Sunday, March 27, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: March 20th to 26th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my dog pose 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'm still chugging through my enormous (and glorious) pile of SKIP BEAT!. I've finally reached the storyline where Kyoko and Ren have to pretend to be siblings, and I'm entirely too excited about it.

I also returned to REFLECTIONS, the Diana Wynne Jones essay collection I started a full year ago and drifted away from for no good reason. It's so lovely to have her words in my head again.

A ginger cat, Ollie, lounges on a buff bar stool, his eyes almost closed and one paw extended. In front of him is a white Kobo with the cover of Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell on its screen. The cover features a white woman with her hood pulled down over her eyes. She holds a dagger in front of her while indistinct spirits, most with green eyes but one with red, swirl around her.

Young Oliver agreed to pose with one last book before he and I parted ways. He tried to play it cool, but we all know he was beyond excited to play model again.

It's been ages since I read any Brandon Sanderson, so I figured I'd tackle the three standalone novellas he's got on Scribd. SHADOWS OF SILENCE IN THE FORESTS OF HELL probably won't stay with me for long, but it served to remind me how much I love Sanderson's worldbuilding. I'm grateful to it for that.

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, pokes his head out of a blanket nest. His chin rests against the edge of the said nest, his paws barely visible to the far side of it. Behind him is a white Kobo with Perfect State's cover on its screen. The blue-toned cover features a man with long blonde hair raising his hand to an enormous, vaguely human robot. Rain falls around them.

Murchie's back; and, as per usual, he decided bed was the absolute best place for him. Never come between a dog and his blanket nest.

He curled up beside me while I devoured PERFECT STATE in a single sitting. This one clicked for me in a way that FORESTS didn't, even as a few things made me roll my eyes. (Like, heels aren't inherently anti-feminist?) It's a fabulous blend of science fiction and fantasy, with a strong side of stay-woke. And there are killer robots.

Y'all know how much I love killer robots.

Murchie lays mostly out of his traditional morning blanket nest, his forelegs extended before him and his head twisted towards the viewer. In front of him is a white Kobo with Sixth of the Dusk's cover on its screen. The green-toned cover features a person looking out over a stretch of water with mountains rising in the distance.

This is one of my favourite Murchie headshots. Behold the precious muffin.

I closed out my mini Brandon Sanderson reading series with SIXTH OF THE DUSK, which I downloaded right before Scribd switched to their three-books-per-month scheme and effectively killed my willingness to read novellas on there. If I've gotta shell out a credit, it's gonna be for something I need more than two hours to finish.

Anyways, SIXTH OF THE DUSK was my least favourite of the three. The opening didn't grab me at all, and I was quite a ways in before I managed to suss out the shape of the story. The ending mostly made up for that, though, and on the whole I enjoyed it very much.

Murchie crouches on a buff coloured pillow. He has his forelegs mostly tucked into his orange t-shirt, and his head is twisted to give the viewer a good look at his impressive muttonchops. Behind him is a hardcover copy of Morning Star. Its cover features the sun emerging from behind an arc of silvery blue against a black background.

I love this picture, too. You can really see Murchie's muttonchops, and his forelegs look about two inches long. Awwwww.

He and I spent a goodly chunk of time with Pierce Brown's MORNING STAR; something I've been longing, and trying, to do for a full two weeks. You recall I'm reading whatever the hell I want this year, yes? It's a mindset that works great when I have stuff in hand, but it's rather less successful when I need to wait for things to come in at the library.

I halfway lucked out with this one. At the very moment I was most eager to read some dramatic SF, the library emailed me to say MORNING STAR was waiting for me and I could toddle down and get it.

Except I couldn't, because it was Wednesday and Wednesday is the library's admin day. And I was busy on Thursday. And late Thursday evening, I read a sample of Alis Franklin's LIESMITH and discovered I had to read that instead of anything else that might float into my purview.

Which included MORNING STAR, when I picked it up the next morning.

