Thursday, October 20, 2016

Further Gushing Re: Tremontaine Season Two

Banner for Tremontaine Season Two, featuring the title against a black background. To the right is a white silhouette depicting two people swordfighting, flanked by the red silhouettes of a crowned swan and a dragon.

The new season of TREMONTAINE began yesterday, and I’ve made no secret of how excited I am. Continually tweeting my feels is all very well and good, but I wanted to provided y’all with a somewhat longer list of five reasons I’m jumping up and down in delight over this serial:

1. The Duchess is back

I love Diane de Tremontaine so. Frickin’. Much. As I said when I reviewed Season Two’s premiere episode, she’s a fabulous and compelling character because she acts in her own self interest; a motive female characters are seldom allowed to embrace. She’ll scheme and socialize and sleep her way to the top because it's the best way to promote her personal agenda, and damn how it affects anyone else. And if she can accomplish all her goals without ever letting anyone see how many strings she's pulled, so much the better.

She’s my favourite.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

Cover of Her Naughty Holiday. A dark-haired, bearded, shirtless white man stands in front of a lake with a mountain behind it.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

HER NAUGHTY HOLIDAY [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] is the second book in Tiffany Reisz’s trio of holiday romance set around Lost Lake, Oregon, but please don’t think you need to read HER HALLOWEEN TREAT before you can dive into this Thanksgiving-focused offering. The books take place in the same general location and feature characters who’re at least casual acquaintances, but this is a series of standalones. If you’re no longer in a Halloweeny mood but Thanksgiving drama sounds perfect, you can leap in without the slightest reservation.

Clover Greene has just learned her family is set to converge on her place for Thanksgiving. Eep. She can’t stand to spend yet another holiday listening to everyone snark about how she’s still single, so she lets her teenage assistant, Ruthie, con her into asking Ruthie’s father, Erick, to pose as Clover’s fake boyfriend for the day. Clover and Erick have been fighting their attraction for close to a year, and the ruse gives them the perfect excuse to get to know one another better.

Things escalate. Quickly.

And awesomely.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: October 9th to 15th

The premise: I make my tiny dog pose beside every book I read. Sometimes he's really good about holding still and sometimes I have trick him.

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: MOAR X-MEN. I charged on through UNCANNY, with a few stop-overs in X-MAN and GENERATION X, then resumed my UNCANNY/X-MEN rotation once I reached the point where more issues of the latter were available on Marvel Unlimited. I'm back into Chris Claremont's second run on the series now, and I've almost finished rereading the stuff I devoured as a teenager.

A tiny grey poodle, Murchie, lies on a brown cushion. He wears a pink hoodie. Above him, on a glass table, is a hardcover copy of A Torch Against the Night. Its cover depicts two people running through a small tunnel in a massive stone wall.

Murchie flat out refused to pose nicely with A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT [Amazon | Kobo], so I put it on the glass coffee table and waited for him to lie down on his pillow stairs. (He injured one of his legs when he was three or four and has had trouble jumping ever since. Conventional doggie stairs scare him, but he's happy to use a couple of pillows piled together for the same purpose.) Victory! Little dude didn't even know he was posing.

This strategy is gonna come in handy in the future.

It breaks my heart to have to tell you I abandoned the book Murchie was so reluctant to sit nicely beside. I loved the hell out of Sabaa Tahir's first offering (AN EMBER IN THE ASHES), but try though I might, I couldn't find the spark with this one. There were a few brief moments where it reminded me of all the reasons I loved its predecessor so very, very much, but for the most part I struggled to connect. Around page 240, I admitted it was never gonna happen and took my bookmark out.

I'll try again after the third book's release, just in case it was a mood thing. If not, I'll take comfort in the fact that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES works well as a standalone in the Robin McKinley vein (ie, there are dangly bits but it's all part of the charm).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Cover of Central Station, fashioned like a vintage travel poster in pale purple, white, and black. Two spaceships fly past a towering, futuristic structure with several squatter buildings below it. The spaceships trail glitter.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Lavie Tidhar’s CENTRAL STATION [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] centres on a futuristic space port and the surrounding community. Central Station--both the massive structure and the neighbourhood to which it lends its name--lies between Israeli Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa and is home to a diverse group of people: racially, economically, religiously, and technologically. Prominent families, notorious groups, and established social fixtures abound, and the story herein gives everyone plenty of opportunity to hobnob with others (and Others) from across Central Station’s width and breadth.

CENTRAL STATION began life as a series of short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies between 2011 and 2014, with two chapters being original to this volume. Tidhar has reworked the stories so they form a novel, but I’d caution you not to expect much in the way of a traditional plot. Proximity and familiarity, not a common goal, draw these characters together. Tidhar isn’t interested in providing the reader with many answers. Instead, his work issues an invitation to consider the many ways people might come together in a futuristic society that’s traveled to the stars but still has firm ties to Earth.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: October 2nd to 8th

The premise: I make my patient little dog pose with every book I read, barring single-issue comics.

