Sunday, November 22, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: November 15th to 21st

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the 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, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: I read THOR #8, so I can stop avoiding identity-centric spoilers! Which would be more of a relief if I hadn't stumbled across one a mere week before the comic hit Marvel Unlimited. Sigh.

I carried on with K.J. Parker's MEMORY, too. I thought I might finish it, but it's back in a boring segment so I'm gonna stick to the same old scheme: 100 pages after every other book I finish.

And I listened to the latest episode of TREMONTAINE, which continues to delight me.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sprawls on his side on a red blanket. His front paws are stretched before him and his right ear is raised. Immediately in front of his nose is a trade paperback copy of The Likeness. The title appears in black against a worn blue background with black edges.

I said I'd read THE LIKENESS next, and lo! I did.

Tana French is so good at writing intense friendships, y'all. She excels at showing why they work in the first place, and what causes them to crumble from the inside out. Y'all know I'm a sucker for fictional friendships, so I gobbled this down as quickly as ever I could (which, alas, wasn't as quickly as I would've liked).

I loved it, but in a shocking deviation from the societal norm I think I loved IN THE WOODS a bit more. Weird, right?

And this is a peculiar thing to focus on, but it makes me happy that Lexie hates onions because of their mouth feel (the same reason I hate 'em), and that her friends respect this by only having oniony foods once a week. Y'all don't even know the pain I experience whenever someone assumes "I don't eat onions" means "I'm willing to pick the onions out and/or eat them to be polite." NO. It means exactly what it says and it's rude to serve someone a meal that contains something they've specifically told you they don't eat.

Don't do that. Ever.

Anyways, I look forward to reading more of French's books once I'm out from under la TBR.

Oh! Random thing! Until last week, I had no idea that Rafe-pronounced-Ralph was short for Raphael. I thought it was just one of those weird Anglo Saxon pronunciation things. I have a fake brother named Raphael (long story), so maybe I'll start calling him Rafe for short. Except I'll pronounce it like it's spelled, because that sounds cooler than Ralph.

Also, I totally used to think there were three Fiennes brothers: Rafe, Ralph, and Joseph. I was shocked when I learned Rafe and Ralph are THE SAME PERSON (who really does have a nose, no matter what your TV screen may tell you). How very like a Tana French novel.

Murchie lays on his red blanket, his attention fixed on something to the right of the frame. Fanned in front of him are three volumes of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift. The most visible of these has  red-tinted cover featuring a person encased in a bubble of air. They face off against a massive giant in red armour.

It took a bit of prompting, but my library finally ordered the final volume of THE RIFT, one of Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru's AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER comics continuations. I borrowed the first two volumes alongside it so I could refresh my memory and enjoy the story in its entirety.

These comics are so good, y'all. If you loved the cartoon, you have to check them out. Start with THE PROMISE, then read THE SEARCH before you head along to THE RIFT. A new miniseries called SMOKE AND SHADOW has just started, too, and I've got my fingers crossed my library fast-tracks the firsts volume through processing.

Murchie hunches on a fuzzy, cream-coloured pillow. He's had a haircut and he wears a red Fair Isle sweater with a hood and a fuzzy cream liner. Directly in front of him, propped up against the pillow, are trade paperback copies of the first two volumes of iZombie. Volume one features a pale-skinned, white-haired woman with half her face zombified. Volume Two features the lower face and long neck of a brown-skinned vampire.

My Twitter timeline is always full of praise for the CW's iZOMBIE adaptation, but I missed the first season, it's characteristically absent from Netflix Canada, and I'm still waiting for the library to order it. Blah.

Since I can't watch the show right now, I borrowed the first two volumes of the comic. As I write this, I've tackled Volume One, DEAD TO THE WORLD, and... well, I'm not as engaged as I'd like to be. The bulk of this premiere volume is focused on setup, though, and it does deliver a pretty good hook in the final issue, so I'm going to at least try the second volume, uVAMPIRE, before I give up.

Murchie lays on his fuzzy pillow. He wears a blue hoodie with white trim, and has a mournful expression on his face. In front of him at an angle is a hardcover copy of Heaven Chronicles. The cover features a terrible painting of a short-haired white woman peering around a window frame through which we see a rocket ship flying towards a ringed planet. Or she could be doing something else entirely with the window frame. The picture is that terrible.

Murchie had a shitty Saturday. It was cold, there were disturbances, and he had to look at the terrible, terrible cover of Joan D. Vinge's HEAVEN CHRONICLES.

But wait! This cover isn't just terrible on an aesthetic level--it's also whitewashed.

Bloody hell.

The book itself collects Vinge's first two longer published works: LEGACY and THE OUTCASTS OF HEAVEN'S BELT, novellas set in and around a future Earth colony that's run into some hard times thanks to limited resources and civil war. Everyone's a POC, and while nobody appears to be very religious they all swear by Allah and Shiva, from which I have cleverly deduced that Islam and Hinduism are either still practiced or held out for long enough to shape the established lingo in this part of the universe.

Y'all know I always prefer Vinge's chunksters to anything below, say, four hundred pages, so you'll be unsurprised to learn I wasn't super into the first novella on the story front; however, I found the book interesting as an artifact with clear ties to male-authored SF from the 60s and 70s. I also very much appreciated the nobody's-white-or-Christian angle.

(It scares me when I see Christianity treated as the unquestioned default, in fiction and in everyday life. I wrote a whole big post on it once, and I never published it because I'm that terrified of Christian privilege.)

I probably started the second novella last night, if I didn't get sucked into a JESSICA JONES marathon.

ETA: the second novella does have a white woman in it, so I guess that's probably supposed to be her on the cover. Still, it's pretty telling the art director chose to feature a white character when everyone else is brown.

Murchie still lays on his pillow wearing the same hoodie, but now he looks much happier (or at least less actively pissed off). In front of him is a white iPod with Cetaganda's cover on its screen. The cover is indistinct, but appears to show a long corridor with lights placed at regular intervals.

Winter is a difficult time for me, so I make a point of doing happy things. And my Christmas tree makes me happier than anything else in this [extreme profanity redacted] season, so I put it up yesterday.

I listened to a little less than half of Lois McMaster Bujold's CETAGANDA as I assembled the thing, convinced the built-in lights to work, and hung my ornaments. It's another of those flashback books; having seen what twenty-eight-year-old Miles is up to in MIRROR DANCE, we pop back to twenty-two-year-old Miles's adventures alongside his cousin and frenemy, Ivan.

(I quite like Ivan, in large part because I'm not sure he realizes he and Miles are frenemies rather than straight-up friends, and he behaves accordingly.)

I can already tell it's gonna be one of those installments I really like rather than love, but that's okay. MIRROR DANCE was so amazing that I'm quite content to listen to a couple of merely-enjoyable selections in its wake.

(This stipulation applies only to the Vorkosigan books. Mira Grant's FEED, which I listened to immediately prior to CETAGANDA, blew my frickin' mind.)

Next week: perhaps a review copy. More comics I borrowed from the library in a fit of must-read-right-now-oh-god-oh-god and did not, in fact, read the instant they were in my hands.

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