Stacking the Shelves

I’m gonna have to prepare this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (a la Tynga’s Reviews) pretty quickly, as my partner is visiting and she needs looots more sleep than me, and it’s already getting late. But hey, it’s been a good week: my 25th birthday was on Wednesday, and a shopping trip was had with my partner, my sister, and one of my closest friends. Books ensued, as you might’ve guessed if you’re around here often; some bought by me, some by them for me. Plus, the week started with a day at Worldcon, although admittedly I only bought two books — one of which was just so I could get it signed. (That one isn’t included here, but for bragging rights, I now have Jo Walton’s Lifelode and Among Others signed, and Tanya Huff’s The Enchantment Emporium.)

Oh, and re: that month of not-buying-books I had: it was successful, and in more ways than one, really. As well as just stopping me buying books and spending too much money, it seems to have changed my attitude a bit. I’m not (currently) buying books for the sake of it; only books I definitely want and intend to read.

Bought for myself

100680 Cover of Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter Cover of Flux by Stephen Baxter

Cover of Ring by Stephen Baxter Cover of The Sun and Moon and Stars by Steven Brust Cover of Lady Lazarus by Michelle Lang

Cover of The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett

Lady Lazarus is the only really impulsive purchase on this list; it grabbed my attention because of the setting (Budapest). Stephen Baxter is a new author for me, but his books are part of a list of “best SF” I’m trying to read.

Bought for me by my partner

Cover of Avengers Assemble: Science Bros Cover of Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy Cover of Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela

I’ve enjoyed the Guardians film, so between that and the opening pages where Tony singularly fails to impress Gamora, I decided to continue on with the comic. And the Avengers Assemble ones are by Kelly Sue DeConnick, therefore an inevitable buy for me. One thing about Worldcon that amazed me was that on a panel where the promo picture was Ms. Marvel, and it was supposed to be talking about new and exciting things in comics, it took forty minutes to mention a female character, forty-five to mention something with characters of diverse sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds, and no female creators were mentioned at all.

Fuck that, I’mma talk about Kelly Sue and Gail Simone ’til I’m blue in the face.

Bought for me by my sister

Cover of The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Mad God's Amulet by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Sword of the Dawn by Michael Moorcock

Cover of The Runestaff by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Queen of the Swords by Michael Moorcock

Cover of The King of Swords by Michael Moorcock

I felt like reading some more Michael Moorcock, since I read GlorianaMy sis obliged.

Received to review

Cover of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Cover of The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane Cover of Cosmocopia by Paul Di Filippo

For the first one, Lies We Tell Ourselves, I’m super-grateful to a friend who works at the publisher who managed to get me an ARC. Re: Amy Lane, I think I’ve read something of hers before, but it still weirds me out slightly since I went to school with someone of that name…

Comics (issue)

Cover of Ms Marvel #7

I really need to catch up with actually reading this run of Ms. Marvel.

So, what’s everyone else been up to? Any great hauls? Anyone been resisting most amazingly? Comment, link, share!

Thursday Thoughts: ARCs

Today’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read is about ARCs:

As a blogger, YouTuber or generally bookish person, have you ever received an ARC? Did you request it or did they reach out to you? What advice regarding ARCs would you give to bloggers/reviewers who are just starting out? Do you have a preference between physical ARCs and eARCs? Do you have a specific plan or technique you go buy in order to stay organized when it comes to reading and reviewing ARCs?

Yep, I get quite a few ARCs. Direct from authors, agents, or via Netgalley, Bookbridgr, Edelweiss… I’ve had them both ways. With ARCs, the best advice is to request a lot, but only what you want to read; read everything you get; send feedback in whatever way they ask you to. Honestly, the easiest one so far has been Bookbridgr, though that’s only applicable in the UK. Netgalley and Edelweiss do have good ways to build up your reputation by downloading the ready to read ones, so that’s also a good option.

I don’t have a preference re: physical or ebook, though ebook seems less urgent somehow, so they can just… mount up. I have difficulty staying organised; honestly, at the moment it’s pretty out of control. Help?!

Honestly, though, I’m not calculating about it. I just request what I like and review it when I can.

