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shanaqui

shanaqui

Joined December 2016

Eternal dabbler: BA Hons (Eng Lit), MA (Med Lit), BSc Hons (Nat Sci/Bio). Crochets, cross stitches, blogs at breathesbooks.com. Occasionally sleeps.
review
shanaqui
Impact of Evidence | Carol Carnac
Pickpick

Always exciting when the new British Library Crime Classic is by E.C.R. Lorac (AKA Carol Carnac). This one wasn't a favourite, but I did enjoy it; Lorac is so good at writing decent, “salt of the earth“ people, and I enjoyed the ins and outs of this mystery.

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shanaqui
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Looks like this is my #DoubleSpin for the month; I already got started on it, which is nice (albeit stalled out a bit due to bewilderment about the setting). Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time by James Suzman is my #BookSpin.

And here's my bookspin bingo card... I did already get started on reading for February, and include some of those books on my list, so I have a start. (Don't worry, I didn't peek at the numbers before I made the list.)

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shanaqui
Someone from the Past | Margot Bennett
Panpan

Oops, I disappeared again. Life stuff came up and ate my energy again! But I'm back and in a min I'll start belatedly thinking about my #BookSpin list (I haven't peeked at this month's numbers, so it's not cheating!).

Anyway, I read this book already this month, and hated it. It's all efforts at super clever dialogue, which is not that amusing after 250 pages of it, and a main character who doesn't have the sense God gave a jam sandwich.

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shanaqui

This weekend I need to read six books to catch up to my reading goal. I estimate that finishing some of my ongoing reads and reading a couple of new-to-me graphic novels will take ~8 hours this weekend. This is the first up: I find Ethel Lina White a bit too dramatic, and more so in this one even than in The Wheel Spins, but she does produce a heck of an atmosphere.

BookmarkTavern Good luck! 🍀 3mo
12 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
Pill | Robert Bennett
Panpan

Bit sucky to have two Object Lessons books in a row that I dislike. This one spends so much time telling me the plot of books and movies that I got completely bored. It's also very, hmmm, "medication for psychiatric issues takes your real self away and stifles your creativity", which can be true but... I don't know, these are arguments that deter people from even trying medication that can change lives for the better.

shanaqui Full disclosure: I have obsessive-impulsive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some meds help, some don't; trauma-specific re-processing therapy was the biggie. Never did meds take my personality away, but they DO have side effects like fuzzy memory. It was worth it. I'll take them again if I ever need to. 3mo
Faranae And some people have found that taking medication finally gave them enough mental room to breathe to actually be creative. And we have the overlap with trans issues, where for T in particular, trans-masc folk fear it will warp them somehow (because of all the myths about how T affects personality and it footing the blame for toxic masculine behaviors that are cultural... or steroids). 3mo
14 likes2 comments
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shanaqui
Doctor | Andrew Bomback
Mehso-so

Definitely not my favourite of the Object Lessons series. My preferred books in this series are about what a thing is, how it evolved, etc. This is a memoir about being a doctor, and about being a son, and about being a parent. It's also casually dismissive of hypochondriacs (a pet peeve, since I have extreme anxiety and am definitely not deliberately wasting doctors' time, and I hate the attitude that I am purposefully doing so).

willaful People who dismiss something for being “all in your mind“ are dismissing an incredibly powerful force. 3mo
16 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
Permafrost | Alastair Reynolds
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Mehso-so

This one left me feeling unsettled, with the vague sense of impending disaster. Which isn't too unusual for me - it's a normal day for someone with an anxiety disorder - but it definitely coloured how I felt about the book.

The narration/structure is unusual, and I *think* in the end it's well done... but it's a bit of a learning curve.

I continue to avoid getting a #BookSpinBingo, but it's closing in if I read many more books from the list, ha.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

I wasn't sure if I wasn't going to like this one, since it seemed to go a kinda dark place, but in the end... I liked it more than the last couple of books in the series, to be honest? It gives us a view of a wider world, and also we get to see what became of Regan!

This was my #DoubleSpin for the month, too.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

Received a copy to review!

