Book Tag | Anonymous Bookaholics

PAINT AND PAPER

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book tag and I saw this great one on Kat @ lifeandotherdisasters blog at the end of July so am finally getting around to doing it now!

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What do you like about buying new books?

You mean, apart from everything? I’m one of those people who really loves the materiality of books (which my partner always laughs at me for!) I love the feel of a new book in my hand, the smell of it, how clean the cover is and how undamaged to the pages are before your first read. I don’t usually ever buy new books either so the excitement of actually purchasing the book is a lovely novel feeling. And, of course, I love taking it home and finding a place for it on my shelves!

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How often do you buy new books?

As I said, I rarely buy new books. With the exception of the books I bought at YALC, as that was a special circumstance, I’ve bought less than 5 new books this year! Most of the books I do buy are from charity shops, I buy ebooks in Kindle sales, and all the other books I read come from the library.

 

Bookstore or online book shopping – Which do you prefer?

I much, much, much prefer shopping in bookstores. There’s absolutely nothing like wandering around a bookstore and looking at all of the beautiful books. Even if it’s just window shopping I can spend a good hour or two just walking around, picking up books and looking at them without even buying anything. However, as I can rarely ever buy anything because of ££, I do prefer actually buying books online just purely because of cost.

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State of the ARC | #1

State-of-the-ARC

State of the ARC is a monthly meme at Avalinah’s Books meant to motivate you to finish up all your long overdue ARCs (Advanced or Early Reader Copies).

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I have been wanting to take part in State of the ARC for a few months but there were a few things standing in the way. Firstly, life happened (doesn’t it always) and I was finding it hard to make time for it and secondly, I got massively put off by all of the graphs! To this day I still haven’t learned how to do graphs so, for now, I’ll be just screencapping my spreadsheet that I made for State of the ARC!

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I have so much anxiety around collecting too many ARCs because I don’t want to let authors and publishers down by taking too long to read the books they send me, so I know that my list is much, much smaller than many other book bloggers even though I’m looking at it right now thinking “oh my god 10 is too many I need to read some!”

A few months ago I did focus a lot on my ARCs because there were a few that had been hanging around since the end of last year and I really needed to get through them, so at present, the oldest one I have is Sky in the Deep from March which isn’t *too* bad. I’m hoping to read one or two this month to start getting through the pile once again.

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That’s all I’ve got for this month. Next month I will either post State of the ARC actually at the beginning or the end of September at a time that makes more sense.

What is the state of your ARC pile at the moment?


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Nine Worlds | Reading List

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It’s that time of year again when I head off to Nine Worlds and we only have 3 more days to go, so in true Avery fashion, I am doing all of my very last minute organizing and posting.

On Wednesday/Thursday, I will do a post about what sessions I am doing this year, where you can find me and what other sessions I am going to! Annoyingly, it didn’t occur to me do a book blogging session (which I’m kicking myself for but there’s always next year), so to bring some bookish love to Nine Worlds I wanted to share some my 9W reading list (let’s not talk about the fact that I don’t have much time left).

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Let’s Discuss | Negative Reviews

Negative Reviews

Sadly I had to put my Let’s Discuss feature on hiatus for a little bit as I work long hours at the weekends and am usually too tired to post on Sunday evenings (and too disorganized to schedule beforehand!), but Let’s Discuss is back this weekend with something that’s been on my mind a lot over the past month – negative reviews.

Of course, there will always be negative reviews of books no matter how good the book may be to you. Every reading experience is individual and every reader will take away something different, which is why reviews are so great! I love reading reviews by reviewers who have a different opinion or take on a book we both read or are planning to read to see what they think. There are times when these reviews can be really helpful, such as calling out problematic representation, but are there times when negative reviews can be unhelpful or even harmful?

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What’s on the Box | Mass Effect 3 & Detroit: Become Human

what's on the box

I introduced my ‘What’s on the Box‘ feature back in April in the hopes that it would encourage me to watch more television. Whilst this might seem like a little bit of a weird one for all of you who fall into deep Netflix holes, I am almost the complete opposite. It is rare that I watch TV even once a week – even if it’s something I really want to watch! Sadly, my little trick doesn’t seem to have worked as I have only ever officially done precisely two WOTB features but I want to bring it back! As I’m still watching much TV I thought I would open it up to video games too, as that’s usually what I’m doing when I’m not reading and there are so many cool games I’d love to talk about with you all!

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Mass Effect 3

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For those of you who have missed all of the ships that have sailed past in which I declare my love for Bioware games, consider this your warning! I have adored Bioware games ever since I first played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and since then have fallen in love with Dragon Age (sobs forever) as well as the Mass Effect series.

Throughout 2018 I have been slowly working my way through the ME games with the love of my life, my FemShep. Without a doubt, she is one of my favourite characters I have ever created and for once I chose a class I don’t normally play – soldier (warrior) as opposed to biotic (mage)! She is a badass f*cking soldier who will kick your ass whilst also bestowing upon you wisdom that will penetrate you to your core.

