Saturday, April 29, 2017

Readathon: April 2017 Edition

Square image of a fuzzy grey poodle standing on some very green grass. A short distance away from him is a trade paperback copy of Song of Blood and Stone. Its cover features a young black woman awash in pink tones. The shot is taken from above.
This is my first Readathon without Murchie. I'll think of him often today.

Hello, friends and fellow Readathonners! The best day of the spring is upon us, and I for one am ready to dive straight in and read my heart out.

My BIG PLANS for today include a couple (or a few) dozen issues of various X-Men series, interspersed with print comics, my current audiobook, and some prose whenever I need to recharge my device. I'll also be helping out on the official Instagram feed during the later half of the 'thon, alongside the lovely Kelly of The Written World, and I'm going to try to maintain a presence on Litsy. You can find me there as xicanti.

I'll also edit this post with periodic updates about what I'm reading, what I'm eating, and what else I'm doing with my time. (Because as much as I love reading, I always do a couple other things with my time.) The most recent update will always appear at the top.

Hour Four

Well, I woke up on time and decided to read in bed for a while instead of rushing to eat breakfast and update my blog. It was an excellent decision and one I think I'm gonna stick to for all future Readathons.

So far I've read for an hour and eighteen minutes (thanks, stopwatch app!) and finished ten issues of X-MEN (2010). That brought me to the end of the series and the dregs of my battery, so I'll be reading paper books for the next hour or two.

My brain's still mushy (I never can manage to sleep well before a Readathon; it's like Christmas), so here's the opening event survey instead of anything more [insert apt word I can't think of because of mushy-brain]:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Manitoba, right in the middle of North America.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? X-MEN BINGE, BABY! I want to finish the original X-FACTOR and a couple more miniseries.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I made some amazing chocolate caramel corn last night and I'm gonna be digging into it throughout the day. I'm also excited to make my favourite crumbled tofu tacos with zucchini and cilantro lime crema.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm not a morning person. Like, at all.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? This is my eighteenth Readathon, unless I counted wrong (see: mushy brain), and I think I've got a pretty good system in place. Except, as previously stated, I'm totally gonna spend the first hour reading in bed from now on. BEST WAY TO GO.

And now, my personal tracking meme thing for Hours One through Three:

Time Read:

  • One hour, eighteen minutes

Books/Series Explored:

  • X-MEN (2010)

Food & Drink Consumed:

  • two cups coffee
  • one glass water
  • one bowl Krave cereal, sans milk
  • one bowl chocolate caramel corn

Music Listened To:

  • None so far.

Other Activities:

  • ablutions
  • social media

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#warehousewatch: January and February 2017

A screenshot of Supergirl, a young, blonde white woman in a dress with a blue bodice, short red skirt, and red cape, standing in her apartment. The place is a converted warehouse with red brick walls and floor to ceiling windows made up of many smaller leaded panes and covered by gauzy white drapes.
Supergirl, like so many CW characters, lives in a converted warehouse.

I’m forever amused by how very many of the CW Network's shows feature warehouses, abandoned or otherwise, so I’ve set out to track every warehouse on every CW show I watch throughout the 2016/2017 season.

For science.

We're now nearing the end of the project, so if you missed the first two instalments I’ll direct you to the October report (which also contains more information about the genesis of #warehousewatch) and the November/early December report.

And now, without further ado, here’s a complete1 list of warehouses that appeared on the CW in late December, January, and February:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: Truth In the Dark by Amy Lane

Cover of Truth In the Dark. Burgundy bands with the publisher's name and the book's title on them frame a picture of a dark-haired, shirtless white man lying on his side to face the viewer, a red silk blanket draped over his lower half. A man with a lion's head holds a lantern over him.
Ooh, friends, I’m so in love with Amy Lane’s work. Not only does she write fabulous stories, but she’s got a hell of a narrative range. To date, I’ve read two of her sweet contemporary romances, one dark-as-hell SF offering, and TRUTH IN THE DARK [Amazon | Scribd], a fairy tale that straddles the line between these two extremes.

Naef, a young woodworker, has been tormented all his life because of his appearance, and he’s raised a prickly set of defenses against future hurt. The only people he’ll allow close to him are his sister and his mother. When said sister hesitates to marry her true love because it would mean leaving Naef on his own, her suitor proposes a solution to settle her fears. Naef will spend a year as companion to the suitor’s cousin, freeing his sister from worry while introducing Naef to an unusual community where he can start fresh.

The cousin in question turns out to be a man cursed with the shape of an anthropomorphic lion and saddled with the improbable name Aerie-Smith. Aerie-Smith’s got an island full of subjects whose animal forms are more confining than his own, and he promises Naef a home for a year if he’ll end his stint as companion by performing one regrettable act will not only secure Naef’s family’s future but also free everyone from their curse.

The resulting story is part “Beauty and the Beast,” part “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” And I cried so damned hard.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: Under the Rushes by Amy Lane

Cover of Under the Rushes. A white man wearing a top hat, a dark coat, and a poofy cravat glares at the reader against a sepia-toned backdrop that superimposes bricks and clockwork over a cityscape rife with smoke stacks.
Going by the cover, I expected Amy Lane’s UNDER THE RUSHES [Amazon | Scribd] to be historical fantasy. Much to my surprise and delight, it's actually science fiction set on a distant world where the colonists have lost some of their founders’ technological prowess and redeveloped what remains into a system with a vaguely steampunk aesthetic. It has a lot in common with the baroque SF I always hope to stumble across, in which science fictional elements operate within an elaborate, highly stratified society.

A lot, but not everything. Because this isn’t just far-future SF: it’s a superhero novel!