I really wasn't sure about this concept when I read the blurb, but saw people enthusing about it and decided to give it a try anyway. It sounded, I don't know, kinda goofy from what I first read about it; I don't know what I was picturing exactly -- but no, it's very serious, and a very emotional story. I think each thread of it is handled well.

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shanaqui
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Mehso-so

I was a bit disappointed this book wasn't more about the bone chests of the title (a set of chests full of bones of kings, queens and bishops from early in England's history), and was more a general Anglo-Saxon history. As the latter, it's fine, just... I felt like it was a bit of a bait-and-switch.

I'm continuing with my theme of doing as badly as it is physically possible to do at actually getting a bingo for #BookSpinBingo...

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shanaqui
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Pickpick

I'm doing really well at NOT getting a #BookSpinBingo, but it's okay.

Darn, SQQ/Cucumber-bro is clueless, but in a way that's mostly funny. I'd love to get more of an insight into LBG's thoughts...

willaful One of my prime talents. 😂 3mo
14 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
Pickpick

Pitts digs into ten sites across Britain (which honestly involves a lot more than ten discoveries, since some sites tell us a lot), picking out some of the interesting finds and suggesting their implications. There's some photos/illustrations, both in black and white print and in the full-colour inserts. Little slow at times, since the information needs digestion!

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shanaqui
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I'm not really ending up sticking to my #BookSpinBingo list, since I got a bunch of new books in a comfort-shopping spree after my eye injury... but I HAVE got started on this one. It's so dramatic and over the top, and ugh, I'm so sucked in.

Also currently reading Cat Sebastian's We Could Be So Good, and Juliet E. McKenna's The Cleaving.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

I hadn't realised this was out until I saw people blogging about it! Got it this week after a comfort-buying spree, and greedily devoured it last night. The boys are so sweet, and I'm glad as well to see their individual journeys.

As for the reason for the comfort-buying... I spent some time in the eye casualty this week, after Biscuit Bun accidentally clawed my open eye. My sight will be okay, but it isn't okay yet and reading can be difficult.

shanaqui When you can't read, acquire more books to read later, right??? That's how it works! 3mo
rwmg Of course. If I have a challenge to read books I've owned for more than year, then obviously I have to buy books now so that there are books which fit next year.

Hope your eyesight recovers quickly 🙏
3mo
shanaqui @rwmg There must always be new books!

Thank you. Damage to the cornea actually heals really fast, so between that and the eyedrops I have, things improve by leaps and bounds each day. Big relief!
3mo
See All 10 Comments
CoffeeNBooks I hope your eye heals quickly! 3mo
LiteraryinLawrence Sending healing vibes your way! And book 5 is definitely a great comfort read. 💗 3mo
rabbitprincess Hope the eye is feeling better soon! 3mo
Clare-Dragonfly Ouch!! Glad your eye is healing quickly! 3mo
willaful Ack! I'm glad it wasn't worse. Must have been pretty scary! 3mo
shanaqui @CoffeeNBooks Thank you! Fortunately it is.

@LiteraryinLawrence It really is, lots of giggles and “awwww“.

@Clare-Dragonfly Thank you!

@willaful Yeah, it could've been pretty serious. I got off lightly.
3mo
bthegood hope you recover quickly - 🌞 3mo
17 likes10 comments
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shanaqui
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Pickpick

I loved this one, which was my #BookSpin for the month! And I'm making #BookSpinBingo progress too.

The Weinersmiths are pretty pessimistic about the current likelihood of space settlement, for a range of reasons -- lack of knowledge about the biology, lack of technology to do important things, and lack of a legal framework that prevents conflict -- which... is sad, but makes a lot of sense. It's a fun read, too!

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shanaqui
Road of Bones | Rich Douek
Mehso-so

Well... this graphic novel is horrifying, in a way that totally makes sense. A Soviet gulag is a pretty dark place to begin from, and this goes darker yet.

I think in the end it's a bit of a cop-out if you read this as a literal monster driving Roman's actions, and a bit obvious as a metaphor. I also didn't like the art much -- it suited the story in many ways, but I could barely tell the characters apart unless they spoke each others' names.

