Sunday, August 16, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: August 9th to 15th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my tiny and adorable dog next to every book I read, barring the digital comics I get in single issue form.

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

Not pictured: I finally finished my stack of FRUITS BASKET. My attention waned for a couple of volumes there, but it bounced back in a big way with 9. Look at all that emotional resonance coupled with adorability!

And, I finished FOOL'S QUEST, and it was amazing, and I have a lot of emotions. We'll probably talk about it in more detail on Tuesday. (Or you could scroll down to the footnotes for a sorta-related shipping discussion.)

I also read the third volume of MS MARVEL. Look at Kamala Khan, being all great and enthusiastic and keen to avoid hurting anyone as she pursues justice for all! I hurt my face, I grinned so hard at her. Nobody tell Kamala; I don't want her to feel bad.

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, lays on his side on a red tapestry comforter. In front of him is a red-bordered iPod with the cover of China Rich Girlfriend on its screen. the cover features a vector-style drawing of a Chinese woman wearing a yellow dress with a short skirt and a long train. She leads two large white dogs on leashes against a blue background.

Wee Murchie has been sleeping a lot lately. I think the heat's getting to him.

Kevin Kwan's CRAZY RICH ASIANS wasn't quite the Jackie Collins-esque romp I'd hoped it would be, but it was still fun enough that I knew I'd read the sequel. So I jumped in as soon as I finished listening to BARRAYAR (which was great, by the way).

CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND is even more fun than its predecessor, assuming you're into stories about rich, entitled people doing terrible things that're simultaneously censured by the text and celebrated by the society to which these characters belong.

Okay, the text celebrates them too, but it's more concerned with our delight in their extravagance than it is in justifying anyone's poor behavior. It's great "rich people do decadent and/or awful things while ordinary people gawk at them" territory.

Like I said: it's fun. There are random half siblings, wedding-disruption schemes, and people who're like, "That poor boy only has $10 million a year. How does he even live????"

And there's this one character who builds herself a spa because she's totally addicted to spas and having her own is, like, better for the environment because she doesn't have to jet all over the world to use other peoples' facilities. Hello, carbon offset points!

But at the same time, her relatives bring ramen noodles with them to Paris because the food is such poor value for money, and they get housekeeping to hook them up with extra tiny shampoo bottles because who the hell wants to pay for shampoo? That shit is expensive, right?

Private Celine Dion concerts, on the other hand, are an excellent use of one's inheritance.

Basically, I'm having a blast with it. Y'all should read it if you're into salacious stuff. You probably want to read CRAZY RICH ASIANS first, though, since Kwan builds on a lot of the character dynamics he established there.

And hey, he adds footnotes this time around so non-Singaporean or -Chinese readers will get all the references. It's educational. You will learn things about various Chinese languages and the Asian economy, and also GAME OF THRONES.

Murchie lays curled on his red tapestry comforter. His head fills most of the frame, though a trade paperback copy of Prince's Gambit is visible behind him. Its pale purple cover features a line drawing of a sword rack with two sheathed swords in it.

More sleepytimes. Awwwww.

I'd planned to read THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST right after FOOL'S QUEST, but then I realized PRINCE'S GAMBIT is due back on Monday and I can't renew it because someone else has put in a request. Eep!

So I dove in, and I fear it's suffering by comparison. I should've expected it, seeing as how my last two in-print novels were a 6-star read and a 4.5-er, but yeah. This isn't a bad book, by any means. It's just not hitting me the same way as the stuff I read immediately before it.

It also demands you really, really care about the characters, and I didn't find them especially noteworthy in the first book. Plus, I assume I'm meant to ship the hell out of Damen and Laurent, seeing as how this is marketed as romance? (I'd call it fantasy, but the Penguin marketing department did not consult me.) Pacat does some subtle, layered work with their evolving understanding of one another, but even if I were inclined to ship things1, it'd be all but impossible for me to get behind them a as a couple because one of them owns the other one. And I'm 99.9% sure Laurent's uncle molested him, so I'm more inclined to hope for healing on his part than for lots and lots of sex.

Anyways, I thought I might put the book down and try something else (like Harry August!), but I decided to give it until the end of Saturday to draw me in. As I write this, things are looking up but I'm still not sure if I want to expend the readerly energy to finish it by the due date when I could be reading something else from my stack of Stuff I Want To Get To In August. We'll see how it goes.

Next week: a new audiobook. Some comics. HARRY AUGUST. Hopefully CORAMBIS, but I'm reading so fucking slowly that I'm not gonna place any bets on that.

  1. I almost never ship anything because my heart is a cold, barren wasteland. Or maybe because my ships almost always sink (probably because I usually root for the Bad One and Bad Ones so rarely come out ahead of Good and/or Mopey Ones) and I feel the need to protect my warm, verdant heart.

    Except sometimes the ships sneak up on you. Like, you recall how I spent most of this week with FOOL'S QUEST? Well, I keep telling myself I have to stop shipping Fitz and Kettricken because it's not gonna happen, he's always gonna be hung up on Molly and she's always gonna be hung up on Verity and I will cause myself intense readerly pain if I carry on down this path. And besides, they've got a great friendship and fiction desperately needs more friendships between people of different genders.

    And I always think I've got the hang of the whole not-shipping-them thing... until they have a scene together and my fucking heart refuses to listen to a single word my brain says to it.

    There's this part of me that thinks Robin Hobb is legitimately trolling her readers with some of the stuff that happens between Fitz and Kettricken in FOOL'S QUEST. Then the shippy side of me jumps in like, "Maybe she's laying groundwork!" And the rational side of me groans while the shippy side giggles and imagines all these scenarios.

    Never ship anything, kids. It makes you irrational and giggly and inclined to read too much into things.

    (Unless she actually is laying groundwork, in which case I'd like to thank Robin Hobb from the bottom of my heart).

    (Sorry. Shippy side got away from me there. Oh, damn.)


  1. Yay, I am reading China Rich Girlfriend this week as well! It looks like loads of fun, while also totally repulsing me because I cannot with these rich fools. It does also make me feel that I should go learn some more things about Singapore, a country about which I know virtually nothing.

    1. Rich folks, bro. They march to a different drummer.

      One of my uni friends was from Singapore and he told me a few things, but most of it was bad because he really wasn't a fan of his home country and preferred not to think about it if he didn't have to. He always said Singapore is probably fifteen years ahead of Canada when it comes to technology, but the social structures don't favour anyone who isn't extremely rich. He was bummed he had to do without some of the stuff he'd been used to, like electronic bus passes, but on the whole he liked life in Canada much better.

      Then again, right after I landed in New Zealand I met a guy who told me Singapore is a fabulous place on par with NZ so far as standard of living goes. He was a kiwi, though, not a Singaporean, and I'm pretty sure he had a fair chunk of money, so I'm more inclined to listen to my friend.