Sunday, August 23, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: August 16th to 22nd

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my tiny and adorable dog pose with everything I read, barring the digital comics I read as single issues.

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

Not pictured: STAR WARS #2 was great. Thanks for existing, STAR WARS.

(Yeah; my comics consumption is waaaaaaay down. More on that below.)

A hardcover copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August stands upright near the front of the frame. Its blue-tinted cover features the title picked out in bright dots of white. The I in Lives is the silhouette of a person. A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, sits some distance behind the book, his back to the viewer but his head twisted so he appears in profile.

An important thing about me: I fucking hate spending more than three days with a book. It's usually bearable if we're talking about a chunkster or something, but it's intolerable with a 400-pager. Barring boredom and/or especially dense prose, a book like that oughta take me three days at the absolute most.

Which brings us to THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST, an engaging and inventive novel I'm enjoying very much and have been reading since fucking Monday.

I'm a prickly person at the best of times, and I had one of those weeks where pretty well everything except Murchie pissed me off. (The little dude threw up on my comforter not once but twice, and I just rolled with it even as I absented myself from polite company so I wouldn't go apeshit on anyone for, like, chewing too loudly.) My reading speed was an important contributing factor. I require a steady diet of story1 or I get seventeen kinds of antsy.

But yeah. I'm enjoying HARRY AUGUST very much when I actually sit down with it, and I hope to hell I can actually finish it today.

Murchie lays curled on a red tapestry comforter. A white iPod with The Diviners's cover on its screen lays in front of him. The blue-tinged cover features a drawing of an eye enclosed within a keyhole-shaped marquee that also includes the book's title and author.

I'd planned to revisit THE DIVINERS in print, but given my current inability to read at anything like a decent pace I figured I'd do better to grab the audiobook instead. So that's what I did.

And hey! I started and finished it before I'd read much more than half of HARRY AUGUST! Good plan, self.

The narrator delivers a fantastic performance. Her Evie is great, and I fell so hard for her Theta. So hard. The book itself didn't entrance me quite as much as it did the first time through, but I still loved it. It's got heaps of my favourite things: ghosts and malevolent houses and the theatre and people discovering magic. And it's the 1920s, and there are POC and at least one queer character, and all the girls have mega-guts. And there are dark secrets and daring rescues.

Plus, I'm so impressed with how Libba Bray has upped her friendship game. Y'all know I'm not a fan of her Gemma Doyle Trilogy2, and most of my indifference stems from an inability to believe in the girls' friendship. Here, Evie and Mabel are super different, but it's also super obvious why they're friends. Hurray!

Murchie stands outdoors on a concrete step. Slightly behind and to one side of him is a hardcover copy of Thor Volume One: Goddess of Thunder. Its cover features a close-in illustration pale-skinned blonde woman wearing a chrome mask that covers the top half of her face. Lightning crackles around her.

My library and Marvel Unlimited are in constant competition with one another. This time around, the library gave me the first arc of THOR on the same day the arc's final issue went up on Marvel Unlimited. It's a tie! Whee!

The series is off to a good start, though I'm not totally in love with it yet. I'm having a blast with the contrast between Thor's inner monologue and the Asgardian stuff that comes out of her mouth, and of course I'm super curious as to who she is.

Don't tell me. I've been avoiding spoilers and if you tell me I will never, ever forgive you.

A small vinyl figure stands beside a white iPod with The Black Tulip's cover on its screen. The cover features a pattern of red and gold tiles with the title in the centre. The figure is done up as Hawkeye. he wears a black and purple leather outfit and carries a black bow.

Poor Murchie was stressed out on account of a brutal thunderstorm that raged most of yesterday, so I got Tiny Hawkguy to stand in for him with my second audiobook of the week.

I took a long-ass walk on Friday because I needed to absent myself from polite company on account of this prickly asshole thing I've got going on. This might've worked out better for me if the Scribd app hadn't thrown a fit and deleted THE DIVINERS just as I reached the thrilling climax.

Robbed of my book and far away from a wifi connection, I started THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo. And Scribd did the exact same thing as soon as I paused it.

Guess how much that helped with the prickly asshole thing.

So I swore a lot and growled a bit, and I started THE BLACK TULIP by Alexandre Dumas.

Y'all have probably heard me talk about THE BLACK TULIP before because it's one of the eight books I've loved straight from the first word to the last. Alas, it isn't an ideal audio pick. Dumas is a ton of fun to read because he writes these long, twisty sentences that're a real treat to follow. He's less fun to listen to because it's awkward to go back and reread any of the twisty-turny bits that elluded you the first time through.

Plus, this narrator delivers more of a reading than a performance, and I'm not sure she really gets the irony and the humour in play.

I'd have switched to something else, but all the other books I'd stored on my iPod were about twice as long as THE BLACK TULIP and I didn't want to have to growl my ass off if Scribd deleted one of them. So I listened until I reached a library with a wifi connection and could a) re-download THE DIVINERS (which I then finished) and b) acquire an update that Scribd swore would fix the delete-the-saved-books issue (seems legit so far, and also appears to eliminate the lose-your-place-when-you-pause issue).

And I've finally found my rhythm with it. The audio presentation still isn't the best, but I've spotted enough of the book I loved to carry me through. Dumas really is a lot of fun. I mean, he makes tulip breeding tense and exciting. Everyone's dying and getting imprisoned for life and falling in love as they weather incursions from sinister tulip-fanciers who're after their 100,000-guilder discovery.

It's pretty great.

Next week: LAIR OF DREAMS by Libba Bray, since I figure I ought to ride the momentum I got from rereading THE DIVINERS. THE GHOST BRIDE, which seemed great for the twenty minutes I had it in my eardrums before Scribd got stroppy. Maybe another novel. I don't even know.

  1. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES took some of the edge off. I'm rewatching it at a rate of one or two episodes every couple of days because I'm doing everything slowly right now. [profanity-laden rant redacted] You can follow my rewatch on Twitter, where I highlight every single white pillar candle sighting and offer snarky comments as to the merits (or lack thereof) of mopey vampires and evil twins.

  2. In thinking about this, I realized Felicity belongs on my Queer Assholes List. Y'all know I had some trouble digging up fictional female Queer Assholes, so I'm rather relieved to remember her even though she's never gonna be anything like my favourite.


  1. Roomful of candles: Automatic universal drinking game rule. Oh, and did I tell you about our other universal drinking rule where if the background song is weirdly on the nose, you drink? The CW is particularly prone to this -- like, Elena will hit a deer with her car, and the Florence and the Machine song that comes on as Elena weeps will be all "She hit a deer with her car / and now she's sad."

    I did not remember that you didn't like the earlier Libba Bray books, and I find it a more compelling recommendation for The Diviners than any I have yet seen.

    1. My very favourite thing that's ever happened on TVD, ever, is when Bonnie and Damon go to the grocery store and pass by the WHITE PILLAR CANDLE SECTION.

      Because apparently the residents of Mystic Falls need so many white pillar candles that they sell 'em right at the grocery store.

      Jenny, THE DIVINERS is soooooooooo much better than Libba Bray's earlier books. Sooooooo much better. It's tense and exciting and there's awesome magic that actually makes sense and people have these great friendships and not everybody's white and hetero and able-bodied and THERE ARE GHOSTS.

      I love it very much.

  2. I'm 100% with you on reading speed. I'm reading The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin right now. It's like 400 pages and rull good but somehow I've only read 20 or so in the last two days?? I don't know what's wrong with me and it's ANNOYING. I have so many other books to get to!

    Sorry that Black Tulip wasn't as fun of a listen! I haven't read any Dumas before, and I hope to get to him soon.

    *shakes fist at Scribd*

    1. My sympathies, friend. I've been reading my current book for almost a week, too, and it's driving me up the wall. It's so good! Why can't I sit down and read it?!

      Dumas is soooooo worth making time for (except maybe not on audio). He's a ton of fun. You know how he wrote his books? He'd draft an outline, give the outline to an assistant who'd actually write the thing, then go back through the assistant's first draft to add fancy wordplay and fight scenes. That delights the hell out of me. It's such a hack thing to do, and yet it produces such wondrous results.