Sunday, October 26, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: October 19th to 25th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I combine the two by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was the tail end of Daniel Way's DEADPOOL, the 2003 INHUMANS series, the 2005 YOUNG AVENGERS series, and the very beginning of Civil War. I hadn't planned to get involved with the latter quite this early, but apparently it's the next step in the Young Avengers timeline and I must see more of Kate Bishop.

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

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sits on a sheep-shaped pillow with his front legs tucked under him. He wears a black tank top. His attention is directed towards something to the right side of the frame. Slightly in front of him sits a white iPod with the cover of Ptolemy's Gate on its screen. It depicts a grinning, humanoid lion in a green hat. Behind Murchie sits a trade paperback copy of the book with the same cover art partly obscured by Murchie's head.

I didn't read anything new and photographable in the wee hours of last week's Readathon, but I did start listening to PTOLEMY'S GATE by Jonathan Stroud while I cooked some sausages.

Sausages are one of Murchie's favourite things, so I expended a great deal of energy ensuring he didn't steal more than his fair share of them and I forgot to take a picture of him with the book.

I forgot until, um, yesterday.

But here he is now, all cute and fuzzy and alert! Hurray!

I got off to something of a slow start with the book, but I'm hard into it now and would love to finish it either today or tomorrow. (Actually, I have to finish it either today or tomorrow because my license expires late on Monday and another library patron has requested it.) After that, it's straight into THE RING OF SOLOMON, which was my favourite the first time through.

Murchie lays on his sheep shaped pillow, decked out in a striped blue tank top. His head is titled to one side, eyes wide and ears slightly back as if in disbelief. Before him sits a white e-reader with the cover art for Fantasy & Science Fiction's September and October issue on its screen. A woman stands with her back to the viewer, a translucent sea shell suspended in the air before her.

The short fiction I tackled during the Readathon left me with a craving for the stuff, so I figured it was about time I quit procrastinating and caught up with FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION. I love fiction magazines and subscribe to three (F&SF, CROSSED GENRES, and FIRESIDE), but I'm absolutely terrible about reading them as soon as they come out. With any luck, I'll get a bit better at it once I have la TBR under control (so, maybe in 2017 or 2018?).

I'm particularly behind with F&SF. Murchie appears here with the September/October 2013 issue, which I actually read ahead of the July/August 2013 issue because the Kindle app needed me to manually add anything older than a year via Kindle's website, and who has time for that? (I found time for it, but not until about two days ago.)

Astute viewers may note that Murchie's hair is much shorter in this picture than it is in the shot with PTOLEMY'S GATE. That's because the Kindle app also refuses to display lovely, full-screen cover images after the first time you open a magazine, so I snapped it pretty well as soon as I had the issue on my Kobo; ie, right after the new e-reader arrived, while I was first setting it up and playing with all the apps.

Murchie huddles beneath a red blanket so only a sliver of his face is visible. One paw covers his nose. Beside him sits a trade paperback copy of Firethorn. Only a corner of the cover is visible. It displays a pale hand, a portion of the author's name, and plenty of gold tones.

It was cold here early last week, so Murchie decided he'd rather sleep underneath my top blanket. He was completely covered until I made him a peep hole so I could take a picture of him with FIRETHORN by Sarah Micklem.

I added the book to la TBR due to my love for intricate, nonstandard fantasies with a hefty focus on personal relationships, and it languished there for a couple of years for one reason and one reason only: the British trade paperback edition pictured here has ridiculously tiny type.

Tiny fonts are the worst. It takes me minutes upon minutes to read a single page crowded with tiny type, and that frustrates the hell out of me. I come over all scowly.

I'm trying not to ignore books solely because of their stupid-ass tiny fonts, though, so I dove into FIRETHORN and made my way to page 100 (or page 155, if my calculations as to the British TPB's relationship to the North American MMPB are correct).

Then I gave up.

It was a tough decision. FIRETHORN is beautifully written, and it tells the sort of inward-focused, less-plot-more-character story that I'm always pleased to see in modern fantasy. I don't believe the genre must always remain focused on the same old stories about the same old things. I want fantasy to be as diverse as fiction itself. FIRETHORN fits the bill in that respect, but after 100 (or 155) pages, I wasn't at all sure of the story's shape, or if it would be worth the amount of time I looked set to spend with it.