What are you reading Wednesday

What have you recently finished reading?
Monster of God (David Quammen) and The Naked Ape (Desmond Morris). I need to review both, still. Quammen’s book is interesting, looking at the role of alpha predators in our lives, sometimes with very literary references. I enjoyed it, though it felt a bit rambling. As for The Naked Ape, it’s an interesting and worthwhile approach, but I think Morris kept too much of his cultural baggage in mind re: gender roles, etc. It is a really old book, though, so.

What are you currently reading?
Various things, but the newest thing is a fresh attempt at Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) with my HabitRPG bookclub. I read about half when I was younger, but didn’t really get it — a lot of it went over my head. It’s going better now.

Also, Two Boys Kissing (David Levithan), which is… interesting. I expected it to be very sweet (like Boy Meets Boy), but with a narrating chorus of AIDs-victims, it’s not as straightforward as that. I like the differing relationships that it brings out, though I am feeling slightly weird about the fact that it’s addressed to contemporary gay men — it doesn’t feel very welcoming, despite the queer community usually being pretty strongly bonded together.

What will you read next?
I think I’ll dig into some comics — a new Guardians of the Galaxy TPB, and some Avengers Assemble a la Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is ‘top ten books everyone’s telling me to read’. Which really isn’t hard, because everybody’s always on at me to read something, heh.

  1. Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch. I love Scott Lynch’s first two books, and I actually got this one back when it was an ARC. I’m just terrible. I’ve bought it since and still… Mum and my partner both reaaaally want me to get on with it.
  2. The Vorkosigan Saga, Lois McMaster Bujold. Again, so many people want me to read these. I’ve actually read Cordelia’s Honor, and I wasn’t that impressed? But I was also cranky and feeling a bit harassed. If nothing else, Jo Walton’s recommendations mean I should really get on with it…
  3. Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas. I read the prequel short stories way back before the first book was out, and wasn’t really interested enough to read more. But I hear so much about the trilogy, and Leah was urging me to read it, so.
  4. Pantomime, Laura Lam. I’m going to read this reaaaally soon, or that’s the plan at least. It’s the only book I can think of, other than arguably The Left Hand of Darkness, with an intersexed protagonist.
  5. The Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff. This has been recced me a couple of times, and it’s the book I happened to pick up for Tanya Huff to sign for me at Worldcon, so there y’go.
  6. A Song of Ice and Fire, G.R.R. Martin. My first rec for this came from Robin Hobb when I was about fourteen, and I still haven’t got round to it — and the recs are mounting up. It’s actually one of the books in a reading challenge I’m doing, so I’ll get round to it soon.
  7. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente. I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out, and now there’s a whole trilogy. Also in my challenge list.
  8. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. I’ve read part of it. I have the special edition, signed. I’ve read Attachments and Eleanor & Park. And yet. I’ll get there eventually. Sorry, Leah, and everyone.
  9. Yendi, Steven Brust. I read the first book of the series at Jo’s recommendation, promptly bought a whole bunch of the omnibuses, and then… got distracted by so
  10. The Healer trilogy, Maria V. Snyder. I like Snyder’s work as a casual fun read, and my sister will kick me if I don’t hurry up and read these. And probably many other books too; she likes kicking me.

What’s on everyone else’s lists?

Review – Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise

Cover of Coral by Steve JonesCoral: A Pessimist in Paradise, Steve Jones

Starting with coral and working his way around, Steve Jones covers a lot of different topics to do with evolution, geology, the environment, and the impact us humans are having on said environment. This was probably the most compelling of his books that I’ve read, but I have to say I still didn’t find it breezy: fascinating as coral is in many ways, it’s not that fascinating to me.

Also, Jones clearly has a thing with Darwin — it’s not exactly that he copies Darwin, but he certainly emulates his works and interests, trying to present them anew to this century’s audience. Something about the way he’s always harping back to Darwin is starting to get on my nerves.

Rating: 2/5

On the Hugos, redux

Very short reaction: lol.

Longer reaction: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

But really: fuck yeah, Kameron Hurley, and I just have to say… the results this year clearly show where SF is going, and where people want it to go. For all those claims that SF readers want “real” SF and don’t want “pink SF”, look at those winners.

And Vox Day rated below no award.

It’s beautiful.

Review – X-men: Storm

Cover of X-men: Storm by Warren EllisX-men: Storm, Warren Ellis, Terry Dodson

This Storm comic seems to rely on other events surrounding it, and certainly expects you to be up to speed on who everyone is — at least in the first issue. It actually gets a bit more explanatory later on in the volume, which confused and then began to ignore me.