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shanaqui
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Pickpick

It's one of those months where I'm thinking... mm, maybe I could go for a blackout? #BookSpinBingo

Anyway, I received a copy of The Brides of High Hill to review via Netgalley, and devoured it almost right away because I love Nghi Vo's work. I missed out on one thing in the story that was probably explained or implied, so I need to go back and take a peek at that again, but it all came together really well. If a bit gruesomely...

willaful Nice! Go for it! 3mo
19 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
In the Shadow of the Fall | Tobi Ogundiran
Pickpick

Received to review from the publisher!

I think I liked it? It certainly went down easy, with a couple of pacing issues that I got a little stuck on (e.g. a POV switch just as I'd got interested enough to carry on, but not interested enough that I was a sure thing yet). There's a lot of worldbuilding, but it feels fairly organic. I'm curious about where it goes.

It reminds me of something, and I can't think what...

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shanaqui
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Yep, I'm gonna try join back in with #BookSpin this year! Here's my #BookSpinBingo card for January, and the tagged book is my first target since it's the #BookSpin choice. I got it for Christmas and I've been curious, but kind of saving it... guess BookSpin's telling me the time is now.

I guess I have a bingo line shaping up, too, from my reads so far. (I wrote my list before looking at the numbers, so I'd feel OK to count books read already.)

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shanaqui
The Fireborne Blade | Charlotte Bond
Pickpick

Received to review!

Lots of fascinating detail here, and it comes together really well. I was left feeling pretty ambivalent about the ending, though I think that's 100% as intended. Vengeance isn't clean and it's probably not good to pretend that it is.

13 likes1 stack add
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shanaqui
Pickpick

This is a good installment in the Edible series -- some of them are a bit drier than others, but this one seemed genuinely enthusiastic about ice cream, and not too pedantic about how X counts but Y doesn't blahblahblah.

It's illustrated and has recipes, like the others, and makes me wonder if we should try making ice cream at home... just to see what it's like.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

OK, that's it, I've clearly entered my nerdiest read for the whole year already. It's all uphill from here. Or downhill, depending on your viewpoint.

I love FFXIV, and spend a lot of time in the game world, and I especially appreciate books and media that add extra lore to it, or just draw out stuff we know from the game. The Encyclopaedia Eorzea volumes contain some plot summaries, character bios, discussions of designs, etc... Lovely resource.

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shanaqui

I love the “Edible“ series, and got this new one for Christmas, sooo when I was restless and couldn't decide what to read, I decided to grab it.

...Mostly right now I am really craving some vanilla ice cream, which was a predictable outcome.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

I mostly read this on the 31st Dec, but I didn't want it to count for 2023, as that'd have had me reading 401 books in 2023. Not a nice number.

So I finished the last few pages today. It's fairly light reading, though it explains some things (like the ways we see colour) very well, and was an interesting read.

Faranae I assume that means it didn't do the weird thing some people are obsessed with Sapir-Whorf to the extreme and think that language color words mean people can't see blue? (This pet peeve gets to stay fresh for me because Japanese is one of the languages that has a word that means both blue and green. It also has words that mean only one or the other, though...) 4mo
shanaqui @Faranae It does have a chapter that touches on Sapir-Whorf, and there it says that obviously people can see and distinguish those colours, and express it when they're given foreign words for them. It does say (and I haven't followed up the source yet) that people from countries with more colour words are quicker to mentally identify certain colours (I'm way oversimplifying this though) under certain test conditions. 4mo
Faranae @shanaqui That sounds very reasonable! 4mo
14 likes3 comments
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shanaqui
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Pickpick

Nearly there...!

This one's pretty in-depth about different kinds of vaccines. In terms of complexity it's aimed at laypeople, but it gets pretty exhaustive and I kind of wonder if people just reading from casual interest would stick with it. Or maybe I just got a bit weary because I know this stuff?

Took me a while for such a short book, but worth it to clarify my thoughts, I think.

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shanaqui

I wanted a short book from my backlog, so after much dithering, here we go! So far the science is pretty basic, in the sense that it's deliberately accessible to laypeople... but it's explained in a way that makes things feel a bit clearer to me (as a person studying for my MSc in infectious diseases). So perhaps not too many surprises likely here for me, but still interesting/useful, so far.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

Sneaking in the backdoor to say hi... I always feel like I'm back and ready to be sociable, and then something happens and I lose track of everything again. But let's give it a go.

I finished this book last night. It's partly a personal discussion of handwriting, partly an account of handwriting styles that becomes US-centric pretty much once the US gets colonised. It has lots of samples, which is helpful in understanding what's described.

Clare-Dragonfly 👋🏻 4mo
10 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
The Mummy Case Mystery | Dermot Morrah

I hunted this down because Martin Edwards mentions it warmly in his book, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, and I got curious. I'm not very far into it yet, of course, but it's very striking how lovingly it evokes Oxford. It reminds me of (of course) Gaudy Night, in that way.

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shanaqui
Pickpick

I did get this finished up. Depressing, but he does mention points of hope.

Just as a note, though, for all he sounds confident in discussing the science he says some very silly things, like referring to "Ebola and Marburg cells". There is not (and never could be) such a thing in existence: they're viruses, obligate intracellular parasites.

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shanaqui

Trying to finish this, this evening! It doesn't have many new insights for me -- David Quammen's Spillover, the pop-sci book that steered me into infectious diseases as a field in the first place, had a lot of the same things to say -- but it does articulate them clearly and with a bigger emphasis on the changes wrought by climate change and in a wider range of places.

It's pretty depressing to read, I'll be honest.

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shanaqui
Death In Captivity | Michael Gilbert
Pickpick

A mild pick here; I found this a bit much in some ways, because even though the description of life in a prisoner of war camp is very light and matter-of-fact... it makes it all the more clear the author experienced it, and is writing from that experience.

Plus, without saying too much, the solution to the mystery is a part of that grimness.

Still, there's something to be said about the power of Gilbert's writing that it made me feel that way!

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shanaqui
Slime: A Natural History | Susanne Wedlich

I needed a bit of a break from the mystery I'm reading, so I picked this up. I think it over-eggs a bit how frightened people are of slime -- slime can be gross, and I'm deeply germ-avoidant but doesn't terrify me in quite the way described.

Still, I'm finding it interesting and very readable.

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shanaqui
Death In Captivity | Michael Gilbert

Well... here I am again. It's been a long time -- exams, health stuff, etc, all have kept me a bit hermitlike for a while. But I'm hoping to find a little more time for Litsy now, at least for a while!

This is my current read, and it feels a bit grim. It's set in a prisoner-of-war camp, presented reasonably cheerfully, but with the grimness of it all never far below the surface. (The intro points out that Gilbert was writing from experience.)

Lindy Welcome back 🤗 9mo
Clare-Dragonfly Good to see you here again! 👋🏻 9mo
Faranae Oh! This one was on my blog awhile back! Two of his fellow escapees also wrote books about their experiences, both memoirs. “When the Moon Rises“ is by Tony Davies (the person Gilbert traveled with), and “Love and War in the Apennines“ by Eric Newby (same camp, but traveled separately as I recall). It's interesting that Gilbert opted to make a mystery novel out of the same experience.

Also welcome back!!!
9mo
See All 6 Comments
rabbitprincess Welcome back! I liked this one. 9mo
shanaqui Thanks everyone!

@Faranae I find it really weird how the feel of it makes it super obvious he knew whereof he speaks. Like there's a lot of fiction about this period that tries to be hyper-realistic and includes oh so many details, but... there's something much more convincing about the glib treatment here.
9mo
Faranae @shanaqui Yeah, a lot of fiction is sort of... trying too hard at grittiness. About the only time I've found that historical writers and people who lived through the events have any sort of match in tone is the Great War, where often the historical fiction writers are not conveying the sheer exhaustion nor sense of absurdity, only the “mud, blood, and tears“ grimness, but at least that part is true to the memoirists as well. 9mo
12 likes6 comments
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shanaqui
BookSpinBingo | Untitled
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Life keeps happening, but I'm still around here somewhere, I promise! Very belatedly posting my list before I go find the numbers and decide whether I have time to do anything but #BookSpin and DoubleSpin this time...