Then, of course, I got all wrapped up in STORMBRINGER (LIESMITH's sequel), and SKIP BEAT!, and the Brandon Sanderson mini reading series, and I started to wonder if I still felt like MORNING STAR after all. Maybe I should return it unread and put myself back in the queue.

Obviously, I started it instead of returning it. Excellent decision, Recent Past Memory.

Friends, I didn't want to love these books. I initially abandoned RED RISING in disgust after the protagonist's wife died to inspire him, because that's the most overdone plot device in the world and I'm fucking sick of it. I came back to the book, though, this time on audio, and quickly got sucked in. The series still has issues (like, I don't even know what's going on with race in this far-future society where everyone's genetically sorted into rainbow colours, but they maybe have some racial variation within them? But it seems like most people are pale-skinned?), but it's also hella exciting and binge-worthy. Brown throws about eleven million wrenches into the works, stretching his characters personally and politically throughout. Plus, there are space battles.

I love space battles as much as I love killer robots (and yes, a killer robot also makes a brief cameo).

At first, I thought there was an excellent chance this'd be a 4.5-er, or maybe even a 5-star read, but my engagement did waver somewhat as the action picked up. Still, I loved it and had no choice but to stay up late on Saturday night so I could finish it. Shit got real near the end, and I wasn't gonna be able to sleep with that hanging over me.

Oh, and if you were wondering, this volume does (briefly) address how extremely fucked up the inspiring-dead-wife thing is. Thanks, Pierce Brown.

Also, I've gotta make note of how much I'm missing Tim Gerard Reynolds's narration. I thought he did fabulous things with Darrow's accent throughout the first two books, and I hope I can reread this one on audio someday so I can learn how he handles it in the denouement.

A large-headed bobblehead of Baby Groot, a tree-person in a small white pot, appears against an orange canvas background beside a white iPod with The Miracle of Mindfulness's purple, text-centric cover on its screen.

Having finished (and loved) A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, I needed a new audiobook. Scribd delivered in the form of THE MIRACLE OF MINDFULNESS by Thich Nhat Hanh.

It's a religious text and I don't want to get all religiony on you here, so let's just say it's got me thinking about my personal relationship with Buddhism and how I can improve my mindfulness without losing the essence of who I am.

(With that attitude, it's gonna take me at least another lifetime to reach nirvana. Probably more. I'm cool with it.)

Murchie needed a break, so I called upon Dancing Groot to pose with the book. Dancing Groot is possibly the most mindful person I know. Little dude's even got the half-smile Master Hanh talks about down pat. I suck at that myself, being a non-smiler1 in general.

I smile when I mean it, so I guess my challenge is to mean it when I meditate. I'll work on that.

Next week: lots of library books. (Or a couple of library books, at any rate.) Hopefully that Special Guest Star I promised you last week. Definitely Murchito.

  1. The woman who took my grad photo gave me a lot of grief over my pose. We ran through the usual stuff where they make you tilt your head at a horribly unnatural angle and fix your gaze on some unknowable future. I went along with all of that, but I drew the line at smiling.

    She was relentless. I had to smile. I had to. Smiling was super important.

    Finally, I got fed up and asked if she wanted to see why I wouldn't smile. Then I smiled at her.

    She agreed I didn't have to smile after all.


  1. Yep. I am not reading novellas and comics if they need credits. Hopefully some will be offered unlimited. :(

    1. Yeah. :( As things stand, I see myself sticking to nonfiction, thicker short story collections, and digital first titles on there from now on. And I'm gonna be double checking everything to ensure it's not at my library before I use a credit on it.

  2. That smiling story is a horrible story. But also (don't be mad at me) it made me feel a teeny weeny bit better about how totally unphotogenic I am. Here this will help: When my mum was a little girl and they were practicing Christmas songs for the Christmas pageant, the head nun told my mother to stop singing because she was ruining the song. It was much like the child in the movie Prancer.