The mixed LibraryThing reviews didn't help. One made particular note of the unquestioned misogyny throughout the text. I need misogyny to be questioned, especially when it's as ingrained as it is in this fictional society.

So I put the book aside and reached for something else.

Murchie lays atop a red tapestry comforter. Only his face is visible in the bottom left hand corner of the shot. In the upper right hand corner sits a paperback copy of Warchild. Its cover shows a boy with dark hair, dressed all in black and brandishing a gun, emerging from a circular, yellow-lit hatch.

And I struck literary gold.

Karin Lowachee's WARCHILD is another stellar recommendation from Kristen of Fantasy Cafe. Cautious reader that I am, I was hard into it before page 20 and desperately in love with it not long after that.

My love has rendered me all but incoherent about it. That's gonna make it tough to pen a review, but I'll try because WARCHILD deserves an absolutely enormous audience and I feel the need to promote it however I can. I loved it every bit as much as THE MAGICIAN'S LAND, if not a tiny bit more, and y'all know I wouldn't say that lightly.

Hell, I loved it so much I could not start another novel right away. I wasn't emotionally ready. I read a novella and some comics and a few short stories, and I rushed out yesterday morning to see if I could get a copy of Lowachee's second book, BURNDIVE.

The Book Gods were with me. Thank you, Book Gods.

Oh! Story! While I initially resisted the urge to binge-read WARCHILD, I lost the fight on Thursday night. "Fuck everything else," I said to Murchie. "I'm not putting this book down until I've finished it and discovered my terrible, horrible theory is wrong."

(For the record, my terrible, horrible theory was mostly, but not entirely, wrong. Still, the tragic bit was only the red herring, and the really tragic bit wasn't an actual thing at all, so I'm relieved. My guessing skills don't often let me down, and this can be a curse.)

Murchie was perfectly all right with that for the first hour and a half or so, but then he proceeded to badger me and badger me and badger me. He didn't want to go out, or eat, or play. He just wanted me to sit in a proper chair so he could curl up on my lap.

I sat in a proper chair. He curled up on my lap and didn't move a muscle until I'd finished the book, at which point I kicked him off so I could walk off my feels.

Murchie sits before my e-reader, which is propped up against a red pillow. Its screen shows the cover for Huntbrother, which depicts three dogs running through an indistinct, green-toned landscape.

I didn't want to read another novel right away, but I'm physically incapable of reading nothing. So I dove into HUNTBROTHER, a Michelle West novella that takes place after HUNTER'S DEATH and doesn't directly relate to the Sun Sword series. I enjoyed it very much, though I'm sure it suffered from the usual post-awesome-book effect. It certainly left me eager to read more of West's stories, though I'll tread carefully there as I'm still only two books into the Sun Sword and I'd rather not run into any spoilers. From the sounds of it, many of her other stories overlap or hint at books I haven't yet read.

Murchie sits on his sheep shaped pillow beside my e-reader. It's screen shows the cover for the July and August issue of F&SF, which depicts a golden cat against a sunset.

I also poked at the July/August 2013 issue of F&SF. I forgot to photograph it right after I opened it, so the cover image isn't as nice and screen-filling as it could be.


Next week: more Karin Lowachee! (Just a little bit more, though. The used bookstore didn't have CAGEBIRD or THE GASLIGHT DOGS.) Some Joan D. Vinge, if I'm feeling brave! Maybe that library book I've been meaning to read for three weeks and am thankful I could renew!


  1. I am so, so, so glad you loved WARCHILD! If you do read BURNDIVE, let me know what you think. I've been considering reading it soon, but I've had trouble concentrating on reading lately with moving and the great number of things that still need to be done because of it. After looking at the beginning, I wasn't sure if now was a good time to read it since it seemed like the opposite of what I loved about the beginning of WARCHILD (it's slow to start and has lots of information on who people are instead of action and things happening and instant investment).

    The only other book by Karin Lowachee I have read is THE GASLIGHT DOGS, and I found that one really slow and at times it was a struggle. The world seemed interesting, but it wasn't even close to as good as WARCHILD, in my opinion.

  2. Okay then! I haven't even heard of Karin Lowachee, but now I will have to give her a try. I'll start reading Warchild tonight. I can't promise I'll read the whole thing hastily because KJ Charles's new book comes out tomorrow, and I also have the day off, so tomorrow morning is going to be the Magpie book mostly...