Sunday, November 2, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: October 26th to November 1st

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I combine the two by photographing my dog with every book I attempt to read, barring the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was a bit more than half of Civil War.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a sheep-shaped pillow with his head twisted to the right side of the frame. He gazes into the distance in dramatic fashion. His hair is quite messy. Before him sits a paperback copy of Burndive with only the title and the author, Karin Lowachee, visible.

Murchie is violently opposed to hairbrushes. Literally. He attacks any brush I so much as dangle in his general vicinity. When he was a puppy, I could trick him into submitting to a good grooming if I ran a hairdryer nearby while I got down to it, but he eventually caught on and developed an equally violent aversion to hairdryers.

Dogs, man.

And so I apologize for the following pictures, on Murchie's behalf and my own. We're at the point in his hair growth cycle where he's messy pretty well all the time, which makes him decidedly less photogenic than usual on account of how his hair blends into itself. Sigh.

Anyways: he was quite happy to cuddle his fuzzy self up to me last week while I read BURNDIVE by Karin Lowachee. I was both desperate to read this book and scared it wouldn't live up to the high standard its predecessor, WARCHILD, set, so it took me a day to psyche myself up for it and perhaps another day to sink into it. It is very different from WARCHILD, but I ultimately loved it and had no choice but to binge-read the last hundred and fifty pages.

Now I need CAGEBIRD, the third book in the cycle, and I need it bad. Except the mass market paperback is $25, the ebook doesn't exist, and none of my local used bookstores or thrift shops have copies on their shelves.


I looked into buying a used copy online, but every one I came across was an ex-library book priced at $7-10 with shipping. If I'm going to spend that much, I want it to be free of administrative stickers and I want the author to get some royalties.

Oh, publisher. Why no ebook? I never, ever, ever spend the big moneys on nontransferable media, but I'd totally shell out $9.99 for CAGEBIRD if it was available. Promise.

[Insert grumble about how I still think $9.99 is too much to pay for something I can't share with anyone and will only use perhaps once every two to five years. Digital media is great for the immediacy and the ease of storage, but the pricing makes me come over all scowly when I factor in the nontransferable angle.]

In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to keep looking for a used copy. If I can't find it within the next couple of weeks, I'll ask my mother to trawl the used bookstores of Victoria, BC when she heads there at the end of November. The city is lousy with used books and she's often found obscure titles for me.

Murchie sleeps atop a red blanket. In front of him sits a white e-reader with the cover of Shatter Me on its screen. The image depicts a pale-skinned girl with long, dark hair. She wears a flowing white ball gown and struts forward purposefully.

Since I couldn't have CAGEBIRD, I figured I'd try some other science fiction by women in the form of Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME.

Alas, it wasn't the book for me. I read the first twenty percent, but I didn't click with it enough to keep going. It probably suffered from post-awesome-book syndrome, so I may try again in the future.

Murchie lays within a red blanket nest, his right ear resting along the edge so it sticks up almost straight. In front of him sits a small, blue-toned hardcover. The cover depicts a sailing ship, with a large man seemingly asleep atop the waves in the bottom right hand corner.

Several years ago, I borrowed Drew Weing's SET TO SEA solely because it was small and attractive and I like comics. I expected something shallow but attractive, seeing as how it's a short comic in which each page is a single panel, but it staggered me with its depth and beauty. And of course, I very much enjoyed the seafaring angle. Y'all remember how much I love ships, right?

I reread it last week and am pleased to report it's just as lovely the second time through. You should see if your library has it.

Since I can't have any more Karin Lowachee right now (wah!) and Tahereh Mafi didn't work out, I swallowed my fear of chunksters with tiny typeface and finally began THE SUMMER QUEEN by Joan D. Vinge.

My relationship with THE SUMMER QUEEN is a bit like my relationship with CAGEBIRD. I had to have it the moment I finished its predecessor (THE SNOW QUEEN), but the paperback edition was crazy expensive and I laboured under the misapprehension I wasn't fond of chunksters in ebook form. (I've since realized electronic chunksters are the best thing ever. They take up zero shelf space and they don't hurt my tiny hands. I am Team Electronic Chunkster.) It took me months to find a copy--which, by the way is, is still the only copy I've seen--that comprised nearly 700 hardcover pages printed in 8-point font.

That's fucking tiny.

It took me nine more months to stop being scared of it, but it turns out tiny typeface isn't so bad when you're really, really into the book it occupies. Which I am. I'm so scared for everyone! Joan D. Vinge is wonderfully, wonderfully good at making me fear for her characters. Bravo!

And something good came of my dithering: in the months it took me to start THE SUMMER QUEEN, I acquired TANGLED UP IN BLUE, PSION, CATSPAW, DREAMFALL, and PHOENIX IN ASHES. That's basically everything Joan D. Vinge has published, barring her movie tie-in novels and one early standalone, so I can have me a marathon over the next couple of weeks. Whee!

Sad Murchie rounds out last week. Poor little soul.

I had epic plans for Friday afternoon. It was gonna be me, two pumpkins, my woodcarving tools, and THE RING OF SOLOMON by Jonathan Stroud. Good times.

Except my whole fucking city was sold out of pumpkins. I went to six stores. Six. Not a single one of them had intact, carving-sized pumpkins left.

This is bloody unusual. My grocery store, in particular, always overstocks pumpkins. They have two or three bins worth left by Hallowe'en, and they sell these for dirt cheap. I paid a bit more last year because I had to go first thing in the morning, but I usually pay between $0.25-$1 per pumpkin. It's a hell of a deal for the pumpkin carving enthusiast on a budget.

Either every single store learned how to gauge their pumpkin demand so they'd run out on October 30th or pumpkin carving has become wildly popular in the last year. Either way, I'm fighting-back-tears bummed about it. Pumpkins are my favourite part of Hallowe'en. I've carved at least one every year since I was eight, barring the year I was in Christchurch over Hallowe'en, and I'm having trouble dealing with my lack of carving opportunity this year.

I was going to do Dancing Groot and Rocket, and it was going to be so wonderful.

Murchie's as sad as I am. You can see it in his eyes, yeah?

Next week: Joan D. Vinge binge, baby! (Unless I get burnt out on THE SUMMER QUEEN.) Probably some manga, too, as I just borrowed the first three volumes of a new-to-me series.


  1. Awww, I'm sorry you couldn't get a punkin! My mum did one that was like The Scream and one that looked like a kitty, and she said the Scream pumpkin was scared of cats and was making that face because it didn't like being next to the cat pumpkin. BACKSTORY.