Faranae Neither character showed themselves well in the previous book, but “The Ruin of a Rake“ is fabulous. Same with “Hexslayer“, come to think of it (well Jamie is a barely mentioned side character previously, but Nick is a dick before this one). I'm burning through the KJC books I haven't tried yet, so who knows, I might read that one around the same time as you.

The Garth Nix got put on my TBR by a friend but I'm still on a romance kick...
12mo
17 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
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It's been a bit since I was around, again... life keeps on happening. Rude of it! Anyway, slowly making my way through this one, but I don't think it's really working for me.

I have set up a #BookSpin list, so let's give that a shot...

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shanaqui
Babylon's Ashes | James S A Corey
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I'm really bogged down with this book -- just not enjoying too many of the POVs. I'm trying to read a little each day to see if I can find my way back in.

#BookSpinBingo is going fine, at least! I doubt I can get as close to a blackout this month as last, but we'll see.

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shanaqui
Babylon's Ashes | James S A Corey
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Finally made my #BookSpinBingo card for this month. I've been reading from the list rather at random, but I have His Bloody Project and The Button Box already on the go, so I guess that's my first line!

I've read other books not on the list, but I usually don't count comics, so I might not count them in yet.

Babylon's Ashes is... rough going so far. I am not fond of some of the POV characters...

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shanaqui
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Pickpick

Life keeps getting in my way, but I have written a #BookSpin list and made a start on reading, even if I haven't set up a bingo card yet!

This mystery's an interesting format, basically the detective's letters home to his wife while he's investigating, along with supplementary material he sends her to be filed. I guess I'll be reviewing it for Postcrossing! Also an interesting setting and good use of the music to frame the mystery.

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shanaqui
Babylon's Ashes | James S A Corey
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So close and yet so far! Though, since it's not like it's a competition, I'm going to call this a blackout for myself if I finish Babylon's Ashes before the new numbers are out. It wasn't my fault today was awful, and I didn't even make a list until a week late... so yeah, if I can finish it tomorrow, it still counts for me. 😭

#BookSpinBingo

Thanks as ever to @TheAromaofBooks for this challenge, btw! It helped me read SO MUCH.

rabbitprincess Awesome work! 1y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! Fabulous month!!! And I personally think the BookSpinBingo month runs from the 2nd to the 2nd, so you still have time!! 😁 1y
Faranae You definitely would have finished if yesterday hadn't been a raging dumpster fire that set the whole block ablaze. 😭 🔥 1y
15 likes3 comments
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shanaqui
Daisy Jones & The Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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Mehso-so

Finally finished! This was a drag for me because everyone seemed like an asshole.

I think this is eight lines? Going for the blackout! #BookSpinBingo

CBee I liked this book, but yeah, a bunch of assholes 😂😂 1y
17 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
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I've just started on this one, and it's a really fascinating and intuitively “right“-feeling idea: Google searches tell us things that people never will, even with careful polling. I'm enjoying it so far.

I'm also doing well with #BookSpinBingo; honestly considering aiming for a blackout. I've read 20 books so far this year, not all of which are counted here (I excluded short books).

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shanaqui
A Question of Proof | Nicholas Blake
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Mehso-so

I've been working away on my #BookSpinBingo! And the other day I finished the #DoubleSpin, Blind Tiger, which was a fun read.

Today though I was reading A Question of Proof. It started off pretty slow and unremarkable, but I apparently got into it, because I read most of it this evening.

I don't know if I'd recommend it as such; there was some quite good writing, but I wasn't a huge fan of the detective.

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shanaqui
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I might go back to making my fancy #BookSpinBingo grids with covers, but that's a lot of work for me (I probably do it in a stupid way) and I should stop making my hobbies into work, at least when the urge isn't striking me. So here we go!