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: less X-Men than I would've liked. It was another create-not-consume week, and I had to focus on prose fiction on account of due dates.

Murchie, a sleek grey poodle, curls up in front of a trade paperback copy of The Obelisk Gate so only his face his showing. The book's purple-tinged cover features a carved stone roundel with a flower at its heart.

I had to finish THE OBELISK GATE [Amazon | Kobo] by Thursday since a bunch of other people with good taste had requested it, so I busted my arse and read it in three days even though I'm still firmly in a create-not-consume mood. (Turns out, finishing those writing projects freed up brain space for visual art, not for reading.) Or three and a bit days, rather, because despite my best efforts I could not stay awake long enough to read the last forty pages on Wednesday night.

When I settled in to finish it the next morning I realized there were only fifteen pages of actual story left. The rest were appendices.

I could've read fifteen pages easy.

Anyways, I had a weird trajectory with this one. It took me a little bit to sink back into it, followed by a period where I loved it with all my soul, followed by regular strength love through to the grand finale. And since endings mean everything to me, I'm afraid I've settled into regular strength loving it. I feel like this may change when I reread it in advance of the third volume.

Three things: the contrast between Essun's feeling for Nassun and Nassun's impression of Essun hit me hard; the shifting narrative tensions strike me as distinctly and deliberately tectonic, which delights me; I was right about the narrator's identity because I'm the best at guessing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Cover of Nevernight, featuring a masked girl with long, dark hair. She stands against a white stone wall carved with coats of arms, her blood-drenched hands clasped around a white dagger. Shadowy wings rise from her shoulders.
Mia Corvere has spent the six years since her father’s execution transforming herself into an instrument of vengeance aimed at the men who branded him a traitor rather than a hero. She’s good, but she knows only a Blade of Niah, dark goddess of assassins, could hope to achieve her aims. And the brutal test for admittance to Niah’s school beneath the Silent Mountain is nothing compared to the trials teachers and students alike have in store for her.

Here’s the thing: I want to tell you all about NEVERNIGHT [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] because I loved it deep in my soul--but the books I love the most are also the books I most struggle to talk about. So I’m gonna ramble, and I’m not gonna say nearly enough, and I’m gonna pray what I do say is enough to convince the fantasy-readers among you to seek out NEVERNIGHT as soon as ever you can.

It’s one of those glorious books that spoke both to my current self and to the me who discovered adult-marketed fantasy just over twenty years before the day when I plucked NEVERNIGHT off my library pile and dove in. The timing made it feel like more than simply a great read. It was a fucking amazing anniversary present.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: September 25th to October 1st

The premise: I make my beloved dog, Murchie, pose with every book I read. Sometimes the photos are clear and well-lit. Sometimes I'm in a time crunch and the composition leaves something to be desired. Murchie's pretty durned cute either way, though.

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: scads of X-Men comics, of course. I've begun rereading the first GAMBIT ongoing, since it's set at roughly the same time as the UNCANNY X-MEN and X-MEN comics I've been working through. I've also read a few more issues of X-MAN as they've come up in the chronology, and I'm awfully sorry Marvel Unlimited doesn't have more of them as I like Nate a lot. (Young superheroes are my jam.) Finally, I gulped down the MAGNETO REX miniseries and managed to not hate Quicksilver for a hot minute--until I remembered all the shit he's gonna pull over the next decade. Fuck Quicksilver, man.

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, looms behind a white iPod with Hunted's cover on it. Murchie wears a blue and white striped t-shirt. The book's cover features a red-haired white man looking over his shoulder at an ominous, horned figure that lurks beneath a tree. The whole photo is a dark sepia tone.

Gotta love late-in-the-year lighting.

Gotta actually love finishing things. HUNTED [Amazon | Scribd Audio] concludes the reread portion of my Iron Druid Reread/Catch-Up. Only two new-to-me books to go!

(I thought there were three more, but apparently I was wrong. This is something of a relief, since it means I can fit some other stuff into my listening schedule a little more quickly and I won't have to wait so long to tackle the Oberon novella burning a hole in my Kobo. I was gonna dive into it right away, since Oberon is my favourite, but I decided it'd be best to hold off a teensy bit longer just in case of novel spoilers.)

One thing I keep forgetting to mention as I work my way through this series is that I love how many problems the characters face. Atticus, the protagonist, is extremely good at getting himself out of trouble--and extremely bad at getting himself out of trouble without causing a dozen more problems along the way. It keeps things interesting and ensures there are no easy outs for anyone involved. Somebody makes a mess, somebody's gotta fix the mess. No exceptions.

That said, this one fell into the same register as HEXED; ie, I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I did the first time. Oh well. I returned to this series in search of fun, magical stuff I wouldn't have to think too hard about, and that's what it's delivered. I'm satisfied.

Re: the audio, Granuaile becomes a POV character with this installment and I'm a tad disappointed they didn't hire a female performer to narrate her segments. Luke Daniels does as fine a job with her as with any of the other characters (the guy performs about a thousand different people, and he does it well), but one always wants to see female voice actors get more work.