe at Midnight, by Dave Hutchinson. I haven’t read this one yet, but I can envision this being the big blocky headline of the Daily Mail or whatever.
  5. The Dos and Donuts of Love, by Adiba Jaigirdar. What headline can resist a pun? Cute book, too.

Cover of Black Ops & Beaver Bombing by Fiona Mathews and Tim Kendall Cover of Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian Cover of How Long Till Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin Cover of Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson Cover of The Dos and Donuts of Love by Abida Jaigirdar

There, whew, I did it.

Have any of the titles piqued your interest? I’ve reviewed a bunch of these, so let me know if you’re interested in my take and I’ll grub up the links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers With Fall Colours

Posted October 6, 2020 by Nicky in General / 14 Comments

This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is “book covers with fall colours”. I’m not a great noticer of anything design related, I must admit… but let’s see what I can find.

Cover of The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons Cover of Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst Cover of In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Cover of Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis Cover of The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair Cover of The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta Cover of Fell Murder by E.C.R. Lorac

Cover of The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs Cover of An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson.

There we go! Lots of oranges. Pretty random selection, mostly just for reds and oranges rather an autumnal mood! It’s a nicely weird combination, too.

I’m gonna bet other people did way better with this than me, ahaha.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Quotes

Posted September 29, 2020 by Nicky in General / 14 Comments

This week’s theme via That Artsy Reader Girl is “favourite book quotes” — which I’m pretty sure I’ve done before. So instead, I’ll put a tiny spin on it and pick out my favourite quotes from the last ten books I’ve read. I just skipped ones which aren’t very quotable… or which didn’t have Goodreads quotes yet, if I couldn’t immediately think of something.

Cover of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke Cover of Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez Cover of The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers Cover of Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman Cover of Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

  1. Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. “Perhaps that is what it is like being with other people. Perhaps even people you like and admire immensely can make you see the world in ways you would rather not.”
  2. Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado-Perez. “It’s not always easy to convince someone a need exists, if they don’t have that need themselves.”
  3. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, by Dorothy L. Sayers. “Books… are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.”
  4. Utopia for Realists, by Rutger Brenman. “You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots.”
  5. Nine Coaches Waiting, by Mary Stewart. “There was one thing that stood like stone among the music and moonfroth of the evening’s gaieties. It was stupid, it was terrifying, it was wonderful, but it had happened and I could do nothing about it. For better or worse, I was head over ears in love.”
  6. Driftwood, by Marie Brennan. “Paggarat was less doomed than they wagered, not because of how long it lasted but because of how it went out. Because of Aun and Esr, smiling at each other until the end of the world.”
  7. The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu. “Do you see how much power you have when you act without fear?”
  8. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon. “I do not sleep because I am not only afraid of the monsters at my door, but also of the monsters my own mind can conjure. The ones that live within.”
  9. The Last Smile in Sunder City, by Luke Arnold. “I like books. They’re quiet, dignified and absolute. A man might falter but his words, once written, will hold.”
  10. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chamber. “We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.”

Cover of Drift Wood by Marie Brennan Cover of The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu Cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon Cover of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold Cover of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I didn’t love all those books, but those quotes capture something that did work for me from each!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

Posted September 22, 2020 by Nicky in General / 24 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a nice broad one: what’s on your fall TBR? Well, I don’t strictly have a TBR for fall, and honestly these days I try not to be too strict and just follow my whims. However, here are some books I’m planning to pick up really soon, for one reason or another…

Cover of Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James Cover of This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender Cover of Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas Cover of Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko Cover of Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

  1. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James. I’m a little worried from the reviews that this isn’t going to be my thing, but it’s my bookclub choice for October, and I plan to give it a good solid try. Other parts of it sound really great — like the influence from African mythology — so we’ll just have to see!
  2. This is Kind of an Epic Love Story, by Kacen Callender. This is the November book club choice, if I remember rightly, and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now. I’m particularly interested in how the sign language is handled (because one of the characters is deaf).
  3. Catherine House, by Elisabeth Thomas. Aaand this is December’s book club choice, which sounds weird and kinda creepy. Looking forward to it.
  4. Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko. I swear my sense of object permanence is lacking, because I was dying to read this but now I’ve put my copy away on the shelves in the other room, I keep forgetting! I heard a lot about this right when it came out, but haven’t actually seen many reviews…
  5. Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas. I’m super excited for this, and I should be getting my copy soon. (Thank you to the person who bought me a preorder! <3)
  6. Phoenix Extravagant, by Yoon Ha Lee. I loved the Machineries of Empire books so much, and I’m excited for this new book by Yoon Ha Lee! I have an eARC, but I should also hurry up and make my preorder… there, done! I was sold at “mighty dragon automaton”.
  7. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune. This sounds so warm-hearted as a read, from everyone’s reviews? I am a sucker for the families you make yourself in stories, so I’m excited for it.
  8. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, by K.S. Villoso. I’ve peeked at the first few pages and my eyebrows rose and I’m eager to give this a try.
  9. Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse. I’m hearing so much excitement about this one, and I know I’ve enjoyed Roanhorse’s writing, so I’m quite eager to see whether this works plot/character-wise a bit better for me than her other books.
  10. The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin. Not sure if I’ll get to this, actually, because I’m finally catching up with The Fifth Season and sequels. But it’s N.K. Jemisin, so I don’t want to leave it lying too long!

Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee Cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune Cover of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso Cover of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse Cover of The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

So what’s on your autumn TBR, folks? Do you even have a TBR? Let’s be real, we know I probably won’t finish all of these… chances are, I won’t even read half. That’s okay by me. Something about the anticipation is sweet too!

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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 My Bookclub Have Read

Posted August 11, 2020 by Nicky in General / 31 Comments

This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is books you love and haven’t reviewed, but I’ve been reviewing every book I’ve read for fifteen years now. So I’m going off-piste with a retrospective on my “book club”. I run it on Habitica, with a book each month, and I pick all the books based on my whim in that moment. I don’t guarantee the books’ quality or literary value or anything like that; it’s literally just a book I want to read, probably one I already own. It’s been a nice way to get some accountability for reading books from my shelves, and read alongside other people… without having to put up with anyone else’s taste in books. 😂

So here’s a shortlist of ones I’ve enjoyed discussing with the group…

Cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon Cover of Seeds of Science by Mark Lynas Cover of Pale Rider by Laura Spinney Cover of The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard Cover of Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac

  1. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon. I’ve actually not finished this one yet, since I’m also reading it with my Beeminder coworkers at a nice conservative rate everyone can stick to. We’re near the end now! I’ve really enjoyed it, and even enjoyed reading it in this really slow drip-wise fashion, because it was something I could always manage, no matter how crappy I was feeling about reading (or how daunted by the size of the book).
  2. Seeds of Science, by Mark Lynas. This is by someone who was previously really anti-GM, and came to change his mind. He picks away at some of the myths and lies around genetically modified food, and makes an excellent case for a rethink.
  3. Pale Rider, by Laura Spinney. I’ve read two books on the 1918 flu pandemic, and I honestly couldn’t choose one over the other; both looked at it from slightly different angles, though I think perhaps Spinney dug a bit further on the social and cultural effects.
  4. The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. I kept thinking this wouldn’t be my thing, and then picked it for the book club to encourage me to give it a try. Lo and behold, I inhaled it! Such a fascinating mixture of mythologies, and a fantastic setting.
  5. Murder by Matchlight, by E.C.R. Lorac. I’m not sure if this was the first book I read by E.C.R. Lorac… it might have been. Either way, it was the one that switched her work from the “it’s a British Library Crime Classic, so I’ll probably get it and try it” to “I’ll pick up anything I find by her”. Her mysteries are often deeply rooted in a place, so that you can almost smell the farms or the fires of the Blitz.
  6. The Bell at Sealey Head, by Patricia McKillip. Pretty much anything by McKillip is going to be interesting, though I sometimes find the conclusions to her stories a bit difficult to follow. The Bell at Sealey Head was one I tore through, though.
  7. Provenance, by Ann Leckie. I’d have read this one anyway, and the Habitica challenge might actually have been for a reread for me. I love Provenance a lot; it’s not doing the same things as the Imperial Radch books, and it doesn’t feel the same in terms of narration or characters or plot. I think that led some people to be disappointed in it, but I wasn’t.
  8. Hild, by Nicola Griffith. Confession: I still haven’t actually finished this. But some of the descriptions are just perfect and beautiful, and I still mean to come back and finish it.
  9. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. I probably wouldn’t have read this one without a book club, because YA with a contemporary setting isn’t normally my thing. I’m really glad I did, though; this book deserves all the hype.
  10. Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart. I should really read the second book in this series, because I read the first book sooo fast. As I recall, it wasn’t a universal win in the book club… but I really enjoyed the story, and appreciated learning about the real Constance Kopp as well.

Cover of The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip Cover of Provenance by Ann Leckie Cover of Hild by Nicola Griffith Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Cover of Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

One thing I want to do going forward is diversify the picks a bit — there have been authors of various marginalisations in the lineup, but I can do better. Luckily I’ve been picking up plenty of books that will qualify for that, in the past year!

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