Since my exposure to X-men previously has just been brief crossovers with other comics and a huge childhood obsession with an animated TV series, it’s fair to say I come into this pretty new. I liked the Storm portrayed here: struggling with past bad decisions, trying to feel her way into being a true leader, and not completely sanitised. She chooses not to kill at several points, but that’s because she knows what it’s like to use lethal force; it’s a real choice, not just idealism.

All in all, I can’t rate this that highly because there’s so little here, but I think there’s a current solo Storm comic, and I’m thinking of picking that up. There isn’t enough here to let Storm shine, and the comic seems pretty dated in the way it tells its story now, but it does hint at compelling and interesting aspects of Storm’s character.

Rating: 3/5

Review – Y: The Descent of Men

Cover of Y: The Descent of Men by Steve JonesY: The Descent of Men, Steve Jones

This book is another of Steve Jones’ updates/responses to/homages to Charles Darwin’s work. It’s probably remarkably different in many ways, in terms of the content, but it is an interesting read. I do think Jones goes a bit too much into gender essentialism — I played rough with my sister and the local boys, which the female-bodied are allegedly hard-wired not to do — and sometimes his constant reiteration that the Y chromosome is dying out seems a little hysterical, like maybe it might give fuel to the men’s rights people.

And if he could maybe stop talking about promiscuous gay men causing the spread of AIDs in every book, that’d be great. (I don’t care how true it may be, straight people get AIDs too, thank you very much.)

There is interesting stuff here in terms of genetics, foetal development, even the development of the human race as witnessed by the Y chromosome. Honestly, though, I’m not finding Jones’ work that fun to read — it seems to drag on forever — so once I’ve finished the last one I have out of the library, that’ll be it.

Rating: 3/5

Stacking the Shelves

By the time this goes live, I’ll be in Loncon at Worldcon! Probably buying books, since the ban lifts tomorrow… Probably to be instated again right away, heh.

Review copies (fiction)

Cover of Prosperity by Alexis Hall Cover of The Cutting Room ed. Ellen Datlow Cover of Gabriel's City by Laylah Hunter Cover of Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Gray Hugo Sampler Cover of Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie

I know I listed Gutenberg’s Apprentice last week, but that was the ebook, and now I’ve been given a paperback copy from Bookbridgr. ❤

Review copies (non-fiction)

Cover of Down the Rabbit Hole by Allan H Ropper Cover of The Language Myth by Vyvyan Evans

The Language Myth is going to be an interesting counterpoint to The Language Instinct, since it directly argues against Pinker’s ideas.

Library (fiction)

 Cover of Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer Cover of Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer  Cover of Votan & Other Stories by John James

I’m really interested in John James’ book, especially since 1) he was Welsh, 2) Neil Gaiman wrote an interesting intro, 3) Norse mythology! And I just felt like some Georgette Heyer.

Library (comics)

Cover of Gambit: Once A Thief Cover of X-men: Storm by Warren Ellis

Both Marvel characters I don’t know much about, since they’re connected with the X-men.

Comic issue

Cover of Captain Marvel #6

You know, I might explode if we don’t get Captain Marvel in the MCU soon.

What’s everyone else been up to?

Review – Elysian Fields

Cover of Elysian Fields by Suzanne JohnsonElysian Fields, Suzanne Johnson

Received to review from Bookbridgr! Although I would normally hate jumping into a series in the middle, this doesn’t seem to be a bad point to do so. There’s a fair amount of exposition to get you settled in the world and up to date with the events of DJ’s life. It slides along pretty fast, and got me hooked because I really, really wanted to know what happened regarding a certain event in the first few chapters.

What drove me slightly nuts was working out who DJ was will-they-won’t-they romancing with, and which of them had the best chance. I was quite cringy at the early scene with Jake, the loup garou, because of the whole creepy (though admittedly so) “I can sense your fear and I like it” thing. That might’ve come off better with a bit of character history, but perhaps not.

Overall, this is pretty fun, and New Orleans makes a good setting for it. I’m not wildly in love, though, and I won’t be picking up the other books unless they appear on the library shelves and beckon (which is always possible).

Rating 2/5