Dorjan's been in martial disgrace ever since he took a civilian’s tip to heart and tried to prevent his province from starting a pointless war. Ten years on, he spends his days carefully steering the provincial leadership in his guise as Doltish and Disinterested Forum Master and his nights protecting the capital city as the Nyx, an armoured warrior who champions the most vulnerable elements of society. He's alone in this endeavour save for his genius inventor friend, Areau, who was tortured after his own disgrace and now demands soul-crushing things from Dorjan following each mission. Just as the pressure of dealing with Areau’s addictions becomes too much for Dorjan, he finds a solution in the form of two grateful rescuees--one of whom is the very boy who first alerted him to the corruption in his government, all grown up and determined to take an active role in the Nyx's endeavours.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Murchie Plus Books: The End

A square photo of a fluffy, scruffy grey poodle held in a red-haired white person's arms. The dog has bright eyes and a very black nose, both of which stand out against his silver hair. His fluffy cheeks are a bit dirty.

Every Sunday for the last two and a half years, I’ve shared pictures of my beloved dog, Murchie, posed with everything I read that week.

Last Sunday night, Murchie didn’t sleep. He couldn’t stay still, he didn’t want anything I offered him, and he was obviously confused. Over the last couple of years this had become a frequent nighttime routine on account of a bowel issue and something that looked an awful lot like doggie dementia.

All through January, he had two or three bad days for every one where he was his usual spunky self.

My parents and I took him to the vet at lunch on Monday. She gave him a checkup, listened to everything he’s been through recently, and told us that while she could perform some more tests she couldn’t guarantee any further treatment would help him. It’d been a while since his medicines eased his suffering in any appreciable way.

None of us wanted to say goodbye to him, but we didn’t want him to suffer anymore, either.

I’m grateful I got to hold him while the sedative took effect. I felt him relax in my arms, the way he used to before sleep became so difficult for him. I laid him on the exam table and stroked his head while the vet administered the final injection. It was awful, but he had loved ones with him the whole time and that made a terrible day a little easier to bear.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Murchie Plus Books: January 22nd to 28th

I make my dog pose beside everything I read, barring single issue comics. Some weeks he’s a star and some weeks he refuses to keep his head still.

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.

Last week’s Not Pictured selections included the usual number of X-Men comics. They feel horribly relevant right now.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sits on a burgundy carpet beside a hardcover copy of Deceptive. He’s only a little taller than the book. His head is turned away from it. The book’s orange and blue cover features a blonde white girl standing atop the title, which hovers diagonally above a cityscape.

I love it when I ask the library to buy a book and they order a bunch of copies that a bunch of other patrons check out as soon as they're available. Guess I wasn't the only one eager to see how Ciere's story continued.

Emily Lloyd-Jones's DECEPTIVE [Amazon] is the sequel to ILLUSIVE, a book I sought out because I saw it recced on Twitter as X-Men meets Oceans 11 and I love both those things. It was an accurate comp, and it fits this book, too, with the caveat that DECEPTIVE's got a lot more stuff on the fed side of the equation. While it took me a little bit to readjust to this the world after my time away, I was hard into the book by the end and was sorry to say goodbye to all the characters.

So sorry, in fact, that I popped right onto Lloyd-Jones's website to see if there was any chance of a third book somewhere down the line. Alas, she's got ILLUSIVE and DECEPTIVE tagged as a duology. While it's easy to read Ciere's storyline as concluded (with enough dangly bits that she could enjoy more adventures down the line), I feel like both Devon and Daniel have a middle book thing going on. Shit gets dark for them, and the ending puts them in position for the traditional third book Lightening Of Burdens. It's not the worst possible conclusion to their storylines, but I'm still sad we'll never get to see where they go from here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: Freckles by Amy Lane

Cover of Freckles, featuring a brown and white Shih Tzu puppy standing in a cardboard box. Her ears and perked and her tail is up. Stylized snowflakes fall down the pale blue and purple backdrop behind her.
Warning: FRECKLES [Amazon | Scribd] is quite possibly the cutest book ever. You will squee.

Carter's boyfriend just dumped him and the head of his law firm has got him working on a case that’s legally sound but morally reprehensible. He needs something positive in his life, and he gets it in the form of a tiny, fluffy puppy a kid hoists on him in a parking lot. Carter has no idea what to do with a puppy (if Freckles even is a dog and not a hamster, as her size suggests), so he rushes straight to the nearest pet store with a veterinarian attached and has the good fortune to meet Sandy, a vet tech who's willing to give the occasional cute, dog-loving lawyer some after hours help with the whole pet ownership thing.

Their relationship is sweet and mutually supportive, but it's the dog angle that sold me on this nominally holiday romance. (The Thanksgiving and Christmas bits are light enough that you can read this any time of year, as I did.) Freckles is a tiny Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and I recognized so much of what Carter goes through as he adjusts to dog ownership and strives to be a good caregiver for her. I've had dogs all my life, barring an eighteen-month dogless stint when I was very young, but my wee Murchie is the first dog who's really been mine. He decided I was his person mere hours after we met, despite family plans to the contrary, and I spent a certain amount of time freaking out about how I was now responsible for this 2.5-pound fluffball who was brand new to the world and correspondingly lacking in common sense. I wanted to do right by him, and I was terrified he'd get sat on or stepped on or otherwise injured during one of his exploratory forays into the great unknown1.

I still worry he'll get sat on or stepped on, especially since he's a bit too inclined to trust people will notice he's there and work around him. That's a dangerous attitude to adopt when you're still only 3.5 pounds and you're the same colour as the kitchen floor, y'know?