I was already partway through a reread of Tropic of Serpents, but had been sadly neglecting it. I love this book, but Life Happened.

Faranae I can't think of any “quick“ ways to do the covers thing - ultimately you still have to find the covers and copy or download them to slap them into the bingo card, and that's a big time suck even if the resizing part goes quickly.

I really like the Lady Trent books in theory, but they also somehow got shoved onto my TBR for ages. Master of Djinn is haunting my TBR, but I'm just not in the mood for it.
1y
12 likes1 comment
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shanaqui
Untitled | Unknown
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It wasn't exactly hard to convince myself to go ahead and make a #BookSpin list, ahaha.

I didn't look at the numbers before I wrote this down. I have already read some books on this list (I included stuff I started in 2023 and which wasn't too short, to give me a fair shot at being able to get a bingo even though I'm starting later): 1, 3 and 5 are already finished up, and I'm partway through 2, 11, 13, 17 and 19.

Off to find out the numbers!

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shanaqui
Bookshelf | Lydia Pyne
Pickpick

Short and sweet -- I love the idea of this series of books, I need more.

Thinking about doing #BookSpin again... I've carefully avoided seeing the numbers so I don't think I'd be cheating to make a list now (and maybe include the books I've already read, since that's 7 books). What do you think?

Faranae I enjoy your bookspin updates even if I'm not doing it myself.

I'm amused that most people shelving this book series are not reading it, but showing off their own bookshelves. 😂 I'll have to read one myself just to see what it's like!
1y
shanaqui @Faranae I really liked this one about bookshelves, at least! I wasn't as enamoured with the one on offices, but I figure that's gonna be how it is with a series of such random topics and all written by different authors. Probably variable in quality as well as interest, too. 1y
10 likes2 comments
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shanaqui

I have a stinking headache, so I'm mostly curled up without screens. I found a stack of omnibuses of the Roderick Alleyn books at my parents', which I'd left there when I moved out, and got the urge to reread -- I inhaled the first book on Boxing Day, but gave it a break until now after that. I actually don't remember much of the plots, it's almost like reading a book I've never read before.

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shanaqui
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Tiny ereader (not a phone! That's an e-ink screen! It's so small and cute) that fits in my tiny handbag. Lifesaver while my wife's run into the shop to do a bit of shopping because my sister's dislocated her ankle. Means I get to read a bit more of this, which I've been gulping down. Apparently this is my jam right now.

Johanna414 What brand of ereader is this? I don't think I've ever seen one so small and I love it! 1y
Clare-Dragonfly Whoa, such a cool little ereader! 1y
shanaqui @Johanna414 It's a Moaan (Xiaomi), a gen 1 Inkpalm Mini. The third gen are a bit bigger (sigh, I like my ereaders titchy -- I still miss the Kobo Mini!). 1y
14 likes3 comments
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shanaqui

Well, I wandered off again. BUT a major timesuck has been removed from my life, and it's a new year/fresh start, so let's see!

I started 2023 by reading Splitting, a book about headaches by Amanda Ellison, which was very simplistic, and Headed for a Hearse by Jonathan Lattimer, an American mystery story I didn't love. I finished 2022 reading Ada Moncrieff's Murder Most Festive and enjoyed it, so I'm hopeful that this will be equally fun.

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shanaqui
The Two Doctors Grski | Isaac Fellman

I like to start my morning with a book, so this morning it was an advance copy of this. I'm going slower with it than I expected, it's quite dense, but I'm pretty intrigued.

Also look! I liiiiive. The burnout has been a whole thing, and I got sick too.

I didn't get a line on #BookSpinBingo last month, and I haven't even made a list for #BookSpin this month. I should do that, because I've had a perfect run on #BookSpin and #DoubleSpin at least...

Clare-Dragonfly I‘m glad you are alive! 1y
16 likes1 comment
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shanaqui

Fascinating stuff! I had no idea about the different types of mRNA they were trying out for formulating vaccines, for instance; this is a pretty easy read for a layperson (I think, though I'm a bad judge at this point as I'm far from a layperson) but I want to go looking for more info on modRNA etc in papers.