November is the worst month to have a birthday, my weekend away in London was very nearly called off due to storms and flooding, but we made it! Our main aim was to eat at Dishoom, which was all very delicious, but since our hotel was near the Tower of London, we thought we might as well go look at it. My favourite thing was the Line of Kings, specifically the life size horse models from the 17th century. Just look at their faces!

I also loved the chicken wire sculptures representing the Royal Menagerie. The baboons climbing over the battlements were especially lifelike!

An elephant head made out of chicken wire, sticking out of a window at the Tower of London

Polar bear sculpture made out of chicken wire in a rusted shackle in front of a stone wall.

London was very busy for a drab November weekend, it seems international tourism has bounced back in full force. I don’t think any of them noticed our lack of seriousness as we went round the crown jewels saying things like “Ah, the holy Chambord!”. I can’t believe people queue for ages to see them (there wasn’t a queue, otherwise I would have skipped them).

Sadly Borough Market was just too crammed both days we passed by to go and have a proper browse. I guess it’s a bit of a victim of it’s own success. We did manage to get some massive donuts from a shop nearby, narrowly avoiding what looked like a far-right march being corralled by the police. I can just see my defence if we got caught up in it, “I just wanted a donut, officer!”

The other reason that my blog has been a bit quiet this month is the release of Cities Skylines II, which honestly has been a bit of a disappointment. I play on the Geforce Now streaming service, so I didn’t really see any of the terrible performance problems, but I did have some graphics issues…and even when they got resolved, it was just missing some of the things I liked most about the first game.

In game screenshot of Cities Skylines II - a car park in on fire, the street name is Chirper Street

I don’t expect everything from the DLCs to be included, but the lack of customisable parks and props kind of took away the decorating fun, and I there’s not much control over the type of businesses and industry you get. So once my city grew to a certain size, I just got a bit bored. I will certainly revisit the game in the future, especially if they add in parks and tourism stuff. I have a lot of sympathy for the devs, because I’m sure it’s been a disappointing launch for them too, in a climate where are lot of studios are making redundancies, and some gamers can be incredibly harsh.

Instead I got Anno 1800 on offer and that’s filled the gap with pretty city building combined with hectic resource management.

In game screenshot of Anno 1800 showing a 19th century style town

On the blog:

On My Radar: November

18 Books Involving Intelligence

Books read:


She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

I got this book in a subscription box and it’s probably one of those I wouldn’t have read otherwise, military history isn’t really my thing. I liked parts of this book and the time period was interesting, but I would have liked more fantasy content and it’s more like an alt-history. So it’s very much it’s just not the right fit rather than not being good.

  • ATY # 7. A book with ONE of the five “W” question words in the title

Alias Emma by Ava Glass

This was fun, again not something I would usually read, but I do watch Bond films, and this is a bit like a less misogynistic Bond story, just contained in London. There’s a second book out now, and I would consider reading it when I’m in the right mood.

  • ATY # 24. A character that might be called a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, or Spy

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

This was strange and beautiful, I teared up so many times reading this. I usually gloss over writing about music but something about the way violins are talked about really worked in this. Demon pacts and aliens hiding out in a donut shop obviously helped it along.

  • ATY # 38. A book with the sun, moon, or stars on the cover

Starter Villain by John Scalzi 🎧

Wil Wheaton sounded so annoyed reading this audiobook, I don’t know if he’s always like that? It was off-putting and the humour felt flat for me, which is what this book relies on. I liked the cats though.

  • ATY # 46. A title that contains a word often found in a recipe

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Another villain book but I found this one much more fun, silly but fun! I didn’t find the villain that much more evil that the so-called good guys. I can’t believe I have to wait till September after that cliffhanger though…


Books acquired:

For Review:

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett (Orbit)

Sunbringer by Hannah Kaner (HarperVoyager)

The Cautious Traveller’s Guide to the Wastelands by Sarah Brooks (W&N)

Bought – Physical:

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Orbital by Samantha Harvey

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

A City on Mars by Kelly + Zach Weinersmith

Last to Leave the Room by Caitlin Starling

Bought – Digital:

Starter Villain by John Scalzi (audiobook)

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Same Bed, Different Dreams by Ed Park (audiobook)

The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim

Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto