Sunday, November 8, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: November 1st to 7th

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, with descriptive alt tags, every Sunday.

Not pictured: I finally managed to read some comics! I got through Kieron Gillen's run on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, the end of THE MIGHTY THOR, and all of MADROX. The Asgardian comics didn't hold my interest as well as I'd hoped they would (though the end of JiM was a doozy, even if I did know it was coming), but MADROX was great. I'll start X-FACTOR soon so I can see what the characters get up to next.

I also ended up rereading the first arc of THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL because the trade came in for me at the library and hey! I'd already read the core story! (Doreen's origin was new to me.) It was just as delightful the second time through.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a fluffy white blanket with his face towards the right hand side of the screen and his paws crossed in front of him. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown cuffs. In front of him is a hardcover copy of Sorcerer to the Crown. Its monochromatic red cover features a roaring dragon perched atop the title.

I experienced great sadness last spring when I was the only one of my North American friends who was declined the opportunity to review Zen Cho's SORCERER TO THE CROWN.

The only one. Out of at least seven people, plus a host of others I saw raving about it on Twitter.

I wondered what was wrong with me. Did the publisher hate all my reviews? Was my blog too small? Several of my approved friends read and review SFF only as a sideline, so surely it wasn't because of my occasional side trips into other genres. They had every right to decline me, of course, but it seemed odd given the sheer number of other people they didn't refuse.

Now I know what happened. Ace's PR people looked into the future and said, "This is not the book for Memory, so we'll let her discover it via a library copy instead of wasting our marketing budget on her."

Which is fair enough. Though it pains me to say it, I didn't love SORCERER TO THE CROWN the way y'all did.

On paper, it's totally my thing. It's all mannerly, with plenty of attention paid to the dire influence racism and sexism exert over the politics of magic in this alternate-Regency (or maybe just prior to Regency?) England. Colonialism is a hot button issue. There are shocking revelations and funny bits.

In practice, though, I just couldn't sink into it. I wanted to like Zacharias and Prunella far more than I did. I wanted to be far more interested in their magic than I was. SORCERER TO THE CROWN isn't bad, and I'm sure I would've finished it if I'd read it in late spring or early summer, but I'm at the point in the year when only extraordinary (or very quick) will do.

So I drifted away from it with about 150 pages left, after having spent about four days with it, and I felt freer afterwards.

Maybe I'll try again someday.

Murchie sits on his fuzzy pillow, his head twisted to look at something outside the frame on the right. Directly in front of him, occupying most of the left hand side of the frame, is a white iPod with Mirror Dance's cover on its screen. The cover features two identical white male faces, one flipped and slightly faded.

And now, back to Miles Vorkosigan!

I tried to listen to MIRROR DANCE a few weeks ago, but Hoopla (the library service I use to borrow audiobooks sans wait times) threw a huge snit and refused to play the book past the 18-minute mark, no matter how often I downloaded and re-downloaded it.

After much grumping (and a couple audiobooks from other sources), I eventually solved the problem by updating Hoopla, then updating my operating system, then updating Hoopla again.

It works now! Hurray!

The book was worth the wait, too. As I write this, I'm about six hours in and so much has happened. Like, major stuff. Like, the sort of stuff that makes you go, "ZOMG WHAT IS THIS." And with twelve hours still to go, I'm confident there are some real shitstorms on the horizon.

Y'all know how much I love shitstorms.

Listening time's liable to be in shorter supply now the weather has turned and I can't walk everywhere, but I'll do my best to scrounge some so I can cram this story into my eardrums all the faster. It looks set to be my favourite Vorokosigan novel since THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE.

Murchie lays on his fuzzy pillow with his face quite close to the camera and his paws folded under him. In front of him is a white iPod with Tremontaine's beige-tinted cover on its screen. It features black silhouettes of a number of people who climb in a mass of vines that surround an ovular of a woman depicted in profile.

I took a couple of wee breaks from MIRROR DANCE to listen to the first two episodes of TREMONTAINE, a new serial fiction project in Ellen Kushner's Riverside setting (and the surrounding environs). The serial is designed like a TV show, with thirteen episodes plotted and written by Kushner herself, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, Paul Witcover.

