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