Sunday, December 7, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: November 30th to December 6th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my dog pose beside every book I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was the end of Infinity.

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

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, stands before a lit Christmas tree and a white Kobo with the cover of Prince of Tricks on its screen. The red-tinged cover depicts a pale-skinned, shirtless man stretching with his hands behind his head. Onion domes are visible in the background.

Oy; the trouble I went to to get this picture. Murchie, bless his little heart, wanted to press his head against the pillow and dig his way to China. I wanted him to face the camera at an attractive angle to my Kobo. A battle of wills ensued.

I won, obviously, but it was a near thing.

Anyways, I continued my long-awaited Jane Kindred binge with PRINCE OF TRICKS, the first book in her Demons of Elysium series. It's a prequel set around twenty years before the House of Arkhangel'sk books (see: last week), and as such is a smaller story with smaller stakes. Some biggish political things happen, but since it's a prequel we know they're not really going to stick. Mostly, the book is about how Belphagor and Vasily fit together as a couple.

Sex is a huge part of that, of course. PRINCE OF TRICKS is unabashedly erotica.

It didn't hit me as hard as any of the books in the previous series, but I still enjoyed it very much. It's always fun to see more of characters one loves, and to watch an author expand her world in a different direction.

Murchie lays beside a white Kobo with King of Thieves's cover art on its screen. The orange-tinged cover depicts a pale-skinned man with a red fauxhawk. His naked back is to the viewer.

KING OF THIEVES, now, I loved. It picks up a few months after PRINCE OF TRICKS and contains lots of delectable relationship drama. I do so love relationship drama, y'all. The prequel thing is still something of a factor, but somehow it doesn't matter as much this time around. Everything's tense and painful and rather heartbreaking, not to mention totally addictive.

There's also plenty of solid stuff about consent, as well as a plot to destroy a child prostitution ring. I'm always on board with consent discussions and people taking child molesters down.

Murchie lays on a fuzzy red blanket with a white pattern. His paws are crossed in front of him and his head is twisted to one side. Near him sits a white iPod with Shards of Honor's cover on its screen. It depicts two people in portrait their features indistinct at this angle.

I finished listening to BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE, experienced the expected number of emotions (OH MY GOD, MR GRAY, WHEN DID I GET THIS ATTACHED TO YOU????), and got Murchie to approve my next audiobook: SHARDS OF HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold.

It was my first Bujold. I know. I'm perennially behind on pop culture.

I still can't quite decide whether I loved the book or just really liked it, but I'm coming down on the I-really-liked-it side. The narrator may have something to do with that. He's got one of those voices that's just perfect for between-the-wars mystery novels; all mannered and affable and inclined to take things as they come. This works very well for the mannerly and affable parts of the text, but I found it a bit jarring when it came time for the action sequences and it downright put me off during the sexual violence. On the one hand, I can understand the narrator maintaining some distance during those bits; on the other, the tone is wrong, wrong, wrong. I heard it as offhanded, more than distanced.

Then again, the fault might lie in the text itself. It's tough for me to gauge it without actually reading those scenes in my own manner. I'm almost certain I'd have performed them differently, though, regardless of how they look on the page compared to in the ear.

It's like, when I was fifteen my English class studied war poetry. War poetry is a reaction to the horrors of trench warfare and wide-scale conflict, and it is fucking angry.

We read a lot of it aloud, and I was disgusted with the tone certain of my classmates adopted. They made it sound like this was a pleasant reminiscence rather than a furious condemnation. Thankfully, the teacher noticed my disgust and took pity on me when she asked me to give us a different vocal interpretation. I was happy to do so.

It's the same basic idea with audiobooks. You can't read a scene in which prisoners of war discuss rape in the same tone as you'd read a scene in which the main character and her love interest talk about a cross-country trek. It doesn't work.

Murchie sits beside a white Kobo with Master of the Game's cover art on its screen. The blue-toned cover depicts a dark-haired, pale-skinned man wearing an open hoodie.

While I was busy being grumpy with some aspects of SHARDS OF HONOR, I brought my Jane Kindred binge to a close with MASTER OF THE GAME. I'm gonna miss Belphagor and Vasily an awful lot, y'all, just as I missed Nazkia and Love terribly all through this series. (Neither of them has been born by this point in the timeline, though Nazkia does make a small, in-utero cameo in this installment.) I dearly hope Kindred someday writes a sequel series about Ola, or adds a couple more volumes to this particular series. I'd greedily devour either offering.

Hey! Murchie-related sidenote! Vasily is one of my favourite names, and I strongly advocated for it as Murchie's name after someone told me poodles originated in Russia, not France. (More recent research indicates they were first bred in Germany, but I like the Russian story better because I am deeply fond of Russia.)

My family was not on board with this suggestion. They also vetoed Ilya (another favourite name) and Alexi (which I put forward as an alternative to Andy, my parents preference). After much bickering, my grandmother stepped in and insisted we had to name him after tea, seeing as how he's a teacup poodle. We all decided we preferred Murchie to Tetley (Murchie's being a tea shop in Victoria, BC), so he became Murchie.

Murchie roars, or maybe yawns, in front of a hardcover copy of The Yiddish Policemen's Union. The turquoise spine and portions of the black, red, and white front cover are visible.

I figured it was about time I read something in hardcopy, so I grabbed THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION off the shelf and presented it to Murchie.

He expressed his feelings with a mighty roar that could have been a massive yawn. Either way, I'm sure he had my complicated history with Michael Chabon in mind.

A brief recap: THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY blew me out of the water and promptly became one of my favouritest books of all time. I liked MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS very much. WONDER BOYS didn't hook me, though I did finish it. That was not the case with GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD, even though I would've said I was totally into rousing tales of Jewish dudes with swords.

I've decided THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION will be my tiebreaker. If I love it, I'll attempt more of Chabon's books somewhere down the line. If I don't, I'll assume K&C was a one-off.

As of Saturday evening, things do not look good for Mr Chabon. I started the book a day and a half ago and have only read about thirty-five pages. Even when you factor in the time I spent finishing Infinity, that ain't so good.

Maybe it'll entrance me once I take a proper stab at it.

Murchie yawns, or maybe roars, while laying on a sheep-shaped pillow in front of a white iPod with The Warrior's Apprentice's cover art on its screen. The cover is an angled portrait of a pale-skinned man with short brown hair.

Murchie repeated his roar/yawn act when I showed him THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE by Lois McMaster Bujold, my newest new audiobook. I made a great start on it yesterday afternoon, and I think I'm gonna like Miles Vorkosigan an awful lot.

Next week: fewer books, probably, as I tackle some longer stuff. Maybe some non-Marvel comics. Perhaps another audiobook if I make short work of THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE. Definitely CAGEBIRD, which my lovely mother found for me in the wilds of British Columbia.


  1. Murchie is adorable, as always. I've wondered how he got his name! I've never read any Chabon, and may rectify this in 2015.

    1. I can generally tell whether people have visited Government Street in Victoria based on whether they say, "Oh! I get it!" or "Why the hell would you name a dog that?" when they first hear about Murchie. :)

      You really must try THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY. It lives up to its name.

  2. WHEN WHEN oh Memory WHEN will you write about Blue Lily Lily Blue? Soon, right? Super duper soon? I want to hear what you thought!

    1. Probably not for a couple of weeks. :( I've struggled to write about books lately. Even putting this wee post together led to oodles of, "Ugh; I have to have concrete opinions about things?"

      I will do it, though. Even if I just kind of gush for five hundred words or so.

  3. You know I always love looking at pics of Murchie and your books on Instagram. :)

    Happy reading!