It's off to a great start. TREMONTAINE takes place a fair few years before SWORDSPOINT (soon after Alec's birth, to be exact), and follows a host of characters including: the Duchess Tremontaine, who schemes to rebuild her family's fortune; Kaab, a foreign trader who has just joined her family in the City in the wake of a Terrible Scandal back home; Micah, a neuroatypical mathematican who hasn't bothered to tell her new student friends that she isn't a boy; and Rafe, a scholar who really, really doesn't want to be attracted to the board member who's trying to make the University less user-friendly for its scholars. I'm intrigued by each of the characters and excited to see where things go from here.

It's great to see more POC in Riverside, too (their absence being notable in the three Riverside novels), and of course everyone's wonderfully queer as always.

Oh, and if you subscribe to the serial right through Serial Box Publishing, you get access to the audio editions of each episode alongside the text files in a few different formats. I love this scheme, so I bought myself a subscription as an early combined Hanukkah & Christmas present.

Murchie lays practically atop a white Kobo, the top of his head and his right ear the only parts of him visible. The Kobo is positioned at an angle within the frame. Its cover features a person dressed all in black, a long-nosed helmet atop their head. Brightly coloured flames swirl around their feet, while a glowing orange planet and star-studded space appear behind them.

Okay, so, I'm kind of chickenshit when it comes to books I expect to love. I procrastinate on reading them because what if I do not love them???? That would be the worst.

Which is why I let THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE languish on my Kobo for a solid month before I hunkered down with it.

And oh, friends, I didn't need to be scared! This was everything I hoped it would be and then some. I don't want to tell you too much more today because I should have a full review for you on Tuesday, which is when the trade collection drops.

Lemme just say, though, that SANDMAN is vitally important to me. You've heard me talk about the comics before, and SANDMAN was the first of them. It's how I found my name, even. (I'd never considered abstract concepts until I was midway through SEASON OF MISTS for the first time and something clicked.)

So when I saw OVERTURE on NetGalley, clicking the "request" button was, um, kind of a religious experience. And getting approved was also akin to a religious experience. And reading it was the very most religious experience of all.

Part of me hopes that by bandying "religious experience" about so freely in this wee post I'll manage to avoid it in the actual review, but I think that's probably a lost cause. Nobody's ever gonna take me seriously on account of statements like that, and I'm just gonna have to live with it.

My return to SANDMAN last week also inspired Murchie. He curled up beside me and attempted to dream the dream of a thousand dogs, as pictured. I suppose we'll never know if he succeeded.

Murchie curls up on a red tapestry comforter. He wears a blue and white striped t-shirt. Beside him is a white Kobo with The Queen's black and purple cover on its screen. It features a person's bare, silk-draped feet along the very bottom of the composition, with the title and author above and a plain black background.

Finally: THE QUEEN, the last book in Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series. I procrastinated on this one, too, but that was mostly because I really hoped I could reread the first seven before I dove in. Alas, my three-month reading slump killed all chance of that. I'll have to plan on a full-series reread sometime next year, as my schedule allows.

If all went well, I hunkered down and finished it yesterday. If not, I'll blast through to the end today. A full review should be up on Thursday.

Next week: some stuff from la TBR. I was forced to neglect it this week since SORCERER TO THE CROWN was due back to the library and THE QUEEN was very much in need of some attention, but I will get back to it.


  1. Oh well! Sometimes it goes that way! I liked Sorcerer to the Crown, but I do truly worry that I overhyped SttC in advance of its publication and made people less prone to like it. I enjoyed it a tremendous lot.

    Is Sandman: Overture finished with, do you know? Or is there still more to come?

    1. You needn't fear you overhyped it to me, at the very least. I'm usually immune to hype, except insofar as I feel like a tasteless failure when I don't love the books that had everyone else performing the happy dance.

      Yes, OVERTURE is finished! It's a standalone, except for how it's a prequel-sequel thing.

  2. I recently finished SORCERER TO THE CROWN, and although I liked it well enough, I didn't love it, either. This has actually been quite puzzling to me since it seems like a book I should have LOVED, and yet for reasons I can't really explain, it just didn't keep me eagerly turning pages.

  3. Oh my god, Mirror Dance. It took me FOUR MONTHS to read that book because I kept having to hide from all the terrible things happening to the characters. But it's such a good book!

    1. I finished it this afternoon, and damn. So many terrible things happen to everyone. It was awesome, though, and now I'm all fired up for the rest of the series.