Sunday, September 28, 2014

Murchie Plus Books - September 21st to 27th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog in front of everything I read, with the exception of the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was a fair bit more by POC writers and artists, though I didn't have time to read as much as I would've liked.

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

A short-haired grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a sheep-shaped pillow, his attention focused on something to the right side of the screen. Behind him sits a hardcover copy of My Real Children. Its cover depicts two identical female figures superimposed on one another but twisting in different directions.

I'm trying really, really hard to get through all the books I actually own, so I've cut back on my library usage. I rarely request a title without a wait list, and I suspend most of my waitlisted holds so they don't catch me unawares.

They did just that in early September when I forgot to reset the suspensions and received a truckload of books I wasn't ready for, all at once. None of them were renewable and most of them were heavier than Murchie, so I ended up returning them unread and losing my spot in the queue.


I thought I'd end up doing the same with MY REAL CHILDREN, but I decided to squeeze it in because it's so very, very short and I was looking forward to it so very, very much. Best decision ever. The book absolutely blew me away. Murchie can attest to the number of tears I shed as I read it. He thought something had gone wrong with me, though he was most grateful for the extra cuddle time.

I'm not yet sure if I'll review it--it was one of those amazing books--but if I do, my thoughts should go live around mid-October.

Murchie glares at something off screen from the safety of his sheep-shaped pillow. Beside him sits a white iPod touch with The Maze Runner's cover on its screen. The cover is hazy green and brown, but difficult to make out in its entirety.

A great many sad, audiobook-free days after I finished MISTBORN, the library informed me I could download and listen to THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner as soon as I pleased. I got it on my iPod, stuck my earbuds in, and proceeded to listen to a goodly chunk of it while I tackled some hands-on-brain-off tasks.

And I didn't get along with the story at all. I couldn't find a reason to care about any of the characters, let alone wonder why they were stuck in this Glade place. Fast-paced books sometimes hit me this way. The very fact that they dive straight into the action alienates me since I don't have a chance to develop an emotional connection to the characters.

I almost never abandon audiobooks, but I figured I'd make an exception for this one. Life's short and I don't want to clutter it up with unappealing listens.

A black and white photo of Murchie tucked beneath a tapestry comforter, one ear askew so it rests atop his head. Beside him sits a white iPod touch with the indistinct cover art for The Amulet of Samarkand displayed on its screen. The iPod is propped against a paperback copy of the book with only one corner visible. The illustration depicts an amulet clutched in an otherworldly hand.

So there I was, sans audiobook once again. There are still two people between me and DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS, so I searched for something else to occupy my time and settled on a rare relisten: THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND by Jonathan Stroud.

The saga, in brief: I read the book 'round about 2007 and loved it. I revisited it on audio in 2011 and, well, didn't love it anymore. I still liked it very much, mind, but the spark was gone.

I shrugged, sighed, and pushed my plan to reread the rest of the series to the back burner.

I really did want to reread them, though, if only because I'm trying to whittle down my personal library and I don't like to discard formerly beloved books until I've given them another shot. It had been long enough that I needed a refresher, so back I went to THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND.

And y'all, I loved the hell out of it. I don't know what 2011 Memory was thinking. The performance is fabulous, the footnotes work well on audio (though they're still the most fun in print), and the story itself is gold. Bartimaeus is one of my favourite narrators. He's snarky, unreliable, and not nearly as awful as he'd like you to believe him to be. I love him to death and cannot wait to revisit THE GOLEM'S EYE.

So of course, someone else has it out. Listen quickly, fellow library patron. I need more Bartimaeus, stat.

Murchie flops on his side beneath the overhang of a red tapestry comforter so only his face and front paws poke out. Beside him is Guardian of the Dead. Its cover features a stark white mask, photographed from below, against a dark background.

My foray back into Bartimaeus's world left me eager for some more children's or YA lit, so I chose GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD by Karen Healey as my follow-up to MY REAL CHILDREN. People have been recommending it to me for years and years and years, and I figured it'd be a quick read besides.

Well, it wasn't, but that was at least partly because I spent so much time listening to THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND that it bit into my regular old eyes-on-page reading time. When I actually did settle down to read it, it proved just as wonderful as everyone promised. I've already begun recommending this mythology-rich contemporary fantasy to all and sundry, and I don't see myself quitting any time soon.

Oddly enough, Murchie mostly steered clear of me while I was reading it. Maybe the cover scared him; or maybe he was too busy snuggling up next to my aunt, who visited last week. After all, a dog's gotta take advantage of any chance to curl up with a visitor from out of town.

A slim paperback with a light purple cover occupies most of the foreground. The cover art features two sparse flowers, their bulbous heads downturned. Murchie lies in the background, tucked beneath a comforter.

He rejoined me for TREBLE, a poetry collection by Evelyn Lau. Lau's poetic turns of phrase impressed me so much throughout RUNAWAY, her memoir of life on the streets, that I decided she was the perfect person to help me ease back into the wonderful world of poetry.

I was right. Two more of her poetry collections are waiting for me at the library, so I imagine you'll see them soon.

Next week: a highly anticipated YA contemporary, a stack of manga, and a chunkster, probably, if I can get up the gumption to start another 1000-page behemoth.


  1. I finished The Maze Runner and pretty much hated it. I thought it was poorly written and boring! So you are not missing anything :)

    My sister assures me that the movie is much better though!

    1. I feel awesome about my decision!

      I wanted to read it (well, listen to it) in advance of the movie, but now I figure I'll wait until it's on one of the movie channels.

  2. Your dog photographs are SO CUTE. I took some pictures of Jazzy with The Raven Boys (which I'm reading to my sister, and we're just getting into some intense bits -- Blue and Gansey are just visiting the church? You know? that part?), and they are all pictures of her back legs as she runs away from me. I hope she'll get acclimated like Murchie has!

    1. I'm sure she'll come around! Murchie always used to run away when I tried to pose my books beside him, but now he's willing to do cute things most, if not all, of the time.

  3. I'm apprehensive about "My Real Children." I'm anxious to read it, but I know that it's gonna make me cry, and I normally don't like reading sad books. But at the same time, it's Jo Walton, and "Among Others" was absolutely amazing.

    1. I cried SO MUCH from about the midpoint on, but some of those were happy tears. Not all of them, but a fair number.

    2. Note to self: read it at home, not on public transportation. :P