We’ve had some fun times in ME and ME2 but obviously shit is starting to get really real in ME3, war has arrived on the galaxies doorstep and is about to boot it down with a massive ******** hammer. I adore games with diplomatic missions and dialogue options so am loving all the war preparation stuff in ME3, especially when trying to broker peace with alien species who have been at war for centuries. So far I have done a pretty good job, but there have obviously been some losses which hit me right in the feels and I don’t think I will ever recover from them.

Only complaint so far: I can’t romance James Vega – why, why do you keep doing this to me Bioware?!*

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* For more info, please see my 9W talk w/ Emily on ‘Sexuality in Bioware’

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Book Review: Blackfish City | An Orcamancer, an orca and a polar bear swim into a city…

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TITLE: Blackfish City
AUTHOR: Sam J. Miller
SERIES: N/A
RELEASED: April 2018; Ecco
GENRE: SFF > Dystopian
FORMAT: eARC

KEY INFO: LGBTQ, Indigenous characters, environmentalism, capitalism, wealth inequality and poverty, technology

amazon // book depository // goodreads

five stars

The moment I saw Blackfish City on NetGalley I knew I had to request it, not just for the beautiful covers but also for its entire premise. I adore dystopian/speculative fiction about environmentalism, capitalism, and, of course, anything with human-animal relations so this book was right up my alley. Sadly though, I didn’t enjoy Blackfish City as much as I had hoped although there were aspects I definitely did like!

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Come Together – Character Diversity 

One thing that I wasn’t expecting from this novel was the amount of character diversity. In addition to the collection of Indigenous main characters, there is also a host of LGBTQ characters which was a pleasant surprise especially as one of the main characters (Soq) is a non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns! One thing that did disappoint me though is that although the animals seem like they’re going to play a big part in the story, they don’t and as that was one of the main reasons why I picked the book up I was super disappointed. I feel that more could have been done with the animals and human-animal relations but it seemed like more of an afterthought than an integral part of the story. I mean, you have a polar bear and an orca as potential characters in your story – use them more! Lastly, I didn’t connect with any of the characters at all which is unusual for me.

Slow pacing and switching POVs

My main reason for not enjoying the book is definitely more to do with the plot and narrative. I had been expecting Blackfish City to be packed full of exciting discoveries, character development, and action scenes but to be honest, the entire experience was a bit ‘meh’. The pacing was so slow that I frequently found myself getting bored as it failed to keep me engaged, and finishing the book was a bit of a struggle for me. Usually, I really enjoy switching POVs and find them a great way to grow closer to characters, The Illuminae Files is a great example of this, but in Blackfish City it just fragmented the story without any of the ability to build character feels.

Nanobonding, Crime Syndicates, and AI bureaucrats

There were so many brilliant elements to Blackfish City ranging from the entire premise of being able to ‘nanobond’ with animals, the choking grasp of political corruption despite attempts to stay away from this through the use of ‘objective’ AIs, cool technology, the ‘City without a Map’ podcast, and lots of worldbuilding through capitalist inequalities. I found a lot of the worldbuilding really interesting but wish that it had been utilized a bit better. A lot of things were introduced but then never really fully explored or explained, for example with nanobonding and the companion animals.

The two things I didn’t enjoy about the book was firstly the association of ‘native peoples’ with nature/animals which harkens back to the entire nature/culture argument and the association of native peoples as being closer to nature (and with spirit animals), and the way that the ‘breaks’ was used as a plot tool. The breaks end up sounding exactly like AIDS as it is either passed on from parent/child during birth or through sexual acts (predominantly by gay men). I really, really, really disliked this attribution of a disease to queer people because it is such a tired trope. While anyone can get the breaks, we mostly saw it being passed or experienced by queer people, especially gay men. Lastly, there has been lots of criticism by Asian readers of setting dystopian fiction in a world that is heavily influenced by Asia (which is the case in Blackfish City), as it sets Asia as something ‘exotic’ and ‘other’ which I feel Blackfish City also unintentionally contributes to.

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Overall Thoughts

I did enjoy Blackfish City and there were definitely elements that I was intrigued by or was really happy to see included (yay LGBTQ characters). However, overall I felt that the novel fell a bit flat, didn’t draw upon its strengths and ultimately ended up being a bit meh. I feel like it’s definitely been set up to lead into a second book, but imo its far better to have one outstanding book than saving bits of later on and producing a book that’s not as strong.

This book was received through netgalley

Thank you so much to Orbit for letting me read Blackfish City for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!


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YALC 2018 |Awesome authors, amazing books & awful accessibility

YALC

I return from my first ever YALC!

Last week I posted about my plans to attend the YA Lit Con in London for the first year and wanted to do a little round-up because, unsurprisingly, I picked up a lot of fantastic books, met some great people and attended some interesting panels that I wanted to share with you all.

Unfortunately, not every aspect of YALC was as great as it could have been and, quite frankly, the accessibility was appalling. I posted about it a lot on twitter at the time but wanted to be able to go a bit more in-depth about what actually happened and what could have been done differently to make the entire experience enjoyable.

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